Building connection and leadership in a time of social distancing
SUMMARY / WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT
On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the Coronavirus a Pandemic. With the COVID-19 Pandemic, we have crossed a threshold into a new world of inter-connected disruptions, moment-to-moment uncertainty, and “social distancing” in communities with people already suffering from social isolation and a lack of connection and belonging.
Within all of this disruption, there is a distinct call to slow down and to also find new ways to rebuild connection with each other and with nature. What does this pandemic mean to all of us? With all of the tension and exhaustion, how do we do this together? How do we talk to each other about what’s really important? How do we listen to each other, speak our truth, and figure out what to do in a post-pandemic world? How will we get through this together? What could the post-pandemic world even look like?
It is easy to become overwhelmed. There is so much that needs to be done. People know that they need each other and that they are stronger together, but we have to create new practices for coming together during this time of social distancing. We need to create new vehicles for collaboration, dialogue, innovation, discernment, and action. More than ever, we need to cultivate the kind of adaptive and caring leadership that is required to work generativity with chaos and uncertainty.
WHAT NEWSTORIES CAN CREATE WITH YOU
Regenerative Community Dialogues are 90 to 120 minute participatory online sessions for building connections and learning together in groups. Using Zoom as the virtual platform, up to 100 participants come together at a set time to explore a theme that is selected by the design team.
There are five different kinds of spaces to consider hosting post-disaster. Spaces to:
- Share Experience: grief, joy, inspirations. Spaces to connect with each other’s hearts and minds.
- Teach: share knowledge, tools, conceptual frameworks to make sense and take action in these times.
- Reflect: come together to share the specifics of innovative work we are doing and learning into to both deepen our understanding of our own work and to cross-pollinate with others
- Take Action: plan new strategies and tactics to deal with specific challenges.
- Connect Translocally: bring people working on specific issues in different contexts together to share experiences and learning.
We recommend starting with Share Experience spaces. Below is the general flow of a 90 minute session.
- 5 min Welcome
- 20 min Check-in with each other
- 10 min Set context, key message and questions we want to invite participants to think about together
- 20 min Break-out groups around key questions
- 15 min Convene back in whole group for a quick harvest from 3 or 4 of the breakout groups.
- Message from NewStories, Speaking into this Harvest
- 15 min Back into the second set of breakout groups. Same format as first groups.
- 10 min Back in a large group. Closing circle.
We do these sessions using ZOOM video conferencing combined with harvesting on Google Docs. We can add an additional 30 minute teaching session with an additional 30 minute cycle with a teaching, breakout group, and collective harvest to integrate the teaching and learning.
This flow is easily adapted to meet the needs of the group. We work closely with the design team to ensure that form and content are the right fit for the group. We’re learning quickly as we go along and using this flow with calls from NewStories and with several partners who have asked us to help them move scheduled face-to-face gatherings on line. Sometimes we make adaptations during the sessions and we consider everything that we do during this time of uncertainty to be proto-typing – so we hold this form lightly.
WHO THIS IS FOR
Community leaders are best served by these sessions. At NewStories, a leader is defined as anyone who wants to help, so these sessions can be adapted for many different groups.
Here are some examples of groups who will find these sessions particularly salient:
- First Responders and anyone working on the front lines
- Nonprofits and any groups working in service to community
- Governments interested in cultivating participatory leadership and human-centred design
- Community change-makers and any groups who want to help
- First Nations
PRINCIPLES AND BELIEFS
Every community is filled with leaders. A leader is defined as anyone who wants to help, and we organize our communities to encourage each of us to step forward and offer our gifts. Leadership is participatory.
Whatever the problem, the community has the answers. In any community, there’s someone who knows something about the problem or opportunity at hand. Working with communities to discover what they know creates a foundation of knowledge and a basis for action.
Magic happens when we encounter each other with kindness, respect, curiosity and generosity. We can move with a generosity of spirit in which we know that the more we give freely, the more we have.
Self-reliance and interdependence work together. Community itself becomes stronger when it is consciously nested in a weave of reciprocal relationships creating a fabric of interdependence with other communities.
We must live the world we want, today. We don’t have to wait for external help. We have many resources with which to make things better now.
We find a clear sense of direction AND we take an elegant, minimum step forward. We proceed one step at a time, making the path by walking it.
Local work evolves to create transformative change when connected to similar work around the world. When similar work is connected at wider and wider levels of systems, those who are doing the work are connected, inspired, and informed by each other and conditions are created for deeper innovation and change.