Organizing Dialogue, Experience and Knowledge for Complex Problem-Solving

Mudfire! May the World Be Good to You

January 22nd, 2013

When the early crowd at Pat and Carol’s New Year’s Day Open House invited me to blog about the event, I was thinking of the kind of entries that are tagged “group dynamics” – most of them are pure fun, although they can include a serious subtext which was sometimes made overt and other times left at the level of implication.

Then I met Paris.

Borrowed on a whim from the household library . . .

Borrowed on a whim from the household library . . .

Before Paris asked me if I was concerned with global warming and climate change, I had realized that I might be able to use this blog entry to introduce some new friends (with whom I hope to remain and deepen in friendship) to the serious subject that has recently become the main focus of my blogging.

I imagined that I could make this introduction lightly, ease everyone gently into the most disturbing challenge of human existence. I certainly did not anticipate it becoming an overt topic of conversation. But it did – perhaps this was inevitable. (After all these years I should never be able to forget that this kind of blogging is risky).

We were all getting along so well! I hate to be in the position of spoiler. The conversation with the Curious Skeptic about animal intelligence returns to mind, particularly the example of cheetahs being able to be trained for hunting but not for domestication, because becoming domesticated requires “getting along in confined spaces.” And then there was the part about guinea pigs and rabbits as “meal-sized meat.”

Evolution of Conversation: The Beginning was FUN!

“The time has come when men and dragons must talk.” (Leguin, 2001, p. 112)

It was such a great party! I’d guess 100 people may have circulated through, certainly many dozens. I met a fraction of the folk and had substantive conversations with a handful or two. The potluck offerings were continually refreshed, everything was delicious, the laughter was loud, there was even spontaneous music: a stringed instrument soloist and singer who was accompanied on various tunes by additional voices, invented percussion instruments, and – gee whiz! – a few couples dancing!  The mood of the gathering was so appropriately and wonderfully festive! As my conversations evolved, I could not help but think what a blessing to be part of such a high quality in-the-moment-now experience of social interaction, and how necessary it will become to sustain this capacity in the difficult times that lie ahead.

It happened like this: I arrived to a gregarious atmosphere filled with banter. I haven’t blogged an event like this for a long time; doing so was not even on my mind – too much work in the midst of other demands. But soon the teasing had me passing around my “Warning: You May Be Blogged” business card and folks got curious. Because we were having such fun, and I was clearly being invited, I thought, why not? A change of pace, a digression to the olden days, a contribution of my playfulness to the spirit of the day… we discussed the ground rules, first names only or chosen aliases, draft to be sent around for thumbs up/down before publishing, was I taking notes? Did I have pen and paper? I allowed myself to be drawn in and took up the familiar role.

Evolution of Conversation: Overview and Background (Boring?)

“Indeed he did not know what weighed more heavily after all, the great strange things or the small common ones.”  (LeGuin, 2001, p. 109)

Cynthia and John quizzed me for quite a while, which gave me a chance to express my motivations and share some of the history of how I began to blog in this style, what obstacles I encountered, whether/how much uptake I’ve had, etc. I explained how I could look at the Open House as a type of communication scene or situation with similarities and differences with other Open Houses. That how we engage with each other evokes identities, because we share, for instance, pleasure in dancing jigs or knowing the hosts through a particular social activity or type of work, etc. That over the years this blog has been a tool for writing myself into being and becoming more the kind of person I want to be: someone who can share what seems important and still retain relationships that are warm, kind, and loving (or, at the very least, rooted in respect).

Evolution of Conversation: Backdrop (Hilarity!)

The initial authorization to write this blog came from Ecarg (the token Klingon) & partner; Pat & Carol, Angelica, Loretta & Jan (of the gender irregularities), Catherine, Carlotta (who had the first toast and sip of mimosa with Cynthia), and John.  Later the Toadchildren, Bo, a Curious Skeptic, Sparker, and Marcia were brought into the fold. Kira is into criminology and cosmetology (among many other interests), James the Brain wanted me to link to his hacker friend’s blog (the search is on, E.L. aka boogledoo, where are you?) They also recommended seven-year-old melybabyxoxo to me but I was unable to locate her blogs on Tumblr. She apparently maintains several, including one on fashion and another on self-harm. (Did I hear that right?) Geez, can we just play another round of Zonk, please! Or how about a ruckus sledding adventure? A meeting of the Ward-Thayer Street Chicken Advisory Council regarding upkeep of the PWDLCP? There were the red sisters, blue guys, and black folk (by clothing, ignore gender!), a crazy cat lady, and myriad more unrecorded minglings within this diverse assortment of colorful characters.

Evolution of Conversation: The Future depends on our choices, now

“Something is happening,” Tenar said. “A great change in the world. Maybe nothing we know will be left to us.” (LeGuin, 2001, p. 111)

Paris.

Being liberal is not enough.

Being liberal is not enough.

Who said, “This is a miracle,” when he realized I take climate change for real. “Everything is going to die if we don’t do something,” he said. “We’ve known about this for years, and no one is doing anything.” “Wars are bad and they should stop,” he continued, “but we need to look at a higher level, if there’s no planet…” As we talked, he asked me many times if I “really think” people will do something, now, finally? It’s up to us, I said, to make sure that we do.

The urgency has been weighing heavily on me, especially as I read and become more familiar with the extent of how extremely bad things are (and will thus become), how small our chances are already, and how quickly they will diminish beyond any hope at all. Opening these conversations with friends and chosen family in the weeks since I realized the dire necessity of immediate radical action has been discouraging – the denial and reluctance to uproot our personal comforts are entrenched. However, there are also inspirational voices out there, and the opportunity to live truly meaningful lives has never been greater.

Can we inspire each other to greatness?  Megan Quinn Bachman is on the path: “If we don’t get this right, we won’t get another chance.”

 

 

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Categories: Call this ACTION LEARNING!, Learning Resiliency, Reflexivity, Series, the earth

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