Launching The Transformation Institute!

Hi friends,

I’m beginning the “soft launch” of something that has grown out of my work in Japan over the last several years.  The Transformation Institute:  Community, Business and Personal Transformation is coming to life at web address Robert Theobald and I used for our work from the mid-nineties until his death just before the beginning of the new century.  Seems very fitting and appropriate.

Frankly, I don’t know exactly what the Transformation Institute is.  I just know it wants to be born.  Several questions contribute to its formation:

  • We will encounter more and more collapse of existing systems in the coming years.  How use collapse (disaster/emergency/revolt) as a springboard to transform our communities and our lives into ones which are healthy, resilient and thriving?  A friend in Japan made a critical observation last April, speaking of the triple disasters in Japan.  She said “we caused this.”  Three simple words.  They make us face the fact that while a natural disaster occurred, it was precipitated by an array of human choices.  Many of our choices will lead to more collapses.  Will we try to reconstruct the old normal, or can we learn how to use the energy of collapse to transform to a new more desirable state?
  • While there are differences in our community, business and personal lives, transformation of the three is interwoven.  How will we reconceptualize and recreate the relationship between these three aspects of our lives? One of my biggest lessons in Japan has been seeing what it looks like when business is still a part of community rather than apart from community.  I’m not trying to glamorize business in Japan or say there are not issues and problems, but what’s been striking to me are the ways in which community and social needs trump financial profit.  CSR isn’t enough, it feels kind of like an “oh, and, by the way, I wonder if there is something good we ought to be doing.”  What would it be like for community, business and personal to conceive of themselves as integral parts of a greater, related whole?
  • There is a great, latent potential for great cooperation and greater learning linking the whole of the Pacific Rim.  We are an ecology together.  How might the diverse insights, questions, knowledge and experience of countries, cultures and peoples on the Pacific Rim be invited into a deeper co-creative relationship?  How do we honor the particular problems and potential present in each context and learn together a we work to create a future that works for all?
  • Finally, the emergence of a new Tohoku Region in Japan will be a teacher to all of us.  How do we learn with and from the people of Japan as this beautiful Tohoku region comes back to life? What can those of us elsewhere around the rim contribute as people in Tohoku learn how to work together to create the communities, businesses and lives they want?  I remember the feeling in early April when I was co-hosting a group of 40 or so business leaders in Japan.  We began with grief, sadness and confusion that turned into excitement within three hours.  The shift was remarkable.  When I sensed into the shift these words came back to me:  we’ve been released from a future we did not want!  How can Japan lead the way in transformation?

It’s an exciting time.  Much is possible.  I invite you to help me think about how the new Transformation Institute might contribute to the possibilities which surround us!



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Bootcamp is Over

Bootcamp is over. Those are the words that came to me last month when I was working  in Phoenix with people from the St. Luke’s Health Initiatives.  My trip to Phoenix came right after I returned from almost a month in southern Africa.  What I heard and saw in Phoenix fit into the same pattern as my experiences in Africa.

My sense is that I, and many others, have been in deep training for this past decade.  We’ve been learning how to see our world, our selves, our relationships and our work in new ways.  The learning didn’t start ten years ago, and it won’t stop now, but I’m feeling like this is the time when we need to move on.

On a phone call yesterday my friend Chris Corrigan used three phrases which really caught my attention.  He said we are not yet a community that practices and we are not yet a system that influences.  He went on to speak about the work that needs doing now is practical decolonization.

  • A community that practices… My friend Robert Theobald used to always talk about how we needed to listen to the music, not the words.  We’ve heard and used many words in the last decade.  And they are powerful:  presencing, hosting, healing, zero-waste, appreciation, feeding ourselves sustainably.  The list goes on and on.  Many of us have learned how to dance with words like power and love, warrior and midwife.  The dance is good.  But it is time now to practice, practice and practice.  It is time to hear the music with our bodies.  It is time to embody these practices.  It is time to practice together as if our lives depend on it.  They probably do.  No, I don’t know exactly what this means.  But I sense it means now is not the time to feel satisfied and complete in what we’ve done and learned so far.  Now is the time to push our edges more than ever before.
  • A system that influences… Together we have a chance to create a new era, a step beyond the era which is disintegrating all around us.  Many of us have been pioneers, engaging in promising experiments with new forms, processes and ventures which carry the DNA of the era we might create.  Much of this work has been powerful, rewarding and exciting.  And, it is not enough.  We must find ways which allow this work to easily and naturally spread.  I’m not talking about going to scale, I am talking about creating systems of influence.  Systems of influence require the creation of eco-systems which are larger than our individual work and which connect that work so it can GROW.  Communities of practice can create systems of infulence, indicators can create systems of influence, scenarios can create systems of influence.  In South Africa I saw a reality TV show create a system of influence.  What else?  How do we help this work grow.
  • Practical decolonization… I love the phrase, simply because it hasn’t yet been overused!  Decolonizing is the process of shrugging off the shackles of domination that have controlled our lives.  We’ve all been colonized.  Certainly the colonization and extermination of indigenous peoples all over the world has been the most obvious and most brutal.  Many of us have been victims and perpetrators of practices of power over which has separated us individually and collectively from our selves, each other and all other life on this planet of ours.  Now is the time for us to step out of our roles as colonized and colonizers — practically, clearly, irrevocably.

We know how to do this!  That’s the good news from our work of the last decade.  No, we don’t have a road map.  Hell, we don’t even really know the destination.  But we do know enough to continue, to deepen, to go to a next level.  But we have to move.  Part of this is, I am sure, learning how to be comfortable working with the Alchemy of Opposites.  All of it, I know is done collectively in community, not individually in isolation.

A lot of my own thinking about this over the last couple of months has been influenced both by Adam Kahane’s new book Power and Love and an essay from Barry Oshrey that grew out of a conversation he and Adam had, also called  Power and Love.  I’m personally a little leery of both these terms — power and love — but they have been an important doorway into my current learning.  Oshrey speaks of the need to develop robust systems which combine power and love and I think he’s got it right.  I think that I’ve spent much of the last ten years working on relationships and harmony and listening.  I think the focus of the next ten needs to be more on getting real work done.

Many blessings as we end the era of the “oughts” (aught 1, aught 2, …) and come into the era of the “tens” (inTENtion)  <grin>

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A New Beginning

Warm August afternoon. Stepping into the next chapter of my life.

I’ve played around with WordPress long enough to assure myself that what I write is unlikely to be lost as I continue my search for the theme and customization that is right for me. For more than a month now this new resilient communities website has been growing in me. I’ve stepped into a new identify — Bob. I just didn’t feel comfortable with that identity being That just didn’t feel right.

In the middle of an early July night, flying home after a month in Brazil, I started thinking “resilientcommunities,” and it felt so right. Robert Theobald and I registered this domain back in 1998. Like many others, our attention had been caught by Y2K. For us it was all about resiliency — our capacity to dance with whatever life brings. And with all due respect to the rugged individuals out there, personal resilience and community resilence are closely intertwined.

So I return to and relaunch this website that I’ve had for more than a decade as a new base for my work. Lot’s more to say, but this is a beginning.

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