Planet Earth

Written by Ray Gordezky

Along with the devastation and suffering in Haiti, this past week saw the passing of Canadian poet C. K.  Page. Page received a variety of tributes and accolades over her long career, including having her poem Planet Earth selected by the United Nations for its 2000 Dialogue Among Civilizations Through Poetry reading series. The poem takes its inspiration from the Pablo Neruda poem In Praise of Ironing.

For me, the imagery and music in Page’s poem is an appropriate homage for Haiti and its citizens and for C. K. Page whose love of the earth began decades ago. The video below is of Page reading Planet Earth for the 2003 Griffin Poetry Prize. The entire poem is included below the video.



Its a Wonder-full Life….in Bhutan

Written by Ingrid Richter

Almost exactly a year ago, I had the good fortune of being on the faculty of an innovative social change  program, commissioned by an International NGO  (SNV) based in The Hague.  During one of my long and somewhat lonely business trips through Asia I was invited to a small birthday party in downtown Thimpu, (population 98,676), the “New York” of Bhutan . It was probably the most unusual pre-Christmas party I have ever attended.

The guests were a wonderfully diverse group, including a German-English hotel manager (the host); a Dutch/French couple who run an animal hospital for the many sick and injured dogs living on the margins of Bhutanese society; a couple of middle-aged New Zealanders doing volunteer work with schools, a German IT engineer doing volunteer work while his Austrian wife manages UNDP projects, and others from Poland, Sweden, and Czech Republic all living in this tiny obscure country, the size of Switzerland. We ate cake, swapped stories, sang old songs and talked about various Christmas holiday plans and traditions, all of them basically irrelevant in this Bhuddist country.  The host explained that one of his fondest traditions was to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life”, and that he would love to watch it with us.  No one but he and I had ever seen or heard of it.  So we re-arranged the furniture, bundled ourselves in blankets (no central heating in Bhutan), and he beamed it up onto a bare wall.


The Founder’s Trap – Getting In and Getting Out

Written by Ray Gordezky

Some recent experiences with two highly effective executive directors and the challenges they are facing with their organizations has led me back to Dr. Ichak Adizes’ book of, Corporate Lifecycles. In this book, Dr. Adizes writes of the predictable patterns of development organizations go through. In particular, I was drawn back to Dr. Adizes comments about what he terms the Founder’s Trap.



Shadows and Light: The “Art” of Working at the Edges

Written by Ingrid Richter

As I face the Threshold of 2008 I am in a reflective mood. Here is a short essay I originally wrote to include in a scrapbook of reflections we are exchanging with our colleagues in the Canadian Organization Development Institute. I hope it will inspire you to reflect on your “art” too.

For me, “art” is about shadow and light. Whether it is painting, sculpting, writing, or performing music, its all about how we see, say, hear, taste and touch shadow and light. When I think about my “art-work” in complex change, I see that a lot of my focus is on discovering what is hiding between the shadows, carefully lifting the leaves and allowing a little brightness in. I try to show others where to find the beauty and strength that is dormant, buried, or shaded-out; where unvarnished truth is under-exposed, and taken for granted.

This art-work is also about seeing myself in new ways. Each time I show up in a system, I need to look hard within as well as without.

Renowned photographer Freeman Patterson says it this way:

“A camera always looks both ways. Like all serious photographers, I have to accept and deal with this fact – the reality that my images are as much a documentation and interpretation of myself as of the subject matter I choose.

Although on first viewing, an individual image, in and of itself, rarely acts as a signpost or marker of the stages of my personal development or growth, a collection of pictures provides an overview that tells the human story, and enables both myself and viewers to identify images that are representative of important changes or stages. When I am discarding old slides or negatives, I have to be careful not to throw out my life history.”



Bridging Divides

Written by Ray Gordezky

Collaboration among a diverse range of stakeholders is now widely regarded as essential for addressing the most pressing, complex social and business issues. The reasons for this rise of interest in collaboration across sectors are fairly clear: no one actor, sector or group possess sufficient knowledge, resources, skills or energy to successfully counter the complex dynamics that hold poverty in place, for example, or that put oil-sands development ahead of acting boldly to forestall climate and other environmental disasters. In cities across Canada, government, business, faith-based organizations, school boards, multicultural organizations and others are joining forces to, among other initiatives, strengthen poor neighborhoods, build safe communities and eliminate homelessness. For example, recently we worked with the city of Kitchener, Ontario which brought together 90 community stakeholders to create a Culture of Safety.


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