I set out early in the morning for Vancouver. It’s the first day of my 10 day writing retreat. I’ve recently been accepted into a Masters Program in Relational Leading with the Taos Institute and Middlesex University in London. While I’m away I’ll work on the current two modules, continue writing in my book, build and send a couple of newsletters for Sunworks and The Coconut room, and find time to read. It’s a bit of a packed agenda, especially when happy hour in Maui starts at 3 p.m.
To start my retreat well, I meet up with my friend Sam Khany. He’s a brilliant young planner with a keen sense of philosophy and strong passion for expanding knowledge about the relational influence of space and design on community wellness and culture. We first met at the Vancouver Urban Forum, a conference that he helped organize in 2011. It brought together great thinkers to consider better ways that we can design and organize cities in ways that improve human experience and protect the planet and everything that depends on it.
Over fresh oysters and wine our conversation moves quickly from catching up with one another into relational ideas and what he observes as a rise in reflexivity globally due to social media and the ability for people to easily connect.
I’m interested in exploring a book he’s appreciated. Modernity and Self Identity by Anthony Giddens. Perhaps Amazon can dispatch one of their delivery drones and have it to me in a day or two. Even as I am aware of the increase in dialogue in the world I wonder if the particular way in which we are connecting is actually isolating ourselves in circles of other like minded people, rather that opening us to difference that exists and therefore the possibilities created when we ‘bump’ into new ideas and different ways individuals and communities construct the world.
My particular interest is not in just increasing dialogue, but rather I’m fascinated with the idea of creating openings in the dialogic space to be able to stand back and notice the relational dynamic of the dialogue itself. I use the word dialogue to represent the interactions or signals between various participants. I believe it’s important to recognize we are part of multiple relationships and that they go beyond just our interactions with one another to include our relationship with our habitat, our bodies, the various communities we are part of, our internal conversations, and the natural world.
I’m less interested in the content and more interested in the process. To call attention to ways we can gently intervene both individually and as organizations. How can we become more fully aware that every conversation we have changes the world in some way – that we have the choice to shift those conversations and therefore create a better future.
How can we invite highly structured (rigid) organizations to become reflexive in their work? Maybe it’s highly rigid communities.
I ponder what happens when we have time to ask questions like: What were we doing just then as we talked about what we were talking about? What was it like for you, for us? Why were we talking in that particular way?
To me these are reflexive questions. They call us to look outside of the content and become aware of ourselves both collectively and individually. I propose that reflexive questions help us become aware of the socially constructed ways in which organizations behave, even as they make us aware of the ways we are constructing our world through our own inner dialogue.
Sam and I talked about doing some work together in the future. It will be an absolute delight.
What a great way to begin my retreat and more serious work on my Masters. Deeply intellectual conversation, grounded in practical experience in planning and civic governance. Rodney’s Oyster House get’s bonus points for providing space for us for being always so welcoming and friendly.