June’s Unify Toronto dialogue hosted leadership educator, facilitator and Juno-nominated pianist Michael Jones, inspired by his forthcoming book: The Soul of Place: Reimagining Leadership through Arts, Nature, and Community. The book is expected shortly, and will be available for August’s Design with Dialogue (8/13) as Michael returns to OCADU with a second session for the book launch. In the meantime, his brief brief article titled Recovering the Soul of Place: Reflections on Place-Based Leadership is available.
Michael’s approach to placemaking is radically different than the current trend in urban planning and city-building. His book and view is a platform for community leadership grounded in the essential humanity of understanding place, nature, and creativity.
We are shifting from the industrial age and the age of information and technology to the age of biology. We are now asking, “how do we create spaces for life?” “How do we align our thinking with how nature thinks?” He asks us to create places as living systems inspired by biology and interconnection.
We explored the four patterns in Michael’s book that underlie the soul of place:
- Homecoming – Where is home and how do we find our way there?
- Belonging – How can the connective tissue of life-giving relationships align us with the essence of nature and how nature works, connects, and thinks?
- Regenerativity – What does it mean to make the invisible visible, to contribute to the conscious evolution of life?
- Carnival – How can we gather together on the square or in the commons, bringing together diverse energies, democratic spirit and upturning the old for the new?
The event was uniquely facilitated to engage multiple modes of experiencing and presencing the patterns. Michael Jones told stories about his experiences in embodied leadership and his musical learning journey (“Who’s going to play your music, if not you?”). He played several pieces while participants listened, contemplated, moved or held small group dialogues. Our gathering hosted dialogue around the four themes and patterns. An integrated sketch by Patricia Kambitsch formed a visual story of the experiences and dialogue in the room.
“By looking at place not only as something to return to but also something to grow out from –orienting us to the future and not only the past; and by realizing that a place is not an object or a thing, but a power and a presence, we can partner with place in a way that is itself deeply transformative, opening our hearts to the experience of beauty, aliveness and possibility.” – Michael Jones, “Recovering the Soul of Place”