Process Work – WorldWork

I first wrote this around 2013. In early 2023 I am systematically refreshing, and I find many of the original links are out of date, probably often because of the pandemic that started with COVID-19. I have updated what I could. And deleted a lot. Betsy and I remain strongly influenced by our experiences with it. I have not simply deleted this post because I remain loyal to my sense of possibility this has for Quakers. Lane Arye (below) is the PW leader we have most recently been impressed by.

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 / Palestine 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 or provoking one side to try and break off the relationship?
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.

Process Work & World Work Videos

A well-produced half hour of video and interpretation of World Work, selected from a national gathering at Howard University that Betsy Raasch-Gilman attended in 1999.

⇛ There’s a cute 1.5 minute video of the concept, presented by originator Arnold Mindell on youtube.

Lane Arye has some short videos that bring Process Work alive.

Arny & Amy & friends developed a series of 40 brief animations to teach World Work. Here are two.

For more information

⇛ There are Process Work communities and training centers around the world, including Zürich, Switzerland, where it started.

  • 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 could be persuaded to present any of this material to Quaker groups around the area, in an Adult Education session or to an informal evening gathering.

1 Response to Process Work – WorldWork

  1. Pingback: ~A New Life-Chapter~ | Gaia Voices

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