When I think “sip” one of the first images that comes to me is sipping tea. I come from a tea family. Some of my earliest memories of sipping tea were with my grandparents. I was likely six years old. Me and my cousins would visit for our two weeks of summer holiday. In Saskatchewan. Grandma and Grandpa had routines over tea. Often it was afternoon tea, to cap off a lunch. Sips. Comfort. Warm or hot. Not for gulping, like I might with iced tea on a hot summer afternoon. I like the thought of a sip. There’s enjoyment and fulfillment in just the gentle taste.

Last week in working with community organizers, I found myself seeking a framing with the group of 25, cohosted with my friend and colleague, Quanita. These are people that value tools. They value frameworks. They value a sense of connection. They value a spirit of family, working together. They value action and commitment — they do a lot that requires adapting on the fly. They like to learn together. The framing that I was looking for was to help contextualize what they might learn and use from such a broad set of tools and things to try. Quanita and I were not just teaching. We were convening them in their work. We were holding them in exercises that moved their work along.

“SIP” is the encouragement that I offered to help improve the learning. “Look for SIPs,” Quanita and I encouraged.

S — Simple. What are the simple things, the essence?

I — Impactful. What matters? What do you think will matter? What do you have a hunch about that, from all that we are doing, that will have impact on your work and your community?

P — Portable. What can you take with you? It might be a simple phrase. It might be a tool. It might be seemingly insignificant piece that stays with you. What can you take with you and use?


Quanita and I were encouraging people to be good noticers of what was happening in the training and retreat environment that we were creating together. I would suggest that all of these gatherings have some learning in them, some relationship building, and some getting to work together. I’m glad these were all present. However, in today’s learning climate of learning, to go together with one another, the individual and shared noticing of important things — this is the engagement as a living system part — SIP is what we offered to help shape some direction of meaning making.

I appreciate sips of warm tea. I appreciated being moved by loved ones. Tea. And sometimes, just the right sips to stay simple, to improve impact, and to apply with ease.

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