Posted by: collaborativeconversations | March 24, 2010

Four Years. Go.

Well, clearly my time on twitter (I am @ken_homer) has pretty much cannibalized my blogging time. Another lesson in “you can’t do it all.” – At least I can’t do it all. But I can do somethings that have significant impacts in the world and that is the topic of this post.

There’s a terrific idea afoot called Four Years. Go. Rather than go into a big explanation, here’s a short video that lays out why we need to shift our focus to what can be done and to do so in a very brief time. As they say, there is still time to act, but no time to waste…

Their question is: What’s your next step?

Me? I’m spreading the word and working with people who want to collaborate on issues that have divided them in the past.

How about you?

For more info, visit

Posted by: collaborativeconversations | January 2, 2010

It is important that awake people be awake

For over a dozen years I have sent out a poem or a few poems to my friends and family to begin the New Year. This year, I decided to share them here. Partly to get back to blogging – twitter has captured the time that I was spending on my blog – and partly to share them with a wider audience.

The two photos accompanying these poems are a tribute to two friends who left this world quite unexpectedly. Both of them were hale and hearty when I last saw them and both passed on within two weeks of our final meeting. Thanks to Edna Getz and Kendall T. Murphy for being lights in my life.

I hope you enjoy these…

The following was written by the great Gabriel Garcia Marquez near the end of his life.

“If God for an instant would forget that I am a cloth marionette and would give me a piece of life, possibly I would not say all that I think, but I would definitely think all that I say. I would give value to all things, and not for what they are worth, but for what they mean.

I would sleep less, dream more; I understand that for each minute that we close the eyes, we lose seventy seconds of light. I would walk when others pause, wake when others sleep. I would listen when others talk, and how I would enjoy a good chocolate ice-cream!

If God would give me a piece of life, I would dress simply, throw myself face-down, leaving bare, not only my body but my soul. My God, if I had a heart, I would write my hate on ice and wait for the sun to rise. I would paint with a dream of Van Gogh on the stars, a poem of Benedetti’s and a song of Serrat’s; it would be the serenade I would offer to the moon.

I would water the roses with my tears so I could feel the pain of their thorns, the incarnate kiss of their petals… My God, if I had a piece of life, I would not let a single day pass by without telling the people I love that I love them.

I would convince each woman or man that they are my favorites and I would live in love with love. I would prove to the men how mistaken they are to think that they stop falling in love when they grow old, without knowing that they grow old when they stop falling in love.

I would give wings to a child, but I would let him learn to fly by himself. I would teach the old that death comes not with age, but with forgetfulness. I have learned so much from you, humanity…

I have learned that everyone wants to live on the top of the mountain, without knowing that true happiness lies in the way of climbing the slope.

I have learned that when a new-born grasps with his small fist the finger of his father for the first time, he has him trapped forever. I have learned that a man has the right to look down upon another only when he must help him to rise. They are so many, the things that I have been able to learn from you, but really they will not help me much, because when they put me in that suitcase, unfortunately, I will be dying.”

Translation by Rafael Jesus Gonzalez, 2000

I encounter this next poem in 1992 at a men’s retreat. I liked it so much I committed it to memory and have written it our and recited it dozens if not hundreds of times over the intervening years. Once I even deconstructed it and preached a sermon on it as part of a sort of homemade sacred service concocted with some friends.

A Ritual To Read to Each Other by William Stafford

If you don’t know the kind of person I am,
and I don’t know the kind of person you are,
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world,
and following the wrong gods home, we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break,
sending with shouts, the horrible errors of childhood,
storming out to play through the broken dyke

And as elephants parade, holding each elephant’s tail,
but if one wanders the circus won’t find the park,
I call it cruel and perhaps the root of all cruelty,
to know what occurs but not to recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy
a remote important region in all who talk
though we could fool each other, we should consider—
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark

For it is important that awake people be awake
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep
The signals that we give—yes, or no, or maybe—
should be clear, the darkness around us is deep

Happy New Year, thanks to all of you who have given me clear signals and brought light to my personal darkness. May we all continue to support our collective awakening by sharing the light we have within us.

