Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Open Space memorial

20061111_Funeral Flowers_9_7, originally uploaded by the view from in here.

While it feels strange to discuss my grandfather's Life Celebration in terms of facilitation practice, i want to capture and share the learning. I feel grateful to the minister of the Anglican Church where the celebration was held as he was knowledgeable about and supportive of Open Space. I am humbled by my grandmother's trust in me. She really has no idea what i do, and no understanding of what OS is, but still she was open to letting me share what i had to give. And for that i will be forever grateful.

I did not use pure OS--as you might imagine. My intention was to both honour my grandfather's life and to provide a meaningful ceremony for all present. In the end, i used a confluence of OS, circle, and Whole Person Process.

We set up in the afternoon, two days before. We were expecting about 60 people, so we set up in concentric circles of about 30 chairs each, with four aisles aligned to the altar and the main entry door of the church sanctuary. We placed three small coffee tables (okay one coffe table and two wonderfully colourful tables from the Sunday School) in the centre of the circle. It took a while to get them positioned properly, but in the end, they supported the energy flow by inviting people into the circle and creating a clockwise flow. We covered the tables with white and green church linen. On the central table, we placed an oval mirror and on this a floral centre piece with a candle. The inspiration for this was from circle practice where the fire in the centre draws people back to spirit when the conversation gets difficult. On the other two tables we placed photos of my grandfather from different times in his life; they were placed upside down. The photos were to be used for the transfer-in process from WPPF.

On the day of the ceremony, people gathered and i rang the bells to begin. I introduced myself and then introduced the minister who led everyone in prayer. Then it was time to open the space. I walked the circle
and invited everyone to look around and see who was here with greet each other with their eyes. The principles were implicit rather than explicit--this was not the time for formality or rigidity--everything needed to be deeply personal.

Whoever comes became: We are all family, all friends. There are no strangers here.
Then i said, "We are all here to celebrate Len's life--to honour the life that he led and the legacy he has left. We are here to share a few of the moments where his life touched ours. To share what he meant to us--as best we can at this time. Please know that your tears are a blessing to that legacy and so is your laughter. His life was a special gift to each of us--and for a few minutes today, we can share that with each other."

Then it was time for the transfer in. I said that we had a gift for each of them and they were invited to come up and choose a picture from the tables. I invited everyone to believe that whatever picture they chose was the one they were meant to have. We took a minute of silence to reflect on the picture, on what it told us about Len. Then i invited everyone to find a partner or two and spend ten or fifteen minutes sharing whatever they wanted to. This is from WPPF and allows everyone to warm up their voices (it's tough to stand up and speak at these things--and my grandmother was scared that no one would). It also gives those who just couldn't possibly get up to speak a chance to share what they needed to share with someone else.

I rang the bells again after about 12 minutes and we all took our seats again. I invited each person who felt like it (and nobody had to) to come and take the microphone and share a memory of Len or what he had meant to them. I added that: "There may be silences and that is fine. We are all here to share what we can and sometimes silence is what we need to share."

People got up and shared stories, some read what they had brought to share, email messages were shared out and read into our circle. At one point my mother suggested that i offer to take the microphone to anyone who felt they couldn't get up. I honoured her request and was glad i had. It's not what i would usually do, but grief needs accommodation. There were several people who wanted to share, but just couldn't bear the idea of meeting anyone's eyes. They were so glad to be able to contribute by having the mike passed to them.

In about 50 minutes it felt like we were done. I said, "We may be finished, we may not be." i gave us all a minute in case someone was still gathering their thoughts. Then finished up with, "Our formal time for sharing is ending." I invited the minister back into the circle for a final blessing. When he finished i thanked everyone for what they had shared and for their presence and support. I invited those who wanted to do so to light a candle in Len's memory from the one on the central table. And we adjourned for refreshments and more sharing. The circle was open. The whole ceremony took about one hour and fifteen minutes.

Open Space invited the presence of Spirit and let us all feel each other's presence. It allowed for each of us to contribute as we felt able. It honoured the grief present and gave us all a brief glimpse of what lay beyond it. Circle supported us with fire in the centre, the heart of family and community. WPPF supported us in bringing our whole self present. It supported healing by integrating both sides of the brain, by inviting our voices, and by helping us to hear each other with open hearts. It provided a liberating structure to what might otherwise have felt overwhelming.

The feedback has been very positive. Many people have remarked on how fulfilling it was--on how it was just what they needed. That was what i had hoped for: to provide an honouring space and time that would be meaningful and healing for those who came.

I did not have long to prepare for this, as you might imagine, so it just flowed from my heart and what felt right and possible in the moment for all of us closest to it.

Monday, November 06, 2006

In Memoriam Len Turner 1913-2006

gramps and me, originally uploaded by the view from in here.

