Summer Reading and the Listening Arts....

published5 months ago
4 min read

The Listening Arts e•newsletter

Issue #2 July 14, 2023

Happy Summer!

I hope this finds you well, and enjoying the season, in whatever form that is taking for you...

Life has been quite full on my end, so at present, this newsletter is turning out to be a quarterly phenomenon. Here are some tidbits, for your summer reading pleasure....

Last time, I organized that inaugural newsletter issue into four different sections:

Deep Listening, starting within

Deep listening in organizations

Deep Listening in collaborative governance

Deep Listening across divides

This time, I want to begin with the last section, "listening across divides". I'll be focusing on a "divide" that is of particular interest to me: the one between a worldview that has been feeling too small for many of us, the mechanistic and reductionistic Newtonian perspective where much of what makes us human, is not even "on the map"...

and on the other end, the emerging worldview of complexity, emergence, and living systems. I recently wrote a blog post about this, "Context, context, context", celebrating Alicia Juarrero's new book...

And then, after publishing that blog post, I realized that I had not made explicit the connection I see between Alicia's work, and the theme of the Listening Arts!

So, just to spell it out here:

As I see it, the essence of the work we do as facilitators, is help create and hold the CONTEXT, within which the group is working. We do so, not just by the outer forms we offer, but also, through the quality of our listening presence, our intention and our attention.

Thus, I am deeply celebrating Alicia Juarrero's work on how thoughts, beliefs, intentions, values, and feelings are all powerful "causal agents"... yet in a different way than Newtonian billiard-balls.

So, here's to bridging THAT divide! Along with, all the others...

Deep listening in collaborative governance, and in organizations

Now, for some additional context... I was drawn to write that blog post, as my contribution to the most recent newsletter that the Co-Intelligence Institute just sent out to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Tom Atlee's book, The Tao of Democracy.

This was the first book I helped midwife into the world. In addition, ToD was my initial introduction to "deep listening in collaborative governance"; through it, I began to learn about Citizen Juries, consensus conferences, etc.

At the Co-Intelligence Institute, the tiny non-profit organization where I volunteer, we accomplish a lot through listening. We listen deeply to the world around us, especially to creative innovations in collaborative governance that have been sprouting up all over. Over the years, we have featured these innovations in books, in blog posts, and in the Wise Democracy Pattern Language.

Speaking of which, fresh from my inbox this morning: the most recent newsletter from the awesome Centre for Public Impact. Here's a quote about the need to re-imagine leadership in response to the climate crisis:

"Climate change is a complex, emergent challenge that requires actors across industries, sectors, and scales of leadership to work together to build a just and regenerative future for everyone. We need vastly new skills and competencies for 21st century leadership - from deep listening and shared visioning with diverse actors to understanding and stewarding action at different systems scales."

So... in addition to listening deeply to what is emerging around us, and amplifying the voices of the many awesome projects sprouting up all around, at CII we also listen to the various circles of our board, staff, and volunteers, as well as to our larger community. Specifically, right now we are welcoming your input on how we might celebrate the 20 year anniversary of The Tao of Democracy!

One last tidbit on this topic: ToD was the inspiration for Deepening Democracy, a seed essay I was invited to write 20 years ago for Fetzer's Collective Wisdom Initiative. It's an in-depth review of Tom's book, from a more explicitly spiritual frame. While that essay has some broken links, methinks there's much in it has aged quite well... :-) And, it's amazing to look back and see how many of those seeds have sprouted...

Deep Listening, starting within

Ok, now to conclude with something brief on the "inner work" of listening... and, with an invitation.

In my work as a creative leadership coach, and also a group facilitator, my intention is to help each person connect more deeply with their own voice, and the contribution they are here to make...

This includes my own self. Reconnecting with my voice is something that I've been working on / playing with / exploring for a long time... As a kid I used to stutter, badly, up through my early twenties. Sometimes, I still stumble on a word....

As my spoken voice has emerged and grown over the decades, this has also true of my written voice. I am still celebrating having recently completed a dissertation....

Of course, it's not about anyone needing to complete a dissertation. That was my particular path, for lots of reasons... Yet part of what I'm here to do, is to support people who want to deepen and strengthen their own voice -- especially those of us who already know how to listen, who already do a lot of listening to others.

For me as a group facilitator, there's been a way in which listening to others, has at times helped me to hide from my own voice. This may or may not be true for you. But if it is, I want to say that your voice is particularly important, precisely because you are someone who already knows how to listen! I deeply believe that our culture is in dire need of what you know, about the sacred work of listening....

And so I feel particularly called, to support those of us who already do a lot of listening to others, to listen to our own selves more deeply.... so that we are all able to more fully claim and inhabit our own voice.

If this speaks to you, let me know. I'll have some openings for one or two new clients, starting in Sept.

You can read more about my coaching work, here...

Ok! That's it... enjoy your summer!

May you be restored and replenished, through enjoying deep connection with self and others...

with all best wishes,


113 Cherry St #92768, Seattle, WA 98104-2205
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