Creating Connection in Conscious Community: Healing Our Cultural Disconnect - Page 2

Author // Lisa Reagan

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Creating Connection in Conscious Community: Healing Our Cultural Disconnect
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“The Group Works Deck and the underlying pattern language comes from the work of many different facilitators across many different disciplines and types of groups,” says Raines Cohen, a cohousing coach with Cohousing California, who worked on the development team. “We saw the same types of issues and the same powerful elements of solutions and looked for the essential common essence that we could effectively express with an image and text that inspires.”

As we say in our Pathways Connect Dialogue and Resource Guide, how we talk about the often-hot topics of conscious family living and parenting (the process) is more important than what we are talking about (the content). While we also use non-violent communication tools in our groups to express individual feelings and needs, Group Works cards speak to a greater level of awareness of group dynamics, and allow playfulness and deep connection to happen more quickly in intentional meeting spaces.

If you are a Pathways Connect member, check your e-newsletters for upcoming teleconferences exploring the Group Works decks together. You can also connect with me in our weekly Pathways Connect support calls.

While my full report on the Art of Community conferences will appear in the summer 2013 issue of Pathways, the golden nuggets found in the Group Works card deck are too yummy to not share immediately, and are sampled below. Enjoy discovering the treasures of connection in your Pathways Connect Gathering Group by finding or starting your local group here:

Appearing in Issue #36. Order A Copy Today

Sample Cards in the Group Works Deck

Witnessing with Compassion. Grounded in your heart, offer gentle observations free of judgment. With kindness and presence, place attention on what you notice happening, rather than your reaction to it.

Unity and Diversity. Hold simultaneous awareness of both what is shared in common and what is unique. Sometimes it is more important to honor the distinctions and hear the differences; other times it is crucial to focus on similarities and common territory. Both are needed.

Seeing the Forest, Seeing the Trees. Shepherding a group discussion includes discerning when the group needs a wider view vs. when to sink down into the details. Zoom out to see vision, patterns, and overall trends; zoom in for examples, specific data and other particulars.

Inquiry. Choose to cultivate a curious attitude. Great questions frame and provoke, opening us to new pathways. Many successful methods have questions at their core, such as: “What’s at the heart of the matter?” and “If you were czar, what would you do?” So what’s the most powerful question we could ask right now?

Story. Stories, metaphors and myths convey complex ideas, context, meaning and nuance that simple data cannot. By telling personal stories we build trust and connection, encourage imagination and express the essence of who we are. By telling cultural stories we connect ourselves to others’ experience and interact with the whole system.

Self-Awareness. The more you know who you and your group really are, the more effectively you can engage,make choices that are the right fit, and achieve your goals. Discover your values, feelings, dreams, needs, biases, and more. Embrace Dissonance and Difference. Encourage your group to honor contradictory viewpoints, sitting with the uncertainty and ambiguity this brings. Acknowledge all perspectives as equally valid and explore them as fully as needed, especially when tensions are high and agreement seems far away.

Magic. At certain moments, something beyond the group emerges, accompanied by a sense of awe…and resulting in a unanimous feeling of astonished accomplishment. Conditions inviting magic include shared passion, urgency, openness, energy and trust—yet the quality is always mysterious, never guaranteed.

Challenge. Challenging something—accepted wisdom, ideas, information, practices or ways of looking at things—provokes learning and new thinking, surmounts complacency and blind spots, and engenders creativity. It also invites us to reexamine our uncritical acceptance of convention and the status quo.