Introduction to PW/WW
Process Work / WorldWork has to be experienced to be understood, partly because its focus is often on parts of our experience that are not accessible to the intellect. Its range is huge, going from people in coma to intractable conflicts like Israel to misunderstandings between those of us in industrial civilization and aboriginal peoples. Still, at this point in my life I’m narrowing my focus to “conflict-friendly facilitation” as it applies to Quakers. Here’s the introductory piece I’ve been sharing with them for over a year:
Process Oriented Conflict Facilitation: Using Conflict to Deepen Community
Richard’s intro to Process Oriented Conflict Facilitation:
Quakers have traditionally been against armed conflict.
Quakers have long looked to “good process” or “right order” in conducting our affairs.
A common Quaker failing, within meeting communities, is avoidance of conflict. Despite the value we claim to place on “plain speaking,” we often let the good order of the meeting slide because we are loath to confront our genuine and heartfelt differences.
I am happy to say that Betsy Raasch-Gilman and I, and some other Quakers like Michael Bischoff & George Lakey, have found a method –a way of understanding the world— that offers a way forward with ALL of these issues.
This method is evolving, is practiced around the globe and has different names and styles in different communities of practice.
I believe, with this method, Quakers:
Can continue toward our long-held goal of eliminating all wars, and dramatically reducing armed conflict of all sorts.
We can help bring good order—good process—to many situations, from conflicts over abortion rights and same-gender marriage to ethnic tensions and street-gang conflicts.
We can move to more lively and “truthful” ways of relating among ourselves. Whether it’s struggles over air conditioning the meetinghouse or offering sanctuary to people on the wrong side of the law, there are ways for our community to engage in mutually-acknowledging, HOT, transformative conflict.
It’s not that conflict is bad. The clash of roles and values among humans allows members of the community to see the world in new ways.
What’s bad is using violence or the threat of violence to stifle a person or a point of view. Heated conflict among persons is important for the persons and for the whole community. But how do we do it without shedding blood?
The method I know about, and have been mentioning for years as I have watched it grow and mature, was originally named “Process Work” and is now also known as “WorldWork” and “Deep Democracy.”
All these variations of this method believe:
That ALL voices, all points of view need to be considered.
That important indicators of truth are found near at hand, in our bodily sensations and intuitions and in “chance” occurrences that seem to come out of the blue.
That we must respect we are part of a process that is always changing. A situation may be ugly, say poverty, or an act of public disrespect. If we are willing to engage with—to dance with—the situation, looking for the neglected or unexpressed voices… If we are willing to have faith that this ugly situation is part of a process—indeed, a world process—we can often be helpful in moving the situation to a better, “truer” place, where more of the people involved at least feel recognized and accepted, even if they are not fully satisfied with the new state of affairs.
⇛ There’s a cute 1.5 minute video of the concept, presented by originator Arnold Mindell on youtube.
⇛ There are Process Work communities and training centers in Portland, Oregon, Zürich, Switzerland, and many other places, including Israel/Palestine.
⇛ I am delighted to report that we now have in the Twin Cities skilled practitioners of the method who were trained in Portland, among other places.
- Tom Esch is the founder of Creating Resolution, LLC, based in Minneapolis. He has masters degrees in conflict resolution work and in theology.
There is a group, named Embody Deep Democracy, in an office on Stevens Ave. in Minneapolis, just south of Franklin Ave. They write:
As peoples of 3rd and 4th world orientation we have witnessed firsthand the effect that war has on dividing communities. Therefore our work in the world is to manage conflict at its early stages, before it escalates to the magnitude of war.
Betsy and I were part of their January 2013 workshop. It was courageous. I could say a lot more, but what I say would depend on who I’m talking to. One thing that came out of it is a nice five-minute video on the home page that captures what they are trying to do.
⇛ There are perhaps 50 people in the Twin Cities area with significant familiarity with Process Work/ WorldWork, including several trainers in Training for Change, the organization Betsy is with.
For more information
Following the links already presented here will lead you to much more information. Google searches yield still more.
I found an excellent article on Post-war Reconciliation in Croatia in a professional journal. I’ve annotated it heavily, showing the connections of the method with Quaker belief and practice, 12 pages, total. Please click to see a PDF of it: Croatia, annotated_3
I have an introductory videotape of an extraordinary WorldWork session Betsy attended at Howard University some years ago. I’d be happy to show it and talk about it.
I’d love to present any of this material to Quaker groups around the area, in an Adult Education session or to an informal evening gathering.
I’ve started an emailing list for TC-area Quakers & friends of Quakers interested in Process Work / WorldWork / Deep Democracy. Please let me know if you’d like to be on it.