Conscious Co-Design: creating safe spaces to explore vulnerability in complexity
By Dee Brooks
Locating yourself within a number of given community engagement and development frameworks can be exciting, stress relieving and can open up new possibilities.
Patterns in frameworks are as natural, and needed, as breathing; you just don’t know what you don’t know!
I have watched, and personally experienced the mind shifting, life altering epiphanies when people discover, through pattern locating, where they are currently, within a system, community, family or personal life, their preferred future vision and the understanding that they are a (vital) part of the collective beauty of community.
Intentionally working with patterns can support the steps needed to shift the view of dominant, or quiet, voices. Patterns can actively respond to anger and frustration and can also bring joy, abundance and can strengthen a sense of belonging and connectedness.
For practitioners, until you step out of your theoretical mindset and discover how Hosting is different from facilitation, you will only see potentially overwhelming (or unnecessary) strategies although, once you “drop in” and deepen your understanding of “flow”, you discover the patterns are as important as the breath you take and when you sit within a pattern and locate yourself, and support others to locate themselves, you make discoveries that will create sustainability, inspire hope, unlock pathways and awaken boundless opportunities
You can sit with someone and engage in mindless chit chat although, the moment the dialogue shifts towards visioning, dreams, wants, needs or next steps, you’re in a natural pattern or framework, whether you like it or not!
Alternatively, you can sit in conversation with someone and hold an underpinning framework and/or patterns in mind to guide your thoughts, conversations and responses to support the creation of robust, generative work together; this can be done mindfully, and even transparently as required.
As practitioners, it’s our necessary role to “practice” and to invite others in to share that space!
What we at the Jeder Institute have found through decades of grassroots practice and by sharing our lessons of application through training delivery and conference co-design is:
- Patterns such as DEC Thinking (the Breath Pattern) or Theory U, both found in the Art of Hosting practices, offer the organic nature of a pattern to explore
- Methodologies like Narrative Therapy and Appreciative Inquiry offer the evidence-based dialogical framework to support purposeful divergence
- Movements like ABCD, Placemaking, Timebanking or Collective Impact provide the vehicle for engagement and development for convergence
I have witnessed people in groups cry with relief, take in sharp/deep breaths, squeal with delight or physically jump with joy when they locate themselves, through patterns, within a complex system that they have felt stuck in for years and often the relief comes from previously holding so tight to what is right, “oughta be”, should happen or by living in the unknowing.
A discerning practitioner understands that pattern locating offers HOPE (Helping Other Possibilities Emerge) and by holding the space to make the pattern visible, as an emergent discovery, we offer a deeper dive into the simple complexity of community life!