My Grandfather, Len Turner, died just after 11:00 on Saturday night. It has been a long 14 months and it was a longer 4 days for those of us who sat by his bedside as he struggled for each breath. His final moments were peaceful and we all feel a huge sense of relief that he has finally found freedom after being a prisoner in a body that no longer served his will.

He loved life so much. He loved this beautiful earth and didn't want to miss a minute of what might happen next. His love for his family, for my grandmother, for my mother, for me and my brother was a blessing and privilege to witness and receive.

His stories, his humour, his smiles, his ingenuity, and his gentle strength have been a daily part of my life for 40 years. He was a blacksmith's apprentice, a welder, a builder of planes, a fireman, a maker of jewelery, an artisan, a handyman, a gardener, a trickser, a farmer, a fisherman, a naturalist, a husband, a father, a grandfather, a great-grandfather.

I have been thinking a lot over the past few days about all of the things that i learned from him. He taught me to fish. He tried to teach me to fight (but i was a hopeless non-violence practitioner, even at ten.) He taught me how to light a campfire--my status as a fire goddess is largely due to his example. But of all the lessons that i learned from him, two stand out as most important.

I learned from him the belief that what you can imagine you can create. He could coax beauty and usefulness from anything--bits of wood and string, scraps of metal, discarded perspex-- with a bit of glue and paint, or some whittling, under his hands they became a mobile of airy delight, an eternal rose, an exotic parrot. Thanks to him i can see beauty and possibility everywhere.

He also gave me the gift of companionable silence. You can't fish and chatter. You can't see a deer or a purple finch or a drowsy snake if you're always filling the silent spaces. Those daily adventures in the woods, and wandering along streams and beaches--quiet. Listening together for the mystery in the spaces of life.

I love you Gramps. And i can't quite yet absorb that you're gone.

Monday, October 09, 2006

horror--and its remedy?

Today a colleague sent me images by email of an 8-year-old boy having his arm crushed by the wheel of a car for stealing bread in a market. Last week, as i sat in my car in the ferry line with my children waiting to take them to school we listened to news of a mother who had murdered her children. The day before, we heard news of ten girls bound and shot in an Amish school. Every day they die of hunger. Every day they die of AIDS. Every day they are shot by militias because they got in the way, or they were homeless. Every day they are neglected in orphanges. Every day they suffer in the bondage of slavery. Every day they watch their mothers beaten and murdered. Every day they are beaten and murdered.

I sit here almost incapacitated by horror. There are images and sounds and stories of torture and murder burned in my memory from the past fifteen years of work. I know i am tired. I know i don't usually consume ANY media for good reason. I know I will wake up in the morning, having managed to fall asleep somehow, and get on with my day, my work, loving my children, my family, my friends. I know that somehow, beyond this moment, i will find again the hope and determination to imagine a future for my species that is free from hatred, fear, and cruelty. A future where each child can grow up unharmed. I will somehow, once again manage to choose compassion over despair. But right now all i can do is shake and cry with the horror of what we can do to each other.

This news that bathes and barrages us with the basest of who we are, depletes us and alters us in dangerous ways. We can lose hope; we can lose faith in ourselves and our species. We can slide from horror to numbness to incapacity. It fuels our flight from reality into endless entertainment. It fuels hatred and suspicion. And most of all it fuels fear--the kind of fear that can be used to manipulate, to silence, to subvert, to oppress.

I don't know if those photos were real. They looked real. They could have been faked. They could have been from a movie. They could have been staged by the CIA or any number of other special interest groups dedicated to promoting hatred between people to further some project or other through a disinformation campaign. I'll never know the truth. Neither will you. What i do know is real is the trauma in my body. The disruption at a cellular level of my self and my energy. My heart contracts in self-protection. Can you feel it too?

It hurts--and it's hard work!--to open and soften that heart again. I am working at it as it type this because i choose to believe that compassion is the only response that will change us--that has any chance of success. And so i breathe in the suffering and terror of the child and breathe out compassion--because it's all i can give him--because i choose to believe that at some level it matters. And then it gets harder--i extend compassion to the man who is holding him down (it could be his father) because i choose to believe that only someone who is experiencing tremendous suffering could harm a child that way. So i breathe in that suffering and breathe out compassion--because i choose to believe that it matters. And i choose to break the cycle. I will not perpetuate the energy of hate and fear.

I don't believe it's about right and wrong anymore. I choose to believe it's about the energy of love and compassion versus the energy of fear. And i choose to believe that it matters at the level of energy--regardless of distance or time.

And i say choose to believe, because i have learned that faith is not a rock that we stand on, but is an activity we engage in moment by moment as life presents us with each new opportunity to be present in a different way.

