How can we overcome the fragmentation of our social movements to generate real momentum for transformational change? One way is to bring together social change leaders from diverse movements and backgrounds in a space where they can develop trust with one another and discuss the best of the possibilities that lie ahead. That is what we at YES! did from 1999 to 2004, when we held 10 "State of the Possible" retreats for over 200 leaders.
In the booklet entitled Movement Building for Transformational Change, Fran Korten and Roberto Vargas review lessons from those retreats. They tell of strategies used at the retreats for helping people open themselves to one another and see the underlying common basis of their work in a long historical context. The lessons from this booklet are especially useful for individuals and organizations seeking to bring together people from different backgrounds and cultures for conversations about creating change. The lessons, however, provide guidelines for anyone who wants to create space in which authentic communication is possible and true learning can take place.Download the Movement Building for Transformational Change interactive version
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Table of Contents
1: Convening with Transformational Intent
Introduction: We have written this paper especially for individuals and organizations seeking to bring together people from different backgrounds and cultures for conversations about social change. The lessons, however, provide universal guidelines for creating space in which the “soul shows up,” authentic communication is possible, and true learning can take place.
2: Learning to Convene for Connection and Vision
Chapter 2 describes the journey we took as we carried out these retreats and the lessons we learned along the way. Each retreat brought new insights into how to help people engage one another with openness and respect and provided new understandings of our historical moment and the challenges ahead. We then incorporated those lessons into subsequent retreats, so that the series became, for us, a cumulative learning process.
3: The May 2002 Retreat
Chapter 3 provides a detailed account of the May 2002 retreat to show how the design worked in practice.
4: Essential Strategies
Chapter 4 presents five essential strategies embedded in our design that infused the retreats with their special power. The strategies created sacred space and inspiration and enabled people to know one another before embarking on conceptual discussions. They encouraged people to speak from the heart about themselves and their work, and they brought to the surface and helped develop the participants’ wisdom about social change.
They also promoted understanding and respect among the diverse participants. Combined, these strategies provided a setting in which new friendships could flourish, new insights could take hold, and exciting ideas and partnerships could germinate.
5: The Impact of the Retreats
Chapter 5 reports on the impacts of the retreats based on interviews with 56 participants in early 2003. Participants describe the effect the retreats had on their perception of being part of a large, inclusive community working for the common good, on their ability to integrate their spirituality and their social change activism, and on their perspectives on their own identities and on race. They also tell of the many friendships and collaborations that emerged based on connections made at the retreats.
In Chapter 6 we encourage readers to apply the lessons from our retreat series in their own settings—in staff meetings, conferences, community events, and even within their own families.
*Publication and distribution of this paper were supported by a grant from the Fetzer Institute