Posted by: collaborativeconversations | June 17, 2009

Clay Shirky on Getting Your Message Out

“The moment that we are living through now, is the largest and increase in expressive capability in human history.”
~ Clay Shirky


Life has been unexpectedly and blessedly busy the past couple of months – I am grateful to have work! I spoke today with Sidney Hargro of the Columbus Foundation and he inspired me to get back to my blog. Because Sidney found me through Twitter, I thought I would start this second year of blog entries with one of my favorite observers on the social media scene: Clay Shirky talking about Twitter.

Regular readers of this blog will recognize Clay as a frequent guest via his youtube videos. For those of you interested in what is happening in Iran with the election and the role that twitter is playing, I highly recommend you visit the TED blog and check out his remarks of 17 June.

As always, Clay has fascinating observations on the social media landscape. I hope you enjoy this video:

Posted by: collaborativeconversations | March 9, 2009

Moving On – Reflections on a Year of Blogging

Last week marked the one year anniversary of this blog.

Thank you to all my readers – loyalists who read every post, as well as the infrequent visitors who  drop in read one and run. Each of you is important to me.

In celebration, I created a new  home  for this blog – http://

I decided after this first year of posting things from my wide variety of interests that I will really focus this blog on exploring the skills and competencies required to build and sustain collaborative conversations.

I recently  developed a series of workshops on The Foundations of Collaboration and I plan to delved into those a bit heret as well as post some of the slides I’ve developed to accompany those courses. Stay tuned for more info and updates.

This first year has been a great learning process for me. My visitorship for the entire year is just over 6,500. Modest by most blog standards, miniscule by others, but more than enough to make me grateful. These visits also humble me and make me think deeply about what it is that I can pass on to 6,500 people that is useful and valuable.

So, what have I learned and what is ahead?

I learned that it is very challenging to create a new post every week.

I learned that I write in fits and starts with a sudden burst of several posts pouring through followed by dry spells.

I learned that the hunger out there for good information about how to collaborate is very deep and mostly unsatsified.

I learned that I can not please everyone and that sometimes what I write will be misunderstood no matter how I try to be clear.

I learned that when I look back over what I write that it usually has its own organic unfolding which is not always as strategic as I would like it to be.

I also learned that people care deeply – this is more a reaffirmation of previous knowledge coming through a different medium.

And I learned a few things about the technical side of blogging too. Last May I was introduced to twitter and discovered that micro-blogging is actually much more interesting then it appears at first – I am still learning my way into this new medium. I actually think that the discipline of 140 characters is great practice for writing longer blog pieces.

For now, I want to welcome any new readers, and  say thank you to all my past readers. I hope to provide both of  you with plenty of reasons to return in the coming year.

With gratitude,


Posted by: collaborativeconversations | March 8, 2009

The Lost Generation

AARP recently sponsored a contest entitled: You at 50.

The following short video won that contest and is one of the most brilliant things I have ever seen on youtube. I hope you enjoy it. Beyond enjoying it, I hope it really gets you thinking about what you are willing to do differently to ensure that no one you know is part of a lost generation…

Posted by: collaborativeconversations | February 9, 2009

John Lewis and the KKK

I am on my way to Washington, DC to present three workshops at the CACDA (Community Anti-drug Coalitions of America) National Leadership Forum. I am very excited to be to sharing the stage with Peter Block, as well as with my pal LaDonna Coy, who has one of the best minds in the prevention field.

My workshops will focus on Accessing the Wisdom of Crowds, and Coping With Wicked Messes. Thanks to LaDonna’s encouragement and expertise, both of these workshops will soon be making their debut as online courses. Stay tuned for more on how you can participate in them.

