I recently had the privilege to sit in circle for several days with a group of 23 remarkable people at the Lifebridge Sanctuary in the Hudson Valley of New York. This group has been convened to explore 'Serving Humanity in the 21st Century: The Cooperative Spirit and the Call to Group Cooperation'. As we sat together, sometimes in meditation and silence, in a magnificent room looking out upon the deep green of the woods and the layers of violet hills drifting across the horizon, we explored the territory at the intersection of the individual and the collective ... service and spirituality ... boundaries and collaboration ... identity and interdependence. Nancy Roof, one of the co-conveners of this gathering and editor/ publisher of Kosmos Journal (http://www.kosmosjournal.org/) describes this territory as 'resonance at the collective edge'.
Cleary, this energy of the collective is rising up strongly right now. Almost daily, I get an e-mail describing a new initiative to promote collaboration, cooperation, unity, collective wisdom, collective intelligence, synergy - all different language to describe a shared intention. I can't help but notice the paradox that there are so many diverse and separate calls to collaboration. Perhaps it is important for us to begin to explore and experience the collective in multiple smaller clusters, practicing new behaviors and learning new skills. Perhaps this is what the new paradigm of unity looks like: numerous overlapping and intersecting hubs of connection drawn together by shared passions. Or perhaps the thing that most unites us as humans is how hard it is for us to surrender our identity or our idea or our project to a larger organism.
I ponder all of this as I myself have been participating in an impulse to gather a group in service of collaboration. I am one of a core of women representing diverse women's organizations who have been meeting and talking since December 2007 about bringing representatives of 50 women's organizations together for a 'collaborative conversation' to explore what we might be able to create together that we cannot create separately. We have been guided by an instinct that this is the right time for such a dialogue and have been affirmed through many deep conversations over these past seven months. Our own collaborative process has brought us to the point where we will shortly announce a gathering to be convened November 7-10, 2008 at the IONS Retreat Center north of San Fransisco. Stay tuned for more details.
On our own journey to this particular collaborative conversation, I met Elizabeth Palmer who at age 95 can reflect with clarity upon her years of service as the president of the World YWCA. Elizabeth reminded us "If we are not together, we are not effective." I think many of us who are passionate about bringing forth new paradigms of balanced, sustainable and compassionate leadership on this planet share Elizabeth's understanding and are being pulled together into larger communities so that we can become much more effective.