Patterns of Engagement

Rainier Beach Rising

From Four Amigos to a Cloud of Witnesses

A friend of mine recently mentioned that he never really had a life plan as such, that the major milestones of his life were essentially accidents. I can somewhat related to that, although my "accidents" haven’t been anywhere near as lucrative. But he does hint at a...

A Personal Prologue and a Few Disclaimers

I have been under contract with the Rainier Beach Action Coalition, RBAC, and it’s predecessor, the Rainier Beach Community Empowerment Coalition, RBCEC, for well over ten years, from when the organization was essentially three to four people with an annual budget...

We are the Power!

We are the Power! That’s how it began. Not, "we are powerless," "we need power," and certainly NOT, "please empower us." We are the Power! Tila, this was the simple statement of Tila Coleman, then nearly ten years ago, a student at Seattle Urban Academy, whose name I...

Compass Bearings

Core principles of public engagement

This provides a useful overview of the dimensions of public engagement, as well as a good application of DebateGraph.

A new communications ecosystem for our life together

Over the past several months I have been discussing "intentional community" with a colleague who shares the same background in community development, but unlike me, has continued to actively promote and participate in an intentional community (a co-housing site). We...

Demystifying social networking media

Several months have passed since I began exploring a few social media tools that "play well together." And now, as I look back, I've been surprised how much FaceBook, Twitter, and my blog, feel similar to some of the old ways of connecting, but with a twist (ok, maybe...

A String of Pearls and the “Timeless Way”

In every movement the entire body should be light and agile and all of its parts connected like a string of pearls. T’ai Chi Ch’uan Classic Typically interpreted to describe the flowing of energy within the body in the course of each form, the “string of pearls” can...

The world of profound engagement

"What world are you living in? You really have to accept the world as it is and not get caught up in things that are simply not possible." Ah, the "world as it is" and "not possible." During the time the Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA) was focused on the mission...

Of geese, wooden shoes, and soft landings

In the wake of the downing of a jetliner by a flock of geese, ending with a miraculous soft landing into the Hudson River, I noted on my FaceBook site, "Apparently even a single goose can still take down a jetliner--nature just keeps getting in our way; another...

“The upstart spring…”

Some moments become almost mythical in experience and memory,...

On the naming of names…

I had returned to Oklahoma after several months on special assignment to Alaska to discover that Bumpy wasn't Bumpy anymore--he was Gary. Of course, he was always Gary, but like many folks around town, he was known by his nickname. There was PJ, the mayor, and Tub,...

Sense of Journey

Continually refreshing a Sense of Journey simultaneously locates the current moment in the sweep of personal and community history and presents with fresh urgency the choice of what to keep and what to let go. These times of decision, etched into common memory as new...

Inner Voices

On loneliness and solitude

Even at the heights of apparent victory (such fresh-as-yesterday memories of the singing the entire ICA songbook by the staff recruited from across the continent at the end of the Oklahoma 100*), there has always been that tug at my heart...even this is not my...

Learning to see in other languages

"I don't want to die having only seen through English eyes." That's The Atlantic journalist, and leading national blogger, Ta-Nehisi Coates reflecting on his motivation for learning French. This type of observation is why I keep his blog at the top of my daily reading...

Gratitude for Songaia, the Journey of a Song of the Earth

This posting is something of a dedication for the new series of articles under the category of "Inner Voices," which I have introduced in another posting as a music-based, rather than psychological, metaphor for a vital aspect of emerging community. I'm not even going...

Inner Voices: Exploring the Mid-range Voices for Hints of Structural Community Innovation

OK, it's time to start anew, and to symbolize a fresh beginning, I'm opening up a new category, Inner Voices. I intend to use the term primarily in it's musical sense and the structural development of complex harmonies, not so much in its psychological associations...

Markers and Milestones

A Momentary Rainbow over the Rainier Beach Urban Farm

Rainbows appear under just the right conditions, with the correct positioning of clouds and the sun. Oh, and it helps to be in the right place at the right time to see the image created by clouds and sun in just the right conditions. This one lasted only a few...

Rainier Beach Project Journey

For the past four years, Gillgren Communication Services, Inc. (GCSI) has been providing project design, grant writing, implementation, training and technical support for deploying Web and social media resources to support community engagement through the Rainier...

Photography as a gateway and an invitation to be present

I originally got into photography by taking pictures of my son's soccer team - partially therapy, it forced me to behave along the sidelines--I'm not a helpful cheerleader; and partially recognizing and celebrating the roles of each youth on the team, of course,...

Fearless and the collective journey of coming through

Just now listening to Gorecki's Third Symphony, the "Symphony of Sorrowful Songs," which was brought to my attention as the soundtrack for the climactic scene in the movie, Fearless. In the film, Jeff Bridges plays an architect recovering from severe post-traumatic...

There and back again: An invitation to innovation at the margins

In a recent tweet, I wrote: Increasingly drawn to creativity at the margins, in the gap, where little is expected & folks later scramble to explain what happened. And nearly as soon as I released it, I realized I had used "margins" as a place holder for several...

The seeds of a deep culture are rising…

A recent exchange of comments on David Hodgson's Idea Hive blog around "A Culture of Innovation is the Key to Our Future" got me spinning off into an entirely different reflection on "culture." As much as I've participated in the framing of "corporate culture," for...