So the horror and despair are receding--replaced by the ache of a soft and open heart.

-----author's aside to self:
A wondering to capture for further reflection: Things seem to be moving beyond questions--or at least verbalized questions--and into a realm of being or flow. There seems to be no question relevant other than to perhaps be a question. Or be a response. Perhaps we can find repose in our response-ability?

Thursday, September 21, 2006


So much one could say about this...but sometimes pictures are worth more. And when it's pushing one A.M. and one's children are heading off to their first day of school in the morning, and one is still jet-lagged and totally bagged...a picture it will have to be.

If you haven't seen the incredible West German short film BALANCE, then do. It's seven minutes you won't regret. This is a pretty decent version up on youtube.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

questions on human competencies and complexity

In our workshop today there were some really interesting discussions and questions raised. Marquis Bureau suggested that perhaps we should look at nomadic people for the skills and competencies that would help us to function and thrive in more fluid and changing organizations. That led me to think of the Lakota people who offer that their particular genius is in human relationships (Dr. Martin Brokenleg). And we certainly could use improved competencies in that area. Birgitt Williams pointed out that many nomadic people still had a cycle of regular places that they stayed. This leads to a couple of questions...what other competencies do nomadic people demonstrate that might be helpful for us to learn from? Are there any truly nomadic people--those who have no regular round of locations?

Another question that arose as we pondered where untapped treasure troves of human understanding might lie, was: When was the last time (if any) the human species (or its predecessor) has been faced with this degree of complexity and change? I posited the Ice Age. It would be really interesting to take a look at this and see not only if there are times that compare well, but what arose out of those times. Memes for example; that we may still be carrying today.

Well, as you might expect after a long day of stiff brain work, i'm toasted. So i leave you to ponder along with me. Looking forward to your thoughts.

(Sorry for the lack of pics. I forgot to bring along the camera cable.)

Monday, September 11, 2006

argghhh. social engineering meets the web?!?

This is one of the horrors i imagined happening when i fully grokked what Stephen Downes was talking about during Northern Voice 2005. When he was trying to disenchant us all about the big spike-long tail thing and started getting into how power, control, heirarchy, etc is built right into the coding that makes our beloved web work.

The last thing we all need is software that engineers social interaction--facilitates fine, engineers....eeek!!!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

community and leadership

Great post from Gardner Campbell over at Gardner Writes on leadership and growing community:
On the topic of leadership, this quotation also seems striking to me.

He who loves community, destroys community. He who loves the brethren, builds community. Dietrich Bonhoeffer

With allowances for the androcentric language, which I’m confident Bonhoeffer meant inclusively, the observation is keen and apt. The idea as I understand it is that communities are built out of persons, not out of ideologies, and that one of the most insidious traps a leader can fall into is that of advocating community while evading engagement with persons in all their alterity, all their knotty complexities.

There's more good stuff to read here about personal integrity and learning communities.

There's a real link here to what we are practicing with Community Weaving. Weaving a social safety net and creating a village effect by connecting with one person at a time, meeting them where they are, however they are, and inviting them to ask for what they need and offer what they can--believing that the resources required to resolve local problems reside in the hands and hearts of local people. As each person responds to an invitation to step forward and take responsibility for what they care about, they become a vital and creative organ in a self-organizing body of increasing civic health and wellbeing.

I am working with People for a Healthy Community on Gabriola to pioneer this approach in Canada. I also presented on this approach when i was in Moscow and there are now several initiatives begun there as a result.

Well, i am in North Carolina with Birgitt and Ward Williams and a group of wonderful folk from around the world. We are all learning together and sharing our experiences of helping organizations integrate Open Space principles into their daily way of working.

The conversations are deep and there is much to ponder and much fodder for future bloggin'!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Starfish tracks

Starfish tracks, originally uploaded by the view from in here.

On our jaunt to Sandwell Park a couple of days ago...we saw this beautiful rarity of nature: a starfish making tracks. It was about 30 cm across and moved about 60 cm every five minutes or so--a real racer!

The beauty of the tracks just stopped me.

Friday, September 08, 2006

fishing for words?

you have to be still
for the words to come
like minnows under
cedar roots
even a shadow of movement
and they flit back
into darkness

Moscow OSonOS photos up on flickr

Originally uploaded by the view from in here.

Hi everyone,

Finally! I have uploaded the official picture set from the OSonOS proceedings in Moscow. You can view them here.
Descriptions will have to wait until later.

The photos of my trip, with basic descriptions are here. Some of the photos still need work, but at least they are all up.

And kids are kids everywhere. Child playing in a fountain near Red Square.

Originally uploaded by the view from in here.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

another reason for more open space in schools

Stephen Downes posts this excerpt and comments on Kindergarten Gulag:
The headline says it all, doesn't it? "Instead of story time, finger painting, tracing letters and snack, first graders are spending hours doing math work sheets and sounding out words in reading groups. In some places, recess, music, art and even social studies are being replaced by writing exercises and spelling quizzes."

I would add as well that a fundamental purpose of recess, arts and social studies is to promote freedom by enabling it - and so I wonder about this unfree generation of children now being raised. Remember, how we used to hear, that freedom and democracy may have flaws, but they are much better than any other form of government? I wonder when people stopped believing this, and how it is that they feel that a command economy is somehow better. Remember - the lessons we teach our children are based, not on the content we teach, but on how we act, how we behave. Authoritarian teachers raise dictators, even if they teach Rousseau.

"To promote freedom by enabling it" isn't that what Open Space is all about? I appreciate all the work done by open space colleagues to introduce OS into schools at any level. There is a collection of stories about this here.

And this is why i can't send my children to public school. But i still feel a deep unease and concern about the reasons underlying the way the school system has changed (and not changed) in the past 35 years. Out of seven of my children's friends who are starting school this year, only one is attending the mainstream public school here on Gabriola. With the funding structure of the public system, what does this mean to the future of public education? And i believe that future does matter--just ask someone from a country that has no public education system.

Some of the things i wonder about: Is the system being purposefully starved and left to rot in a backwater of unproven and inappropriate methodology? Is it hopelessly out of step with the needs and desires of modern parents for a reason--or is it just an accident of complexity? Is it worth saving? Is it possible to save? Is this the beginning of a two-tier system or even the leading edge of the demise of the right to public education, or the unfettered privatization of that system?

A real catch-22 for parents who care--not just about their own children's education, but all children's access to education (as my friend Keira has so passionately described to me--i know, you will blog oneday, in your best time).

So, while i reluctantly entrust my children to a semi-private learning environment, i ponder about a new publicly supported system of distributed learning networks--locally driven, globally linked. And a new social culture where parents and community are able to create the learning space our children are asking for. Any thoughts?

Just read my blogroll and there is more on the Great Canadian Homework Ban and links to some great resources at parkinglot.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Design in translation

Perhaps not the deepest, or most enthralling learning from Moscow OSonOS, but a useful one to capture is about designing an event where there will be a lot of translation happening.

A few things i learned:
  1. Do not attempt to cut short the time for the sessions. Alot at least the 1.5 hours recommended and perhaps even extend that by 15 minutes or so. I have noticed the dampening effect of shorter time slots before, but it was more pronounced here where conversations were all translated and so the effective conversational time was often halved. (But we got better at getting more concise as the days progressed.)
  2. Allow a bit more time for the opening and closing segments. Again, with translation, we ran into trouble staying on schedule for the first session each day (there were some other reasons for that, too...) and inviting a focus to the closing comments and reminding folks to please keep things brief at the end of the day is a necessity.
  3. Using translators that have a grasp of the subject matter is a huge benefit. For those of us who have no experience with translating into other languages, it is easy to forget that a lot of words and concepts do not have direct translations and that subtle shades of meaning can be very tricky to convey. Translators who have some exposure already to the field of conversation can really enrich the experience for everyone.
  4. Inviting volunteer translators from within the participants can really boost your translating power.
  5. Translation support in the newsroom and extra hands on deck to help get all the reports in order would be handy (especially when the character set is different--very tricky to match up reports with their translations if you not only don't speak the language, but also can't decipher it either...).
Well, those are the main points i noticed. Did you notice anything else Raffi?

I want to commend the organizing team of OSonOS in Moscow for creating an incredibly flexible and rich translation environment. It was a wonderful experience.


Saturday, September 02, 2006

a few thoughts as an update

Still returning to the world. A world that is in more flux and flow than usual--and that's saying something. It took me about five days to recover from my trip to Moscow. I slept a lot of that.

I have so much to report about that trip that i can only hope to capture it all before it slips away. i have some thoughts recorded and ready to jumpstart me and i wanted to just check in quickly with you all--to let you know it was an incredible experience and that i returned home safe and sound.

OSonOS. Three days out of time and place. i am still left in awe and wonder at how deeply we can know each other in so short a time. Friends, and more than friends-- a family of the heart and soul--discovered there. Dear ones who will dwell now always and everpresent in my heart--Mussarrat, Raffi, Birgitt, Carol, Netra, Funda, Lada, Marina, Alex, Vera. And those who i carried with me in heart and Spirit--so that their essence and contributions could also bless that gathering--Lisa, Chris, Michael, Tree, Peggy. You are a beautiful host to hold in one's heart.

