Community - The Structure of Belonging
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Community: The Structure of Belonging
1. Overall Premise
- Build the social fabric and transform theisolation within our communities intoconnectedness and caring for the whole
- Shift our conversations from the problems ofcommunity to the possibility of community.
- Commit to create a future distinct from the past
2. Operating Guidelines
- Social fabric is created one room at a time,the one we are in at the moment.
- It is formed out of the questions &quot;Whom do wewant in the room?&quot; and &quot;What is theconversation that we want to occur&quot;
- The key to a new future is to focus on gifts, onassociational life, and on the insight that alltransformation occurs through language.
- Each step has to embody a quality of aliveness,and strategy evolves in an organic way.
- The essence of creating an alternative future comesfrom citizen-to-citizen engagement that constantlyfocuses on the well-being of the whole.
- We have all the capacity, expertise, and financialresources that an alternative future requires.
- The small group is the unit of transformation andthe container for the experience of belonging.
3. The Power of the Small Group
- Each gathering needs to become anexample of the future we want to create.
- The small group is the unit of transformation
- Large-scale transformation occurs when enough small groups shift in harmony toward the larger change.
- Small groups have the most leverage whenthey meet as part of a larger gathering.
- The small group produces power when diversity of thinking and dissent are given space, commitments are made without barter, and the gifts of each person and our community are acknowledged and valued.
4. The context for a restorative community
- The existing community context is one that marketsfear, assigns fault, and worships self-interest.
- The new context that restores community isone of possibility, generosity, and gifts, ratherthan one of fear, mistakes, and self-interest.
- The existing context supports the belief thatthe future will be improved with new laws, moreoversight, and stronger leadership.
- Citizens become powerful when they choose toshift the context within which they act in the world.
- Communities are human systems given formby conversations that build relatedness.
- The conversations that build relatedness most often occur through associational life, where citizens are unpaid and show up by choice, rather than in large systems where professionals are paid and show up by contractual agreement.
- The future hinges on accountability that citizenschoose and their willingness to connect with eachother around promises they make to each other.
- Citizens have the capacity to own and exercise powerrather than defer or delegate it to others.
5. Questions are more transforming than answers
- The skill is getting the questions right
- The traditional conversations that seek to explain,study, analyze, define tools, and express the desire tochange others are interesting but not powerful.
- Questions open the door to the future and are more powerful than answers in that they demand engagement. Engagement in the right questions is what creates accountability.
- How we frame the questions is decisive. Theyneed to be ambiguous, personal, and stressful.
- Introduce the questions by defining thedistinction the question addresses, namely whatis different and unique about this conversation.
- We need to innoculate people against adviceand help. Advice is replaced by curiousity.
6. The Questions
- The five conversations for structuringbelonging are possibility, ownership, dissent,commitment, and gifts.
- Since all the conversations lead to eachother, sequence is not that critical.
- Create conversations in ascending order of difficulty,with the possibility generally an earlier conversationand gifts typically one of the more difficult.
- There are three elements of aquestion:
- The distinction that underlies the question.
- An admonition against adviceand help in favor of curiousity.
- The question itself, stated precisely.
7. The Invitation
- Invite people who are not used to being together.
- The elements of the powerful invitation
- Name the possibility aboutwhich we are convening.
- Specify what is required of eachshould they choose to attend.
- Make the invitation as personal as possible.
- Be clear that a refusal carries no cost.
8. The Inversion of Cause and Accountability
- We reclaim our citizenship when we invertwhat is cause and what is effect.
- Citizens create leaders, children create parents, andaudience creates the performance. This inversionmay not be the whole truth, but it is useful.
- The inversion creates conditionswhere we can shift from
- A place of fear and fault to one ofgifts, generosity, and abundance;
- A bet on law and oversight to one on socialfabric and chosen accountability;
- The corporation and systems ascentral, to associational life as central;
- A focus on leaders to a focus on citizens;
- Problems to possiblity.
9. The conversations
- The possibility conversation
- The distinction is between possibility and problemsolving. Possibility is a future beyond reach.
- The possibility conversation works on us and evolvesfrom a discussion of personal crossroads. It takes theform of a declaration, best made publicly.
- The questions
- What is the crossroads you arefaced with at this point in time?
