Tag Archives: zen quotes

Change theory: working with emergence

5 Mar
Herakleitos philosopher quote

Image courtesy of David Schiller's Zen Page-A-Day 2010 Calendar

I love this quote. It’s an ancient Greek version of ‘what goes up, must come down’.

Herakleitos, the weeping philosopher, argued our only permanent reality is that of change. (How’s that for irony?)

He viewed the world order as ‘ever-living fire, kindling in measures and being extinguished in measures’.

Over 2000 years later, I’m thinking he was onto something. Yep, just looked around me – change seems to be going on quite a bit. Tick.

But I keep wondering how? How does change, especially big change, happen?

In mid-2010 I was introduced to the Berkana Institute and emergence thinking by two insightful facilitators – Chris Corrigan and Geoff Brown.

The concept of emergence provides an elegant framework for contemplating change. As Wheatley and Frieze put it in their 2006 article, Lifecycle of Emergence:

In nature, change never happens as a result of top-down, pre-conceived strategic plans, or from the mandate of any single individual or boss. Change begins as local actions spring up simultaneously in many different areas. If these changes remain disconnected, nothing happens beyond each locale. However, when they become connected, local actions can emerge as a powerful system with influence at a more global or comprehensive level. (Global here means a larger scale, not necessarily the entire planet.)

These powerful emergent phenomena appear suddenly and surprisingly. Think about how the Berlin Wall suddenly came down, how the Soviet Union ended, how corporate power quickly came to dominate globally. In each case, there were many local actions and decisions, most of which were invisible and unknown to each other, and none of which was powerful enough by itself to create change. But when these local changes coalesced, new power emerged…

To me, the guts of the theory is that we can learn how to work with emergence by understanding living systems – how they ‘begin as networks, shift to intentional communities of practice, and evolve into powerful new systems capable of global influence.’

Based on this understanding, Wheatley and Frieze argue we can encourage positive influential systems to emerge through a four stage approach: naming, connecting, nourishing and illuminating.

lifecycle of emergence diagram

Lifecycle of Emergence diagram courtesy http://www.berkana.org

I thoroughly recommend reading the full article to understand these approaches better. It’s quite short and, if you’re anything like me, it will chime inside your head for some time to come.

But how does this thinking relate to our project? Well, it helped clarify how we thought change might come about because of what we were proposing to do.

Basically, by creating an upcycling partnership between Conserve India and like-minded supporters within the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games organising system we hoped to:

  • connect these pioneers and positively change how major sporting events are delivered by proving new, valuable products can be made with event waste materials
  • nourish Conserve India with new contacts and knowledge about how to work with major events. We wanted to discover useful product materials; to make and sell new products and generate new income streams, leading to more benefits for Conserve’s staff  and the communities this social enterprise supports
  • illuminate the pioneering work of Conserve India, and other upcyclers, by capturing some of the vast media platform dominated by these major events. We wanted to tell the project story in as many ways possible, and through as many channels as we could, to see if we could find new supporters who would buy the products we created.

We wanted to cast a few small droplets into the river of change we can feel is fast emerging…

Einstein and zen quote

Image courtesy of David Schiller's Zen Page-A-Day 2010 Calendar

To see our original full project plan, otherwise known as ‘Our Best Guess At The Time’, click on our program logic diagram below.

CD2010 Program Logic May 2010

CD2010 Program Logic May 2010

So how did we go?

Tune in tomorrow, dear readers, and I’ll show you…


Notes on the ‘hood

7 Feb

Hello again, dear readers. I spent the morning working out how many posts I need to do before finishing up this project blog (Sunday 6 March is my deadline). While it’s not directly related to the project outcomes, today’s post is for anyone interested in living and volunteering/working in Delhi. Here’s a couple of useful sites if you need to find your own accommodation, or just want to do a bit of research about Delhi and India before heading over:

Using resources such as these, I was fortunate to find a great flat (and flatmate) in a lovely part of South Delhi – Kailash Colony.

Why was it good?

It was incredibly close to a brand new Metro stop (Kailash Colony). As a female on the road a lot for work, Delhi’s metro system was a real blessing – clean, comfortable and secure…
Riding the delhi metro

Delhi metro ladies only

Plenty of seats for all 'the ladies' on the Delhi Metro

…My local ‘hood had a great, laid-back market place, with shops arranged in a horseshoe around a small green park…

Kailash Colony market at Diwali

Kailash Colony market glammed up for Diwali Festival

Kailash Colony market park

Little kids (and big ones) hanging out in the Kailash Colony market park

… a welcoming temple built around an old Banyan tree…

Kailash Colony market temple

Kailash Colony market temple around banyan tree

…and a peaceful yoga sanctuary just around the corner.

…You could find a lot of familiar goods at the well stocked shops…

Star Bazaar Kailash Colony market

Everything a girl could want...and in the right order too

…and plenty of restaurants to explore Indian cuisine…

channa masala at Annuparma's

Fructose friendly (no onion) channa masala meal at Anupama's restaurant, Kailash Colony Market

…And then there was this store, which took me a little while to get my head around…

Republic of Chicken

No way. It's a chicken revolution!


Republic of Chicken Staff

...No way it's a chicken revolution.

Zen quote

Image courtesy of David Schiller's Zen Page-A-Day 2010 Calendar

2000 and Zen

18 Sep

End of another lo-o-ong week. We’ve had a few positive leads about accessing Games waste but none are fully confirmed yet. On Thursday I went down with a fever (luckily not dengue, just garden variety flu). While I’ve felt pretty crummy for the last couple of days, it has given me time to revisit those 5 personal goals from the start of this blog.

Three weeks in, and I can say I’ve learnt a huge amount about Delhi – food, etiquette and the way things get done. But the health and wellbeing has definitely taken a bit of a nose dive.

Liz spider diagram 2

I also managed to get my Delhi-based office (aka my bedroom) organised. While sorting through my things I found my Zen Calendar. Towards the end of last year I started telling friends and family I was renaming 2010 – 2000 and zen. This was to reflect my hope for a year of more balance and positive changes. As a joke, friends of mine bought me a Zen Page-A-Day Calendar.

At first I just laughed and marvelled at how they’d found such a classic gift. Then gradually, usually over breakfast, I started flicking through the quotes. Many were so…zen, they made my frontal lobe shrink. But occasionally a page would stand out, staying with me for days at a time.

This page has been a particular inspiration behind my involvement in this project – the quotes have been on my fridge door for the last 9 months.

no such thing as trash

Image courtesy of David Schiller's Zen Page-A-Day 2010 Calendar

To me, the Zuigan Roshi quote is a simple truth. And, although it feels like I’m free-falling a bit lately – and I’m not entirely sure when that net’s going to show up – it was good to re-read them.

They’re going ‘straight to the pool room’ (in my case, a patch of wall above my desk).

More soon.

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