Posts categorized “Moleskine Harvest”.

Moleskine harvest 2 – the pattern of work that scales

Back in March we ran an Art of Hosting for the Vancouver Island Aboriginal Transition Team and all of our comunity partners.  At the conclusion of that Art of Hosting we held an Open Space.  One of the topics that I posted was about the pattern of our work with community based on the experiences that people had had over the three days of training.  I was interested in seeing if anything we did over three days with forty people in an Art of Hosting could scale up to larger levels in the system.  I had a couple of powerful insights during that session.

  • The idea of “consultation” with community stakeholders is dead.  This process is about inviting community members to take ownership over the structures and institutions that affect their lives.  Instead of a one-way flow of advice from the community to VIATT, the new model is a gift exchange between cousins, relationships between familiy members who are putting children in the centre and looking after each other.  As such there is expertise, care and ownership everywhere in the system and so we all must actively become “TeacherLearners.”
  • The circle is the fundamental pattern for reflection: leadership at the rim and inquiry in the centre.  The relationships in the Art of Hosting developed quickly because we established trust and openness in the beginning with an opening circle.  We were able to establish a real sense that everyone was sitting on the rim of the circle together, facing inward at the question of how to do this work.  The circle is a structure that opens up the possibility for leadership to come from anywhere, with inquiry at the centre.  In this case the questions at the centre of the circle revolve around the principle that when the system puts children in the centre everything changes.  This is a powerful  organizing principle guiding our transformation of the child and family services system from a system that places resources and institutional interests at the centre while trying to keep families there.  The proof of this is embodied in the idea that when the current system breaks down, and a child dies, the parts of the system fly apart and many different process are required to bring it back together.  By contrast, when a child dies in a community, everyone comes together.  There can be no one else in the centre, only the needs of the family.  That is the ideal for our work: a system that places children in the centre.

It is interesting to see the way some of these insights have deepened into operating principles.  The idea of Children at the Centre has become a simple but powerful organizing principle for all of our community linkage work with VIATT.  The idea of TeacherLearners in the community has informed the way that we are developing community circles – policy and decision making bodies that will hold significantly more responsibility for the system that mere advisory committees.  At the moment we are looking at using  study circles as a methodology for running the community circles.

[tags]VIATT, community consultation, circles, children, child and family services, study circles[/tags]

Moleskine harvest 1 – hosting for conscious community

Courtenay, BC

I’m coming to the end of a Moleskine notebook I’ve had since March, and it’s almost filled up.  I’m going through it harvesting a few things, and thought I might post a series of notes here.  The journal began with a few notes that I made about the preliminary design of an Art of Hosting we ran for VIATT on Quadra Island.  This particular Art of Hosting was called to train with 40 or so people who are helping us to build an Aboriginal child and familiy services system on Vancouver Island.  It’s big work, undoing 120 of colonization and history and taking advantage of an historic opportunity to build a community-owned system that puts children at the centre of our work.  Here’s what the notes say:

  • Be the healing organization
  • Establish everybody’s authority
  • Healing patterns connecting heart to heart
  • Host for community to become conscious
  • Our work: healing the relationships between people that have arisen from the history of being tied to stakeholders
  • This circle seems to recommit us to the work
  • Putting our purpose at the centre, build a process to do this.

It’s fitting that I’m reflecting on this harvest tonight.  Tonight we ran our third regional assembly here on Vancouver Island, inviting people from this area to share what is exciting them about this work.  The purpose of the assemblies is to create champions for the process and to enlist people into a more intensive experience of community-based dialogue and deliberation by creating community circles.  These circles will do the work of incorporating the community voice into the decisions and policy making of this new Authority we are creating to take over Aboriginal child and family services from the provincial government.  We can’t do this without the community being involved and we’ve been quite taken by the response of Elders, youth and parents to our invitation to join us in creating this new system.

These notes remind me that much of the work I do has a healing component to it, that the work of opening hearts and supporting movement in Aboriginal organizations and communities is about healing – making whole – and sustaining connection and belonging.  That makes the work I am doing complex and many-aspected, but when we get it right, like tonight for example when we ran a cafe that tapped open heartedness, it does so much more than move the organization forward in strategic ways.  It makes things stronger.

Strengthening is a powerful and needed quality in development work, whether it is in organizations or communities.  Strengthening commitment, heart, leadership, quality, results…it is a pattern of “better” that is embedded in the nature of powerful conversations and participatory leadership.