Human to Human is a daily blog. It’s journalling and learning in public, Monday through Thursday, in which I post current learnings (taking sporadic weeks off to write longer pieces or to rest). Posts are 300-500 words, often with photos, intended to be read in five minutes and inspire reflection, individually and communally, on varied aspects of participative leadership practices, insights, and human to human depth.

Order for Free

It was in the early 1990s that I first learned of the concept, “order for free.” It was a term that I heard through the writings of scientist, Stuart Kaufmann.

I was in my early days of working with Meg Wheatley and The Berkana Institute, where “self-organization” and “living systems” were at the center of what we did, taught, and held dialogues about. These are people and ways of thinking that remain central to me in the work I do and in the life I live today.

The above photo, which stirs up all kinds of “order for free” imagery in me, was on my sidewalk two days ago. The temperature has dropped to mid-twenties Fahrenheit where I live. So it’s cold. Below freezing. There had been an inch of snow the previous day.

There’s so much beauty in this image. I didn’t create it. My neighbors didn’t. It’s just there — order for free — on a plain old grey sidewalk that leads to the carpark.

One of the teachings that remains important to me, that I also first learned in the early 90s, is about the relationship between chaos and order. The area of overlap in the image below is where the self-organizing occurs, the order for free. The natural pattern. The beauty — flowered patterns of ice on the grey sidewalk that weren’t the result of anyone’s plan.

My buddy Chris Corrigan recently reposted one of his recorded teachings on this relationship between chaos and order, offered in a faith community setting — it’s brilliant, and applicable for any of us interested in such self-organizing.

So, returning back to a very important question from that early time with Meg and Berkana — what could we learn from living, self-organizing systems, in which there is an order for free, that teaches us about how to build community today? This is a question that has accompanied me for 30 years now, yet still feels fresh and vibrant.

In short, I know that I rely on clarifying and growing values, practices of commitment, shared learning, community and relationship. This is the important work that is both deeply inner and outer in individuals and groups, teams, and community.

What I seek, and have come to love with so many, is this glimpse of the order for free, found in the most mundane of places, that transforms the individual and collective heart to do good. How beautiful to be a part of such efforts.

Some Inspiring Words from Satish Kumar

Satish Kumar is an East Indian Activist, Writer, and Jain Monk.

“…they were not motivated by fame, fortune or power. Buddha claimed no copyright on his teachings and Shakespeare received no royalty cheques… it is not a duty. It is not a responsibility. We are not even the doers… (it) flows through us and not from us. We do not own our intellect, our creativity, our skills. We have received them as a gift and grace and we pass them on as a gift and grace, it is like a river which keeps flowing. All the tributaries make the river great. We are the tributaries adding to the great river of time and culture, the river of humanity.”

It is this image of flow, of being part of flow, that so compels me. I live it sometimes as a surrender, to something outside of me. The poem writes me. The design come through me. The next first step becomes belly-clear. I act on an intuition without sorting through every layer of why.

I live the flow sometimes as a deep inner sourcing, something both inside and outside of me. Acting upon what arises from my meditation. Practicing extra kindness with myself and with others. Receiving such important advice from a friend, so serendipitously timed. Following a hunch of a mantra, again without sorting through every why.

To live as tributary, celebrating water and flow in others and myself — yes, something comes alive in this feeling and framing.

A nod to Nicole Frederickson, who writes so beautifully of wonder and possibility in her blog, from which I picked this Satish Kumar quote.

Wisdom Series Now Open For Registration

This is the sixth wisdom series that Quanita Roberson and I have now offered. We alter the general focus and themes as inspired so as to follow what most interests us and what feels most helpful to offer.

This series will run Thursdays in February 2023, each a two-hour online session. All of the details and registration info are here.

We welcome people who have not participated before. We welcome those who have that wish a return to the feelings and the teachings.

The general focus for this series is Grief & Joy. On the website, here is some of the why…

Human beings live in rather complex circumstances. For many, the pace of contemporary life demands urgency. It insists repetitive false narratives that pull us away from our more wise and soulful selves and communities.  

Grief gives us path to transformation, yet is so often overlooked and avoided. Only through grief can we truly transform things. Grief points us to letting go. To surrender. It’s deeply personal. Yet it’s also deeply communal.

Joy, so often displaced with the sky-falling news of the day, also gives path and practice to transformation. To celebration. To contribution. It too is deeply personal. It too is deeply communal. 

The edges of grief and joy teach us. The edges keep us honest. The edges point us to awareness. To wholeness. The edges bring us home to new world.

Yes, welcome, whether it be you registering, or gifting a registration to another who also wishes to come home to a new world.


The Road Toward Spring City, Utah — November 2022

Layers interest me. Geographically, like those in the above photo taken this weekend. It’s mountains in the near, and in the far. Different light, yet connected in one vista. Lots of brown in this photo at first glance. But again, lots of variance — whites, yellows, blacks, hints of orange, and of course the blue skies.

And then there are layers within myself, groups, and circumstance. Interesting again. The deeply inner relating to the abundant outer that creates perpetual vista of learning — and aliveness.

I’m intrigued by these layers of belief and practice knitted together below. They are familiar to me, particularly from Quanita Roberson, who speaks them often in our shared work.

Underneath anger is so often grief, grief that needs relief.
And in the spirit of “happening for you, not to you.”

What feels very wise to me is the getting to what is really going on. In working with groups for a one time thing, or in guiding over the longer journey, it makes a lot of sense to know that anger exists. However it makes little sense to get stuck in it. It’s not the surface, nor the first layer that matters. I’m glad for Quanita’s commitment and wisdom this way.

So, I find myself wanting to play this wondering with a few other things.

Underneath anger is so often fear, fear that wishes relief.
And in the spirit of “happening for you, not to you.”

I hear Quanita’s voice again with a slight variant. “The world is out to gift you, not to get you.”

Fears of not getting it right. Or fears of looking silly. Or fears of not belonging. Or fears of failing. Or fears of failing others. Or fears of not being true to self.

Underneath anger is so often hurt, hurt that wishes relief.
And in the spirit of “happening for you, not to you.”

Yes, hurt can run the show. Old wounds. Or traumas. That dwell beneath the anger. That live beneath the show. That holds keys to healthy direction. Or movement. Or new starts. Or old starts that take many loops.

One more.

Underneath anger is so often core longing for well-living, well-living that wishes expression.
And in the spirit of “happening with you, not without you.”

I have learned that most people seek to live in ways that promote freedom. And clarity. And kindness. And overall fairness. And love. Oh, how sweet to get behind the anger. Or to befriend it, knowing some added layers of what it represents.

I’m not a therapist. There was a time in my life when I thought that would be my direction professionally. But instead, I work with groups, sometimes guiding the “now” and sometimes guiding the longer arc (the collections of “now”).

There will always be a deeply inner that is essential road to travel when it comes to anger, grief, fear, and well-living. Some of that road is solo in journey. Some of that road is with companions, perhaps in similar journey. Some of that road is with guides, holding us in the turn to self and the turns to each other.

In the spirit of continued learning. For you, not to you.

Layers that animate the vista.