Anchored down in San Francisco awaiting a delayed hop to Eureka California, from where we will drive to the Hoopa Valley and work there for a couple of days. On leg five of the epic journey.
So a little time to breathe and reflect on a couple of harvests. First from Geoff Selig who was at the Pembroke Art of Hosting, and who collected the tablecloths from a final day World Cafe on what we have learned about the power of conversation.
Second, a harvest poem from the Open Space I ran yesterday in Kelowna. This was an afternoon session for the 30th anniversary of the Assembly of BC Arts Councils and 18 conversations took place that reflected the place of these volunteers and staff people who support the arts in towns, cities, islands and villages across our province. With Open Space these days I am trying as much as possible to have a place in which a meta harvest can be collected and created. Most often this looks like a graphic recorder who gathers materials and snippets from the sessions and co-creates a harvest with session conveners and participants. This gives a high level framework upon which the individual sessions can hang, and it invites another level of coherence and pattern noticing. Yesterday. we had no graphic recorder available, so I substituted with this poem that I created partly from the titles of the 18 sessions and partly from what I was seeing emerging in the conversations. As we only had 15 minutes for a closing, I presented this in lieu of a closing circle, and it made for a nice cap on the day:
The assembly of those who host space
by Chris Corrigan
Who are we? What do we do?
How do we face change while staying true
to the art that is the heart of community unity?
What body serves the life that comes to us?
Here we pause and reflect:
Youth are the truth of growing inclusivity.
Dialogue, funding, engagement are our tools
and it’s what we create with them that fuels
the passion for change
and well-ordered offerings that welcome the stranger,
the small connections that bring us into relationship
with land, citizen, government and institution.
So how to begin to offer form
that invites the spirit of the arts to warm
the cold spaces of urban waste
and rural forgetting, arts-based, human-paced
endeavours that bring us home?
How do we step up to govern and guide
theatres, galleries, facilities, the sides
of desks off of which our best work is done?
And how do we cultivate the source of our energy,
the money and bodies that make smooth
the skid roads and rip rap that brings this enterprise alive,
delivers the promise which grows and thrives?
We host space.
The spaces between people that light up with the spark of connection
recognition, a shared story, historical succession,
the tending of the coming soon that arises
from the done before rooted in the best of now.
The space of social media
both digital and tactile that expedites
the meeting of needs,
the speaking of deeds
into the record of our collective story.
The spaces of creation and illumination
like so many star-birthing clouds
spaces that resound with the colour of the voices that sound
the melodies and harmonies of our becoming.
Spaces in which we re-create, in which we see
what we could be with the power of free
expression coursing through the veins
that carry the pulse of life – the arts beat.
And here we confront our souls,
navigate the narrow channels, reefs and shoals
that want to gobble us down,
sink us in work, overwhelm and drown
our efforts in the skookumchuk
where scarcity and demand
suck and boil together and we move uncomfortably with outstretched hand.
Only and finally in THIS space,
do we recognize friends, companions
that also walk our path between elation
and struggle, who know the million details that support creation.
Thirty years we have sat in assembly
hosting a resonance that trembles
up the coast, valleys and rivers
like so many shivers
through the spine of beauty,
a reverent bass line, upon which rests
the deep song of who we are.
A deep bow to you all –
for the boards that lead
for the boards that are tread,
for the boards that are hammered together,
the music of spruce and pine and fir
forming the floor from which we stage our flight,
take wing and soar.
This poem was composed in honour of the 30th anniversary gathering of the Assembly of BC Arts Councils. It is a reflection of the issues that were articulated in 18 Open Space dialogue sessions held on the afternoon of May 2, 2009 in Kelowna, when Assembly members gathered to find wisdom in the stories and questions that were held within their community of practice.