Many thoughtful people who have been committed to profound positive change for many years are taking time to stop and reflect together on what may be emerging from the nearly countless gatherings of people all over the world. This was the focus of a recent conference I attended with several friends, entitled Nexus for Change. Peter Block, who sat beside me during one intense Open Space session, had this to say before attending, “Working on our own, valuable as that might be, we will never have the impact that working in concert on a large, movement level scale might have. This conference holds the possibility of clarifying what we are learning and creating transformation in a way we have not yet imagined.”
As Steve Cady (one of the authors of The Change Handbook -see reference in booklist below) opened the conference, he invited us to apply the notion of forgiveness as we move through an emergent conference design, remembering that emergent systems are messy, and require trust, learning and the willingness to stretch beyond our comfort zone so that something new can emerge. The conference was indeed messy at times, and it was also beautiful! We made connections with people whose work we have admired and applied, and with whom we’ve longed to engage with. We met exceptional and wonderful people who do this work all over the world, and forged new friendships and bonds that will surely last. We entered into passionate conversations and shared our stories. We shared the wisdom we have gained over the years. And we agreed that it’s not over!
Personally, I came to the conference with one burning question, “What are the underlying patterns beneath the methods and processes for whole system change?” A large group of us coalesced around just this conversation convened by Emily Axelrod and Peggy Holman during an intense Open Space session at the end of the conference. The contributions were thoughtful and diverse; many different aspects of the underlying patterns were explored. We agreed that the conversation is not over. In the final Circle of the conference, we committed, Emily Axelrod, Sylvia James and I, that we will convene another conversation on the topic, and invite the group to meet again to continue deepening our understanding of this work, so that we may be more effective in the arenas where we work and ultimately contribute positively to the world that needs this work. Peggy Holman said it best about our deeper intention, “The faster we can scale this up in our extinction world, the greater the chance that it will still be here.”