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,