Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Ducks And Chickens

About a month ago Jock bought 2 ducklings and 2 chicks to KaliKalos as a new fun experience for everyone, its quite different than looking after the garden for instance, these adorable creatures need a lot more love and attention, and a slow gradual release onto the campus to roam freely.

They all live very happily in a hand-made large cage, are fed 3 times a day, but we try to keep that limited to 20 mins each time and try to hand feed them so they get used to human contact. the chicks seem to be very friendly and actually jump up on top of the cage to receive there food! Whereas the duckling are a lot shyer and need some more time to adjust and trust the person feeding them, and hopefully in a few weeks they can soon be released and free to eat the garden slugs and bugs! :D

The American Talking Stick

The talking stick was used in Native North American  tribes at council meetings. the main purpose was so no one would interrupt a chief when he was speaking. The talking stick was then passed to the next council member who wished to speak. It was a ceremonial item and was decorated with eagle feathers and crystals to show its significance. 

Here in KaliKalos we duplicate the same idea so that when there are staff meetings or group meetings then everyone who does not hold this stick then has the power of listening to the one individual speaking, therefor there are no arguments or speaking over each other, this also restores peace in the community.  Also when one person has finished speaking they then end with saying 'Ho' which  means 'I have spoken' and the group then reply with 'Ho' which translates to 'We have heard'.

Rose Owen

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Rich Diversity of Talents

Every Saturday morning after breakfast we meet as a group in a circle for a full community meeting.

Like the Quakers, each meeting begins with a brief moment of silence after which we pass the talking stick around the circle so that each person gets a couple of minutes to share with the group their name, where they come from, and anything they wish others to know about them. In effect, we are telling our stories, and how we come to be sitting here in Greece this particular summer Saturday morning.

Our workshops and retreats are generally a week in duration, so each Saturday brings a new group of faces, who mingle with the more permanent staff of volunteers and community guests who stay for 3-6 weeks and constitute the "old hands". On any Saturday morning community meeting there are 12-28 people ranging from age 8 to 80, sitting round the circle, and a half dozen or more different countries represented.

Diversity is one of our strengths here: bringing together old and young, men and women, many countries, many paths, many viewpoints.

Toward the end of our Saturday meeting we go 'round and solicit offers and wants from everybody. Inevitably there is a richness in every group, and as people hear what others can offer, they find themselves opening up to offer skills and experiences they take for granted and are surprised to find that others are looking for just what they have to offer. The table above is a typical example of the compilation from the 8-15 July Vipassana meditation group led by Henk Berendregt from the Netherlands. I count 9 different countries represented in the 24 people present that morning: Holland, England, Scotland, Canada, USA, Ireland, Taiwan, Dominican Republic, Greece.

When you come to Kalikalos, you too will get the opportunity to share your experiences and talents and to take advantage of what others have to offer.

Jock Millenson

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Appreciative Enquiry

As part of our job as facilitators in residence (FIR’s) Joan Wilmot and I offered a session on Appreciative Inquiry (AI) on the Monday morning matinee slot. 

Appreciative Inquiry came out of America in the 90’s.  Essentially it is a way of looking, seeing what is working rather than what is not. Another way of putting it is seeing life as a mystery to be embraced rather than only a problem to be solved.  Deceptively simple in its approach and philosophy, the idea behind it is that action follows thought.  If we fill our minds with negative images, we act on our images, and if we see the world in a more positive way we move in a different direction. So, for example, a goal of reducing vandalism in a school will lead to images of graffiti, broken glass and such like, with a possible remedy of CCTV.  An image of creating a beautiful school environment would in itself reduce the vandalism but in a much more positive and creative way.  

Joan and Robin Explaining AI
Central to the approach is that any lasting change has to be owned by all levels of the organisation, and not just a top down mandate.  As such working say in a school, change that can come from the pupils and be owned by them will lead to a much more effective change in the culture. 

We started the session with a brief introduction to the philosophy of AI and then did an exercise called ‘sparkling moment’.  This involves asking people to pair up, and one asks the other for a recent ‘sparkling moment’ at work (or elsewhere if the person is not working).  The listener writes down key words or phrases that strike them, gently encouraging them by asking, ‘and what else?’ They do this for 3 minutes.  The roles are then reversed.  Then there is quiet time of one minute whilst both parties think of two qualities or strengths that they have picked up from their partner from listening to their ‘sparkling moment’.  At the end both partners share with each other the two strengths or qualities they saw from listening to the sparkling moment. For example a quality of caring, or wanting to see others happy were both picked up from their partner’s stories in this group.  This simple exercise puts people in touch with something positive (often important in stressful work situations), it enables them to be heard without interruption, and enables their partners to use their intuitions about their qualities which are fed back to the whole group, thus building group cohesion.

A very interesting thing happened at the beginning of this session.  Two young children who were being baby sat, came into the room where we were working.  I was on the point of being irritated, seeing this as an interruption, and then thought, “What if I see this situation appreciatively and just welcome them?”  My whole mental attitude changed. I relaxed and was able to include them, and I was able to model what I was teaching.  Once the children saw what the group and their mother was doing, they returned to the babysitter without any prompting.   In other words we got to the outcome I would have wanted but not in a conflictual way.

I cannot say what impact the session had, as the group was already had begin to build cohesion in the very short time we had been together.  But I do believe that people genuinely like appreciating and being appreciated if it is genuine and not a form of manipulation.  The exercise was obviously only a taster, and if you want to know more, just Google Appreciative Inquiry.  Thank you, Jock, for creating the space for Joan and I to introduce this topic.

Robin Shohet  (Findhorn, Scotland) June 2011.