Hello dear friends and readers….
I’ve just returned from an 11-day visit to North Carolina, connecting with local folks there who are committed to hosting supportive spaces for challenging conversations. While several of them had already taken a seminar or two in Dynamic Facilitation, they have also realized that this work is an on-going practice, and they are in it for the long haul. This has been a huge source of joy for me, and I’d like to share some of the highlights of this latest journey with you…
At the same time, the tragic events that have happened recently have been a cause for deep mourning. They have also served to remind us that we all need to “be in it for the long haul”, when it comes to realizing the vision of a Beloved Community in this country….
My journey this time began in Durham, where some practitioners had organized a day-and-a-half-long “Creative Conversation Across Differences”. This was a microcosm council for local community members with different perspectives to engage in a sustained exploration of differences, and to discover areas of common ground. During the first evening, the conversation ranged from organic agriculture, to climate change, to the local Durham “environment” faced by young people who are dying of violence in the streets. The next day, the exploration shifted to the need for greater connections across class and race, as well as the on-going impact of local history on present-day issues.
In addition to facilitating the microcosm council, the organizers had invited me to lead an overlapping four-day learning journey. As part of this process, workshop participants were able to witness the work of the microcosm council, in addition to practicing their facilitation skills in small groups.
Last but not least, we had “Forging A Shared Agenda”, an evening event where the participants of the microcosm council got to share their work with a larger community. This was followed by small-group conversations where everyone took part (and where the workshop participants had an opportunity to apply their skills in real time!) You can see and read more about these linked events in the following harvest document ….
After this rich and meaningful experience in Durham, I went on to Asheville, North Carolina for another series of gatherings. It was there that I heard about the tragedy in Charleston….
That Friday, we had planned a one-day workshop on “Creative Conversations Across Differences”. It felt very appropriate that the participants chose the topic of “race and class” to explore during our experiential demo. We also created a two-hour break for lunch, so that we could attend a memorial service for the slain church members that was being held at the local African Methodist Episcopalian church in Asheville.
In the time since then, there have been some memorable and uplifting national events, including most notably the response of the family members of the slain, and President Obama’s transcendent speech.
Clearly, while each of us needs to contribute in whatever way we can, there is no one thing that will ever be “enough”… neither for this issue, nor for any of the other significant issues we are facing as a society. Whether it’s race and class, or environmental issues, or anything else, we need a rich tapestry of initiatives, where each one of us is doing what we can, in our own way — while at the same time, doing so in a way that is connected instead of isolated from one another.
And so here I am, continuing to offer my “little grain of sand”: learning opportunities for community members who want to deepen their skills in hosting Creative Conversations Across Differences. I offer this because I know from experience how, whenever we create supportive learning spaces, our differences can become a rich source of energy, and a doorway to greater wholeness.
At the same time, it is becoming extremely clear that this is not a sprint, folks, it’s a marathon. Do let me know if you are in it for the long run!
With much love,