Deep reflections on the art of harvesting
Art of Harvesting, Art of Hosting, CoHo, Facilitation, Organization
I have made all of these notes at my flickr site. When you visit these links, view them in order and be sure to read the notes and annotations on the photo page. Most of the photos are pictures of my journal, where I was recording my thoughts as we went along. Click on the photos to view the notes.
We began with our first conversation about harvesting, by seeing harvest as a cycle:
In the second conversation, I started explaining to Monica the difference between folksonomy and taxonomy and how the two might work together to create meaning. This was based on a conversation I had with George:
From there, Monica and I wondered about the simple hobbit tools of harvesting including the most basic kind of cycling and iteration:
That prompted a powerful learning about what happens when we see harvest in an evolutionary context, when well designed feedback loops create great depth and meaning and transcendance:
Seeking to understand more about the patterns we were seeing, we co-convened a session on harvesting during the Open Space and we collaborated on the recording. Monica focused on deep questions and I focused on further articulating the cyclical nature of deep harvest:
I have walked away from these conversation with a deep and lively question: What if the Art of Hosting was actually the Art of Harvesting?
Why is this important? I think it matters that harvest, good harvest, moves organizations and communities forward, links leadership and action to conversation and makes the best use of the wisdom that is gathered from meetings. If you have ever wondered about meetings that seem not to go anywhere, this inquiry into harvesting, sensemaking and iterative action holds the key to avoiding those kinds of situations. It’s not enough just to have good process and a good facilitator – the results of the work must also be alive in the organization. That’s where we are going with this.
I’m going to have to look closely at your journal reflections when I have a few hours to string together. I started work in September at the food co-op in East Van and I’ve been thinking and observing a lot about the anthropology of shopping (i.e. what we think of today as shopping). I seem to remember we had this conversation back on Bowen about “gathering,” which I take to be what you’re also referring to when you talk about harvesting. It’s a complex of behavioural adaptations that precede agriculture but are also incorporated into agriculture.
One observation that has amused me greatly has been the power of the collective surge to the checkout counter. A storeful of people, supposedly monadic shoppers, all converge on the checkout at the same time. It’s awesome.
Last summer I read a book about the corn-shucking celebrations on the plantations in the U.S. south, “Singing the Master: The Emergence of African American Culture in the Plantation South” by Roger Abrahams. The sense I got from reading it was of a celebration — of harvest — so powerful that it transcended the institution and condition of slavery.
Hope our paths cross again soon (as I’m sure they will!)
This concept you talk about with “harvesting” really intrigues, especially when you talked about the languages that create to accomplish interesting feats.
As for meetings, it’s interesting to see how people, well, cultures, have used “The meeting” to make business, or action happen (Sometimes the English, nor any colonial language, can express clearly what is on my mind). Consensus, Democracy, Arbitrary, etc. and more modes I look for when wondering “What is the decolonized decision-making and action-happening process my people carry out.”
(I questioned doing past-tense there, but what the hell, I’ll humor you, and possible me.)
Thoughtful thoughts, Chris. A word I think is crucial here is rhythm. I would see dance as the form that meaning takes to become memory and to return again as meaning-embodying-memory.
Looks like fun, wish I could have been there. The combination of people process and synthesizing the art of harvesting is particularly interesting to me re: taxonomy meets folksonomy.
I tend to think of it as a loose recipe where a minimal but necessary amount of structure (taxonomy) can when artfully employed provide the contextual bounds and a grounding mechanism that help stimulate and faciltate for a free flow and play of ideas and information, the generation of the folksonomy(ies). I also see this as closely related to a key part of the conceptual foundation of Open Space, where a well-crafted central question and invitation help to make the context and task clear, and I think then help the facilitator to hold space, acting as a touchstone for reference as the process unfolds.
As I type I am realizing this comment is really just for me … why am I pretending to add anything to a master in these areas ? I’ll trundle off now.
I think I understand what Harvesting means. And I think I’m loving it. Let me see if I can put it into my frame of reference.
Recently, I put a video clip together that captured what I think may have also been a Harvesting technology, or methodology, or theology. You can find it here.
So that’s what I think of when I think of Harvesting – when people collect their thoughts, as it were, I found it very hard for people to harvest their dialogue while the dialogue is in process. As the technology and my understanding of “technography” evolved, I eventually wound up using the outline view of Microsoft Word to catch the gleanings, and then ported everything in neat, harvested bundles into PowerPoint. Once they saw their thoughts in a presentation format, they could distance themselves enough from the dialogue to complete the harvest.
Is this harvesting? Am I close?
Yes Bernie! Absolutely…and the collective piece is really important, as you well know. I’ll put together a post about the modes of sensemaking based on the conversation that began this whole exploration for me, because it evolves to include things like play and movement, and various other intellegences.
Are you familiar with the term “second harvest?” 🙂
Are you being cheeky, Nancy White?
Not cheeky at all. It preceeds the organizational adoption of the name (a food program). It goes to the idea of gleaning a field that has alraedy been harvested – to find additional stuff.
There is an echo here for me about the difference between harvesting during/just after the fact, and harvesting later, after things have set for a while. Make any sense?
Oh yeah…Peggy and George and I were all over that as one of the modalities of harvesting. Harvest in the moment and from the past too…two different falvours. When you do your event mandalas, that is gorgeous harvesting in the moment. When we sit and reflect on them that is gorgeous harvesting from the past.
And what about harvesting from the future? THat’s an intriguing thought…
(…you can still be cheeky though…although I have no idea what the cheeky meaning of second harvest is…thought it just might be cheeky…lol)
ALso, thanks to Tom and Jon and others who have been musing on the harvesting theme and especially the implications of the metaphor…great contributions everyone.
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