E-Newsletter Archive

A Message from Meg Wheatley

Berkana is celebrating its 20th anniversary by doing something non-traditional and yet aligned with our history of consistently being on the leading edge of living systems work. The Berkana Institute is taking a rest. We are “bedding down” this beautiful plant named Berkana, taking good care to preserve it for a period of stillness and rest, winter in the cycle of life. During this period of quiet, we’re gathering our energy, preserving our valuable capacities, and listening in for Spring. When Spring comes, in ways we can’t yet know, we will be back in the world, a young green plant, doing the work that feels right for us to be doing. But before we can discern what our next work is, we need time to go deeply into stillness and listen well from that space of deep groundedness.

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From Disaster to Resilience: Making New Maps (February 2012)

We are approaching the anniversary of the triple disasters that struck Japan last year. The earthquake that hit Japan on March 11, 2011, and the subsequent tsunami and nuclear accidents it triggered, left more than a half a million people without homes or jobs or both. Many people in Japan are working hard create a more healthy and resilient future. The Berkana Institute has played a key role in launching the Resilient Japan initiative. We have been using many of Berkana’s ideas about strengthening communities and partnerships with individuals and groups in Japan who are determined to create a more viable future. This courageous work of slow rebuilding, healing and renewal are things we don’t hear enough about. How do we move from systems collapse and disaster to transformation? It is in this spirit that we share stories of resilience in post-disaster and trauma situations.

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Media, Technology and Relationship Building

We live in an era of information overload. Many of us find ourselves participating almost daily in a global, rich, complex web of online and offline relationships. Thanks to the Internet, social media, and mobile technologies, we have more information available to us, more things to ponder and more ways of connecting with each other than ever before. But in our increasingly full, hyper-connected lives, a feeling of real connection to others or to something larger than ourselves can still elude us. We know that good work and creativity are born from authentic relationships built on trust. Social media and technology help us stay connected, but they can all too easily provide ways for us to confine ourselves in a digital bubble, cutting off access to the energy and wisdom only found in offline, in-person communities. In this newsletter, we explore the gifts, potential and limits of media and technology in the context of relationship building.

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Playing With All Sorts of New Possibilities

In 1961 Buckminster Fuller proposed the idea of a World Game that would “make the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological damage or disadvantage to anyone.” Over the course of the past four decades, many of us have come to believe that social change is only possible through often frustrating, hard work. What might the world be like today if we had taken on Bucky Fuller’s challenge and deeply engaged in transformative play? Wham! Bam! Zam! Fun and games invite us to engage our whole selves: our hearts, minds and bodies. Cooperative play stimulates our creativity, opening doorways to solutions and ideas that we might otherwise never consider. In this e-newsletter we are excited to share “funcentric” projects and initiatives sparking new possibilities in communities around the world. Ready? On your mark, get set, GO!

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Trans-local Experiments in Healthcare and Wellness (November 2011)

Like many of us, I’m paying close attention to the Occupy Movement. I’m curious about the way it’s spreading and touched by what it’s trying to illuminate: not the naming of challenges we know have existed for a long time, but the fact that we do not yet have the answers. No one does. We won’t discover them by acting alone either. The stirrings made visible by Occupy have been alive in healthcare as long, and maybe longer, than most of the systems in the spotlight now like finance and governance. We still don’t know how to mend many of the problems we see in our healthcare systems, but all over the globe healthcare practitioners have been using Art of Hosting to discover what we do know. If ever there was a time for trans-local Communities of Practice around healthcare to emerge, it is now.

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Social Change, Participatory Leadership and Emergent Wisdom (October 2011)

As we’ve participated in emerging movements, we’ve also been working to explore a concept called “co-revelation”–the collective practice of simultaneously honoring and being fully present to our differences while resting in our shared humanity to get good work done together. Co-revelation is a relational practice of addressing some of our most complex issues with a spirit of connection and openness to learning how to be together well across historically constructed hierarchies and differences. We see it showing up at Occupy Wall Street, our recent Art of Social Change gathering and in many other places around the world. As our friend Kelly McGowan says, “Co-revelation has been happening, it will happen again. We’re just starting to name how you can create an environment for it.”

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Re-imagining Waste (September 2011)

Last month we considered what possibilities might emerge when we shift our mindset from one of scarcity to one of abundance.
This month, we take this idea one step further. At one point, not so long ago, people simply threw their “trash” onto the ground where it was reabsorbed into the earth. The idea of waste as we know it today was a completely foreign concept. Modern attitudes around waste and our general lack of awareness about the amount and types of trash we produce indicate the desperate need for an innovative new approach to this issue. When we consider the enormity of this problem often our first thought is: “What a mess!” But after this initial reaction, what if we began thinking of waste as our most abundant resource? What then?

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From Scarcity to Abundance: Reexamining Our Relationship to Money (August 2011)

The ancient understanding of economics was related to the tending of our hearth or home. The current definition of the word “economy” as the frugal management of resources in a geographic region did not come into use until the 19th century. The Berkana Institute and many of our learning partners around the world recognize it is now time to re-examine our understanding, perspectives and practices regarding money and economy. Our financial systems are changing fast, and many of us are experiencing a profound transformation in our relationship to money.

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Feeding Ourselves Sustainably (July 2011)

It is summer in North America and many of us at Berkana are tending to our gardens or experimenting with growing our own food for the first time. As it becomes clearer that issues of food sovereignty and sustainability are central to the work of creating healthy, more self-reliant communities, this is an area of inquiry and practice we are committed to exploring with you, our extended network.

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Learning As We Go: Rethinking Our Notion of Education (June 2011)

In Berkana’s work to support healthy, resilient communities, one of the things we pay attention to is the way that learning happens. In recent years we’ve seen people and communities radically rethink the concept of learning. A growing movement is questioning the dominant, Western educational system. In the United States, some young people are seriously questioning the value of college by either dropping out or foregoing graduate school to start social enterprises or create their own learning communities. In India, there are many diverse efforts to name and create powerful alternatives to Western models of education.

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The Power of Being Together (May 2011)

It’s always useful to gather in person. This helps us sense the whole of our community. But a truly transformative gathering requires more than just showing up. We know that gatherings feel differently when they are designed to be truly participatory in contrast to those that are one-way transfers of knowledge. If we are to create new possibilities together, we’ve learned that gatherings must be well-designed and hosted and are most powerful when they are grounded in clarity of purpose and yet still open to co-creation.

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Introducing Walk Out Walk On (April 2011)

Today is the book launch for Walk Out Walk On: A Learning Journey into Communities Daring to Live the Future Now by Margaret Wheatley and Deborah Frieze. Walk Out Walk On is filled with intimate stories and portraits of the people and places we at Berkana have come to know through years of working together. Our lives, work and ways of thinking have been transformed by these experiences and relationships; we hope these inspiring stories will do the same for you.

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Collaboration and Courage (March 2011)

Often, the strength of a web is not held by its center, but by the quality of connections around its edges. At Berkana, we’re noticing that when we weave a strong, coherent center, many meaningful connections are able to emerge in the margins. These days, we are witnessing creative collaborations arising between different initiatives, communities and individuals throughout our web of relationships. When we collaborate across our differences, work styles and locations, we acknowledge that we are wiser together than we are apart.

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