Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Tools for Connection

Whether you're talking about social change or intentional community, you're talking about dealing with people.  Sometimes connecting with another person is easy.  Sometimes it's not.  Almost always it's interesting.

I've recently come across a couple of tools to help deepen that connection.  I've already blogged about a few connection tools: Nonviolent Communication (11/25/10), Stephen Covey's 'Habit' of 'Seeking First to Understand' (see my post Seek to Understand, 11/11/10), and just plain being willing to listen (see Listening to Each Other, 6/7/10).  Here's two more, both oriented toward building connection in a group context.

The first is something developed by Paxus who is at Twin Oaks and Acorn.  It's called Transparency Tools and consists of a variety of exercises designed to help people to share intimate information about themselves with each other and explore their histories and emotions,  particularly within a 'transparency group' (the link gives more information about these groups as well as the tools themselves).  I've done some of these exercises at the last couple of Communities Conferences (see my posts entitled Update 1: The Twin Oaks Community Conference, 9/9/12, and  Circling Around to the Communities Conference,  9/5/13) and found them pretty helpful.  They're particularly good for people who know each other but want to deepen their connection by learning more about each other.  (Note:  Paxus just blogged on the dangers of doing Transparency work with the wrong people in a post he captioned 'Winos with Power Tools'. )

The other one is, surprisingly, a deck of cards--but a deck oriented toward understanding groups and group processes.  Its called group works and each card is a description of a useful tool for groups.  In some ways it's sort of a book about how to use groups to increase connection and create better group experiences, except it's in card form.  The whole deck is available on the internet (via a free download) but having them in my hands feels more satisfying to me. (You can buy the deck from the same website, which also has longer descriptions for some cards and lists of resources for many topics.)  There are 91 cards with topics ranging from Setting Intention to Trust[ing] the Wisdom of the Group. I'm currently making my way through the deck, a few cards at a time, trying to learn them better.  If you do any work with groups (which again can include intentional communities and social change work), this deck might be worth checking out, at least online.

Quote of the Day:  "How can you reconnect with your love for one another? What will nourish your sense of unity, in a way that welcomes the individual while honoring the long-term well-being of the community?" - Tree Bressen (catalyst for the group works deck)

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