Our country is at a crossroads. We have a choice to make. Greater wealth for a few or opportunity for many. Tax breaks for the richest or a fair shot for the rest of us. A government that can be bought by the highest bidder, or a democracy that is truly of the people, by the people, and for the people.
Last Tuesday, Curtis Ogden and I had the privilege of hosting an LLC webinar on collective leadership. Much of what we did was point to observable patterns in ways of working together and how these tend to open up possibilities for shared leadership. The metaphor of tilling the soil is most appropriate precisely because we have run up against the limitations of industrial implementation. The appropriate response to increasing complexity is one that can get beyond linear causality and into a mindset of ecosystems.
I am made greater by the sum of my connections, and so are my connections
– Stowe Boyd
Today, Curtis Odgen and I will be hosting an LLC Webinar on Collective Leadership. We are talking about a significant shift in how we organize our work for social transformation. Stowe Boyd, the net’s social anthropologist, recently posted what he calls the beginnings of an elevator pitch on “New Mutualism.” I found it resonant, relevant and tremendously exciting; here it goes:
This is the 26th official celebration of the national holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I remember the struggle to establish the holiday and wonder what Dr. King himself might think of what it has become.
One of the many things I like about celebrating New Year’s Day is that for a moment in time the awareness of millions of people is simultaneously focused on the same point of transition. We conspire to create an opening. We align ourselves with the cycle of the planets. We leap into a future that is necessarily new.
I’m not big on apocalypse or fear mongering. But I am often in awe of the stars. 2012 is going to be a big year for the stars. We’ll hear a lot of silliness, but creative are good alchemists. Let’s allow ourselves to toy with the idea of transition – of shift, of developmental leaps.
The Acting Steering Committee list reads like a who’s who among U.S. civil rights and social justice activists: James Lawson, Vincent Harding, Dolores Huerta, Nelson Johnson Joyce Johnson, Mel White, John Fife, Phil Lawson, Arthur Waskow, Grace Lee Boggs, Joan Chittister, George Tinker, Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons, Bernice Johnson Reagan, Marian Wright-Edelman.
Marisa Rivera-Albert is the former President of the National Hispana Leadership Institute (NHLI), a non-profit organization dedicated to the education and leadership development of Hispanic Women. Before coming to NHLI, she Rivera-Albert worked in higher education as Special Assistant to the President for Diversity and Community Relations at Black Hawk College in Illinois, she managed the Hispanic Program for Educational Management and the Learning To Lead Program for Hispanic students at Western Illinois University, and she served for the U.S. Information Agency and the U.S. Embassy in Panama. Marisa Rivera-Albert is originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico, has a B.A. in Communications from American University and a Master’s degree in Education Administration from Western Illinois University. She is also a graduate of the Harvard University JFK Executive Programs, the Center for Creative Leadership Institute, the Texaco Management Institute, the Gallup Leadership Institute and the Mexican American Solidarity Foundation. She is a Board member for Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia and for the U.S. Committee for UNIFEM- United Nations Development Fund for Women. She is a frequent keynote speaker on women’s issues, Hispanic Affairs, multicultural and leadership topics.
Last week, colleagues Andrea Nagel, Jen Willsea and I facilitated the workshop, Fundamentals of Facilitation for Racial Justice Work for staff at the Boston Public Health Commission. One of the most powerful parts of the workshop was an exercise where participants had to listen to a view with which they disagreed without opposing, fixing or leading the speaker to another viewpoint. Challenging, to say the least! It raised a great question about not just how, but when to listen without attempting to shift anything. Like many of the workshop participants, I struggle with this practice, particularly when the speaker’s views fly in the face of realities I see and history I know, or when the very act of listening seems to give comfort to views that diminish my humanity. The struggle brought me back to a classic essay, “The Art of Listening,” by feminist author Brenda Ueland.
A couple of weeks ago, a friend and I (two gray-haired women) went downtown to support the youngsters Occupying Wall Street here in Oakland. The night was wet, but there were plenty of folks out with signs, songs, speeches and goodwill.