Inaugural meeting

This group has come together around questions Mike has about how to rectify the material in Steacy, et al. with the work of Senge and Scharmer. Mike should probably speak for himself on this. Areas of interest to be explored include the above authors as well as George Herbert Mead, probably Mary Parker Follett, evolutionary and ecological psychology, and any other area that strikes the fancy of members of the group. The first meeting was yesterday, December 4. Mike, Mark, Brian, Chris, and I were there. Mike brought tasty snacks.

{So we can either attach ideas directly to a post (like I am doing here with Brett’s post) or make a comment (which I have also done. I think I like the direct attachment way better?) Does it matter? Chris}

[A third option is to create your own posts. My sense of the three is that they work this way: 1) Edit an existing post to add details and brief commentary; 2) Make a comment to reply to the content/substance of the existing post; and 3) Create a new post to bring in a new substantive idea or set of ideas.  One of my reasons for wanting to use edublogs and wikispaces is to explore how such technologies can be used to enhance the asynchronous gaps of  the research/learning process, so I’d rather not set hard and fast rules a priori, but I would like to keep reflecting on which practices are most helpful and how we can better use the technology. One potential advantage of wikispaces is that it allows editing with attribution, which might be useful for more formal content. — Brett]

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4 thoughts on “Inaugural meeting

  1. For me this group offers the opportunity to talk about and learn about the connection between action, ethics, and community in the context of complexity. I am struck by the hypothesis that we make distinctions, develop partitions, create objects and artifacts to simplify, stabilize, and make coherent the swirling complexity of being alive. I am further amazed that it is through and in language that we do that. And that being together – sharing time and space – is key to making sense. And so that’s what I like to talk about and think about.
    I am just beginning to read Goffman’s classic work the Presentation of Everyday Self and he leads off with a quote by George Santayana:

    Masks are arrested expressions and admirable echoes of feeling, at once faithful, discreet, and superlative. Living things in contact with the air must acquire a cuticle, and it is not urged against cuticles that they are not hearts; yet some philosophers seem to be angry with images for not being things, and with words for not being feelings. Words and images are like shells, no less integral parts of nature than are the substances they cover, but better addressed to the eye and more open to observation. I wild not say that substance exists for the sake of appearance, or faces for the sake of masks, or the passions for the sake of poetry and virtue. Nothing arises in nature for the sake of anything else; all these phases and products are involved equally in the round of existence… (Santayana, G. (1922) Soliloquies in England and Later Soliloquies. (pp. 131-132) New York, Scribner’s

    This is a great example of the magic we are talking about. What is that ‘cuticle’ that we grow when getting together to talk or practice? And, why do we want to deify the cuticle? Or demonize it? There seem to be no accidents for me anymore. This week I have been rethinking participation and reification – the central construct of the Communities of Practice idea. Our practices become the cuticle – the emergent structure of “living things in contact with the air”.


  2. Okay, so my main goal is to get logged onto the site and get used to moving around. In working through the log on priorities, I created my own space as well, which will probably come in handy (see above link). Thank you Brett for setting this virtual space up for us. I look forward to meeting everyone this afternoon and then heading over to see Larry Spears together. I’m certain our discussion will provide a thought provoking warm up to the Spears lecture.
    In addition to Josh’s ILA discussion group on complexity issues, you may also be interested in checking out the social network at: What strikes me as interesting is the number of groups beginning to form around and/or seek understanding of complexity issues. Might we be moving toward a convergence or “Tipping Point”? When Mike and I were in Italy, we considered the possiblities of what might happen if the world moved through this rather difficult time not unlike the Italians in the 15th century; emerging into something competely new.
    Bringing this thought stream back full circle, what might be the role of the Servant-leader in participating in the new possiblities afforded through world events? How might these paly out pragmatically in our communities as Follett proposed?

  3. Creating Space

    I have been pondering the question of creating space posited by Mike a while back in December. I have had many trips across Eastern Washington since then and have had the opportunity to explore the concept of space. Trips through the Palouse and across the Basin to Wenatchee allow for a great deal of space to be considered. The notion is emerging that there are three kinds of space (or environments, habitats, cultures, etc.) that exist.
    There is the space that has existed forever, such as nature. This is the space that has existed and will always exist. The unusual thing is that we rarely take the time to recognize that it exists. We simply experience the natural space whenever we choose to recognize it. Now, we must admit that nature has a way of grabbing our attention at times. We may not notice nor appreciate a single snowflake, but Denver recently took notice of what nature has to provide. The natural space is inescapable and is available for us to partake in.
    The second kind of space is that which is created and harkens to Mike’s question of, “what understandings, skills, capacities and dispositions are required to create space to practice” the ability to act consciously in Mead’s living present? Once we recognize a natural phenomenon, we are apt to provide it with a naming convention. Wheatley (2006) found this to be an important step to identifying the efforts of leaders “as pioneers with experiences that are of value to others”. These pioneers may have only been the first to recognize an existing natural phenomenon and begin by naming it, proposing that it is only in this way that communities may begin to form. This may lead to challenges as presented by Sewell (1992) in that the structures around these shared experiences begin to harden “like the outer “skin” of a skyscraper”. What we them begin to see is only the form of the created structure from the outside, without the benefit of a real understanding of the shared experiences of those who originally named and began the structuring process.
    This brings me to the final notion of space; the one that explores the inner experiences of what occurs within the structure. Once we have named and created a structure to what can be recognized, we must consider whether the same experience can be shared with others who were not of the benefit of creating it in the first place. When one considers the interactions taking place within the confines of a local coffee shop, it can be observed that many interactions are allowed within the created physical space of walls enhanced by music, and the aroma of fresh brewed coffee and steamed milk. Would the experience be the same if the space were empty? Is there a natural experience to be recognized? Might it be that this space is only “created” by the interactions of the inhabitants, thus being the only means for the third space to “emerge”? Hence, it is the shared experiences of those within the space coalescing in Mead’s living present that gives rise to the spirit of hospitality found within such created space. Plato referred to this as “essence” and similar thinking pervades Buddhist traditions, so it is not a novel concept.
    Thai would have implications to those seeking to enhance or create space for such interaction to take place within. The created environment may be a contributing or detracting variable in creating the more ethereal space that allows emergence. For instance, it appears to me that emergence is facilitated in the coffee shop easier than on a subway. This does not mean that emergence does not take place on a subway; it just may not be as easily recognized. These considerations may also play a role in creation of virtual spaces used in the networking of individuals into community of practice and is what Wheatley (2006) argued toward as a crucial component of emergence.
    When all is said and done, nature trumps all space as is recognized by Bedirian (2002)

    And the grass, which had never really died,
    was plying out once more
    the cycle of its own renewal…
    …just as it always had…
    …just as it always will…

  4. Mark,

    This is great. Thank you. Your description of space makes sense to me. I have been curious about the relationship between our actvities in a ‘space’ (e.g., a coffee shop) and the space itself. You say this well. I think what is great is that we are nature in a created space and so your ending poem is about us too! What is still a confusion for me is the abstract spaces we create! This became a limiting factor for me in linear algebra years ago and was part of my confusion with math in general.
    Part of what is amazing (to me) is that I get older I recognize that my spaces will outlive me!
    What do I do with that I wonder?

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