Just before our US clocks fall back from Daylight time, there's an orientation call this Saturday! November 6th, 1:00-1:55pm Pacific Daylight Time (4pm Eastern, 8pm UTC) RSVP here to get plugged in to Intentional Society's Sunday general sessions.
(Warning, meta ahead. You can skip two paragraphs if you prefer) I don't usually enjoy reading newsletters that blend "communicating news" with "being a personal journal" - I end up thinking the writer is quite self-centered due to the amount they talk about themselves compared to whatever thing the newsletter's about. Either one or the other is great, but the combination only works if you care about both sides in roughly equal measure. And to operate like they're the same thing brings out in me a "okay dude, what kind of ego cult are you building" response.
However, human systems are made of people. I find myself looking at myself once again, as the founder/caller of Intentional Society, and feeling led to go there in this newsletter. If I don't reflect on the role I play, how could it be safe for the rest of the community to do so? That's textbook shadow stuff there - whatever you can't talk about, that stuff controls you. So I'd better detangle my discomfort of egoic-false-humility and put my leadership on the table. Members of Intentional Society, this one's for you - in relationship with you, I speak in order to serve the system made of us together, and I hope you know the power you have to speak back into and guide that system too. Informed outsiders, you're welcome to speak too, by replying to this newsletter - though I recognize the parasocial relational limitations of this medium.
Inside me are two wolves regarding power (which is, by the way, kind of a meme-ified teaching of polarities). One side of me is authoritarian, absorbed from the water of colonialism, modernity, and corporate/business culture. The other side is egalitarian and anti-authority, sprouted from all the abuses of power I've seen, heard, and read in my life. I tend to identify more strongly with this power-to-the-people side. Then (to leave the wolves behind) there's a synthesis of top-down and bottom-up in recognizing that authority and authoritarianism are not the same thing, and that power-over is not the only kind of power. That's a lot to sort through, and meanwhile everyone else has their own relationships to power from their own experiences, and most power structures in most groups live underneath the surface of conscious awareness.
Power intersects with action, and with the progression of Intentional Society from founder-led to community-powered. If you're not aware already, this is my intention for IS's future: it's common in the maturation/lifecycle of startups and organizations, and IMHO is also the best/right/optimal path for the kind of group this wants to be, for many reasons. So the path is one of teasing apart the large collection of roles I play as leader and largest time-investor, of growing and distributing responsibilities formally, and of evolving the social landscape of group dynamics at the same time.
In the last few weeks, I've started asking community members for a few new contributions to our Sunday sessions: taking turns in our "sharing of meaning" ritual-design experiment, and a sub-group reporting out from their shared external learning. Not seeking a rapid or radical reorientation, but steering in the direction of delegation and away from the guru trap. Perhaps it would have been wise to do it harder and earlier? But that's another trap, of thinking that I'm "the one" doing it. Yes, this is another both-and feedback loop, where the community is doing it and I'm doing it and the two can't exist (in any healthy or sane way) without each other feeding back reciprocally. Ah. Aha. Remember this.
In the same time span, I've also taken boundary-enforcement action in community stewardship, in a way that looks conventionally decisive or directive from certain angles. It didn't feel like "expert action-logic" in me doing that, though. I like that metaphor of hand on the tiller - yes, it's steering the boat, but in continuous response to the wind in the sail and the hull on the swells and the currents relative to the heading. As a vessel of community integration, the environment-and-actors system itself produces the moment of action. (Or is it reaction? Action and reaction form another loop...) "Conflict is the last thing to decentralize," I'm told.
I have no conclusion - just sensing towards awareness of the processes at play. It's taken me two extra (bits of) days to feel my way this far through the paragraphs above. I suppose that process-oriented nature of this letter has been what makes this more journal-ish. Power in relationship is complex: It can't be solved (there's polarities again), and it must be evolved as a process over time (there's Gall's law again). Thinking about growing power and a leader-ful community points me towards ownership again... but I'm well over my time-box already. Happy sailing along your own journeys, friends.