I was talking to my daughter tonight on the phone. I was walking out of The Forks in Winnipeg where I had just eaten a pickerel (that I learned was from Kazakhstan…W.T.F!) and my daughter requested that I get a GPS that could beep and show where I am on this epic trip. After being on the road for eight days already, with another 12 ahead of me, I don’t even know where I am sometimes.
Yesterday I was wrapping up the 2009 Good Food Gathering in San Jose and I took a CalTrain up to SFO, hopped an Air Canada flight to Calgary, spent the night there, and flew to Winnipeg early this morning where I joined national gathering of Aboriginal youth who are meeting to thinking about how to renew a very successful federal government program. That’s a lot of travel, but it doesn’t stop there. I fly to Ottawa tomorrow and spend most of the week at an Art of Hosting in Pembroke, Ont. before flying to Kelowna for a one day Open Space and then down to California again, this time to Hoopa, to work with a small Native radio station, KIDE. I get home May 6 after 20 straight days on the road split between five different gigs.
The Kellogg gathering was a lovely experience, and I was especially tickled by how we dissolved the traditional conference model. Day one was all speakers and plenary panel presentations, with a little bit of conversation built in around the ballroom set up with six foot rounds. Day two, we got rid of the tables and held the whole day in Open Space. Day three, a day that we deliberately left free for an emergent design, featured us getting rid of the chairs. When the participants arrived, the room was empty save for a few pieces of tape on the floor. Although half the participants called it a day right there, about 250 stayed on to engage in a beautiful piece of intergenerational work. Led by our youngest team members, Norma Flores, Manny Miles and Maggie Wright, the participants self-organized into a spiral by age, with the youngest person at the centre and the oldest on the outside. Looking around that spiral was to see the journey of a person growing in the Good Food movement.
We then people gather with the ten people closest to them on the spiral and figure out a song, chant, slogan, sentence or movement, that captured what their small demographic had to say to the whole. The next 20 minutes consisted of people bot speaking to the centre and speaking from their place. A voice and story of life in the movement unfolded all the way from the energy and optimism of the youth to the stretch of middle aged people to the tired, but persistent presence of the movement’s elders. After we took a breath we moved to another room and ended it with a drum circle.
Tomorrow, a day of Open Space with youth who are designing the future of the Urban Multipurpose Aboriginal Youth Centres Program and then it’s off to Ottawa to run this Art of Hosting with dear friends Tenneson Woolf, Teresa Posakony and Kathy Jourdain and a great local team.
I’m twittering more than blogging these days. The microform works well. If you’re interested (yes Aine, YOU!) my twitter feed is here.