Social change work is invariably systems change work. The language of systems change brings me to complexity theory, systems thinking, design thinking and network theory, which all help me get a handle on what might be emerging. However, each of these disciplines comes with its own strengths, biases, blind spots and hubris.
Simple words, rooted in generations of inquiry and practice, words like hospitality, neighbourliness, justice, grace and love offer a good counter-balance to the esoteric language of social science.
I have spent decades studying, writing about and practicing within The Cloud of Unknowing, which is just about long enough to know I know nothing. My understanding of the Wisdom Traditions forces humility upon me, and helps me understand my limits and the limits of my agency in the world. They divest me of any certainty about creating impact and affecting change. But in return they show me why, even if we can’t be assured of succeeding, effecting positive social change is worth trying. Because of the Wisdom Traditions, I am captured by hope.
My identity as an artist holds together both my intellectual and contemplative curiosity. My artistic practice indelibly informs my inquiry and learning. I am particularly interested in how what I know as an artist might contribute to actionable knowledge in the realms of social and systems change: nurturing sustainable creativity, forming collaborative community, holding space within what is in order for what might be to emerge.
I’m engaged in consulting and social change work because I care about people’s innate, creative spirit coming alive wherever they are, whatever they do. I care about leadership as a practice, not a title. I care about holding those two things together in creative leadership.