What Springboarding Looks Like
Diagram With Description Following
The Creative Dialogue Model
It may be helpful to start with a word about some brooding from which this model comes. It’s clear to me from our four Springboard sessions so far that those of us gathered around this effort are already working with groups to help shape the future. We're already in active dialogue with edge writers and thinkers, as well as a wide range of creative ventures in the arenas of spirit and community building. We're all drawing on the common memory and tools of our time together as the Order Ecumenical. We all hope to see our legacy carried forward as a resource for future generations of Those Who Care.
When we've come together, we've always benefited from hearing each other's stories, insights and questions. We've explored possible scenarios for identifying and supporting groups that we see on the cutting edge of history today. We've talked about our understanding of the Guild as dynamic and structure and what it would look like to make it the focus of our collective efforts. We've thought about how to share with one another our individual journeys, competencies, passions and relationships. We've reminded each other of past models and stories and crafted new ones to help us locate ourselves in this moment of time. We've marveled at the latest computer, web, audio and video technologies, welcomed distant colleagues to our meetings via Skype and wondered which technological applications might best serve our efforts. We've done spirit spins, sung our songs and written and read poetry to one another. It's been a rich time.
Among the questions I find myself asking --
Is there really something more than this that we're being called upon to do—and if so, what does that look like?
We work hard and well when we're together around the same table.
Is there stuff we should be doing in those intervals between our gatherings—and if so, what does that look like?
We're all pretty engaged people, with To Do lists that don’t end, and we really don’t need another straw added to them.
What could bring people like us to engage in a new collaborative venture—and what would it take to sustain our sticking with it?
What would make someone who didn't have our shared experience want to work with us in that collaborative venture?
We tried to answer some of these questions in Denver. We did a brainstorm Saturday on what we'd want a website to help us do in those dispersed interludes between our sessions. We had a lot of ideas, and they were all over the map: various types of study, spirit exercises, research, news conversations, experience sharing, conversations, skills building tutorials, reflective readings and writings, etc. (See Eric's list: ). From these, we did a gestalt and broke into small working groups (membership, personal profile pages, research and study and website design), with instructions to report back the following morning.
In brooding about this overnight, what came to me is that we are in the process of inventing a new kind of virtual community dialogue. This form of dialogue may be one key to how we will care for Those Who Care. It’s a form of dialogue that requires certain disciplines—some old, some new. Any of Those Who Care—old Order or Never Heard of It—can participate in this dialogue on a level playing field.
As I’m seeing it, this dialogue moves between and draws its power from the continual interchange between four poles. I’ve called these Archival Wisdom, Edge Thinking, Individual Experience and The New. What distinguishes or differentiates this dialogue, however, is that it is all about bringing into being a fifth reality. I’m calling that fifth reality the Prototype at the moment, for lack of a better term. That reality is what the Springboard Venture is out to discover, demonstrate, co-create or make manifest—however we say it, it’s whatever it takes to care for TWC. The four poles are where the electrical charges are generated, as the energy flows between them and toward the emerging prototype.
Research and Study—yes, we need to be doing research and study. But not just another general discussion of a new book that some of us find exciting. Nor is it just getting back on top of the Other World charts. Any Springboard research and study we do has to move us toward discerning, defining, delivering that prototype. It must, for example, engage both our Archival Wisdom and today’s Edge Thinking—not as discrete and separate entities but in genuine interaction with each other. It’s getting these talking to one another.
What I mean by this is that, as the Springboard, when we deal with one of these now, we also deal with the other. We don’t just say that we have this great NRM work to share and invite the world to come get it or to search through it all on some sort of treasure hunt. We have to point to where this wisdom from our NRM work informs and deepens, complements or corrects, insights by those pioneering in the world of spirit today—and vice versa. We can’t just acknowledge and affirm the ideas of those currently breaking new ground in how to build authentic community today—our role as Springboard is to engage those ideas in a dialogue with what we have learned from our own attempts to do that.
