Circle Buffet

Lupines are one of my favorites. These particular lupines growing in my garden are about three feet tall, the top one foot of which flowers. Where I live the flowered top comes in early May and lasts for about a month. I do my best to encourage these lupines to grow and to give them room to reseed themselves. I post this picture here mostly because I love the lupine beauty in it. I also post this picture here because it’s not a stretch to admonish for beauty in groups of humans in varied task, production, and adventure together. “Beauty” is one of the narratives that deserves more attention and intention.

I’m convening several online classes on circle these days. One group is a client system I’m cohosting with Quanita Roberson, a system that works in some very tough and challenged settings. Two groups are open enrollment participants that I’m cohosting with Amanda Fenton, participants that also work in a variety of settings in which thoughtful listening and speaking are becoming more imperative. I would suggest that we are all trying to create more beautiful spaces together.

Quanita Roberson and I recently recorded a podcast, 23 minutes worth that we called, Circle Buffet. I was really hungry to follow a few threads of learning about circle as methodology and as way of being. The podcast has a bit on emergence. It has a bit on the importance of being circle and doing circle. It has an anchor in the importance of creating connection.

So, here’s to cultivating beauty amongst human beings in dialogue, learning, and connection. Here’s to making room to reseed. Here’s to reclaiming the tone and possibility of beauty, even in difficult and challenging circumstance.

For Listening

Yesterday I walked near my home. Where I live it’s the time of year when flowering trees are nearing full bloom. Their brilliance and fullness so often invoke drop-jawed awe from me. And listening. I find myself staring at these trees, with welcomed pause, to be quiet and to listen spaciously in the quiet.

I’ve been involved in a few podcast recordings lately. With thoughtful people making sense of the times, sharing wonderings, witnessing grief and joy in human experience.

Peek and listen as inspired.

Human to Human The Podcast — Featuring Casey Tinnin (16 minutes) — Casey is one of my favorite people in the world. His energy and his honesty are very inviting. I met him through the United Church of Christ Next Generation Leadership Initiative, at which I’ve been faculty now for three years. Casey brings insight, wonder, compassion and so many other delicious slivers of aliveness in making space for people.

Fire & Water — CoVid Grief, Anger, Sadness, Confusion, Hope (12 minutes) — These all go together, don’t they. It’s important to give ourselves to hope. Or to witness it. It’s also important to give ourselves to the grief. Quanita Roberson and I reflect on such notions.

Fire & Water — Paying Attention, A Reflection (20 minutes) — This recording follows an online community call with people associated / interested in Fire & Water as a leadership program and rite of passage. A big part of Fire & Water is the ability to pay attention to the unseen as well as the seen. 



I’ve been in a kind of quest for much of my life. Sometimes knowing it. Often not knowing that’s what I was doing. It has been to understand more of what is happening underneath the obvious. For me it’s the thing under the thing under the thing (which often turns out not to be a thing). I have particular interest in the nuancing of working / being with groups. I have particular interest in the psychology and emotional intelligence that is inner world connected to outer world. The inner complexities of being humans. The outer expressions of structure and practice.

Lately a version of this quest has been to ask, “What’s the secret?” Or, “What’s the special sauce?” For me, those questions are a bit of code for, “What’s the most simple essence of practice that we are trying to cultivate together?” I’ve been in deep convening with Fire & Water Leadership Cohort over five days (chairs above in circle awaiting arrival of our group of 19 to do some secret-hunting). I’ve been in full staff retreat for a community organizing team for five hours. I’ve been in deep friendship and colleaguing.

These last few days I’ve explored if the “secret” is about permission, which isn’t really a word that I even like that much. “Permission” stirs us too many images and experiences of over-exuberant authority or over-used rules. So many organizations over the last decades have insisted on a kind of control that prevents most of us from even being human together. We’ve been required to check our emotions or our insights or our holistic, complex selves.

Despite all the oddities that such restraints have created, I’ve been noticing that people in most places are really hungry to just be more of themselves. To connect with colleagues. To show some emotions. To ask real questions. To share stories. To dare to wonder and wander together. To celebrate. To share worries. To offer solutions. To offer improvements. And a bunch more. Permission, often found in a little shape of an exercise of turning to one another, opens more of us to more of us — I often count on some simple partner conversations that extend permission to show up. It’s not rocket science. But it does seem to create a rocket level of joy and appreciation and desire to go further together.

Here’s to the snippets of permission, and modeling, and honest presence that bring more of us in to the room to do the work, or the connecting that so many of us hunger for.

Intersection of Seasons

I’m at Hope Springs Institute near Peebles, Ohio. It is home and hearth for the learning cohort, Fire & Water.

These last days have been very wet. Oodles or rain. It’s kind of cozy. It has tucked in feeling. It invites a leaning in together for our group of 19.

In the picture above, I quite love the intersection of seasons. There’s a bit of remnant summer and early fall in the flowers. There are leaves changed and falling to the ground. There’s something about the crossover spaces that I’m drawn to.

And, in people. In this group. The intersections of story — for commonality and for difference — these are quite rich.

I’m glad for that.