Category Archives: Reflection

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

Written by . Filed under Act, Reflection. No comments.

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.

 

Don Officer on Living & Dying through Change & Transformation

Written by . Filed under Reflection. Tagged , . No comments.

Something about August reminds us of those unseen tipping points that mark the change of seasons in the year, in our lives, in our organizations and ultimately cultures. The fruits of summer need shorter days and colder nights to ripen. All are harbingers of harvests but likewise endings soon enough to come. So it was timely that Vanessa Reid opened up a conversation to the 30 or so DwD participants in the Lambert Room on Wednesday, August 12 around the perpetual mystery and wisdom of transitions.

Such conversations take courage. Everything about our culture is designed to downplay two obvious, but annoying details. First, we all change through our lives and experiences. With the passage of years we can do less or fewer of some things and more of others. These slow but inexorable alterations do not usually comply with expectations. If that weren’t annoying enough, the many parts of the world around us move along on their own cycles and rhythms. Vanessa gave us a framework for that, a systems approach called panarchy.

Panarchy is a philosophical and methodological approach with a history some of you will recognize. In human terms we feel the perpetual tension between stability and disturbance in every aspect of life. This personal aspect was Vanessa’s focus at the DwD session. Relating her own experiences as a daughter, an agent for social change and institutional steward Vanessa illustrated how she came to appreciate panarchy from the inside out. As the invitation explains she has been immersed in creating  (and sometimes extinguishing we discovered) broadly aligned cultures. All this she accomplished while immersing herself in some very extended, old yet highly contended global cultures from India to Jerusalem to Greece.

The evening was designed to be interactive. Conversing as individuals in a circle, sometimes in twos or threes, participants pondered aloud their own cycles of growth, transformation and death or disappearance in their lives. Throughout the session process shifts between expression and reflection were felt and consolidated. Living in our hard driving high-energy compulsorily optimistic culture, we feel a powerful resistance to accepting personal or social decline’s inevitable consequences as we, along with our personal cocoons, are overtaken by the power of change from without as well as within.

Some of these ideas did indeed sink in during our three hours together. Closing thoughts from the circle reminded the whole group of the ambivalences that big changes intermingled with tenacious continuances visit on everyone. Vanessa is a living model for acceptance of panarchy’s swirling curves as it describes its sideways figure eight of infinity. Perpetuity is of course not always a consolation when we must give up something or a person dear and meaningful to us. Consciousness does not always let matters go gently into that good night. Moving on is nonetheless active and dynamic. Awareness of the call to close is step one.

Donald Officer

The Humble Power of Non-Directive Communication

Written by . Filed under Reflection, Understand. Tagged , , . 3 Comments.

The intentions for this DwD were to explore two contexts:

  • How do we avoid personal bias when facilitating authentic & emergent dialogue?
  • How do we create open spaces in communication for deep listening and sharing?

Stephen Sillett hosted our July 2015 inquiry into non-directive communication. Peter Jones presented a dialogue from Ed Schein’s Humble Inquiry, and Stephen held an experiential activity with David Grove’s Clean Language methods. We touched on open and shared conversation experiences of forming and asking questions, touching on how power relations, culture and personal assumptions influence how we ask questions.

Humble inquiry is an approach to creating better working relationships with people in interdependent situations. Schein simply calls this “the gentle art of asking rather than telling.” However, as with most of his work it goes well beyond good management, it’s an approach we can all learn from for better relationships and more effective team and partnership work.

Humble Inquiry is the skill and art of drawing someone out, of asking questions to which you do not already know the answer, of building a relationship based on curiosity and interest in the other person.

Schein notes three modes of humility – Basic humility, Optional humility, and Here and Now humility. We always have a choice to approach a situation as an inquiry, with questions that invite the other person to share, to ascend a bit. We allow the other to be the expert in their own experience. This is especially powerful when you as the questioner may already be in a more powerful status.

humble-sm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clean Language

Clean Language draws from techniques developed by David Grove, derived from counseling, and used  in organizational development and group facilitation. Several books and materials available on the Clean Language website provide pathways for interested participants to follow. Stephen will be running clean language workshops in the future and can be contacted at stephen@adcid.org

These activities can be very powerful, especially when exploring emotive, complex or confusing situations. It slows down our everyday way of communicating, which is often goal-directed and constrained by time, inhibiting our capacity for clear, clean communication.

This approach involves formulating questions that focus attention and develops a person’s understanding, without adding the questioners’ own needs and advice to the balance of conversation.

