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Getting a feeling for Partnership

Have you been part of a relational process or event that modeled a healthy partnership paradigm? Where, when and what did it feel like? What were the shared values?

How was it a different experience than being involved in processes or events coming from a domination-based worldview or set of values?

Share with us your partnership experience — how are you showing up as a leader in these processes?

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  • I have just taken a training in something called Music Together. It is not a relational program, but offers an opportunity to practice a partnership way of being. It's a program that is now in 40 countries. I took the training at the end of August and over a 3-day weekend learned how classes are lead which teach music making to parents and their young children from baby age to age 7 or so.

    What is partnership about it is that it offers the opportunity for anyone who wants to do this work to begin. It offers a cooperative licensing plan so that teachers and center directors are not competing with each other, but are simply teaching the music and skills and finding innovative ways of doing this that bring families together. And while you teach a specific Music Together curriculum, that comprises 2/3 of what you teach. If you want to, you can bring in your own songs or your favorite songs beyond Music Together as long as they are arranged for sing along and rhythm and movement exercises.

    The skills themselves and the supportive experience created not only in the classrooms but in the business model is wonderful! I just started, and am thrilled to have found it. So far, whereas my prior ideas about an "internship" meant I had to do whatever someone in authority told me they wanted of me, I have now been having marketing and business-building ideas that will benefit the Music Together studio in my area, while I learn to become a teacher and possibly start my own classes at other facilities or my own facility if that is what I want to do. I feel wholly empowered by the process. I feel that music itself is empowering so it's just a great feeling and experience. It's nurturing something in me that has not been nurtured this way before, and needs to be :) It's meeting needs in a win-win-win way :)
  • I was a founding member of Community High School in Ann Arbor Michigan. This school was created by students for students. We hired the faculty, administrators, and set the intention for the school and the course work.

    Last year I went to the 40th reunion of the school! I was happy to see that my dragon was still everyone as they arrived, as it is a huge painting right in front of the entry way.

    As students, my friends and I were appalled that the Solstice School of the University of Michigan was closing. We were bereft! So we took over a little elementary school on Division Street near Downtown Ann Arbor and set to work. Our desire was to create a curriculum that was relevant to us, to help us prepare for the world we were to enter as adults.

    The basis for the school was to assist students find the career paths that called out to them. So we partnered with the community. You could work with lawyers, doctors, firemen, artists. Whatever you might wish to pursue, you could try it out BEFORE you went to college, and experience what the different facets of the career were like.

    We also partnered with the University of Michigan so that students who wished to, could fulfill high school requirements with college courses. Many of our students completed the last two years of high school as their first two years of college, saving time, money, and allowing us to focus on the courses we were most interested in.

    The school was amazing then, and now. Included in our work was a class called "Forum." This class was ongoing - and each student got to choose the teacher they wished to have facilitate the class. Once enrolled, you remained with this group of students for your entire time at Community High. This was the group you shared your concerns with, went on retreats and outings with. They were often your best friends, and the people that you hung out with after school. If you began your High School coursework at Community, you could expect to spend four years with these people. Most shared common interests with you, via the subject of the teacher - that was a good basis for beginning, but as the years progressed, this group of people became the groundwork of your experience. We shared in each other's personal lives in a far greater way that normal.

    Although we didn't know it then, Community High is a school for training the "Cultural Creatives" - the students who ask the deep questions, poke their noses into fascinating places, and who were willing to work together to overcome school boards, governmental restrictions, neighborhood concerns, and each other's egos to forge something that has lasted until today.

    They remain some of my best friends, and we stay in touch daily via a FaceBook group.

    For me, my High School years were some of my best! I am proud to be an alumnus of Commie High.
  • Hi, Ann :)

    I've thought about this for the last few hours. Sadly, I cannot think of one example in which I was blessed to experience authentic partnership during an event or intended collaboration. I've envisioned and worked toward it for decades, but I'm still waiting to experience it. Being a self-proclaimed Interbeingist, perhaps my expectations of true partnership are a bit high...I don't really know.

    As Ann Manning said in the alumni call earlier today, it's still amazing to many of us how few people are capable of considering a different way.

    I've touted collaboration and partnership throughout my adult life. However, even within so-called "new economy" movements, including the sharing and gift economies, competition and domination are so deeply entrenched and part of the process in spite of the lovely words which often accompany initiatives.

    I've recently come to accept that there is an intrinsic lack of trust (in others and in ourselves) that must be explored, worked through and transformed before genuine partnership -- at the level I envision -- can take hold. Small social healing circles are thus a new, key aspect of my work in moving forward.

    I would love to provide a beautiful personal example in reply to your question, but I can't. Not yet.

    • Hi Dena,
      Thanks for your honest and reflective answer. I agree that in many new economy and social justice, sustainability initiatives there is still that old domination pattern subtly woven through. Sometimes groups or orgs, or in healing processes, emergent partnership is experienced for a while then our behavior reverts a bit...part of the continuum towards consciousness shift. I've been lucky here on Whidbey Island to experience quite a few events in which we are functioning in a true partnership mode, and its very satisfying and natural. One of those that comes to mind is the annual Winter Gathering at the Whidbey Institute. http://whidbeyinstitute.org/?s=winter+gathering

      Let me know if you have an interest in attending--it is by invite only. I think what you are doing would be a great fit for this gathering.
      • Oh goodness, that looks like Nirvana. I swear...that little corner of the world is populated with so many heart-centered visionaries!!! Thank you so much, Ann. I don't see how I could attend since it is next month, but it warms my heart to know it is taking place. :)

        I have a question: Do you know if anyone within Riane's organization is covering the current focus on the oppressive, dominating system of law enforcement in the US since Ferguson?

        To view police forces as a community partnership rather than an occupying, dominating force is coming front and center. I try to follow all the social media posts but don't recall seeing coverage regarding that specific issue.

        Thanks. :)
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