And after the event, Raffi supported me in hosting a Community Weaving workshop in Moscow. I was humbled again by how powerful people find this approach and how quickly they are willing to grasp it and run with it. Community Weaving is now taking root in organisations in Moscow, Ukraine, Chechnya, the Altai region, and the Baikal region. Those attending plan to use it to support their work in restorative justice, juvenile justice, homeless women and children, preservation of the environment, and indigenous rights.

Much has happened since my return...the first family camping trip (with both dogs!!) to Newcastle Island; a surprise visit this week from my brother and his family; getting back to work--or trying to; preparing to go off to North Carolina week after next; and then the start of school for the boys.

Yes, school...many of you know how hard we have struggled with this decision. And in the end we have opted to go with Montessori. I am still torn--i would love to be able to keep them home--but without unreasonable sacrifice and constant chaos, neither of us can find a way at this time to make it work. So far, we like what we are hearing--own pace, child centred, co-learning atmosphere, follow their passions. We will see how it goes. At least i don't have an anxiety attack when i walk into the place. For those who are also struggling with this decision, Chris has some cogent and heartfelt thoughts on the subjects of homework and unschooling.

Will be slowly returning to this space with stories and PHOTOS!!! from the trip as my time and energy allow over the next month.

Blessings to you all and thank you for your patience over this last extended dry patch.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Road to Moscow part 1

So here I am, sitting in the cafeteria of the Queen of Oak Bay on my way to Vancouver. I left home in a cab this morning, the car having lost a brake cylinder yesterday—Oh Murphy loves me yes he does! So the journey began at 9:30 am PST. I took the 10:05 am ferry (Quinsam). This is the 12:50 ferry to Horseshoe Bay. I’m off to get my bus ticket in a few minutes that should take me all the way to the Airport (YVR)

Leaving was difficult. The boys were all sad that I was going and I felt badly about having to leave in the taxi and not be able to set our own time and pace. It has been a difficult decision to go to Moscow and I still feel somewhat conflicted about it. I’m not sure if either the boys or I am ready to be away from each other for this long. I’m sure the exhaustion of the last week isn’t helping me cope as well as I might either. The trip is truly under way. And I know that the anxiousness I feel now will slowly ebb into a growing excitement.

I am practicing my Cyrillic in an effort to be able to make sense of signs and such. I’ll catch up on some sleep on the bus. I may try and make a podcast of the journey. Either way, see you later.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Alien Abduction--No Really

Okay, i was going to claim to have been abducted by aliens, but it was really just way too much work and needing to spend more time with my children. I cut my childcare days down because we were seeing symptoms of real stress in the kids and so, with more mommy time, something had to give and unfortunately it seems to have been this space.

I have missed you all, and hope to be able to come back with shorter posts once or twice a week. We'll see. I can but try.

Next up...countdown to Moscow....Day 8

Thursday, March 23, 2006

An Appreciative Approach to Community

Well, you all know how i (and many of you) dream about intentional community. Well, i've been having these amazing conversations lately that have spawned some questions around a different approach.

Talking with seasoned vets of communes and other intentional communities has highlighted just how difficult it is to artificially construct a viable community. How leadership is usually a thorny issue--a bit of a catch-22 really--you need a strong and visionary leader to actually make one of these things happen, and then after a few years, everybody is sick of the "controlling, overbearing, sob"... And then there's money...some have it, some don't; some earn it, some don't. How do you make it all equitable and what kind of internal economy will help the community flourish? And what about the interface with the external economy? Then there's the question of numbers--how many folks do you need to make a vibrant and viable community? And what about the mix of skills and professions (to say nothing of personalities or ages)? And this is just scratching the surface.

So, i have started wondering, what might emerge if i began to apply an appreciative approach to the issue of intentional community? What if i looked at the community i already live in as one which is largely functional, viable, and sustainable? What would change if i tried believing that the distance between what we have and what we need to create is very small? What would be different if i began to ask, "What is working well here and how can we grow more of it?" instead of, "What is wrong here and how can we escape it?" I am really interested to see what small steps and actions suggest themselves to me as i sit with this new set of wonderings.
It is absolutely entrancing to my writer's mind to look at my community through this new lens. What if i imagine that my community is an intentional community that has been thriving for 100 years? How would i approach my neighbours differently? What would i think was possible? How would my assumptions about how change happens be different? What if i began acting as if Gabriola is an intentional community of 5,000 souls that is threatened by external and internal changes and pressures? What invitations could i issue from this new perspective?

It is just flipping the paradigm around. I would be bringing intention to my community rather than attempting to attract a community to my intention.

