Ten years ago when I was going through a critical stage in my life, a friend asked me what I would consider to be my dream job. My answer was pretty simple. I wanted to lead an organization whose primary work was to design processes for complex collaborative efforts aiming at advancing social justice, equity and democracy. I wanted to do this in an organization where issues of power, privilege and race were central, not only to the work we did in the world but in how we engaged with each other to do that work.
There is nothing wrong with strategic planning – except when we believe that strategy unfolds as planned. A good strategic planning process is one that crystalizes our intention. It is the process through which we articulate a clear vision of where we want to go. And it is how we come to a clear agreement on which direction we are going to take. It is not insurance on the future. The map can never be the territory.
In this post, Jeremy Liu (an esteemed IISC Board member) encourages the community development field “to figure out how to embrace the strengths of our past as a movement, even more so than becoming more established as an industry.” I think this is wise advice for many fields in the nonprofit sector, where so many organizations and institutions emerged from resistance movements and have passed through various stages of institutionalization and even bureaucratization. Jeremy ends with an important invitation for the community development field that could easily be for all of us: “it will continue to be important for our field to question itself, to ask itself what we want to create for our communities, to ask ourselves how to best achieve that vision for the future. We must be prepared to put aside past industrial practices and perhaps embrace emergence and people once again.”
We spend a lot of time at IISC thinking about how to talk about and practice love as a force for social change. Mike Edwards claimed in 2003 that “that the future of our world depends on how successful we are in developing and applying a new social science of love… applied in and through the systems that are essential to the functioning of all successful societies…[This kind of love is best illuminated by Rev. Dr.] Martin Luther King’s philosophy of the “love that does justice”, signifying the deliberate cultivation of mutually-reinforcing cycles of personal and systemic change…
I’m a big fan of “Open Space,” I like trusting people who have passion. I believe in the power of connection through self-organization. It is too often that the most interesting conversations at the conference actually happen at the break or at the bar or at the after-party. Let’s move what matters to the center! Here is a helpful reflection by my friend Chad Jones.
Open space is a way to break up the mundane, old ways of conferences. Just as we are realizing that rote memorization does not work in the classroom, and education needs to be shaken up. Our meetings and multi-day conferences need strong winds of new ideas and currents of new ways.
|Photo of Able Martinez by Mike Baird|http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikebaird/4369050515|
This is a slightly edited re-post of something I wrote a couple of years ago, and it came back to mind during conversations these past few days with a group of conservation biologists about how to create more of a compelling case for their work, and also to better understand where various stakeholders (allies and adversaries) are coming from with respect to preserving precious natural resources. The point has been made several times and in different ways that narrative speaks louder than numbers, and that in our change work, it helps if we become acquainted with the stories of others, and work ultimately at weaving ourselves into something more collective. Read More
Last weekend I had a most unique privilege. I facilitated the final retreat of a three-year process. I have been working with the Barrboletas, the Barr Fellows cohort of 2009, since their inaugural learning journey to Brazil in June of that year. We have a book worth of documentation. The fellowship as a whole will be highlighted in the May issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review. This post is a celebration of their last retreat as a cohort – they will continue to participate in an exciting plethora of network activities as they are moved and able.
It’s my birthday today and a few nights ago my friend Malia asked me to reflect on a lesson I’ve learned over the last year. It was a BIG year for me! I got married and had a son! Lots and lots of lessons.
As you can see from my new photo, I’ve decided to stop dyeing my hair. I am now officially a gray-haired woman. When I turned 55 last year, I made a deeper commitment to authenticity, and that included looking in the actual mirror (and not just the mirror of my conscience).
|Image from Ritwik Dey|http://www.flickr.com/photos/ritwikdey/425995583/in/photostream|
At the end of last year, I posted a piece about our work with an early childhood system change initiative through the Graustein Memorial Fund in Connecticut. At the time we were exploring different formats and technologies for creating a new “system blueprint” for early childhood development in the state. Our post and related tweets asked for possible resources to conceptualize and create a living blueprint for this dynamic system, and I wanted to give an update about what we have heard so far and where we stand in our conversations.
As the Core Team has engaged in its research about all this, we’ve realized that there are three separate but possibly connected aspects to this “blueprint”conversation”: Read More
Here at IISC we talk about having three lenses for the work of collaboration. One of those lenses is the lens of love. I have worked and played with Anasa Troutman in all kinds of formations over the years, most recently as part of the same Networks and Decentralized Organizing Community of Practice.
I thought that her stance for Love is a very real call for those of us interested in the practice of social transformation. What do you think?