The Family Policy Council has had the opportunity to work with different members of the Berkana community since 1999. To this day, Meg Wheatley’s words continue to be present in our work as a foundational piece and have helped us evolve into a powerful community of practice working on behalf of families in Washington State. Teresa Posakony, Tenneson Woolf and Bob Stilger and the work of Berkana have helped us find language to express what we already know. They have helped us learn how vital it is to carve out the time for deep reflection so that wisdom can emerge. At other times Berkana has brought new frameworks, concepts and analysis into our community which have helped us deepen our work. Always, Berkana has created a space where it has been safe for people to have conversations allowing us to learn from our past and chart our course for the future. Berkana has also helped us connect with like minded people across the country and throughout the world. We know we are part of an expanding network of people working tirelessly to create healthy and resilient communities.
Bob Stilger enters our work as a wise friend who carries an abundance of expertise, compassion and respect. His presence invites and honors the contribution of every person. Highly skilled in organizational and human dynamics and knowledgeable about useful models, methods and technologies, he gives knowledge not as a consultant, but as a committed colleague. When it’s time for bold and deep conversation, Bob speaks the truth in a gentle way that fuels hope and powerful action.
Bob is genuinely excited about his work and all the possibilities every person has to offer – the world over. He believes you make the path by walking it and by noticing what is emerging – not by looking for predetermined outcomes. He allows space and makes room for leaders to share the baton for each person has something valuable to contribute. He is not afraid to talk about his own questions and models what authentic leadership looks like. I often find myself reflecting and learning long after my time spent in the room with Bob. To me that is success!
Bob became an important partner to our work in Pioneers of Change. He often challenged our age limitation in the network of pioneers. When we described what it meant to be a pioneer to us, he noted that he felt the same way too. Each member of pioneers of change made these five commitments: Be yourself, Do what matters, Join with others, Start now and Never stop asking questions. This was the credo with which we each did our world changing work in many different organisations and settings, and often Bob was right there with us. Bob has an ability to join in as a respectful and quiet listener who then brings perspective, language and models to what is going on, and what we are grappling with. The fact that he had 20-30 odd years of additional experience than us never seemed to be a challenge. He had a capacity for tuning into the value we offered with our younger perspective. And because of his commitment to finding new ways of working, living and being he never felt above us, but joined with us in our inquiries and offered incredible value to us in our questioning.
When I moved back to Zimbabwe I was driven by a sense of the wealth and wisdom that were abundant in rural Zimbabwe among my indigenous Shona family even while being painfully absent in their own self-perception. Frequently they were more aware of what they did not have and what they were missing. Kufunda for me was to be a bridge into helping people shift into appreciation for all their resources and gifts and to find ways to build on those, creating more value for themselves and others.
I was excited, enthused - very much a young pioneer come home to pioneer my way into creating something new. People did not really understand me or my intentions and so after a few months I hit a wall. And Bob was there to help me - once again to listen and support, to add perspective and voice to what I was going through, to ask questions, to offer gentle and respectful advice. And so during the first three years of Kufunda's life, many friends and particularly Bob became mentor and anchor from afar as I did the work on the ground that was needed to do to give birth to the images and dreams that resided within me.