Archive for the ‘Learning Center’ Category

Meaning in Place

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009

Again on my way to Greece and Axladitsa, the sixth time in 1,5 years. (I’m writing this on the plane) I could never ever have imagined that this was possible in my life!

This journey is part of the Powers of Place Collaborative, which is an international stew of people, all – in one way or another – passionate about the relationship between people and places.
These days many people are expanding their awareness in many different directions and being aware of place, of the land and the buildings we are in is one of them.

It all started with Sheryl Erickson, who – with here ability to sense what field of practice and study is coming to the surface – send me an email at some point.
If I knew people or places which showed a special interest in this people-place relationship?

Yes, I did! Immediately I replied with a few names and links, just from the top of my head.

Sheryl was totally on fire with the information she got… months later a project proposal was written and later a grant received from the Fetzer Foundation in Kalamazoo (I love that name!), in the US. Last January we met in person with the very diverse core team of this collaboration, both people from the US and Europe.

At this moment I’m sitting on the bus bringing me from Thessaloniki airport to the big bus terminal to take a regional bus to Volos. I just noticed that the wheat on the fields has ripened already and is ready for harvest. So different than in Belgium where we have to wait some more months for that to happen. How would these differences in seasons and weather play our in our inner being; both individual and collective… I wonder…

From Monday till Thursday we will plunge ourselves into a deep collective inquiry around Meaning in Place. Some of you, readers, might be familiar with the Art of Hosting Meaningful Conversations. This art, which favors self-organization and invites people to (re-)connect with their own passion and responsibility, is in some places used as the operating system. One of the questions we hold is what becomes possible is we use this art to create meaning – or meaningfulness – not just in conversations now and then, but in relationship with place. And place can be a rural retreat/seminar center, or an urban business innovation space, even a little Learning Village like Kufunda in Zimbabwe or even a whole region.

Oh my god, cherries are ripe her too!!! This little open van had them piled up in the back! Too bad I can’t get of the bus! It is first crossing through the busy, Greek center of the city before arriving at the regional bus station.

We will look in our four-day gathering at what is the common ground in all our different practices, and of course into how we can cross-fertilize and improve them. The purpose of the Powers of Place Collaborative is “to catalyze a new field of study and practice based on the premise that right relationship between people and place offers the potential for transformative action toward what is needed at this moment in history.”

I’m looking forward to it!

Café Wonderment

Friday, May 1st, 2009

Tuesday, in the Kingsmill, the place and Learning  Center that I live in with Judith, Lieven and Chrisje, we started an initiative that we call Café Wonderment.


This Café was born out of the recent Art of Hosting training we organized in Flanders. Since long I have been looking for what would be a good format to let people connect. Not just any people, but the ones in Flanders that are looking to make the new possible. So we came up with a design that includes as first part an introduction of a new or challenging perspective on one of the topics that bothers us all. The second part is having dinner together, which fosters the connection between people and creates also a sense of community. After that we designed a World Café to dive deeper into the topic started earlier.

The topic we were introduced in was: Value Creation through Collaboration. We got an introduction through history, and wondered what collaboration could look like in its next form. Our guide, Geert, introduced us to the model of Steiner – without naming it – in which three fields of life are distinguished. These fields are all interrelated, but it is also worthwhile to see the differences. Geert presented history as a movement of making these areas more and more free and conscious for everybody. He also asked us how these three areas could all be present at the same time and in balance.

The three areas are Spirit Life: the realm of life that deals with vision, beliefs, thinking, inspiration, values, education and so on. Next one is the Area of Law, translated in agreements, rules – the world of how we deal with each other as we make it concrete in these agreements. The last area is the Economic one, that area where we really do something, where we create something tangible, where we can see the actions.


The interesting point was that Geert connected these three areas of life with the three words of the French Revolution: Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité – Freedom, Equality and Brotherhood. This means that each area of life has its own basic value or principle and when you mix them up you get into trouble. In the World Café we explored why this was so. Here are the questions we gathered around:
How do you experience Freedom in the spirit realm, and why doesn’t   and brotherhood belong there?
How do you experience Equality in the realm of Law, and why doesn’t Freedom and Brotherhood belong there?
How do you experience Brotherhood in the realm of Economics, and why doesn’t Freedom and Equality belong there?

