What Love Looks Like in Action

January 13, 2011 14 Comments


Picking up from my post the other day (“Pauses for the Cause”) about the process learnings of our recent IISC retreat, I wanted to focus a bit on the content take-aways.  As I previously mentioned, the reason for our coming together as a staff was to revisit and dive into the roots of our collaborative practice: networks, equity/power/inclusion, and “the love that does justice.” It wasn’t long before we were wondering whether these are not more appropriately called the lenses through which we look as we go about our collaborative capacity building and change work.  And it did not take long after that for us to question whether the labels we have selected for these lenses are the appropriate ones.  I want to spend the rest of this post looking at where our conversation took us with respect to love, in particular.

What’s love got to do with it?  That was not exactly our guiding question, but we got there eventually through some of our struggles to reach shared understanding and agreement about what we mean when we say “the love that does justice.”  Our facilitator engaged us in writing on stickies short phrases and sentences that explained what it means to integrate this into our practice.  The activity yielded a plethora of multi-colored squares that we then organized into themes.  Here is what emerged, categorically speaking:

What does it mean to integrate “the love that does justice” into our practice?

  • Doing our own inner work; cultivating our own emotional intelligence, self-awareness, mindfulness, connection to values, spirit.
  • Helping others to access and cultivate their inner selves, emotional intelligence, self-awareness, mindfulness, values, spirit.
  • Facilitating deep authentic connections between people.
  • Pursuing transformational change focused on individual, interpersonal, institutional, societal, spiritual levels of oppression in order to help liberate and heal from internalized oppression and supremacy.
  • Honoring the legacy of spiritual, scientific, and social scientific (re)sources and support for engaging in deep inner/interpersonal and transformational work.

While we may not have been able to come to agreement at this point on the title of this particular lens or shared core practices in this realm, we all seemed to concur that if we were to jettison any of these general categories, we would be missing something fundamental to our mission of changing the way change happens to realize a more just and sustainable world.  Simply put, what’s collaboration without the love?!  And as we continue our journey, we are eager to hear from others who may be on a similar trajectory.  What are you learning and discovering?


  • Gibran says:

    Phenomenal – the more I hear about our staff retreat the sadder I am that I missed it, but I am so excited to learn that we have a sense of agreement on the aspects of the “love lens” that you have outlined here. I find deep resonance with each of these.

    Part of what we achieve at the intersection of three lenses is the nurturing and facilitation of spaces that lead to action, but launch from a space of love – which is the source of transformation

    Proud to be a part of IISC

  • Melinda says:

    Great capture Curtis. Havent felt so LOVE-ing today in my work, but this, and the beginning of MLK Weekend, is helping me get there. Yes, Gibran, you were missed indeed.

  • Curtis says:

    Thanks G. I too am proud of what we were able to accomplish, with the deft handling of Mistinguette (why do we ever think we can do this ourselves?. It was interesting to see agreement emerge around essence. I’m learning that is often a great starting point because we can get mired in the weeds. I may also be a great ending point, as I hear your voice around preserving the space for emergence, which came up in our first conversation about networks. Do we need to agree on the details or be at a higher level of alignment?

    And sending you, my sister Melinda, a big Obama Tucson speech-inspired and pre-MLK Weekend hug. Be-loved!

  • Cynthia Silva Parker says:

    Thanks Curtis! Group memory yesterday, great summary today! Evidence that some things don’t have to take forever! Just finshed a coaching call with a leader that was all about finding the inner resources to dealsome tough individual behaviors that are creating a tougher team dynamic. Love’s got everything to do with it!

  • Cynthia Parker says:

    Sorry, meant to say “finding the inner resources to deal with some tough individual behaviors.”

  • Curtis says:

    Indeed. I just watched Obama’s Tucson Memorial speech again. What did he say? “What matters is how well we have loved and what small part we have played in making the lives of other people better.” Decency is a good starting place, and then taking that a whole lot deeper.

  • Hector says:

    “Love is not a mystery… it’s everything”….

  • Jen Willsea says:

    YES! Thanks Curtis. I loved this part of our retreat. It finally clicked for me.

  • Curtis says:

    Wow, seems like we are definitely feeling the love. Thanks Hector and Jen. And best wishes for this MLK Weekend to all.

  • Melinda Weekes says:

    Just got this e-hug….thank you CO – I receive it! Go King! Go Obama! Go LOVE! Go us!!

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