Archive for San Francisco

Singing Ringing Tree

A recent day trip to the Main Headlands revealed an unexpected musical interlude when the wind whistled through the open pipes of a structure built near one of the old forts just north of the Golden Gate bridge. I Googled it when I got home, but couldn't find anything. I did however, find evidence of a Wave Organ built on a jetty east of the bridge – I'll have to check that out. I also found the Singing Ringing Tree in northern England and this video of the haunting sounds it makes.


Gathering 2.0

Does anyone out there remember PlaNetwork? It was a fabulously geeky conference that had a good run back a few years ago now. I loved its combination of high geekery and values-based idealism. I remember meeting someone through pre-event communications that I collaborated with to build a beautiful altar/centerpiece in the middle of the conference room, and dancing afterwards to music I'd never heard before under a projected screen of Electric Sheep images. It was that kind of "happening". Definitely a bit "hippie" and not slick by any means, but deeply sophisticated on many levels, not least technologically, and extremely satsifying.

There's another event that has sprung up in the San Francisco bay area in the last couple of years called Wisdom 2.0, and I've been watching it with great anticipation.

Given the fabulously descriptive name, I imagined Wisdom2.0 would be something related to my own passion for a conscious use of the internet but I have been a little dissapointed to see it turn out what appears to be a fairly standard conference format in its first two years of existence, albeit with a rather wonderful mix of spiritual and technology gurus.

The disappointing thing is that these leading lights seem to be giving siloed talks (nothing about how spirituality might inform technology, or the two might be employed together, for example) in the same old way (talking heads on a stage – nice heads and some nice talks, but still up there on a stage with a passive audience, just listening).

Those of you who know me, know I've been Director of Communications for the World Café for the last seven years, which has been the "go to" model for transformative conferences with real engagement; where the wisdom in the room is revealed among us. I even started weDialogue, my virtual events hosting business (for webinars, conferences, conversations) using the World Café model. So you can imagine why I have been alert, waiting for them to "get it" (they did support a "unconference " at last year's event where World Café was used, and from all reports it was well received, so I'm hopeful).

In fact, feedback from the 2012 event seems to have shaken things up a bit, and it appears we're in for something different this year. The guiding question they're promoting for 2013 is "How do we live with greater presence, meaning, and purpose in the age of technology?", which is a big step closer to something I'm really interested in. I understand they're also piloting space for interactive breakout sessions based on shared interests (birds-of-a-feather groups), and creating cohort groups for attendees to work within throughout the conference. Maybe not quite as elegant as World Cafe, but definitely movement in the right direction.

So I've bought my ticket, and am feeling excited – the anticipation is definitely back and I'm optimistic. Is anyone else going? I would love to meet up and see you there. And if you were there in 2011 or 2012, I'd be curious to hear about your experience. What was it like? Have I missed the point? What did you find most valuable? 

Power of Place

A long-held fascination with the intentional creation of space (for particular purposes) is coming to the forefront for me right now in an interesting way.

Whatever the purpose for creating intentional space – whether it be to make a home, create the right atmosphere for a party, a setting for collective transformation, a temple or circle in which to do sacred work, or the intentional creation of “community” in the sense of offering people somewhere they can feel they “belong” – there are a number of elements that will go into building the architecture or structure for each. Some of the structural elements will be fundamental to creating any powerful environment, while others will be uniquely focused on individual intentions for that particular use

I’m currently engaged in a project on the Power of Place with three remarkable women – Sheryl Erickson, Karen Speerstra, and Ria Baaek. The project began as an inquiry into geographical places on the earth where people have felt a specific spiritual power associated with the landscape. There were some beautiful results from this inquiry (including a video by FireHawk Hulin on one such place in the Santa Cruz mountains), but the scope of the project soon grew to extend beyond geography and into a search for the raw components of "power in place"; the elements from which all "sacred space" is built.

We started by reading Christopher Alexander’s The Luminous Ground, where he talks about the “life” in everything and how to invite the elements of life to come forward when working with space. Now we're exploring how Alexander's work links to what Peter Block is talking about in his recent book, Community: The Structure of Belonging

I’m bringing in the World Café principle of creating "hospitable” space, Pele Rouge's work in creating beauty for the Thought Leader Gatherings, Ashley Cooper's work with Easily Amazed, the work of David Sibbet and Michelle Paradis in Second Life, and the things I’ve learned in my own work with design, particularly online design, over the last twelve years.

So far we've been envisioning the project as two parts of a whole. The first part is a Primer on the key "Principles" or elements of creating sacred space as translated through a feminine lens to include "Practices" to ground these principles.

The second part is an experiment with the creation of "sacred place" online. We're documenting our process in a collective blog, which will be published along with an open invitation to participate in the inhabiting and co-evolution of whatever it is we come up with.

I hope some of you will want to play.

(This project is being done in collaboration with the Collective Wisdom Initiative and supported by a small grant from The Fetzer Institute)

Graffiti at Vesuvios

Graffiti Poem from the back of the bathroom door in Vesuvios, next door to the City Lights bookstore in North Beach: