My new friend and collaborator Irene Chikumbo and I just completed three very dynamic, two-day Community Ideation trainings for Social Entrepreneur Bootcamp Zimbabwe, Zambia and Namibia.
When Irene experienced Pro-Action Café as part of YALI program in the United States, she sensed immediately that it would be a useful, accessible and scalable tool for social entrepreneurs at home. Within days of returning to Harare, Zimbabwe, she launched a three-country Social Entrepreneur training program for young entrepreneurs in collaboration with the US State Department and local embassies. She also began a search for a trainer who could help African entrepreneurs use Art of Hosting practices in their work and this is how we began.
Me: Have you ever heard about a project or a place and suspected that its story has become based more on our desire for it to be true than on something real?
UNICEF guy: Like when you are promised the moon, but when you get there you find a few candles?
Me: Yes! Well, Kufunda Village is the moon.
After three days at the Kufunda Village Art of Hosting training, I was able to welcome a visitor from UNICEF into the village this way. I continued to tell him that Kufunda has been a beacon for the Art of Hosting community as proof that our practices could be an operating system for sustainability. If it could be fully operational in Zimbabwe for the past 15 years, imagine what would be possible in our Western organizations and projects? Even so, I had arrived fully expecting to be disappointed by the gap between desire and reality but, instead, was deeply inspired by the strength of the community.
During his presentation last night, Marcos Salazar, founder of NYC-based Be Social Change, offered a core insight from many years of domestic investment in prototyping and scaling social enterprises.
Projects that go the distance have mostly emerged from time and attention invested in understanding the problem and the people affected by the problem rather than ~ as our genius culture would suggest ~ from an individual’s bright idea or ~ as our obsession with collaboration would encourage ~ as a product of expert brainstorming sessions.
We have been exploring what it takes to transform rather than regulate on our blog Power and Privilege 2.0. This inquiry continues to return us to the importance of embracing treating each other well as a practice.
In Tuesday’s piece Relationship is the Resolution she illuminates how the standard go-to tools for facilitating conflict are bandaids designed to ‘move on’ rather than develop the group’s practice of working together in difference. Instead of depending on tools that are designed to patch things up when deep historic wounds surface, she suggests that “the resolution is in our relationship, in our ability to stay in discomfort together, to be humble in the face of not knowing what to do, and to not pretend that we know how to solve this intractable issue.”
Tuesday Ryan-Hart (live) and Tim Merry (via Skype) joined Allen Frimpong, Nancy Fritsche Eagan and me at the Center for Social Innovation on a November 20 & 21 in NYC for Creating Impact through Engagement: a deep dive into effective participatory practices for stakeholder engagement featuring inspirational, real world examples.
See yourself as responsible for creating a shift as significant as the shift from hunter-gatherer to agriculture. See yourself as significant enough to create that shift. Grace Lee Boggs
I am wrapping up a beautiful collaboration with Juanita Brown of The World Cafe and the genius women of Active Voice around a three city viewing of and community conversations about the film American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs.
I studied at Skylake Lodge yesterday with one of my teachers and friends Arawana Hayashi.
She offered her buddhist teacher’s framework for artists on four stages of creativity:
1. Pacify ~ create a calm hospitable mind/environment/sacred space that welcomes and invites creativity, muses, creative partnership….
2. Enrich ~ get it out, allow the flow, fill the page, play with colors, jam, play, improv, sketch, open the flow…
3. Magnify ~ amplify what has resonance, expand on juicy points, add shading and light, enter the tensions, deepen the drama…
4. Act (Destroy) ~ cut out what is not needed, boldly offer what is.
In June, I attended a workshop with Otto Scharmer and Arawana Hayashi of the Presencing Institute at the Omega Institute. I had studied there with Otto in 2006 when he was with his colleagues and co-authors of Presencing (Peter Senge, Sue Flowers and Joseph Jaworski). His recent reports from the World Economic Forum intrigued me and I looked forward to learning about ways in which real world practice was advancing his theory.
Tim Merry has been blogging about that decision moment when we decide to respond to an invitation to bring ‘fringe’ practices and concepts into mainstream systems that we once identified as ‘the problem’ or as the metaphor for what is wrong with this world.
His blog makes me wonder about the risk in this decision and what it takes to remain a steward of life in large systems that are elegantly designed to colonized life.
Allen Frimpong and I offered a training about working in complexity for about 14 peers in social service, social justice, disability movement, harm reduction, art and faith communities.
We studied the Cynefin Framework and discussed what it takes to stay in inquiry rather than depending on what we already know.
The harvest from our conversation centered the importance of personal resolve and healthy relationships as a foundation for staying with ‘not knowing’ until emergence can happen.
is about getting unstuck and trying something new with you.