PS: Further to my post of March 02, here is a link to a letter from Starhawk reflecting on her work of the past three years and in remembrance of Rachel Corrie, the peace activist who was crushed to death by a bulldozer in Gaza. You can access her other writings about her work in New Orleans and at the G8 summit via this site also.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

For your listening pleasure

I have been wanting to post about the wonderful music coming out of CHLY Community Radio for a while now (available on the web). One of my favourite shows, Third Stone from the Sun (Wednesdays from 3:00 pm to 6:00pm) is hosted by friend and fellow Gabriolan Fergus Foley. George and I saw Fergus tonight on our way to and from Nanaimo and he very kindly sent a set out to us. Thanks, Fergus!


This is a pic of Fergus relaxing at his Gabriola digs. Several people are encouraging Fergus to start a wee blog, so perhaps we will be hearing more from him in the future. At the moment, you can find his top 10 list from 2005 here.

Some of the other shows i have been checking out...Eclectic Celtic--just what it sounds like and American Crossroads--live bluegrass--oh yes, and Indiecontextual--it's an absolute hoot if you are, were, or love a GRRL and serious RnR. You can check out the whole line up here.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Time for a change?

I don't know if it's spring or the alignment of the planets, but i'm all revved up again about making big transformations and having another go at changing my life and maybe helping to change the world. My friend Dave Pollard has been blogging about the same sort of thing over at How to Save the World. Interesting that he has been on my mind a lot the last few days--must be that group soul thing...

In his post, Taking Things into our own Hands, he suggests a cell-based, distributed system to just get things done locally that can have global implications. He asks for suggestions for a code of principles and silly as it may seem, my kids have been getting into Dinotopia recently and the Dinotopian code isn't a bad start. Needs some tweaking, but:

1. Survival of all or none. (recognizes our interconnection)
2. One raindrop raises the sea. (recognizes our uniqueness and its value to the community)
3. Weapons are enemies even to their owners. (nuff said)

4. Give more, take less.
5. Others first, self last.
6. Observe, listen, and learn.
7. Do one thing at a time. (Ah, the temptation of sanity)

8. Sing every day.
9. Exercise imagination.
10. Eat to live, don't live to eat.
11. Don't p...remaining text missing. ( The movie says: Find the light.)

So there you go Dave! If five-year-olds find it meaningful, it must have something going for it. I'll keep thinking about a name, although i almost wish it could be nameless. Somehow, everytime we name something, we close a bit of space and all of a sudden there's us and them.

And in his post for today, he points out the insanity of modern life--all work and no (meaningful) play. I was talking to a sister parent on Monday about how we seem to be caught in a new feudal system, continuing to work for subsistence rather than sustenance. Wondering how we can shift out of it. Continuing to have these conversations is part of it. Continuing to name it, raise our awareness, and support each other is another. And maybe it's past time i started demonstrating it.

A couple of women who are doing amazing work demonstrating the power of the people to create their own solutions and just doin' it are Starhawk, who is supporting incredible bioremediation work in New Orleans, and Cheryl Honey, founder of the Family Support Network.

The importance of practice

I have written a lot about why we find it difficult to achieve peace, about the need to reinforce good intentions and desires with practical skill-building and daily practice. Here is a story passed along by Jack Ricchiuto from jack/zen:

For decades after his enlightenment, the Buddha found it necessary to meditate 3 times a day and take 3 months a year off to meditate. Seriously. So what does that say about the importance of practice?

Thanks for the reminder.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

How to change the world with blogging

Originally uploaded by the view from in here.

Registering for Moose Camp.

I was at the Northern Voice blogging conference last Friday and Saturday. Lots of juicy stuff going on, and one of the highlights that i figured you guys would enjoy the most was a presentation by Rob Cottingham on how your blog can change the world.

Originally uploaded by the view from in here.

Here's a blurry picture of Rob holding up a cell phone on which Marnie Webb was able to contribute her portion of the presentation. Bloggers are nothing if not resourceful!

Here's my notes on his presentation...

Rob suggested that there are five kinds of change we can bring about, specifically the kinds of changes where people can act on something:
  • building community
  • connecting resources and needs
  • advocacy
  • providing information
  • supporting or enabling others

He warned that bloggers for change can encounter the echo chamber effect where the communication becomes circular, with little dialogue, and ultimately few people are persuaded to change. He suggests that we need to know what the goal is and to remember that the change we seek is in the physical world, not just the digital.

We need to ask, what do people need and how do we reach them? Our thinking needs to be strategic, but perform that fine balancing act between personal authenticity and strategy to achieve goals. He offers sustainablog--as a good example of this balance.

Rob suggests that ways to avoid the echo chamber and to widen your sphere of influence is to invite others to speak through your blog either as a guest post or guest editor. And to join an existing effort, by adding a web badge for instance (for example human rights watch produces an rss feed), by providing information on other blogs and websites related to your goals, by using common tags for your topic, and by using flickr tags. All of these will help you to draw a wider audience. Also consider contributing reasoned comments on the blogs of those who oppose you. Where better to find new readers?

