Thursday, January 17, 2013

Social Innovation

"One never knows the power of an idea/vision until shared with others who have similar passions" Harrison Owen


In 2006, when I was in graduate school, I had an idea for a specific type of facilitated process for economic development. 

I envisioned a 30 day program to develop community, gather and align resources, and then offer incubation services for start ups. It would bring people together who were connected by either a thread of common experience, a need, or a shared interest into a workshop then launch as a viable business, or NGO. 

I called it "Mothership" for the design of it. The design was based on rapid cycle change methodology I was learning about at the time. Think Sequoia covered in fungi, (not aliens and spaceships). 


I am revisiting this again now with a lot more experience organizing, facilitating and educating people including a program called Community Conversation Project in which a group of collaborators facilitated groups of people in career/life transition after mass lay offs in a community in the Northeast Seattle area to do the following things together: 

- Joining others in the grieving process of letting go of the past job and identity
- explore what to do next for money / job / education
- create action plans for new work activities including starting one's own business.


My collaborators came from the rich professional community in the Seattle Metro area where I belonged at the time. The hubs of this community include LIOS, Antiock and OSR Alumni, University of Washington, ASTD, PNODN and Whidbey Institute

the methods we used drew from many practices: 

World Cafe
Conversation Cafe
Public Dialogue
Peer Spirit
Community Weaving
The Work that Reconnects
Four Fold Way


The link to the record for the May 2009 event is here: Bridges to the Future, Lake Forest Park.

All this great work was sparked after a presentation I gave with with Ernie Hughes in the fall of 2008. Washington Mutual had just fallen apart when he and I were collaborating on a program about Organizations in Turbulent Times. Transition in Turbulent Times (3T) was built on Open Space principals, a systems view of everyday life/operations and Hurst's work on organizational ecocycle.


























In this project, I was reflecting on especially feed by Owen's idea about organizations consisting of spirit and structure. When spirit is high (entrepreneurial vision, founders essential mission) structure is low. As structure increases (politics, culture, expertise) the organization spirit diminishes  

"Hmmm," I thought, "When our non-sustainable systems break down then what of the spirit?"

At that time synchronicity coalesced into a plan of action. Now it's 2013 and I am actively seeking collaborators to design, convene groups and host conversations with. Lets call it social innovation this time, or social permaculture.

Can you think of a group that has shared a common experience, (like a profession or a natural disaster), a need (such as for safety, a livelihood, personal mastery, or community solution), or a shared interest (sustainability, alternative economics, architecture for humanity, urban agriculture) that would like to learn about what is emerging for them as whey share and create?

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