Rumor has it that Rep John Lewis may be among the attendees. I have no idea if I will have a chance to meet this great man, but today a friend on Facebook alerted me to this remarkable video showing him forgiving a man who literally beat the hell of Lewis during the early days of the Civil Rights movement in the South. I have to admit, this got me pretty choked up. When a man like Elwin Wilson overcomes a lifetime of hatred and makes public amends, I find my faith in humanity a little more restored.

And here is a follow up…

Posted by: collaborativeconversations | January 20, 2009

This Land Is Our Land

Happy Inauguration Day!

This Land Was Made for You and Me

Posted by: collaborativeconversations | January 3, 2009

You Are Here – Getting Some Perspective for the New Year

As we head into a New Year filled with promise and peril, it seems apropos to pause and get a little perspective on just where we are. The following six minute video could be among the most thought provoking films ever made.

Happy New Year – Let us remember not only where we are, and who we are, but also, who we are capable of becoming.

Posted by: collaborativeconversations | December 26, 2008

A Quotable Source

Until my friend Karen Jandorf alerted me to its existence, I had no idea what the Season of Non-Violence was. 

Begun in 1977 to commemorate the deaths of Mahatma Gandhi (January 30th) and Martin Luther King, Jr, (April 4th) this 64 day period invites us to reflect on how non-violent participation in the world can lead to its (and our) healing.

Karen has expanded the 64 day reflection period into 365 days of deep looking. She has created a daily mailing with an evocative quote, poem or short story and very often a practice to accompany it as you carry it throughout your day. Usually it takes less than 30 seconds to read and generally the impact of the reading lasts far into the day – sometimes striking deeply resonant chords that are timeless.

If you’d like to add a little non-violent time to each of your days, you can subscribe to her mailings here.

Here are a couple of my recent favorites from Karen’s daily missives:

Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.

~ Aldous Huxley

Every once in awhile I am shocked at the number of privileges I assume as given: that I have enough food and clean drinking water, my health, freedom of speech, that I can own property, democracy, that our children can get an education… even some of my relationships.

Today I wake up from the illusion that anything in my life can be taken for granted.

Great work is done by people who are not afraid to be great.

~ Fernando Flores

Great kindness is shown by people who are not afraid to be kind.

Great love is given by people who are not afraid to be loving.

Great acts are performed by people who are not afraid to take action.

Today I am not afraid.

Posted by: collaborativeconversations | December 21, 2008

Winter Solstice – I Hope Yule Enjoy This

Today is the Winter Solstice.

The word solstice first appeared c.1250, and is from O.Fr. solstice, from L. solstitium “point at which the sun seems to stand still,” from sol “sun” (see sol) + pp. stem of sistere “to come to a stop, make stand still” (ref: online etymology dictionary.) Today the Sun has reached its furthest declination and will be directly overhead if you are standing at the Tropic of Capricorn, it is one of the oldest days of celebration in human memory.

Tonight is also the first night of Chanukah, the Festival of Lights which commemorates both the story of  the Maccabees victory over Antiochus IV – a tyrant who had slaughtered the Jews, sacked their temple and outlawed their religion in the Second Century BCE – and the miracle of one night’s worth of oil lasting for the full eight nights of the Festival when the Maccabees were able to once more observe their tradition in the Temple of their ancestors.

People being denied their rights – to worship as they see fit, to have access to basic necessities, to live lives of dignity, to be free of political persecution and prejudice based on their skin color, their beliefs, their gender, their sexual orientation, or whatever the characteristics assessed as unacceptable by those occupying the positions of power and privilege in a given culture may be – is a long running theme in the story we tell ourselves about who we are.

Likewise, the theme of an oppressed people rising up and winning victories against overwhelming odds, and of a small light burning longer and more brightly than anyone ever thought possible, is equally well-woven in the make up of our collective being. 

The movie below was shot entirely on a cell phone – itself a minor miracle. The subject matter is well known to all of us. On this, the longest, darkest night of the year, it serves as a vivid testimonial to the old Chinese proverb that it is better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness.

May the little bit of oil in each of us burn far longer and more brightly than we think possible.

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