Artwork at edges and writing a play

Funny observation – my artwork on the door – as in my display place for art at work (which I am keeping up with varying degrees of success) is of course posted on an edge – the edge between this room and another – the door!

I feel like I am having a dialogue, but who with? To explain, I recently I put out my idea to explore edges on this site,  and then, exploring something quite different (or so I thought): art in the workplace, I find I am exploring edges both literally – making use of the door – and figuratively as I challenge myself and others with my mixed bag of ideas.

Who is my dialogue with? Myself? The Universe? Is that one being or two? Scroll down to see my latest image (didn’t like yesterday’s but left it up all day!). It is thematic to my question, but which came first?

If I am interested in edges – and if dialogue occurs at the edge, then dialogue is a good place to start. We went to see an Arthouse style play on Wednesday as part of a tiny audience. I noticed how the play crossed the edge between performers and audience and brought us up against our own edges – some people found it challenging and we were close up.

Maybe next steps are to write a play. Just half an hour. Dialogue – exploring awkward situations, awkward exchanges – those edges where we meet the other and are surprised or shocked.

One final thought – seems my creativity takes place in between too. Wrote my piece on Sustainability before work and in breaks – similar to this. It happens in between!


What is Sustainability?

I have recently completed my MSc final  Project in Sustainability and Responsibility from Ashridge Business School. Sadly we are the penultimate graduates of this unique course. Of course we hope and expect it to show up somewhere else in some form or other, rather like when it moved from Bath University to Ashridge 14 years ago.

The question “what is sustainability?” and “perhaps you could explain?” asked of me at the weekend by an 87 year old practicing Jungian analyst, is one I am keen to keep on exploring and to try to answer from the heart, using language that makes sense. My project aimed to do that too, and my way of life seeks to be an expression of this fundamental question.

Sustainability, for me, is  simply love of earth and life in the face of the greatest story of our age, which is about impending ecological meltdown. How to make this love work is another question and the one that needs addressing.

So here goes with a drop in the ocean!

First and foremost – I am with the Jungians when they see that the problem is in us. The sooner we recognise that the better, then we can stop projecting evil onto the world at large, the evil corporates, the money grabbing lawyers, the power hungry politicians, the bully-boy oil and gas companies. If we could own our own power drives, greed and carelessness instead, we would go a long way towards preventing ourselves meeting it in the outside world so powerfully.

Second it helps to think in wholes. The individual as a component part of the wider organism: humanity and the world. ‘We’ are an extension of ‘I’  and ‘they’ are an extension of ‘we’. We as individuals are  part of a bigger whole …and we matter! The idea of discounting or overriding our individual needs and responses in favour of the collective good – whatever we perceive that to be – needs to be viewed with suspicion. We need instead to bring our whole own selves to the table. If we do not, we can be sure the group will be missing something, and it might, just, be important.

Likewise we need to make space to really hear other voices – especially the quiet, unloved, unacceptable and rejected ones. What are we missing by editing these out or not hearing them? What has been edited out in the past to bring us to where we are now? What makes it to the table and why needs careful attention.

Finally, one thing we can be absolutely sure of: the old ways aren’t working.

Chris Seeley, who sadly died before she was able to actually tutor us – but who I met and have been strongly influenced by – says on her website that:

“The issue we collectively face is one of imagination as much as one of ingenuity, of living into radically different ways of organising ourselves as much as solving problems. How might our lives and organisations evolve in ways that are neither reduced to doom and gloom hair-shirt narratives of less, nor reliant on the unrealistic mantra of business-as-usual-because-technology-will-save-us?”

This is a nice example of ‘both and’ thinking rather than the ‘fool’s choice’ of either or (see Crucial Conversations by Patty, Grenny, McMillan and Switzier). And Chris Seeley and our other talented and committed tutors have used art, poetry, gesture, story-telling and connecting with the earth as ways of moving beyond our limited intellects and thinking. Not to disparage thinking – but it does have its limits.

So – what is sustainability? Well in the broadest sense it has our survival at heart. How can we stop destroying the world, the animal kingdom and each other so very fast? We need to look within, to wake up to ourselves and to other channels and to bring that wakefulness to bear on how we work – always and ever in relation with others.

What this means for businesses and organisations is a wider question and one I hope to investigate in later blogs. For my money, and as a brief forethought, it means learning to work together in new and more conscious ways. It means turning things on their head, making time for conversation and hearing each other–the now business branded social capital. It also means accessing and valuing unusual channels of wisdom – investigating the artful, the playful even the silly and rejected. It might mean engaging fringe stakeholders in our community (see Hart, S. L. (2010). Broadening the corporate bandwidth. Capitalism at the crossroads: Next generation business strategies and later of my  blogs) and accepting that whether we are in Sustainability or Oil and Gas, we are part of a bigger system that needs to take responsibility and wake up.

Back on the ladder (but Arny Mindell would like it!)

Interesting and new edge as I get the first feedback from my MSc paper: ‘unique‘, ‘original‘ and words to the effect of amazing and quite unlike anything! I scrabbled about, wondering how to respond, and proffered the word ‘honest’ . Yes, the the person agreed with that!

I was struggling with veiled criticisms as I heard them and recoiled from mentions of my complexes (shit! what did I write ?), complexes of not being heard (ouch ouch ouch). On the upside I liked the use of the word ‘learned’! But… generally not one of these is quite a compliment! I wished in that moment that I had been more normal in my approach and more mindful of how it would land. I had approached it as if I were crafting a piece of art – to be understood or not.

One point of interest is that no fewer than 4 women have expressed an interest in actually reading it – unsolicited by me and from surprising quarters – 3 of them after seeing the physical, bound copy. My feedback here comes from the male side of life (and from a powerful quarter for me!)

So…watching this space to see what, if anything comes back from the women.

The best comment I received yesterday was that Arny Mindell would like it. That is one of the higher accolades I would hope for – so I’ll take my compliment and hug it close!




Developing my artful practice

So I’m not Chris Seeley and I’m not LT – what exactly is my artful practice at work?

I started with an instagram inspiration and came up with an image that pleased me and stuck it to the door next to my desk – a temporary ‘thought for the day’ but I’ve so enjoyed it (and others like it too I think) that I can’t replace it meaningfully.

And I have drawn one up today – it has potential and is all about Permaculture principle #3: obtain a yield.

Hah – even thinking about it…and I have put it up. Not as beautiful – but…for the time spent..after all I need to obtain a  yield! Here’s my previous – will load my new as soon as it arrives in my inbox.


So, developing my artful practice at work is as individual as I am…as we all are.

Bringing art in is what is useful…..

Abutting edges

As I attempt to draw up what I think should be our sustainability strategy and angle, and how that dovetails, or in fact is one and the same in many ways with our HR strategy I wonder, again, about edges.

I was thinking – if you are not abutting edges then you are following the herd – not forging ahead from the heart. I am not sure our business wants me to forge ahead from the heart!

Yes there are lots of basics. Yes there are measurable,technical, tangibles such as scope 3 emissions. Yes these matter.

But the old ways are not working. If as Chris Seeley says on her website Wild Margins:

“The issue we collectively face is one of imagination as much as one of ingenuity, of living into radically different ways of organising ourselves as much as solving problems. How might our lives and organisations evolve in ways that are neither reduced to doom and gloom hair-shirt narratives of less, nor reliant on the unrealistic mantra of business-as-usual-because-technology-will-save-us?”

….then what does and should that mean for our strategy?

Chris Nichols reminded me once that you always need  a touchpoint between the two ecosystems, worlds and people if we are to make contact. What is my touchpoint?  Dr Seeley is careful in her language. Maybe the clue is here….