Co-Creating Civic Proposals for Systemic Change | DwD 2.10.16

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How might we move or collective thinking and action beyond single-issue social action?

Does it make sense to build our urban worlds and future societies by winning one political issue at a time?

Can we design civic business models for our cities and society?

All social services, determinants of health, and economics are complex and interrelated. So why do we expect any political body or activist group to get it right? Only meaningfully diverse, multi-stakeholder groups can envision the variety of interests and outcomes in complex social systems.  In February’s Design with Dialogue Peter Jones workshops tools for co-creating civic design proposals.

A significant design challenge of our time is anticipating the relationships of multiple environmental and social problems as a complex system of nonlinear relationships. However, we cannot think about, model or discuss the relationships well, especially in the heat of discussion with deliberative groups and decision making processes. We need not only better engagement and dialogue processes for citizen deliberative problem solving, we require relevant tools.

Register on Eventbrite for this session.

With the OCADU Strongly Sustainable Business Model Group and with Strategic Foresight & Innovation students we designed a relevant framework from the common language of business model tools, adapted for civic decision models for flourishing cities and settlements.

The Flourishing Cities framework adapts a design tool for strongly sustainable business models as a visual organizer for engaging stakeholders in co-creating normative  operational guidance for civic groups, community planners, and local governments. Flourishing can be understood as “to live within an optimal range of human functioning, one that connotes goodness, generativity, growth, and resilience,” or as John Ehrenfeld states it:

“Flourishing is the possibility that human and other life will flourish on this planet forever.”

This visual model enables a participatory mapping of propositions, values, and preferences that might yield significantly better group decisions for sociocultural and ecological development and governance in any planning engagement.

The Flourishing Business Canvas is shown below, the basis for the Flourishing Cities model adapted in the workshop.

Unlike the Flourishing Business Canvas, the “Cities” canvas has not been employed in actual practice yet. This is a proposed concept, developed from extended research and is presented as a model for further inquiry and evaluation.

Register on Eventbrite for this session.

Session Host: Peter Jones

PJ-HealthdesDr. Peter Jones is associate professor at Toronto’s OCAD University, where he teaches in the groundbreaking Strategic Foresight and Innovation MDes program and  leads research in the Strategic Innovation Lab (slab.ocadu.ca). He is also faculty in the new (2016) MDes in Design for Health program. With a small group of design leaders and an inspired community, Peter founded Design with Dialogue in 2008, and today we convene four related monthly communities of practice.

Peter is also co-founder of the Relating Systems Thinking to Design symposia which is coming to Toronto this year. Peter’s research adapts applied cognitive and social methodologies including dialogic methods for complex systems inquiry, engagement and design in healthcare, governance, and social systems. In his practice with the Redesign Network, Peter has led the design and research of leading resources for clinical, educational and scientific practice throughout the Internet era. His publications and books can be found on Design Dialogues.

The Possibility of Creating Community

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What’s the potential for Design with Dialogue as a true Community of Inquiry? How could we all co-create this together this year?

The first DwD of 2016 was convened by Peter Jones (dialogue) and Patricia Kambitsch (visual), held with a group of 20 new and continuing participants drawn to the shared inquiry into the possibility of community. The session was guided by several questions about the meaning of and stake in community.

The dialogue opened with acknowledgement and mapping of the communities we participate in, as shown in the sketched map, people placed notes in the spaces for Business, Religion, Regional, Neighborhood, Health & Fitness, Arts, Civic, Academic, and new communities such as “Value” and “Place”. Discussion in the circle revealed the differences in views of community and the level of engagement that counts to be considered a “community.”

CommunityMap.smThe dialogue dived into the meaning of the Design with Dialogue community to its ongoing stakeholders. DwD has evolved from 2008 to today into a deeply connected, ongoing Community of Practice for learning and facilitating with tools for social and organizational transformation. Our central question for the evening was essentially, who are we a community and why are we? Do we only support and engage with these communities outside of DwD, or is there a centre of life and practice here, a community that continues in its own purpose, even if undeclared by most of us?

What’s the potential for Design with Dialogue as a true Community of Inquiry? 

A visual mapping of the dialogue was sketched live during the conversation, as people responded to the question of community as:

PlayMuralJan16-sm

 

  • Place for the power of dialogue
  • Bringing groups (stakeholders) in to DwD to dialogue on an issue
  • Finding meaning in discourse
  • Seeds for new stories
  • Getting unstuck, and “dialogue as therapy”
  • Listening beyond these walls
  • Developing a common language and different perspectives

The group inquiry process adapted Peter Block’s six conversations on community.Variations of the questions asked each particpants to inquire and share their experience with:

  • What’s your story? What’s your commitment to the group or its purpose?
  • What gift do you bring? How do you lead or form the community?
  • What have you been unwilling to commit to?
  • What refusal have you withheld in your community?

