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.