making ‘something’ with theories & structures

Yes, and… Philly! folks continually ask, ‘How can we build on what we’ve thus far talked about and done as a group?’ Creating, making is a process. Here’s a recap on our process so far!



This time around we decided to integrate: Theory U, liberating structures, design, and the stories we’ve heard as a group from our group members thus far about the difficulty of having conversations about death & dying, about what it means to be a citizen, about opiate addiction, about what it means to eat well, and….

We started by asking people to each choose a paper bag, grab some post-its & markers, and write/draw many answers to the question, “What baggage are you carrying around? What’s the baggage (both negative and positive) that’s with you as you think about the stories we’ve heard or your experiences in conversations about death & dying, addiction, eating well, etc.?”


Markers wrote continuously & the ideas flowed as we reflected inward. Next we took 5 minutes to journal our own reflection of the experience of identifying our baggage.

In order to begin to visualize these concepts and how they might relate to each of us, a volunteer pulled one post-it out of their bag & read aloud to the group. All who resonated with that concept were asked to stand close to that person. We called this ‘Making Visible’ and did several rounds. We found that much of our inner baggage is not quite this individual inner angst where one is so alone, yet a collective feeling that so many of us share. 

We took all of our ‘baggage’ notes to the wall and begin creating clusters to see patterns & name those patterns.


A break took us to the kitchen, where we snacked & jumped into our next activity.

We looked at Ecocycle Planning (a liberating structure) to keep in the back of our minds and then, in small teams, created Concept Posters: a poster sharing your team’s idea for a prototype to change some aspect of a pattern from our last activity – each team chose their own pattern, one that resonated with them. Here are our posters:




The balancing knowledge framework for thinking about death & dying!







The idea smorgasbord to create safe space for conversations that might bring up anxieties or trepidation for people!







The detectivizing kit to nurture our inner curiosity is full of question cards to help people (maybe patients) look at things from a perspective of curiosity!


From each of these ideas, we have pulled a question or two. In the time between this meeting and our next, we are each charged with (you too!) asking the following questions of those in our network. [Please join us: ask these questions to as many people in your life/work as you can & share what you learn via email]:


  1. How do you feel when you learn something you didn’t know?
  2. What’s a choice you’ve made or seen someone make lately that resulted in an accepting & loving atmosphere?
  3. What is present in the environment surrounding you when you feel most comfortable sharing your opinion and values?
  4. How would you (or do you) create a comfortable space if/when hosting others in a difficult conversation?
  5. What does it mean to be curious for you?
  6. How often do you operate from a curious perspective?
  7. What’s the thing in your future you’re most curious about right now?!

Next time we gather, we plan to hear 1 minute stories from anyone who asked these questions or has a story to tell around them & as a group design our next step in ‘making this thing’!  Hope you can join us!

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