Ecology of Knowledge Menu V1 front

I have finally managed to create a menu of services that I am happy with. Click on either image to enlarge. The PDF version can be downloaded here, a version complete with prices is available on request..

Ecology of Knowledge Menu V1 no pricesand yes, before you ask, I do have 25 years experience of providing discos and music quizzes so why not end (or punctuate) your event with a participatory musical high.

Three acres, a cow and feeding the 500

On Sunday 20th September I had the great pleasure to be invited to be a part of Harvest in the centre of Peterborough – A 70 x 7 Meal-Act XXXIX by Lucy and Jorge Orta and made to happen by Metal of Peterborough.

I don’t think I have ever (knowingly) been part of an art installation before. Here is the official video of the day.

The plates were a creation of real beauty in themselves. The colour duality representing the equinox when day & night/light and dark are in equal balance.plate

Mabon, the holiday of the autumn equinox, is associated with the Pagan ritual of thanksgiving for the fruits of the earth, these include: cereal grains, honey suckle, pomegranate, pine cones, acorns and passion fruit, which have been depicted on the design.

It was an amazing experience, good food, good music, good conversation and good weather which has never made Peterborough look so inviting.

I will end with a few lines from an unattributed ballad from the late 1800’s sung fantastically by Robin Grey and just about everyone in Cathedral Square.

If all the land in England was divided up quite fair.

There would be work for every man to earn an honest share.

Well some have thousand acre farms which they have got somehow.

But I’ll be satisfied to get three acres and a cow

Alicia Juarrero on Constraints that enable #innovation

I have heard Alicia mentioned many times before but have never seen her present and this short 27 minute video is a must watch. This is from the recent Lean Agile conference (but don’t let that put you off) in the US back in April  and I notice that last years video of Alicia is also available here.

Alicia is a professor of Philosophy and when she speaks you can hear the perfect insightful explanations just click into place without any visible signs of notes or cues.

The study of living systems (and especially of ecosystems) has taught us that nature and evolution do not favour stability and equilibrium: instead, natural processes select for resilience and adaptability—for characteristics that foster evolvability. Living things learn from the past and anticipate the future – and then modify themselves to handle ambiguity, uncertainty, and unwelcome perturbations. Handle and manage, not avoid and eliminate ambiguity and uncertainty.

I have also found, on Google books, what looks to be a terrific read in a book entitled ‘Mind, Brain and the Elusive Soul from which this is a brief extract:

alicia juarrero quote

convincement book

I have to admit to not really knowing much about the Quaker movement apart from the porridge and the numerous meeting rooms I have visited around the country.

I managed to pick up (in a charity shop in Whitby for £1) an interesting book called ‘ A great Convincement’ by Monica Ventress who chronicles the story of the Quakers in North East Yorkshire (a place I do know a lot about).

Apart from discovering that I was unknowingly an Anabaptist, I just love this description of the emergence of the Gurteen knowledge cafe (the thought that David Gurteen might be a time-lord and had gone back to the 1600s as an experiment did cross my mind):

An essential of the sectarian position was that the sermon should be followed by discussion: that worship was not a matter of passively hearing the Word preached by a learned minister, but in participation by the congregation after a gifted member had opened up a subject for discussion. As time went on the practice of interrupting the parson in his pulpit, became a common occurrence. Disrupting services had been made a secular offence by an Act of Parliament in Mary’s reign (1553-1558). The Quakers always claimed a legal right to speak after the sermon was over.

The book goes on to detail the numerous penalties and imprisonments of people who interrupted services, held or attended Quaker gatherings and is genuinely shocking that these practices were seen as so threatening at the time.

I was then reminded of a Quaker based method called the Clearness Committee’ and is described in Joanna Macy’s wonderful book “Coming back to life” which explains how to seek clarity in important decisions, especially around marriage.

After the focus person summarizes the issue, members of the committee (ideally five or six trusted individuals) assist her by asking questions rather than giving advice or problem solving. Honest, caring queries, arising out of prayerful silence, help the focus person see herself and her situation in a new light and unblock her inner wisdom and authority.

A more complete and detailed explanation of the method can be found here where they explain that:

Behind the Clearness Committee is a simple but crucial conviction: each of us has an inner teacher, a voice of truth, that offers the guidance and power we need to deal with our problems. But that inner voice is often garbled by various kinds of inward and outward interference.

I am really looking forward to giving this approach a try at my next problem solving workshop and/or community building masterclass.

Finally in looking to see what was on the internet about this method I came across this really interesting and very relevant slide pack on the use of dialogue by the Quakers on Slideshare by Thomas J Neuville in the U.S.

I am particularly interested to discover the origins of slide 12 and its relationship to cynefin and theory U.

When people are organised in groups, and their knowledge is sought, incorporated and built upon during planning and implementation, then they are more likely to sustain activities after project completion

…long term sustainability was only guaranteed when local institutions were strong…

…projects failed when there had been no focus on institutional development and local participation”

Jules Pretty as quoted from Agri-Culture – Reconnecting People, Land and Nature