Learning from Aspen Forests

Learning from Aspen Forests

Meg Wheatley first taught me that aspen trees grow as a collective system. What looks like a forest of many trees is an underground web of connected roots, popping up occasionally as a tree. It is one system. I wonder what conditions create the popping up, the emergence of a tree.

I wonder if “mates,” learning partners could be seen this way. The root system is an energetic field or pattern. Each of us are like trees, appearing as individuals. Yet we are really a woven web. What are the conditions that help us grow? What light to one part of the system feeds the others?

It is interesting to me to think that not all trees or people in the system are connected to all others in a direct way. But they are all in the same system.

Is the deep calling to live the energetic pattern? Is it presence that creates the connection? Presence — sensing the field as the necessary condition for popping up or for nurturing our selves and our neighbors. Presence — as doorway into the pattern of living energy that seeks to create. It is in us. It is in the earth. It is in all living things. It is in other beings from other realms.

So, how do we support change?
– amplify the energy pattern of living things, always creating
– live in the stream created between people
– connect the system to more of itself

If a tree has no choice but to become a tree, what is it that we humans have no choice in becoming? We must become what?

Does a tree love its neighbor tree? Is love unique to human beings? Is love the contribution to the energetic roots that we humans uniquely can offer?

What am I on the edge of seeing here?

Aspens draw from earth nutrients, from the sky’s light and warmth. A link to grow is a wandering root. All together produces a tree that fits so beautifully into a forest. The forest provides exponentially more than the individual — oxygen, stability, shade, ecological home. People aslo draw from earth nutrients, from the sky’s light and warmth. The link is the wandering person? All together produces a being that fits so beautifully into a human forest? The human forest also provides exponentially more — a system capable of change, of creation.

Codes of Description — What is Hosting?

Hosting — I have searched for words to describe this form of work and way of being. It is work that I care about deep in my heart. It is work that I feel has impact, that serves needs in organizations, communities, families, and in myself. It builds community in ways that I have never known. Yet, it is work that can feel new and non-traditional. I have searched for the simple clarity that gives me room to feel and describe the surface and the depth, and that invites people in to do it together.

At a recent gathering, The World Cafe Stewards Meeting (August 2006), I met Finn Voltoff, a Danish man, who spoke of “codes,” the words he used to describe his work. Inspired by this, I was able to name some of the codes I find most accurate and helpful for me. Others may have different words. What matters to me is the energy that comes from clarity.

What is hosting? What is this conference, The Art of Hosting?

– Leadership Development. Stakeholder Engagement. Community Development. Employee Involvement. Which is code for…

– Participatory Methods. Open Space Technology, World Cafe, Circle, Appreciative Inquiry. Others. Which is code for…

– Hosting conversations that matter in the work that we do so that we get done the work that we most care about. Which is code for…

– Creating and opening spaces in which conciousness, energy, and love can flow at the center of our work and our humanity.

As clear as I can get at this point.

Daughter, Old Soul, Learning Partner

This is how I introduced Zoe in a boardroom conference call today. I invited her to join me as I met with a design team — myself and four colleagues. Our focus was to design a community meeting for 200 people that will help launch a decade of a culture of connection in Utah — people, issues, fundraising, purpose, challenges.

It was a very sweet moment to have Zoe participate with the group, and for lots of reasons.

– She offered a nice little checkin — “I’m Zoe. I’m 11. I’m in 6th Grade. My dad said we would be planning a meeting to help people be more respectful with each other. I want to help.”

– Zoe was an immediate and beautiful reminder of the multigenerational impact of the need to connect across cultures.

– No shift in language was needed. There was no dumbing down. It was real. I think Zoe sensed this, even thought she didn’t get all that was being said. It was a chance for her to think together, right with us, to see adults in meaningful conversation.

– It was another way for Zoe to see how people can work together. No particular rocket science. People talking, openly with presence, key questions, listening, harvesting, choosing wise actions. I hope this creates the expectation for her of powerful work through quite simple means.

– It opens possibilities in new ways for Zoe to imagine some of the amazing travel we could do together, as family, old souls, and learning partners.