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.