Ten “Awakenings” to Organizational and Community Resilience

This is a momentary capture of a few, random "awakenings," which means they may not be individually new nor collectively complete...simply an intersection of thoughts that suggest a few ways forward. Many may be well-recognized; some, intuitive; others,...

Of geese, wooden shoes, and soft landings

In the wake of the downing of a jetliner by a flock of geese, ending with a miraculous soft landing into the Hudson River, I noted on my FaceBook site, "Apparently even a single goose can still take down a jetliner--nature just keeps getting in our way; another...

Revolution in search of a song

The singing, that's a big part of what I remember from my community development work with the Institute of Cultural Affairs. I had forgotten for a time, but now I remember. My memories were revived by watching the Singing Revolution, about a festival in Estonia built...

An Ethic of Commitment

Today, virtually every family lives in diaspora; and the population of most neighborhoods and communities seems to be churning at an accelerating pace, largely driven by the severity of economic conditions, but also influenced by political and cultural pressures. When...

Patterns in Action

Learnings for Emergency Communications from Citizen Journalism

I recently attended a workshop at the Seattle Emergency Management Hub on the use of social media as a channel for sharing information within and across neighborhoods in times of crisis. In evaluating the workshop (which was done via hashtag, #snapSMEM), several...

From Liberating Voices to Lift Every Voice

This article is a backstage cousin to the previously posted summary of Rainier Beach projects and is presented now as a personal thought experiment I used to initially guide my participation in these projects. I have only recently pulled this material out of my files...

Sheltering a budding promise, close to the earth

I took several photos at the Rainier Beach Urban Farm project, at several different levels of scale, from entire greenhouses, to rows of pumpkin or squash runners apparently vying for the longest reach, and even clusters of neatly arranged seedlings in a box. And then...

Where natural rhythms prevail and refresh

Urban greenery, in parks, gardens, and sheltered pathways, turns the experience of the city inside out. For some city dwellers, everything “outdoors” is for getting from one place to another place in as little time as possible; we mostly are “passing through” on the...

When we become the peace that passes all understanding

I kept watching for this moment to take a picture of the Peace sign that had been marking the progress of the prayer walk through Rainier Beach, sometimes leading from the front, other times lingering further back. Here, the sign stands in respect, bathed in the light...

A sacred place for reclaiming the shared promise of young lives lost

This curbside memorial, in all its exuberant chaos of blossoms, balloons, toys and statuettes, represents for me the awakening of the sacred in space, just as the church bell represents the emergence of the sacred in time. This is where it happened, where two lives...

A yard sale network–and neighborhood event–you don’t want to miss

Something about the make-shift assembly of this particular sign caught my eye. The neighborhood had been blanketed with the “branded” poster at the top of the photo, but this entire configuration displayed an ad hoc flow of imagination with a passion for capturing the...

For whom the bell tolls, and when—sacred rhythms that structure and interrupt the routines of life

Church bells and carillons are the legacy of times past, when the rhythms of worship and prayer structured the lives of the surrounding community as a reminder of what time it is now, and what we are called to do with the time we have. And those same bells would...

10+ musings on Liberating Voices and Civic Engagement

Here are a few overall musings on the Liberating Voices Pattern Language and Civic Engagement, based primarily on conversations that occurred during and after the series of workshops I conducted at The Evergreen State College over the past two years, while also...

Public Thinking Public Health 4: Preliminary Reflections

This is the last of four articles focused on the Liberating Voices practicums conducted for the two Public Thinking Public Health classes held at Evergreen College at the end of 2009 and beginning of 2010. The earlier articles focused on the overall context for the...

Photo Essays

Photography as a gateway and an invitation to be present

I originally got into photography by taking pictures of my son's soccer team - partially therapy, it forced me to behave along the sidelines--I'm not a helpful cheerleader; and partially recognizing and celebrating the roles of each youth on the team, of course,...

Cooper’s Hawk on the Hunt: The Shot I Got and One that Got Away

THE SHOT I GOT Hawks of one kind or another typically don't get to spend much time at Echo Lake. As soon as one enters the area, the local "Homeland Security" crew of three to four crows vocally greet it and firmly escort it out and AWAY! So it was unusual when this...

The Blessings of Babel

I've realized that I haven't made a sufficient linkage between my recent fascination with photography, particularly photos of nature, with the overall framework of this blog, Patterns of Engagement, which so clearly focuses on social interaction. What, for example,...

Eagles Taking Off: The Shot I Got and One that Got Away

THE SHOT I GOT During our annual pilgrimage to welcome Trumpeter Swans that winter in the La Conner area we also come upon migrating hawks, falcons, and eagles, especially along the Skagit River watershed. The lighting on this day was lousy, obscured by clouds and...

Spiders and Wasp: The Shot I Got and One that Got Away

THE SHOT I GOT Golden Gardens Park features a protected wildlife pond area. After taking all the photos of sleeping Mallards and turtles I could handle (a very slow day indeed), I set off toward my car, when I noticed a set of spider webs in the bushes to the right of...

Launch of new blog category: Photo Essays

After finally cleaning my hard drive, I've got the stats for the photos I've taken over the past year at Echo Lake near our apartment complex: at least 32 species of birds. Not bad for a once or twice a week local excursion. I've come a ways since thinking all ducks...