Music, dance, sculpture, painting—all are said to have their own language, a living structure that enables each form to express, inspire and engage. The language of music, for example, in its rhythm, melody, composition not only helps us understand the power of the art, but guides those who create it. Just as Christopher Alexander describes good architecture, the best of artistic expressions become as rich and complex as life itself—indeed they become somehow alive—”like ocean waves or blades of grass [their] parts are governed by the endless play of repetition and variety created in the presence of the fact that all things pass.”

Perhaps similar principles apply in the social creations of our life, the families, organizations, communities and businesses in which we “live and breathe and have our being.” There are organizations, gatherings, companies that are full of life and those that seem lifeless. We are able to both experience this quality and participate in releasing it.

The purpose of this blog is explore this language of participation as the integrated application of content, tools and practices in specific contexts, that is, patterns of engagement that consistently release insight, energy, and creativity. The intent is to provide a useful guide for individuals, whether or not they show up in formal leadership roles, to engage in the art of building organizations, communities and business environments that are enlivening.

These reflections have been inspired by my involvement with Liberating Voices: A Pattern Language for a Communications Revolution, and associated Web site involving an international collaboration of academics and practitioners.

Entries are organized into categories with distinctive icons:

Markers and Milestones are stories of discovery that indicate the presence of a pattern or patterns but not yet clearly defined.

Compass Bearings provide a point of reference for determining the relative strengths or weaknesses in a given situation as well as guidance for which kinds of patterns may be most effective.

Pattern Abstracts are preliminary discussions of patterns in preparation for formally posting them to the Liberating Voices Web site.

Patterns in Action illustrate concrete ways in which typical sets of patterns tend to arise in similar situations.

Inner Voices, in the sense of musical harmony, highlight the role of “mid-range” or “mid-register” voices in adding depth, richness, texture while reinforcing an overall “centeredness” to the presence and interplay of patterns in a given situation.