To a degree, we already do this, as a more or less natural way to compare and contrast things we’re talking about. With our focus on bringing this new prototype into being, it becomes a more conscious and intentional discipline. If we have things to share that can help equip and sustain a new wave of social and spirit pioneers or the next generation of vocated ones, we have to generate energy to flow between these poles. In some cases, we’ll bring our newer colleagues a deepened understanding of what is needed or practical savvy about how to achieve it. In other cases, we’ll find our own ancient wisdom profoundly enriched and modified by the interaction. Often, it’ll be both, and out of that connection the prototype will get clearer.
Still, the energy interchange between these two poles isn’t enough. The third pole in this energy field is our Individual Experience. That is, our personal engagement in building spirit and community, both today and also over the past thirty years. The dialogue between Archival Wisdom and Edge Thinking has to be grounded in our own reports from the field—our ventures, learnings and stories. George Walters, in our first Springboard gathering, said that we have entered a time of harvesting our learnings from the Diaspora. Bill Grow and others worked at Junaluska on something they called the Guild Report. This is where we call forth and share what we’ve been part of and what’s happened to us. It isn’t some massive core dump of our whole lives; instead, it’s as focused as the other components in the interaction described above. It’s a critical piece in clarifying and grounding the dialogue. It’s auditing or mining our own experience with the groups we work with for those things that shine a grounded personal light on the Archival Wisdom and Edge Thinking.
The fourth pole in this electrical network I’m calling simply The New. It came out of thinking about what our former news conversations did to open us up to fresh ways of viewing the world, perceiving divine activity in the mundane or seeing hope in events where others saw only despair. In the Springboard Venture, we have to watch for and share those things which break into our consciousness and impact us to the point that we stop and reflect on what they signify. These can be anything—news events, a set of statistics that bowl us over, a new technology that could change everything—things about which we think we have some handle or things about which we know we don’t have a clue. It’s standing present to what rocks our world and talking about it together.
To move toward that prototype means finding ways to generate this tensional dialogue between these four poles. Not just telling a great story out of our experience, but relating it to the other three poles, so that it transforms into a resource for anyone shaping a more constructive future. Not just sharing what Paul Hawken has to say about all the small groups operating beneath the radar, but how that, in dialogue with our collective and personal experience, moves us down the road to caring for TWC. Springboarding is standing (or surfing) at the center of this quatrefoil, quadruped, quadrangle energy field. It’s thinking and talking to one another just a bit differently as the Springboard group.
This also creates a common playing field. Those of us from the OE community have the special responsibility to find, make available and interpret the resources from that experience that pertain to whatever it is we’re dealing with. We in turn depend on colleagues coming from other communities to help us to dialogue with knowledge banks to which we otherwise might not have access or give due consideration. (I’ve called the pole Archival Wisdom rather than something like Order Memory for that reason.) All of us have equal opportunity access to Edge Thinking, Individual Experience and the New.
How this plays out is ours to determine. It can change the way we operate. Instead of simply saying, for example, “Have a look at this interesting article or essay,” we Springboardians might take the additional reflective step of saying how this connects with the other poles to shed light on our enterprise. Instead of simply giving book reports or telling really good stories out of our experience—not that there’s anything wrong with these things—we might begin to push ourselves and each other to “say a bit more about that.”
It has the potential to change the way we think about and relate to the groups with which we currently work. We may find ourselves continually asking (ourselves and each other) how what we’re doing is relevant to our collaborative venture of caring for TWC. And when some dare to say how they see that it is, we’ll respond to them from that perspective as well. A different level of creativity and relevance could come from deciding to operate within these tensional dynamics. It might be that this modus operandi becomes a mark of the Springboard listserv.
There is one final component that I believe is in this picture. It’s what I’m calling—again, for want of a better name—the Room E Dynamic. We’ve had a Coordination Team, which has loosely guided the agendas and logistics of our four Springboard gatherings. This is something beyond that. I think it’s a small group of whoever will, that at intervals steps back, reflects on and articulates what it sees emerging from our creative dialogue. Beyond summation, it’s the distilling, the going snake eyes on what’s been happening and what it means, the storying of where we’ve come and now need to go. It can show up as a kind of collegium that someone pulls together and shares and to which we then respond. This is no formal group. One can’t be assigned to be part of it, and it’s not something that would be likely to show up on an org chart. It’s just a critical part of the creative dialogue process.
The image painfully exposes my feeble graphic skills, but it’s intended, like the written attempt to describe it, as a catalyst for our further thinking and action.