A Peaceful Neighborhood Learning Circle

Sue Wolpert, change agent in Cleveland, writes to us about the formation of a Peaceful Neighborhood Learning Circle. (More on Sue’s work with dialogue and community engagement in urban neighborhoods here.)

The Possibility    People in Cleveland are moved to manifest their own aspirations for healing and peaceful neighborhoods by the stories told and spaces created by a small group of change agents who dedicate themselves to learn, celebrate, and demonstrate peaceful neighborhoods. As we discover new ways to live with ourselves, others and our physical spaces we model, with deep respect, these new ways of being.

The conversation we had was fabulous. The participants came up with so much wisdom that would never have surfaced without the cards.   …   
Every card opened the path for a story, every story revealed an important piece of information for our work.


Hi Chuck,
I have been working with a group of people organizing a Peaceful Neighborhood Learning Circle. To begin with we convened 12 people who said they would come together for three sessions, to learn, and to help plan a bigger roll out of the circle in the spring.

I used the Visual Explorer deck at our last gathering. At the previous session, participants used a World Café Model to respond to a draft of the Purpose, Possibility, and Goals of the bigger Learning Circle. The ideas were incorporated into the document.

The homework was to go out of the circle and talk about the ideas in the community; see if they range true, and if it felt comfortable and authentic to share.

When we reconvened we wanted to hear the feedback from participants, but we did not want to start word-smithing the document. I asked people to use the Visual Explorer tool to respond to two questions [these can be framed as statements or requests or questions, or all of these so people get the idea]:

  • The first request was: Find a card that represents how the Peaceful Neighborhood Learning Circle, as expressed in the document [see below], is authentically compelling and meaningful to you and the people you shared with outside our circle. 
  • Second: Select a card that captures the doubts that you still hold.

The conversation we had was fabulous. The participants came up with so much wisdom that would never have surfaced without the cards. The cards had us focus on the bigger picture rather than details of is this word correct. Every card opened the path for a story, every story revealed an important piece of information for our work. We did one round about the positive and then one round about the doubts.

We ended that portion of the night with a little meditation. All the participants have sign up to be a part of the roll out of the program in the spring. I will keep you posted.
Sue

 

 

 The draft document under consideration in this session is below. 

Peaceful Neighborhood Learning Circle

Purpose and Possibility

The Possibility (A declaration of something compelling to others and inspiring to us)

People in Cleveland are moved to manifest their own aspirations for healing and peaceful neighborhoods by the stories told and spaces created by a small group of change agents who dedicate themselves to learn, celebrate, and demonstrate peaceful neighborhoods. As we discover new ways to live with ourselves, others and our physical spaces we model, with deep respect, these new ways of being.

Purpose of the Peaceful Neighborhood Learning Circle

To bring forward the possibility of peaceful neighborhoods

To become conscious and skilled change agents

To use our skill to spread healing and wholeness in the world

Some Goals

  • Create a learning circle that will share stories, build trusting relationships, plan and carry out learning activities for ourselves and the broader community.
  • To engage with other people outside of our circle, who typically do not participate, right from the start and support them in creating their own circles.
  • To be cause in healing the pain of disenfranchisement and isolation
  • To discover, demonstrate, and  share simple tools that can be replicated easily
  • To increase awareness of….
    • Our own internal processes
    • Our interactions with others-
    • What is happening around us
    • Learn to ask better questions in the community that allow us listen and learn while creating the impromptu circle on the street

World Café results about the Structure of the Peaceful Neighborhood Learning Circle

Everyone likes the Accordion Model as a rhythm for our work. The sessions would alternate, whole group meets and then the affinity groups or cohorts meet.  Members would commit to participate in this rhythm from when the circle commences in March until the summer. The group meets as a whole for community building and learning of practical tools that can be easily replicated and practiced. The teams meet to bring learning into the community right from the start. People like the idea of taking a group Learning Journey.

There are a lot of questions that still need to be answered about scheduling, trust building, accountability, and learning models.

About Charles J. Palus & David Magellan Horth

Charles J. Palus & David Magellan Horth are Senior Fellows at the Center for Creative Leadership. Many thanks to Steadman Harrison III, CEO of GO Innovation.com, and Senior Associate for the Center for Creative Leadership.
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