Experiencing the Process in Embodied Metaphors

The exploration of metaphors was initiated through a person’s real incident in the past expressed using “body images”. This help to give a strong anchor, from which to process the meaning using “clean language” to enable the participant to build a deeper understanding of what is happening.

As shown in the photograph, other participants played roles in the metaphor through an image theatre method.

tableau

 

 

Voice Qualities

David Grove deliberately ‘marked out’ his use of Clean Language through changes to his normal way of speaking:

  • The speed of his delivery is slower than half normal pace
  • He uses a slightly deeper tonality than normal speaking
  • He often uses a distinctive sing-song rhythm
  • There is an implied sense of curiosity and wonder in his voice
  • The client’s idiosyncratic pronunciation, emphasis, sighs etc. are matched

Syntax: The syntax of Clean Language is peculiar and would sound very strange if used in normal conversation! It uses Pacing and Leading in a particular way. For example, all the questions begin with “and” and are orientated to the clients ‘perceptual present’. The generalised syntax, in its full form, comprises 4 components:

“And [pacing clients words]

+ And as/when

+ [question]

+ [refer to this particular experience]”

 

About the Host

ssillettStephen Sillett is co-executive director of Aiding Dramatic Change ~ in Development (ADCID), and helps the organization research, facilitate and direct dialogue, drama and art processes for healing and community development. Through ADCID projects and in partnership with other social actors, he is exploring approaches that engage community members in conversations, consciously orientated to maturing visions of the future. Research interests include the facilitation of non-verbal and spatial meaning-making practices within group workshop and the creation of interactive performance. He directs InFusion Labs where theatre artists, therapists, scientists and social practitioners explore spatial approaches to exploration and discovery.

To learn more and ask questions to practitioners visit ADCID’s Linkedin Group or Facebook Page

Strategic Learning: Personal innovation in a fluid environment

Written by . Filed under Learn, Reflection. Tagged , , . No comments.

How might we enhance our experience of learning to accord with personal or professional strategy?

Can we strategically direct our learning individually and together to adapt and lead through a changing world?

June’s DwD was hosted by Donald Officer, delving into a shared inquiry and practices toward discovery of our personal lifetime learning potentials.  Strategic learning can be viewed as choosing what we specifically need to know and practice to reach goals and commitments, during a time when traditional practices of learning are themselves in the midst of change.

Learning practices have become diffused, breaking boundaries of media and form, and can be seen as chaotically disruptive. Universities have launched MOOCs of their top professor’s courses, diploma mills have gone online, and students become debt burdened in pursuit of formal educations that may be obsolete before program completion. Training, facilitating, coaching abound.

Each of us has the opportunity to remake ourselves in a serious powerful way while connecting with others to make massive significant change. To do this we have to realize something so obvious it’s as invisible as the air we breathe.

June.CIrcle

 

The session further developed ideas in small group exercises and open reflective dialogue:

  • Recrafting personal mission statements to build transformative learning
  • Learning for them versus learning for you – no, it isn’t self indulgent
  • Ways we learn that schools won’t acknowledge and what to do about it.
  • Just in time, just in case and just because we feel like it
  • Necessity not curriculum is the mother of invention
  • Learning to think strategically (and save yourself from the planners)
  • Powerful media (new and old) tools we all can access
  • How to curate your own learning space

 

 

 

Informal like strategic learning is by nature non-linear. During the June DwD workshop we made some important connections while many more remained implicit. Don provides further context:

Microlearning Experiential learning and neuroscience: The neuroscience lies in the way we both construct new associations on the neural framework of existing linkages and also on the way the brain becomes more fully engaged via novelty, especially confronting potential threats. A little danger is a learning thing. The inner game: Timothy Gallwey’s approach to learning as evidenced in his inner game books, is to bring the routine into focus as though it were novel, since we never intentionally change what we do not take note of. Meaningful deliberate change starts with reflection and then proceeds to the rallying of motivation.

Metalearning Building a self: we touched on this only lightly and indirectly in the workshop. The simple definition of metalearning is learning how to learn which, presumably, leads to a helpful form of self knowledge. See also learning curation. At greater length we discussed surfing and diving, a fairly intuitive double metaphor to, on the one hand, approach information or data that requires little analysis before it presents its meaning versus delving deep into interpretation which on the other hand, demands murky speculation before it offers up meaningful results.

Learning curation did not really get discussed. This concept comprises everything from scrapbooks to blogs, always implying significantly more. It includes live links, all manner of graphic representation, wikis, webinars, contact lists, notes in any form or whatever else keys into learning touchstones that might in the manner of a museum diorama grow into an entire expanse or long thick thread of knowledge.

