A World Cafe for fellow Fielding doctoral students and faculty

My friend and fellow doctoral traveler Bart Buechner hosted the November San Francisco Fielding Cluster meeting at the VA center in Yountville just north of Napa Calif. We had two faculty that came in to deliver a workshop on Critical Theory and I was to host a World Cafe after lunch. I did make it down but it was an arduous trip. I got to the airport in Redmond Oregon at 5:30 am and the plane was delayed and did not leave until 9:15. I got lots of reading in at least. I did make it down to the Bay Area and after picking up a car made it to the meeting at just after 1 pm, 4 hours late. But I did make it in time for some of the workshop, lunch, conversation, and then the delivery of the World Cafe. Most of the participants, 14 in all, had not experienced The World Cafe and one of those who had did not have a good experience so I was excited to introduce the fantastic dialogic process to the group.

We as a group came up with a question which focused on power differentials and the Obama election and whether Obama could make a difference and what our hopes and dreams had been in supporting the Obama election. We had a short amount of time so I did a quick philosophical introduction to The World Cafe as a dialogic process and then set 15 minute rounds and a 10 minute harvest. The conversation was outstanding and again based on the results it was clear that the power of dialogue is what can drive the healing of the world. Although it was a short meeting for me, the trip down was invaluable.

At 3:45 I hit the road to go to Woodside to have dinner and visit with my friend Deborah and her husband Stephen at the home of one of their dear friends. After driving in pouring rain the whole way I got there at 6 pm and stayed until just after 8 pm. Wonderful conversations with Deborah and the hosts. Let for the airport and got to the terminal at 9 pm. Noticed that my flight was delayed, thank God, as it had been scheduled to leave at 9:05. I have no idea how I thought that it left at 10. Well it was delayed until 10 and then until 11 and by the time I got home it was 1:30 am and I was exhausted. But it was well worth it.

The trip although a busy, was a reminder of how important dialogue is and how important gathering in friendship is to us. Have wonderful conversations and a great holiday season.


Dialogue Partner (Samtalspartner)

It has been a long time since I posted and I can honestly say that my doctoral work is keeping me buried, both in time and mentally. With that said my doctoral work is focused on dialogue and deliberation and is an expansion of the work in conversation that I have been doing over the last ten years. Of note is that I have finally defined what my role is in our world, and that is the role of dialogue partner. As you see in my title, I identify a dialogue partner as a Samtalspartner, a term and a practice from Sweden. Here is the definition of my practice:

Dialogue Partner (Samtalspartner) – in a relationship of mutual respect and trust with partners (or client systems) accompanying one another in service to generating value to all the stakeholders to the enterprise.

My doctoral work in human and organization systems from Fielding Graduate University provides a strong foundation for my field of practice as well as a focus on social justice which is of critical importance to me. So as I have moved forward in my field of practice, I have been digging even deeper into the field of dialogue and deliberation and am excited to apply this work as I explore new ventures where social justice is a critical component of the work.

My general field of study is as follows: Doctoral Student – Researching social transformation through multi-generational dialog using The World Cafe within a living systems framework. I am also completing a certification in dialogue, deliberation and public engagement which is giving me more tools to help communities of all types socially transform to create a healthier world for all people both human and non-human alike.

Thank you for visiting and continue the conversation.


A conversational “ahha”

Every once in a while I realize that I am sliding out of line with my primary conversational practice. I suppose that I could blame my lapse on being a guy or any other excuse but the reality is I discovered a blind spot in my practice of conversation.

Now that I have started my doctoral program at Fielding Graduate University in Human and Organization Systems, our larger cohort is organized into small anchor groups for ongoing support and collaboration. It is a wonderful concept. In a very short period of time, we have shared more than is probable given that we still are learning who we are as a group and who we are as friends, associates, mentors, and confidants. Herein lies the discovery of my blind spot.

Given the stress of starting a rigorous doctoral program and given that we all have lives, work, families, and responsibilities outside of the doctoral program, it is natural that each of us experiences some uncertainty, fear, and doubts. I pride myself on listening, a critical aspect of conversation. What I found myself doing to my dismay was offering solutions to people right out of the shoot rather that just being there to listen and support. I remembered in this setting that offering critique and analysis is pivotal to this level of doctoral work, however I also remembered that I do not need to solve everyone’s problems. Each of us is a professional, intelligent, competent, and accomplished, who am I to try to solve problems for everyone else.

I am now more aware of this blind spot in my practice and will doll out advice more sparingly or when I am asked rather than immediately offering solutions when someone voices frustrations. I will be a better listener and in the end, I will be a better conversational practitioner.

Keep those conversations going.


Conversations framing my doctoral research

I recently started my doctoral program at Fielding Graduate University in Human and Organization Development. Preceding the start of the program and now after I have started, conversation has been at the core of my activities. I am having extraordinary conversations around my work, my research, and my future as a practitioner in my field.

I am reminded that learning does not happen in isolation. In fact as I approach my research and field of interest and work to narrow my interests, I am quite sure that defining my research interest would not have happened without the conversations that I am having. Juanita Brown of The World Café reached out and assembled an initial research group to help me frame my research. Out of that initial group which was formed in July, I have developed several strong friendships. Group and individual conversations have gone deeper and began to focus in on where I can make a difference in this world.

The more conversations that I have, the more clear my research becomes. All of us are in a system of service focused on helping heal our world. My work will focus on The World Café and how we can heal through intergenerational dialogues. A partnership with the Institute for Social Innovation at Fielding Graduate University will be critical as I frame this field of inquiry. I expect that I will use The World Café as a research methodology at the very least and probably as a focus for my research as well. Intergenerational dialogues will be an important piece of this work.

As the general manager that I support says of a large issue, it is bigger than a bread box, and honing in on my research question certainly as an effort goes, is bigger than a bread box. I am blessed to have such wonderful people to talk with as these conversations are going to be at the core of my learning and growth as a scholar practitioner.

A Cup of Tea and Conversation…Ahhhh

Over the years one of the great pleasures for me is conversation over a wonderful pot of Darjeeling Tea made in my Tetsubin tea pot. I switched from coffee to tea exclusively about four years ago and I have never regretted it. I buy my tea in bulk and even go to the effort to weigh out just the right amount of tea leaves for every cup of tea making sure that every time a brew a pot of tea it is the perfect pot of tea. I simply love tea and am happy to brew up a pot any time someone comes over for conversation. I cannot imagine a better way to have a conversation with someone that I care about.

And of course reading a book with a cup of tea is a wonderful way to unwind and enjoy life. It is for this reason that I decided to start my own online business, a tea business for fine Indian teas and gifts for friends, family, and clients. As I do work full time and love my job, and am about to start my PhD in Human and Organizational Systems at Fielding Graduate University, I simply do not have time to take orders and do fulfillment and bookkeeping, so I joined an established company as an affiliate. I hope that this works for me and I hope that all of my friends and family visit Tea Reading Room to try some of my fine Indian teas and gifts. Just maybe I can encourage people to sit down with a beautiful cup of tea and have conversations that can change our world or just a little slice of it.