Pot Pourri

Core deficiencies for nonprofits as learning organizations (from friend and colleague Jeannel King’s master’s thesis research): 1) Promoting dialogue and inquiry, 2) Empowering people toward a collective vision, and 3) Connecting the organization to its environment. Makes for good contexting of why dialogue and hosting conversations that matter.

On resistance, from Maya Lin, designer of the Viet Nam War Memorial in Washington, DC: “You need resistance to fly.” (Thanks Kathy Lung for sharing this.)

On creativity, a must-watch 20 minute video featuring author Elizabeth Gilbert. I found her great, funny, insightful, inspiring. (Thanks Kathy Jourdain for recommending.)

Inner to Outer

Kathy Jourdain is a good friend and colleague in Nova Scotia. This morning we were on a call working the next level of an invitation for an event next year. Kathy is a great colleague. Our work together feels easy. It always begins with delightful invitation to just share what we are noticing in our lives, what has our attention. Inevitably, that sharing creates just the right doorway into the work we’ve agreed to do.

This morning the gift of insight was about the sweet spot of developing the individual and how the individual is developed in the context of the group. These are not new theories of change. What I found helpful in the individual was clarifying the working assumption that there is an inner _____ in all of us. In our case we were talking about Shaman. However, it could just as easily be an inner artist or an inner tyrant. The implication is that if we give attention to the inner _____, there will likely be a re-relationing of what is, rather than something that is entirely absent. To develop the individual starts by working with something that is already there.

The second part of this discussions was that the individual is fed by the group. There is more that becomes available to the individual just because of being in the group. The field feeds the individual. For example, if I were to go to a writers workshop, just being amongst other writers would improve the realm of what is possible to me as an individual. Coaching would be good. And, the field itself would help. I was trying to think of a farming metaphor. I used to grow corn in the back yard garden. The first year was an experiment. A short row. Ten stalks. The corn was very poor. Small ears. I was told by my wife’s grandfather that corn must be planted in bigger fields to grow well. I don’t fully remember the reason why. But the field of corn made each stalk more hearty.

Also germane to this conversation, given we were talking about not wanting to create a personal retreat workshop was the difference between group therapy and group wellness. An outcome of so many of the workshops I do is a sense of wellness. I and my colleague don’t advertise it that way. It is an outcome though. People say it feels like therapy because that is the label that most know for that kind of experience. Yet, there is a deliberate lack of attention on fixing anything. Rather, there is simple witnessing in a group context of experiences that impact us. And there is simple invitation to create together. In the combination of those two, group wellness emerges. It is quite a beautiful thing.

Thanks to Kathy and the space in the middle that fed these insights.

A Sleep of Prisoners

Nice little poem by English playwright, Christopher Fry. Sent to me by local friend and colleague, Carla Kelley of the Human Rights Education Center. After we shared an afternoon exploring each others work. I love the notion, “Thank God our time is now….”


Dark and cold we may be, but this

Is no winter now. The frozen misery

Of centuries breaks, cracks, begins to move;

The thunder is the thunder of the floes,

The thaw, the flood, the upstart Spring.

Thank God our time is now when wrong

Comes up to face us everywhere,

Never to leave us till we take

The longest stride of soul we ever took.

Affairs are now soul size.

The enterprise

Is exploration into God.

Where are you making for? It takes

So many thousand years to wake,

But will you wake for pity’s sake!

-Christopher Fry

About Hosts, Other Supporting Organizations

About Kathy Lung — My current work is to be in the co-creation of social change through meaningful conversation.  My exploration is in the discovery of who & how we would be if we were to “dare to be naïve” (Buckminster Fuller).  I am learning and experiencing the fullness of this exploration through my work with The Art of Hosting and specifically in working with and sharing in conversation with Tenneson.

About Tenneson Woolf, The Berkana Institute — I am a consultant, practitioner of change, and group process artist. I am dedicated to what is possible when we explore the heart of our work and the edges of our communities. I use participative leadership methodologies, maps, and models as strategy to create helpful meetings and inquiries. I have hosted interactive processes at large conferences, worked with many teams, and coached many individuals in diverse organizations – from hospitals to financial planning associations, from universities to faith communities, from corporate clients to labor unions. I am a steward of two communities of practice: The Art of Hosting and The World Café. I work locally with The Salt Lake Center for Engaging Community supporting and designing local dialogues on living in healthy community. www.berkana.org; www.tennesonwoolf.com.

Other Local Supporting Organizations / Colleagues