Locating Myself in the Field

School of System Change Progress Report 10/04/2017

These first couple of weeks since we met up for the second time in London, for the second School of System Change meet up have been a great opportunity sit with the ideas and conversations generated over the past month or so.

It’s been an interesting process trying to locate myself in the systems change field and see where I think I could have the most impact.

My initial fear was that I wouldn’t be able to think of a project to get involved with. This appears to have been ill-founded, as I have had the opposite problem of trying to single down what area to focus on. There were three major areas of interest — homelessness, alternative education and purpose driven businesses.

Narrowing Down Ideas

Last week I participated in an Art of Hosting Brighton Meetup (a monthly event following on from the Art of Hosting Brighton Training 2017). During an Open Space session I posed a question, ‘How do I find / join / initiate a Brighton focused Systems Change initiative to create a city where people feel like they matter and belong?’. I had four people join my group, and we had a really interesting conversation — that touched on all three of these ideas I was trying to choose between, leaving me full of energy but still confused.

Once a month I co-host Lean Coffee at the Happy Startup School in Brighton. This month’s one proved a great place to get some help with this conundrum. I asked the question, ‘How do you decide which ideas to focus on?’. One of the participants told me that when they are in a similar situation they will write out a list of the pros and cons of an idea, how many people they know that could help, what is their circle of influence in this area, how much energy and excitement are they feeling for it right now — and then map the results of each idea against each other.

I’ve sat with these questions and ideas for a while. I’m interested in how we can use our body to sense what is ripe for emergence. Creating this space through meditation, mindful walking and silent reflection has also been a big part of helping me gain clarity. Doing exercises like U Journaling has also been an important part of locating my role.

The realisation that focusing on one thing does not mean that I can’t focus on another area in the future was also important.

Alternative Education Systems

Freedom-centred school conversation

There definitely seems to be energy around alternative education systems at the moment. A couple of weeks ago I co-hosted a conversation with Max St. John and Sarah Hopkins around the question ‘What would a freedom-centred school in Brighton look like?’. About 15 people came along, ranging from teachers in the current education system, home educators and parents interested in alternative education. We used some circle discussions and appreciative inquiry to see where people felt their excitement, interest and energy lay in response to the question ‘What is it that you long for for your children?’

Harvest from Freedom-centred school conversation

The ONCA Gallery also ran a ‘Dream Your School’ event last month which invited children and adults to come together and co-create ideas for improved education systems, so I’ve been in contact with them as possible collaborators on this project.

A couple of months ago, Max ran a freedom-centred school experiment at the Happy Startup School — he invited other parents to bring their children along for the day to participate in an open day of child centred learning and experimenting.

There definitely seems to be interest and excitement in the area of changing the education system.

First Steps

Besides starting to send out feelers to possible collaborators and interested parties, I’ve begun by doing a first iteration of a ‘Framing My Complex Challenge as a Systems Change Question’ map.

The key to this early iteration is to get my first impressions and assumptions out of my head as a starting point to create clarity and engage others.

Framing as a System Change Question (Version 1)

I’m hoping this can be part of a wider process. My ideal would be to be part of or initiate a project that can use collective intelligence and citizen participation to effect social change in Brighton on an ongoing basis.