“The Space Between”…

download…Was the title of yesterday’s international TEDxWomen event, simulcast into my city from Washington, DC.  There, a two-day event that thoughtfully used “the space between” – the place where ideas are born – to frame each of the sessions:

 

  1. Poverty and Plenty – The space between having a little and having a lot
  2. Fact and Faith – The space between what we think we know and what we believe
  3. IQ and EQ – The space between our intellectual and emotional intelligence
  4. The Mirror – The space between what we see and what is true
  5. Stops and Starts – The space between disruption and moving on
  6. The Rising – The space between seeing and doing, knowing and responding, staying in the dark and seeking the light

I’m filled with the words, ideas, conversation, and “felt senses” evoked from three days of hearing women’s stories of courage and community, innovation and intuition, wise-ass action and wide-dame wisdom.

First, two conversations hosted by Meg Wheatley, invited to “willingly disturb” educators and policy makers charged with developing and teaching Alberta’s public school curriculum.  I was asked last June to make the initial request, given that for almost two decades, I had introduced Meg’s work to my school district, in the leadership development programs and retreats I designed and hosted.  Our paths have crossed over the years, both at the annual gathering of my professional learning community, ALIA, and most recently last May, in “the space between” the beginning of a teleconference conversation, “Pioneering Leaders,” hosted by Paul Born of the Tamarack Institute.

Using her newest book, So Far From Home, a self described “dark book for dark times,” Meg instructively dis-illusioned us to realize “no one is coming to help” and from that, to accept, paradoxically, that we are freer to be creative, to make a difference, to remember our resources within, and with each other.  “When we face reality, we liberate our gentleness, decency and bravery.”  She reminded us that “whatever the challenge, community is the answer.”  She scoped out how change and healthy community happen and its requisite core competencies of generosity, forgiveness and compassion.  And she inspired us with the Hopi Prophesy that framed the wisdom in and necessity of Perseverance.

 When the forms of an old culture are dying,

the new culture is created from a few people

who are not afraid to be insecure. —-Rudolf Bahro

Yesterday, I sat with about sixty other women, and a few men, in the comfortable warehouse space of the newly renovated Mercer Building, the home of Start-Up Edmonton, and heard:

  • Dr. Musimbi Kanyoro illuminate the power found in the space between poverty and plenty, when women have security through whole system safety, respect, education and employment.
  • Maya Azucena sing “if justice had wings, she would sing ‘cry love’ in everything”
  • Rosie Rios remind us that “different perspectives bring a different dialogue that creates different outcomes”
  • John Gerzema cite from his worldwide research described in The Athena Doctrine, “The most innovative people are deploying feminine strengths and values to recover from economic and social crisis and create a more hopeful future.”
  • Charlotte Beers describe how personal clarity, memorability and persuasiveness were vital to salvaging her self-esteem while securing the business deal.
  • Shabana Basij-Rasikh reveal how the unequivocal love and commitment from her Afghani father secured her education and helped her succeed
  • Brittany Wenger exude with wise passion for her scientific discovery for breast cancer research
  • Julia Bluhm and Izzy Labbe tell us that youth can impact the “gatekeepers of visual culture”
  • Sue Austin reframe the liberation of her wheelchair to help all of us create new ways of seeing, being and knowing
  • Gaby Pacheco walk her social activism on the Trail of Dreams from Miami to Washington for immigrant civil rights
  • Angela Patton choreograph the means for daughters to dance with their imprisoned fathers

Steeping in this collection of stories, I return to Meg’s last questions:

“What is the conversation I’m willing to take back?”

“Who do I choose to be for this time?”

In response: “I create and hold space for conversations wherein we own, embrace, and advance the wisdom of women across generations, by valuing women, giving voice to our stories, and claiming our influence and impact in our lives, and in our world…”

… here, in my local community of practice, the women leaders’ circle I co-host, a national multi-generational women’s gathering I’ll cohost next April, over coffee conversations, with The Scientist, on and off the mat…

About Katharine Weinmann

living and leading with courage, clarity, compassion and creativity
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