Tag Archives: Restorative Circles

The Circles and other stuff at Embercombe!

Every morning, after the breakfast,  the Embercombe community gets together near the Dining Yurt for a connecting circle. Some one makes a fire and people huddle close to each other as people are sitting in their thick jackets and caps to keep themselves warm. There is a silence as vapours come out of the mouth when people breathe a, some people are quietly watching the fire as we hear the crackling sounds of the fire and  see smoke coming out to add to the mist. As we sit in silence for some time and I notice my breathing slows down, one person begins to speak whats alive in them and there starts the circle of check in. Everyone has the space to speak and when the circle is over then people begin to talk about the jobs for the day and move on with their respective engagements. I enjoyed this slow getting into the day with the spaciousness to connect to ourselves.

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The kitchen as active each day with Yara making breads and others making lunch with Alexendra.  

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They make their own breads of all kind, spelt, wheat, etc. Yara also made an amazing Lasagne with Pumpkin slices instead of refined four. They make sure their is options for the vegans also. Alexandra who is the incharge of the kitchen makes space for volunteers to do their own experimentation. The kitchen also has a great sense of co-responsibility where people just come to help each other.

Mick, Roman and others are making mud building and more construction is going on.

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Some are working on the permaculture garden, some are repairing a tractor, Fiona is taking care of the Ponies or being with the kids. Every day there are visitors from some place or the other.

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Narmia is hosting a basket making workshop for the last few days, She is now planning to go to Scotland to learn how to make coffins with willow, which was a traditional practice in some parts.

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They have friends weekends where people come from other cities for a day to get a break from their city life and to connect with the land.

They also have a CSA basket and Dan, who is on the food growing team is passionate about his work.  There are many people who make this community happen and I am glad that there is a space where people in the region can come and connect with land and simple living. 

Once a week home schoolers come to spend the time there and connect with the community. I also shared  two days of NVC with them and made  some deep connections.I also shared Restorative Circles there for three days and we set up a Restorative System there. I enjoyed the communities desire to look at interpersonal relationships and their desire to work with decision making processes there. I am grateful to be having the opportunity to connect with the Embercombe Community in Devon, UK. I am hoping to visit them again some time…

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Filed under Community Building, Conscious Kitchen, Natural Farming, Nonviolent Communication(NVC), Restorative Circles, Sustainable Living

How can we allow flowering of individual power and leadership in an egalitarian way in our organisations.

I have worked with various groups and organisation and am often confused about dealing with the idea leadership. On one side I value when I or some one who is taking more initiative and is contributing the group with our leadership and make things happen but at times when I or those leaders make decisions  where all voices don’t seem to have equal or equivalent space for disagreements, it is disturbing for me.  That’s the time either there is de-motivation in the group, some people leave or there are fireworks and fights!

Some times the one who began as a  servant leader,  becomes an authority figure and people kind of negotiate and work around him or her, even manipulate to get their favors and look for his or her consent for everything and give away their power and creativity. Interestingly I have also done the same when I have led things or been a victim of it, so its not a blame on any one but an inquiry to create resilient ‘power with’ and efficient systems in our communities.

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An NVC workshop in Chennai

While talking about these issues with James Priest in Devon, UK, I got some clarity which I want to share.

In a group or an organisaton when we don’t decide how things will be decided we often have a default mode and some times there is one person with initiative who does things and people  join him or her and form a group and may call it a ‘movement’. This group also imagines that they share power and even believes that there is no boss and most of them have distaste for top down leadership structures. The leaders hate being seen as a ‘boss’.  All this works well in fair weather but at times of crisis when there are some crucial decisions to be made one person or the one who seemingly or in a real way has some power and privilege in the group is heard more and affects the decisions.

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With the staff of Digital Empowerment Foundation in Delhi

I understood that when the leader decides some thing which is in tune with my idea of vision of the group  I was alright with it. But when they took a decision which involved a certain value or deeper policy of the group which I don’t think we had agreed upon  and to see that person make a call on it triggered me. I realize it’s a confusion in the groups where we don’t verbalizing our values and our agreements about ways of meeting those values but assuming that we have an agreement on them. We do this because we don’t think its important to talk of how we decide when we are so busy making decisions as we have the urgency to change the world. In the process we launch are sitting on the same old patterns of relationships which have created the world that we are wanting to change.