These expressions were shared in the whole group and mapped (to the right) in the mural.

The final process developed a core set of responsibilities that lend group wisdom toward the DwD 2016 plan for co-creation and community engagement.

Together we the potential to engage and influence thinking and action in the crucial concerns of our time. Given this potential, how might we most effectively contribute to the civic issues and policy thinking in our larger communities?

Floorsketch

DwDPossibility

 

DWD – The Evolution of a Learning Community

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The seventh year of Design with Dialogue has led to the recognition of our opportunity to convene a series that uniquely mobilizes dialogue as a dynamic community process for social purpose and transformative learning. Several overarching themes evolved from our year-end discussions:

  • To connect the main DwD series with issues and themes to increase their impact and reach
  • To integrate across the 4 DwD communities, to hold events in DwD, Unify and Systems and Visual Thinkers that reinforce and continue common themes via the different practices of each
  • To promote DwD as a learning and development opportunity for grad student leadership
  • Co-produce DwD events with single-sponsor or civic community leaders
  • To explore new venues and partnerships that might connect the DwD learning model to other communities of practice in the GTA and elsewhere

CONTRIBUTIONS from the Retreat  

  • Beginner’s Workshops – Learn convening skills with mentors and develop community of practice in training
  • Integration of Practices – Connect learning and methods from across the four communities
  • Issue-based Dialogues – Civic and global issues, e.g. terrorism, sustainable economy, foreign policy, finance capitalism, educational reform
  • Indigenous movements, Decolonization and post-globalization (JRS or other special guests)
  • Stakeholder driven sessions – Formation of DwD “innovation circles” for specific stakeholder groups
  • Citizen engagement within communities – Affirmative outreach to engaged citizens and groups for specific sessions
  • Connected series of sessions – Connecting sessions across themes & DwD communities of practice.
  • More Community in CoP – Convene spaces for real conviviality
  • Methods and Themes “matrixed” together
  • Action-oriented – Actionable outcomes and follow-up from DwD engagements
  • DwD + OCADU, MaRS, Ontario, Interchange,
  • Spinoff practices from DwD sessions
  • Experimentation – Taking previous sessions and going deeper
  • Connecting communities within each month
  • Partner on community based projects with partners

DwD and Strategic Foresight and Innovation

  • Engage SFI Students directly as session leaders and co-creators
  • Student workshops – Convene training-oriented sessions for SFI students within DwD platform
  • Develop an OCADU SFI “ladder” of facilitation training
  • Engage Foresight program – Hold “Future of” workshops
  • A “Methods taster” – What could this prepare people for?
  • Invite more leading practitioners
  • Policy design and civic innovation
  • New entrepreneurial and business-oriented sessions

We would love to hear from the DwD community, online (remember the DwD LinkedIn group) and in person.

Economies that Work for All of Us (Unify Toronto Dialogues)

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The Spiral Comes Full Circle: How Nation-to-Nation Relations with First Nations Can Lead to Economies that Work for All of Us

  • What would it be like for our human economy to be in harmony with the Earth’s economy?
  • What would our communities be like if we put energy into personalized and localized resources that benefit everyone around us?

In these times of accelerating crises – climate change, religious extremism, cyclic economic collapse – it has never been more important to think how to address their common underlying causes, many of which we have been the subjects of our dialogues over the past year.

This final Unify Toronto Dialogue of 2015 deepened a year long enquiry into money and meaning inspired by the learnings from our Remaking a Living dialogue series. What have we learned from the practices of community stewardship, reciprocal caring economies, and transformation (e.g., Theory U) that we’ve explored that might guide our design of enlivening, human-scale economic systems?

Guided by Kevin Best, we grounded the session again in the indigenous world views that laid the foundation for our series with our January dialogue inspired by Idle No More: A Love Story.  Almost a year after that January dialogue, our new government has promised ‘nation-to-nation relations’ with First Nations in Canada, committed to adopt all the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and pledged to implement the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The following points were revealed in the dialogue:

  • Flow is key.  Learn from the future as it emerges.
  • Come together with the people you love.
  • The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report and the United Nations Declarations and Treaties are a basis for moving forward together.
    Well-meaning settlers need to go beyond tokenism to address injustice.
  • A nation-to-nation relationship between the First Nations, Métis and Inuit and the Canadian Government will be profoundly important.

The TRC grew out of the Canadian Government’s apology for residential schools.