For most of us it was quite obvious why freedom needs to be in the center of the spirit realm. It is a fluid world, full of potential and possibilities, the world of reflection and inspiration. There is freedom to choose.
It was a little bit more difficult to understand how and why Equality was the grounding principle in the area of Law. I don’t think it is about ‘everybody is equal’, but about everybody needs to have an equal chance in this realm of agreements and rules.

But the next one – Brotherhood – was even harder to understand in the realm of Economics. How to make sense out of that?
Due to two brothers who were present, we started on our table from that experience. You can’t choose who will be your brother, and still we can have love and trust. There seems to be some kind of engagement or commitment involved. It is for sure not free and we aren’t all equal! At the end of the café round it dawned on me that brotherhood in the economic realm could be understood – or maybe needs to be understood – as a brotherhood between all humans on earth. Right in this moment, I think it probably relates not only to humans but to all beings on planet Earth. I’m still not sure what consequences this has for my own economic behavior. I guess I imply a lot of humans and beings when I buy organic food and tend my own garden in a permacultural way. But what does brotherhood mean when I charge my individual clients for a therapy session or when I charge an organization for my hosting work? Would it be enough to agree on the price between both parties? Or is this applying the principle of egality in the setting of the price, and it has nothing to do with brotherhood?
Many questions stay; although I see the value of separating these areas of life with its own principles. It gives more clarity to what fits where.

Another point, that we didn’t talk about, but was raised in the explanation of Geert, was a quote from Tim Merry: Communities are the answer to everything. It became clear that for a healthy community we need to apply these three principles in these three areas of life. They all need each other and are interrelated. My hunch is that brotherhood is the principle that needs the community more than the other two principles… I can’t grasp it right now…

And would sisterhood and brotherhood be the same in this regard? I wonder…

A story of friends

Friday, May 11th, 2007

In Cris Corrigan’s blog I read this link to an article about two young people, Silas from Zimbabwe and Sam from the US.

Sign to...

I both met them last January on my visit to Kufunda, the learning village where Silas is one of the leading people. It is really worthwhile reading. And I love how these young people are so convinced and fascinated to change the world into a better place!

A new story of magic

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

Under the chaos there is something beautiful cooking.” Silas

There seems to be magic at work in Kufunda that attracts people like a strong magnet and what made a lot happening in a short period of time. Many buildings arose: a classroom, two dormitories, a dining room and kitchen, a library, an office and many houses and compost toilets. All this in an area surrounded by poverty and in a country where prices have doubled each month lately. However, the magic is bigger than the physical alone! We can see and name some of its elements but magic is and always stays: magic!

It seems to me that underneath this magic is the belief that life is good and abundant. This belief in ‘the capitals’ – in what is inside us and all around us – translates in many forms. It is an appreciative way of looking at life itself.

What I see in these young people and what I hear from the stories is the deep practice of personal development. Learning by own choice; going from one job to another; the easy flow of learning in one field and teaching in another: all opportunities for becoming, for growing into full potential. The collective tools of meditation, sitting in circle, World Café and Open Space are practiced again and again. They are used in every meeting, for every topic you can think of.

The practices of individual and collective hosting, the processes of learning bring them to a place of love. Conflicts and ‘bad’ stuff are not avoided, but taken into the circle with lots of courage and balanced with love. Love and sharing is promoted and there is a deep equality all over the palace that bridges cultures, ages and levels of education.

Community – relationships – interconnections
The diversity we meet is not at random but it is invited in. It keeps this living system vibrant with life. Relationships are build with four rural and one urban community, with many organizations and individuals in Zimbabwe and beyond.

Magic for the future
Kufunda and some other learning centers seem to create a new pathway for humanity. A pathway that doesn’t believe in poverty, but in sharing and in peace; a pathway of the heart, a pathway of old wisdom connected with new technologies, a pathway of individual and collective practice and learning. As all pathways newly formed, they only get visible and attractive when practiced a lot.
If humanity is one, if the morfogenetic fields are at work, then more magic is to come!

A deeper tradition gets born where the wholeness of everything can be seen.” Phil Cass