Some other great examples of blogs that are changing the world:
  • interplast-blog --creates an ongoing connection. They use a flickr feed. They connect the community and tell a story
  • march of dimes --dealing with critical childhood illness. Was originally set up for parents (by Nancy White), but became a powerful fundraising tool. It is used in addition to traditional websites.
  • jetsgo--When it failed suddenly and thousands were left jobless, one person set up a simple blog and invited people to share their stories -- it became a job connection site.
The invitation to a broad scope and letting go of control brings in wider audience and increases what you can cover.

Some sites offered by audience members as examples of social change/networking blogging: - an amazing site about planning, developing and operating wireless broadband networks in northern BC communities.; youth in the north linking to each other - after the london bombing - reaction site to

There was also a suggestion for the creation of a drupal module to help with decision making for online groups.

There was a reflection that this medium of communication is transformative for an organization and to remember that there is a bifurcation between people who are comfortable with digital world vs those that are not.

Awesome contribution, Rob. Well done, espeicially in light of losing so many panel members at the last minute.

Originally uploaded by the view from in here.

Lunch at Templeton, 1087 Granville St., Vancouver. Great organic burgers and other cool eats for under $12! Groovy!

Monday, January 30, 2006

Here's to a great Film Festival!

Congratulations and thank-you to Nick Halpin of Eyes Wide Open Photography and Paul and Sapora of Moonfire Studio for all their work in pulling together an inspiring and thought-provoking film festival for Gabriola this weekend.

I was lucky enough to be able to catch two films: A New World is Possible, and The Indigo Evolution. A New World is Possible documents the 2002 World Social Forum held in Porto Alegre, Brazil, where 51,000 people from 113 countries gathered in response to the elite World Economic Forum in New York. The Gabriola film festival coincided with this year's Social Forum in Caracas, Venezuela, where more than 100,000 now gather to share in collective action.

I had an interesting experience as i watched it and reflected on some of the converging currents of the previous week. On OSlist, Harrison and others were debating the merits of having regional OSonOS events (the annual international learning gathering of OS practitioners) and while all agreed that having an international event was important, and should be preserved to continue growing the community, the value of having more accessible regional events that could feed into or share learnings from the Int'l OSonOs was made clearer. Often in the past, as i have watched footage of events like the Social Forum, i have felt a need to be there, to be present and a part of it--but this time i had a different experience. As i looked around the room and saw neighbours and friends and folks i had opened space with around our community commons project, i felt already connected--already a well-woven strand in the web. The work we are doing on Gabriola is directly connected to the work of the Social Forum and the movements it represents. It was an amazing feeling of solidarity.

And the Indigo Evolution...well, having three indigo's at home, i thought i had better go have a look see. Well, to paraphrase Robert Anton Wilson, it's not that i believe in all of this, it's that i am simply willing to believe in it. (if you decide to check out the link, be warned this guy is a satirist, a trickster, a disrupter, and a discordian and totally unrepentant--not to mention an amazing Joyce scholar)

Friday, January 20, 2006

Reminder...Don't miss the Moose!

Just a reminder that the Northern Voice Blogging Conference is coming up fast! Check out the offerings.

See you there!

A few links

A bit of linkage for you:

A beautiful and thoughtful blog by colleague Filiz Telek.

The new Open Space World newsblog--all the latest and some of the greatest from the Open Space community of practice.

A fun reminder about our interconnection -- turn on your speakers for the One World Wombat!

The Shire: An ecological learning community near Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. Supporting leadership and hosting conversations that matter.

The Berkana Institute: (from their homepage) a growing community of life-affirming leaders around the world. We define a leader as anyone who wants to help, anyone who is willing to step forward to help create change in their world. We are everyday people who hold visions of new possibility for our local communities, nations, and our shared global village. If this describes you, we hope you will join us.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Long dark night of the soul -- for facilitators

Facilitated an Open Space yesterday for a small group (11) that was hosted in a beautiful private home. We had enough space, three! fires, awesome food, and a singing dog named Darby.

What i noticed in this small group and relatively small space, was that it is a lot harder to be invisible. I worked extra hard not to be too large a presence in the opening, and then was very careful to be as unseen and inobtrusive as possible, while still being present. While i was busy not-doing (more than usual), i had lots of time to observe the inner activity.

Now, facilitation is not usually seen as a spiritual practice, but i think i can now heartily recommend it to any serious student of any spiritual path. If you are looking to come face to face with all your stuff, to engage with your own long dark night of the soul--facilitation is good hunting ground.