  • Led to 94 recommendations, and Prime Minister Trudeau has committed to implementing them all.
  • Need curriculum of identity restoration.
  • The TRC report provides an entry point into the conversation.
  • The full report will be released on Dec 15 and presented to Canada in Ottawa at noon, Shaw Convention Centre.

Kevin Best: We need to implement as clans, as communities, and come together at a small level – in clan groups of like-minded people.

  • The indigenous view is individualistic for all that does not affect the group
  • Reference the film: Schooling the World
  • Focus on the manageable connections – housesharing, shared space and land, make local economies work for all
  • Tribing up frees energy and resources

 Group discussion

  • The TRC used non-Indigenous ways to deal with Indigenous issues
  • We need to shift toward a reciprocal relationship
  • The disconnect from self is core
  • Each action contributes to a shift in consciousness
    • This process is slow, but it reaches a tipping point
  • Change requires us to use new concepts
    • We need someone else’s ideas
    • Few are willing to be transformed
  • We need to see with both Indigenous (grounded, emotional) and Western (materialistic, intellectual) eyes
  • Structure and individual feed and support each other

Action outcomes

  • When you’re ready, you’ll be able to hear and change
    • You will reach a threshold – keep working toward it
  • Need to create a space within ourselves, between agreement and disagreement
  • Also need to create shared meaning across generations
  • Focus on building relationship
  • Be present to hold the space for the future generatively
  • The community provides the context for action
    • Personal change can happen within that and can in turn influence the community.
  • Openness allows for the unexpected

We explored how fulfilling these commitments in the fullest sense would also mean realizing the promise of regenerative, just and caring economies that we have been dreaming into being through this year’s dialogues. Read the Leap manifesto and discussion at Unify Toronto.

About the Host 

Kevin Best has focused on how to create a sustainable world through activism, innovative business and restoring Indigenous society for over four decades. He has worked with Indigenous people throughout Turtle Island, consulted to Greenpeace and pioneered green energy in Ontario. He is currently working on a start-up called Odenaansan (Village or “the little places where my heart is”), an integrated, culturally-based approach to restoring Minobimadzin (the good life) through sustainable food, energy, housing and water in Anishinabe communities. Ceremonially adopted into Bkejwanong (Walpole Island) in the late 1990’s, Kevin is a member of the Martin clan and is Neegunneechgun (the one who goes before the people). He is passionate about decolonization and re-indigenization and committed to spreading understanding of these life-giving possibilities.

 

Improvising Breakthroughs in Difficult Conversations

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How can we engage in difficult conversations in a way that is productive, satisfying, and even FUN?

How can we open ourselves to learn something new about the other person’s perspective?

What is the difference between a response and a reaction?

DwD-Lauren

Lauren Stein presented an interactive, experiential exploration of “difficult conversations” at November’s DwD, engaging about 30 people in playful ways to approach these conversations – expressed as speaking and listening to concerns about criticism, personal emotions, relationships, money, and fears. Using the tools and experiences of improvisational theatre, Lauren showed us how to slow down conversations to separate reactions from responses. The goal of experiential learning was to identify and use internal information, both intellectual and emotional, to construct respectful responses rather than triggered or knee-jerk reactions.

Lauren emphasized the  philosophy of “Yes/And” as a relational tool, a way to stay on the same side of the other person, even if we disagree about a particular issue.  The exercises – from opening circle to improvisational conversation theatre – all reinforced the importance of an open and curious attitude.

From the very start, the OCADU Auditorium was buzzing with discussions, from the introductions, to paired exchanges into questions, to exercises exhausting the imaginative space of asking questions.

Some participants were asked deep questions and discovered things they did not know about themselves. People learned and took home new games for conversational exploration, such as the Curiosity Game and the Questions Game (based on the idea of asking your partner about anything you’re curious about). One couple even reportedly resolved a personal dispute just by using the improv principle of “Yes, And.”

Hobeen-Peter

The final exercise involved volunteer demonstrations of improvised conversations between participants acting out scenes drawn from their own feeling states.

Here two DwD participants, Hobeen and Peter improvise an emotional exchange between a worn-out boxer and his coach, both struggling with the will to win and the meaning of the match. Lauren skillfully set up the pair to adopt postures and positions, wait for the impulse, and to create the context and conversation as it emerged.

Lauren reminds us that sometimes the highest we can achieve from a difficult conversation is to understand the other person’s point of view and remain respectful.

 

About the Host

Warrior Woman-sm

Lauren Stein is director of Laurentina’s Improv Club, where she performs and facilitates improvisational theatre experiences. She has taught and performed all over the world, including Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Ireland, and Switzerland. With a Master’s in Expressive Arts Therapy from European Graduate School, she helps people awaken their creativity and overcome life’s hurdles through play.