Informal learning model (diagram and discussion)- During the session we briefly examined an experiential learning diagram of David Kolb’s 4 point Concrete Experience through Active Experimentation model. Kolb’s representation resonates with neuro-scientific research shown below as is Julia Sloan’s dynamic 3 step Strategic Thinking model (Preparation, Experience and Re-evaluation). In the full version, arrows and the rectangle connect by multiple feedback loops while a series of curved arrows represents turbulence and resolution within the Experience phase. Both depict change models alluding to cognitive and affective challenges as well as conflicting mindsets or paradigms , but to be precise, both operate more from a learning perspective than from a general psychological framework.

 

Triangulation to assess informal or strategic learning – was suggested as a form of disconfirming heuristic. The idea is that without the more familiar landmarks of formal knowledge the informal learner might test a particular learning against intuitive, perceptual and reasoned benchmarks. These modes are not infallible even in concert of course, but might very well keep the learner focussed and oriented on the bigger picture until the landscape better defines itself.

 

June.Pres

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part 2 in DwD Series on New Learning: Paths to Discovery

An evolving bibliography and references

  • Postmodern Education: Politics, Culture, & Social Criticism by Stanley Aronowitz and Henry A. Giroux; University of Minnesota Press; Minneapolis, 1991.
  • Informal Learning: Rediscovering the Natural Pathways that Inspire Innovation and Performance by Jay Cross; Pfeiffer (John Wiley &Sons); San Francisco, 2007.
  • The Inner Game of Work: Focus, Learning, Pleasure and Mobility in the Workplace by W. Timothy Gallwey; Random House; New York, 2000.
  • Learning to Think Strategically: Second Edition by Julia Sloan; Routledge; London and New York, 2014.
  • Infed – The website on Informal Education (highly recommended)

 

About the Host

Donald R. Officer has been a writer, planner, communicator, management consultant and educator for over three decades. Persistently seeking better ways to approach the fuvaluesture and how to live there, he has become a strong advocate for a major rethinking about our ideas on innovation. Don’s recent career as life coach has launched a serious innovative rethinking of his own life and the meaning of learning and professional practice, insights which he shares with DwD in this session.

DonO

Don has written articles for newspapers, journals and magazines and edited policy papers, newsletters and on-line forums. He continues to review books and write articles on many social change topics, especially strategic thinking,for magazines and his blog, The Intention Coach.  Meanwhile he continues to toil away writing longer works on psychology and education. These are destined for wider publication.

Cultural Values & Social Change (Reflection)

Written by . Filed under Reflection. No comments.

A Reflection on Values and Common Cause

By Don Officer

If we’re all committed to our own self-selected values, how will we ever agree on anything we might want to see changed? This was the underlying question we were asked to consider at the May 13, 2015 session of Design with Dialogue.

Experienced, adept sustainability facilitator Aryne Sheppard of Living Simply led about 40 attendees in open discussion, dyads and triads to probe and explore how we might choose our value preferences. Later we’d each be asked to identify and chart our own value preferences using whatever reasoning we could think of.

Discussion was deliberative yet wide ranging and never dull. It began to dawn on everyone in the room how complex the difficulties in appealing to a media saturated public, bombarded by messages from every compass point could be. True to form though, the votes we cast with sticky notes exposed consistent patterns. When an irregular spider web overlay showed just how clustered and closely associated personal value choices might prove to be, I suspect inner voices protested at how inclined to conform to the short list of values stereotypes we actually are.

In discussion we considered where these categories might come from. Are you among the self-directed, the universalists, the benevolent, the conformists, the traditionalists or the security minded? Perhaps you crave stimulation, seek hedonistic indulgence or strive for power unless achievement is your heart’s desire. Some choices straddled categories even if close to common dividing lines and a few reflected a more esoteric methodology, scattering stickies across the chart.

What was the point? Apart from prompting an energizing discussion, Aryne’s process surely showed us how hard it must be to attract support for any cause. Hence the term and the strategy: Common Cause. At first glance, that phrasing suggests a coalition of militants, but in the current social change framework it is a philosophy that seeks shared overlaps among a wider, often divided community as diverse in opinion as any other describable way.


Arynemaps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t know whether or not any relentlessly inclusive approach to the tough issues of our time such as environment, social justice or resource distribution has any chance of succeeding. Are the clusters (or the quadrants they roll up into) fixed positions or stages in personal development? Not easily determined.

However, as a participant-based example of group learning, showing rather than describing, the cultural values exercise lays out some broad decision landscapes vividly and clearly.