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!
It is has been an eye-opening experience to interact with Bob Stilger from The Berkana Institute over the years in his short trips to Southern Africa. Bob has been around the work we do at the eThekwini Municipality’s INK Area-based Management and Urban Renewal Programme as a friend, a co-learner, a coach and consultant. Through his multifaceted roles and relationships, he has helped us to navigate our landscape and made us feel that is in fact okay to have questions and not have all the answers. Our practice is deeply embedded in co-creating with communities be they not-for profit community organisations, local business, Councillors and other government departments. Bob has been precise in identifying the need for internal practices and rhythms which provide a foundation to take our work to the next level. He has made these suggestions without prescribing, but rather encouraging us to find our own answers. We have been honoured by his sharing of the Berkana experiences through insightful presentations and the depth of Bob’s view as a community development worker. The community of Inanda Ntuzuma and Kwa Mashu is now richer through his thoughtful, dynamic and easy manner in which he made the development practice easily understood by both ordinary people and professionals. As a programme, we salute his tireless and continuous efforts to enable community to collectively create and hold a vision. Through Bob’s commitment to learning we are now able to appreciate the thread that connects various community learning centres in South East Asia, America, Africa and elsewhere. Bob’s work has been overwhelmingly positive in the lives of many people he has met, and I hope he never stops giving in to what he has called `the energy of yes’.
Linda Mbonambi, Area Project Manager INK Area, Durban, South Africa