In the book Reinventing Organisations, that I just read recently,  the Author Frederic Laloux says that the relationships that we have in our organizations is the reflection of the world we are living in. I believe that in the Marxian sense too it’s the production structures that create production relations and with that there is the super structure. So the way we relate in our groups or even progressive movements is connected to the rest of the world and so is our language also which is so much embedded in it. So I too believe if we want to change the world we need to change our ways of relating each other and need to find skillful and efficient ways of doing it. I am finding some answers in Sociocracy where we need to start with talking about our Values, Mission and Aims and see if we as a group can have a common understanding of them.

In other words there is a functional decision for which one person has been given the power to decide upon but then the person confuses that they have power to make decisions which have a bearing on the policy of the group and do it without the agreement. Its dangerous to confuse functional power with the power to make policy decisions. Its even OK that in emergency the leader makes such decision but are they then willing to share and discuss it with the group and make sure they have agreement on the policy ramifications of their actions. This is the place where we need to look at in our movements and be watchful of to not be lazy and unconsciously give the power to make policy decisions to one person. More so,  I feel sad for those leaders who do it as when people don’t like their work they are matter of gossiping and talked behind their back and when people have the courage to go against them they are overthrown. I guess its important for the well being of the whole group that we are watchful on how we decide things in our movements or organisations.

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Offering a workshop to a group of organic farmers on ways of ‘power with’ decision making in Wales.

I believe that most of the groups who even hold the dream of a sustainable world also don’t spend much time on such questions.  When things go wrong they struggle and then either some people leave or the leader is made a scapegoat, blamed and dumped. Either way the and groups break down

I don’t see it as a problem of people but the problem of the lack of structures to work through all this stuff. I would love to be more careful of such issues in the future in the groups that I work with and would like to bring this stuff to light. I am feeling more relaxed about working with challenges in the groups that I am engaged in.

I am glad I am learning about all this through NVC or Restorative Circles or Sociocracy. Grateful to all the opportunities that are coming my way and all my learning from my ‘mistakes’ in the past when I was in Leadership position and made all the messes are also coming in great use.

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Filed under Community Building, Conflict Transformation, Nonviolent Communication(NVC), Sociocracy

What happens when I begin to see my conflicts as a Gift?

I have heard Dominic Barter while talking of Restorative Circles, says – “Unraveling the gift of conflict”. I have been holding on to this idea since then and try to see how I can do it. Often I have seen that when I went deep into the conflict in meaningful way with the other person we were able to understand and empathise with each and in the end would often get some solution which worked for all. We learned about each other and built greater understanding, felt more connected and even grew in the end. That was the GIFT. But that was only after it was done with but while the conflict was at its peak there was pain and fear and even a desire to run away from conflcit. Thoughts like why did I or he create a mess and looking for some one to be responsible for it, were present in me.
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Learning to work with our conflicts in Srilanka
Off late I am able to live with this idea that the conflict that I am going though is going to turn out to be a gift and am more certain and hopeful on that. When I notice that I believe this, then I stop blaming myself or some one else for it, and I believe that I am going to soon discover the gift. When I do that it allows me in the present moment to focus on the areas where small saplings of gift are emerging and that takes the fear and pain away. As a result, I can even be in the conflict without experiencing too much blame and shame drama. I am now not consumed by the conflcit, in other words its not me or some one else that is the conflict instead it’s how we see the world and want at that moment is the conflict. Since I don’t blame any one its easy for me to just be there even when people have moved away from each other or even if I believe or experience pain, mine or others’. I can do this because I know this is the time of some thing ripening or rather composting and some unwanted gases and reactions will happen but I am more at ease with that now as I know that in the end we will get a nice manure and also am able to acknowledge and some times empathise with that pain, that too without feeling blamed or responsible for it.
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Reflecting during and NVC workshop in Srilanka…
I recently said some thing in a group, which I believe, could have triggered some people. This time I am not even so much in pain form the disconnect that happened, as I believe that there was a larger purpose in my sharing my discomfort as we will now go deeper into the issue and I will also hear some different perspectives which I don’t know and some one else will also hear some cool stuff from me and together we will create some thing new. This itself has given me peace and I would want more and more of us to be able to sit with the conflict and but of course create containers to safely hear everyone’s concerns or pain.
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Practicing to Listen at an NVC workshop in Srilanka
This idea of seeing conflict as a gift has given me a different perspective and sense of power and freedom and I want everyone to experience it. I believe this freedom comes from safe ways of expression where people are heard in the way they want to be heard. I believe if we can do that, our conflicts will begin to turn into gifts guiding us as a community which side we need to go as we co-evolve.

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Filed under Community Building, Conflict Transformation, Nonviolent Communication(NVC), Restorative Circles