Tag Archive: social movement

December 22, 2015

Networks, Social Change and Making the Invisible Visible

“As long as it remains invisible, it is guaranteed to remain insoluble.”

Margaret Heffernan, from Willful Blindness

Photo by Marie Aschehoug-Clauteaux

The following is a slighted edited re-post of a piece that appeared at this time last year on our site . . . 

As I look back on this past year through the lens of the work we have done at IISC supporting networks and movements for social change, one of the most significant themes from my perspective is the value and importance of “making the invisible visible.” Over the past twelve months, we’ve facilitated many reflection sessions with diverse groups to gauge the development and impact they observe from our work together. I tend to ask people how they see change happening at different levels: self, group, larger systems (organization, neighborhood, community, state, region, etc.). I also like to ask them to reflect via the use of stories to capture and convey significant development.

What has surfaced from this sharing is that even though some of the big goals around equity and sustainability are still ahead of us, there has been movement and part of this development comes down to seeing and being able to work with what had previously been unseen. While the methods for getting to this recognition have varied – from system mapping and analysis to network mapping to structural and power analysis to learning journeys to dialogue and tackling difficult conversations – by creating space to see, share and explore, there has been significant deepening of relationships (to self, other, the work), understanding and commitment.

System map

So what is being made visible? Read More

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September 16, 2015

Defying Fermi: Sci-Fi Wisdom for Our Survival and Thriving

“We are … interested in generating stories, visions and futures that are hard and realistic and hopeful.”

-Adrienne Maree Brown, from “Science fiction and social justice: giving up on utopias


Image from octaviasbrood.com

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to sit in on a session in Detroit with Adrienne Maree Brown, writer, editor, facilitator and consultant to social movement organizations. Adrienne’s offering was on the potential of “radical science fiction” to realize empowering visions of a just and sustainable future. After sharing some of her own writing, she encouraged participants to play with a sense of imagination grounded in realistic projections of current social and environmental conditions and trends. Read More

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February 22, 2011

Do the Thing

show 'em what your made of

Photo by: Allie

When I walk out of my door in the morning I am forced to look at a note that I’ve written to myself – “Do the Thing.”  Sometimes I will also place this note on my meditation cushion, so that I have to pick it up and move it right before I turn within.  I’ve been thinking a lot about the persistent gap between “talking/thinking about the thing” and actually doing it.  It is a gap that runs the gamut, I find it in my own individual life and in organizational life, I find it in our political discourse and within the social larger movement.

Perhaps the gap is inescapable.  It is possible that we live through aspirations.  It is possible that we think and talk about the thing in order to slowly catch up with it through the grind of real life.

And we do know that reflection is a good thing, that we learn through conversations, that it is important to articulate our vision.

I’m not trying to deny or undermine these things.

I just think that it is good to mind the gap.  When we mind the gap we are less abstract.  When we mind the gap it becomes harder to talk about goodness and justice while treating each other badly.

As a “process consultant,” a designer of interaction, I also think that minding the gap is what inspires me to strive for a generative experience – and actual taste of the thing we are working towards.

When aiming for transformation we must create transformative spaces.  Do not have “another meeting” where you talk about social change.  Design transformative spaces that give you a taste of it.  Mind the gap.  Live in the world you are trying to build.  How you get there is as important as getting there.  Do the thing.

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December 10, 2009

To Love Is To See

In the abyss I saw how love held bound

Into one volume all the lives whose flight

Is scattered through the universe around.

Dante Alighieri, from The Divine Comedy

“What’s love got to do with it?”  This is a question that gets raised with increasing frequency in our work at IISC.  Recently, while training a group of health care reformers from around the state of Maine, I presented what we call our “Profile of a Collaborative Change Agent,” which outlines the core attributes of those who, in our experience, are able to maintain a win-win outlook even in the most trying of circumstances.  Sitting conspicuously at the heart of the Profile (see below) is “the L word.”  Nodding heads and knowing smiles, in Maine and elsewhere, are an indication of the growing willingness to seriously consider the role of love in social change work. Profile Read More

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