During the hours while everyone else was deep in juicy conversation and dialogue, i was sitting/standing/pacing around listening to my brain do a number on my ego by inventing all sorts of stories about what was happening with those gathered and the day. Thank Spirit that i know that it's not about me and that i have faith in the folks gathered to do the work.

I have got to the point now, where this aspect of holding space is as close to fun as it's ever going to get. It's kind of like when you know you are dreaming--you can go along for the ride if you like and try to learn something. I know what my head is telling me is utter fabrication--but, of course, faith is not real unless it has something to test it/challenge it--yes? So the voices are necessary to strenghten the faith. At least that's my story at this point.

So there i am, for hours and hours, watching this incredible dance inside myself--aware of the space i am holding, aware of the strength of my faith in those gathered, aware of my insecurities and frailities--present with it all. Just sitting with it all. How glorious. What another gift.

What is it about facilitating that in order to truly serve those we host, we must lose faith in ourselves and everything else except those who are on the voyage with us?

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Eye of the Storm

Originally uploaded by the view from in here.

Once in a while you get a gift. In this case it was at the end of a lot of hard work, risk, and grief, but it was still a gift. I'm not sure when the seed of this particular insight was planted, but i know it began to uncurl into the light of awareness during the Art of Hosting training i attended on Bowen Island in November.

I believe that i get more out of a training or conference if i go with a personal quest--so this time out i went to challenge myself at a very deep level. I asked myself, if I believe that facilitation is what i am called to do, if it is what i am focusing my career and a lot of life energy on right now, can i be (let me say that again, can i BE, as in embody) the very best host possible--for me. In other words, i wanted to walk straight into the heart of what i know are my greatest fears and weaknesses and see if i could overcome them or if they would stop me from being the best i believe i can be. Sound like fun? of the learnings that i harvested from those three days of challenge was that the veil of fear is very thin. It looks fearsome and feels deadly, but if i pushed through it, i found that it was almost insubstantial. Once moving over the first hurdle, a path through emerged--even if twisted and shrouded in mystery and unknowing.

After the training, i went directly into a three-day facilitation for a community project on Gabriola Island, where i live. I will write more about this in the days to come, but the link to this idea came on the third morning. It was that moment when a facilitator really earns their keep--the groan zone as some call it--you can feel it when all the wonderful divergence stops and the whole enterprise has to begin to converge in to new emerging ideas and outcomes...the hard work, when everyone feels overwhelmed, loses faith and just plain gets ornery.

To me, it sometimes feels like a swirling storm of chaos and energy that i am both holding and remaining apart from. (At least that's the plan...) This event was a particularly strong example of it and it was remarkable to watch it unfold and see how my holding of the space was like the eye of the storm--an anchor of calm and stillness at the centre of the swirling work of the group. It is a challenging place to stand, but there is also an ease that comes and the same sense of emerging through a very thin barrier to what lies beyond when you get it just right.

I have talked before about the importance of stillness at the centre--that i believe it is the fifth practice of open space facilitation--and this seems to be further learning.

And finally, a personal challenge--aren't they always the toughest? When it's not about a client or a group, but just about you and something or someone you care about. So there i was...face to face with an intractable old pattern of defensiveness--not wanting to go there again--not wanting the same old, same old, but still feeling in the middle of the raging storm of emotion and history--you know that one, right? And there it was...the eye of the storm...Pema Chodron's words, and Goenka's teachings, the pains of birthing, and so many other influences all converged...i stood back, watched the storm swirl, saw the eye--through the centre of the pain. That was where the path was laid...the shortest and surest route out of the suffering was right through the middle of it all. Through the eye of the storm.

What it taught me, was that the eye of the storm, the centre of suffering and pain, is the place where our courage can be sufficient to the task. It is the thinnest place, the place where all the rest anchors and spins from. Act at the centre and you move beyond--all the dangerous energy of the storm uncoils behind you as you slip through into an uncharted open space. Watch for it and let me know what you find.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Happy New Year

New Year's
Originally uploaded by the view from in here.

Happy New Year everyone! And here's to more regular appearances--as promised.

The photo was taken on New Year's Eve outside the Gabriola Community Centre. We were just loading the kids into the van when i looked up and saw this and knew it was the photo i'd been waiting for. The branches of this lovely old twin maple seemed to curve up and embrace the light. What a beautiful image for the new year.

Well, lots of plans and new projects. Three more Open Space projects on the go, a new Open Space e-book project, website revamps, blog updates, a new hair colour, even a new business and partnership in the works.

Up next on the menu for tomorrow...The eye of the storm. Followed by my very late reports from the field on a one-day strategic planning OS with convergence and priority setting and a three-day OS for Gabriola Commons to produce a land use proposal with map! Lots of learning and thinking to share over the next month.

See you tomorrow,