In this final post about Promise Partners, Ben Wood-Isenberg explains how eight strangers come together to support each other. It really works. I was there! Debbie
In my last two posts I described how I got the idea for Promise Partners and developed the program plan. So we came to the day of the program. Eight people came together at my friend Sharon’s house that were from all areas of life, age groups, and professions. The program of Promise Partners enabled the group to build an intense sense of community for a group of strangers. This leads to the next collaboration point:
Collaboration Point 4: The power of the circle and dreams. The evening began as we sat in a circle, choosing cards with a single word on them (i.e. Passion, wisdom) and telling about how it related to where we were in life. Although we had 9 people, myself included, the introductions took 25 minutes and really created the foundation for the community as we saw each other as real people. The space that made that possible was sitting in a circle. As we moved through the rest of the evening, we explored an area of life that would make the biggest difference if it were better or different. In this process, we focused on when this area was at its best and what it would look like in the future if life always looked like that. I watched as sharing the stories of past successes and the dreams people had for the future really built connections among strangers.
Collaboration Point 5: Sharing is the access to action. Although this process worked really well, I didn’t exactly know how to get people from what they saw for themselves to a place where they knew an action they wanted to take and were willing to ask for support from the others in the group. Naturally, I just asked people to start sharing with each other. This occurred in a couple different ways with a slightly different question each time that got closer to an action people would be willing to take to create the future they dreamed. So often we are jarred in the groups we work with because we move so quickly from a vision to action. The piece that we often leave out is the personal part, where people have the chance to step into the ownership of the vision and their future, and are internally motivated to act. Surprisingly, individuals in the group sharing one-on-one with each other made the difference in creating that motivation to act. By the time people had shared with about ¾ of the group, everyone was willing to move forward.
The rest happened organically. As we sat back in the group, we each had an area that we wanted to work on and a promise that we wanted to make. From that point, partnerships amongpeople naturally developed. By the end of the evening every person, unexpectedly myself included, was involved in at least one partnership with someone else in the group. Partners showed what they created by linking large sticky notes saying “The support that would make a difference is….” and “The Support I commit to give my partner is…”
As we came to the end of the evening, one of the members of the group said, “So we’re not going to meet again?” I responded, “Well, would you like to meet again?” “Yes she said, don’t you all?” Every single person in the group responded yes, and we set up a date to meet again and reflect in September.
The event itself was a true testament to the possibility of collaboration and community in any group. In barely two and a half hours, eight strangers from very diverse backgrounds and places in life saw each other as assets, built a strong community, and partnered in supporting each other. It was proof that collaborations can be created among anyone.
Ben Wood-Isenberg creates the conditions for positive change that help people and organizations accomplish their hopes and dreams. He is a new addition to Wholonomy Consulting llc, having recently graduated from Arizona State University with a B.A. in Global Studies. Ben has worked with a variety of organizations across the state of Arizona providing training and curriculum development, community building workshops, facilitated community discussions, and system-change processes. In this capacity, Ben utilizes the approaches of Appreciative Inquiry,Technology of Participation, World Café, and Open Space Technology.