- What declaration of possibility can you make that has the power to transform the community and inspire you?
- The ownership conversation
- It asks citizens to act as is if they arecreating what exists in the world.
- The distinction is betweenownership and blame.
- The questions
- For an event or project
- How valuable an experience (or project, orcommunity) do you plan for this to be?
- How much risk are you willing to take?
- How participative do you plan to be?
- To what extent are you invested inthe well-being of the whole?
- The all-purpose ownership question
- What have I done to contibute to the verything I complain about or want to change?
- The questions that can completeour story and remove its limitingquality
- What is the story about this community ororganization that you hear yourself most often telling? The one you are wedded to and maybe even takeyour identity from?
- What are the payoffs you receive from holding on to this story?
- What is your attachment to this story costing you?
- The dissent conversation
- The dissent conversation creates anopening for commitment.
- When dissent is expressed, just listen. Don'tsolve it, defend against it, or explain anything.
- The primary distinction isbetween dissent and lip services.
- A second distinction is between dissentand denial, rebellion, or resignation.
- The questions
- What doubts and reservations do you have?
- What is the no or refusal that you keep postponing?
- What have you said yes to that you no longer really mean?
- What is a commitment or decision that you have changed your mind about?
- What resentment do you hold that no one knows about?
- What forgiveness are you withholding?
- The commitment conversation
- The commitment conversation is apromise with no expectations of return.
- Commitment is distinguished from barter.
- The enemy of commitment is lipservice, not dissent or opposition.
- The commitments that count the most arethe ones made to peers, other citizens.
- We have to explicitly provide support forcitizens to declare that there is no promisethey are willing to make at this time.
- Refusal to promise does not cost us ourmembership or seat at the table. We only loseour seat when we do not honor our word.
- Commitment embraces twokinds of promises
- My behavior and actions with others.
- Results and outcomes that will occur in the world.
- The questions
- What promises am I willing to make?
- What measures have meaning to me?
- What price am I willing to pay?
- What is the cost to others for me to keep mycommitments, or to fail in my commitments?
- What is the promise I'm willing to make thatconstitutes a risk or major shift for me?
- What is the promise I am postponing?
- What is the promise or commitment Iam unwilling to make?
- The gifts conversation
- The leadership and citizen task is to bring thegifts of those on the margin into the center.
- The distinction is between gifts and deficiencies or needs.
- We are not defined by deficiencies or what is missing Weare defined by our gifts and what is present.
- We choose our destiny when we have the courage to acknowledgeour own gifts and choose to bring them into the world.
- A gift is not a gift until it is offered.
- The questions
- What is the gift you still hold in exile?
- What is something about you that no one knows?
- What gratitude do you hold that has gone unexpressed?
- What have others done in this room done, inthis gathering, that has touched you?
- Final comment
- The important thing about these questions is thatthey name the agenda that creates space for analternative future. The power is in the asking, not inthe answers.
10. Designing physical space that supports community.
- Physical space is more decisive in creatingcommunity than we realize.
- Most meeting spaces are designed forcontrol, negotiation, and persuasion.
- We always have a choice about how we rearrange and occupy whatever room we are handed.
- Community is built when we sit in circles, when there are windows and the walls have signs of life, when every voice can be equally heard and amplified, when we all are one level--and the chairs have wheels and swivel.
- When we have the opportunity todesign new space, we need thefollowing:
- Reception areas that tell us weare in the right place and arewelcome.
- Hallway's wide enough forintimate seating and casualcontact.
- Eating spaces refresh us andencourage relatedness.
- Meeting rooms designed with nature, art, conviviality,and citizen-to-citizen interaction in mind.
- Large community spaces that have thequalities of communal intimacy.
- The design process itself needs to be anexample of the future we are intending tocreate.
- Authentic citizen and employeeengagement is as important as gooddesign expertise.
11. Leadership and Transformation
- Leadership that engages citizens is a capacitythat exists in all human beings. It is infinitelyand universally available.
- Transformation occurs when leaders focus onthe structure of how we gather and the contextin which the gatherings take place.
- Leadership is convening andheld to three tasks;
- Shift the context within whichpeople gather.
- Name the debate throughpowerful questions.
- Listen rather than advocate,defend, or provide answers.