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End-of-year reflections

end of year reflections
Dear friends,

As we end 2023 and look toward a new year, we are taking the time and opportunity for self-reflection, for assessing the what, why, and how of past efforts and for projecting into the future those as-yet-unrealized hopes and dreams that keep us moving in a direction consistent with our values, toward something we may conceive of as better than we have experienced in the past. As an institute devoted to personal and social evolution, we believe that better social worlds are possible and achievable, and that they are marked by the quality of our storytelling and by improved patterns of communication. We might even say that improved patterns of communication and improved social worlds are two expressions of a single idea.

The Sufi poet Rumi knew the power of naming and storying as far back as the thirteenth century when he wrote the poem One Song:

Every war and every conflict
between human beings has happened
because of some disagreement about names.

It is such an unnecessary foolishness,
because just beyond the arguing
there is a long table of companionship
set and waiting for us to sit down….

It is the image and metaphor of the long table of companionship that only we can set that motivates so many of us to think deeply about what and how we name things, and to work toward those better forms of communication that invite more generative, robust, and healthy ways of being human.

The Stewards of the CMM Institute met at the end of November to reflect on, yet again, our hopes and goals for the work that we do individually and as an Institute. Amongst other things, those goals coalesce around trusting emergence and Mystery and shifting the taken-for-granted understanding of a simplistic and mechanistic view of communication that still grips our planet, to what John and Susan Parrish-Sprawl are calling a quantum view of communication:

In quantum, we understand that the universe is composed of a dense web of interactions, and it is these connections rather than things that create reality…. Indeed, each of these “things” themselves are a locus of interactions. The dynamic interdependence of everything is a contrasting framework to the mechanistic notion that had dominated for 300 years. In quantum, one must look to change the interactions to change ‘things’ (Parrish-Sprowl & Parrish-Sprowl, 2023), (https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fcomm.2023.1232616/full)

We see CMM as one set of tools and the CMM Institute as scaffolding to help us think and act in ways that foster the kind of interdependence that serves all life on the planet well.  This happens mindfully and intentionally one conversation at a time. So how does this specifically shape what we will be doing in 2024?

For starters, next year will be the third year of thoughtful and generative conversations on Abbie VanMeter’s Stories Lived, Stories Told podcast Stories Lived. Stories Told; https://www.storieslivedstoriestold.com/ Her goal is “to make the knowledge, language and tools of CMM accessible to everyday people to learn and put to use in their own lives to help make better social worlds for themselves and their communities.”  Be on the lookout for these wonderful conversations and share them with your friends and colleagues.

We will also have a fabulous comic book on mental health available that our Teen/Young Adult Fellows have been working on for over a year. These five amazing young women have chosen to talk honestly about mental health through this comic book in order to encourage their peers to speak with the people in their lives about their own experiences.  You will hear from each of these Fellows in Abbie’s January podcasts, so please take time to listen deeply to their voices and their stories.

We are continuing the development of CosmoParents to add to our goal of providing educational and fun resource material for the human lifespan beginning with very young children. In addition to our current CosmoKidz website that provides information, testimonials and research, we are creating a website specifically designed for free and easy-access to all of the CosmoKidz activities in multiple languages along with short videos on how to use the activities.  This will be completed sometime in 2024. In the meantime, we continue to offer CosmoKidz and Tweenz sets to people we know will use them. Interestingly, while writing these end-of-year reflections this unsolicited email came from a teacher I don’t know who is using “CosmoTweenz, Three Choices and then What Happens?” scenarios.

…It is amazing to carve out the time to share a hypothetical scenario, hear their initial gut instinct on how they might respond, and then coach/guide them through some alternatives that might help them more comfortably navigate our social world. I. Am. Just. In. LOVE. With. These. Cards!!!!!!!!

Our work will also continue on Cosmopolis 2045, our vision of an entire community where people base their lives on the understanding that communication is the essential process in which they create their social worlds. In the next stage of our work, we are focusing on creating new ways of storying our vision with special attention to what a communication perspective has to offer for the quality of our public life.

We look forward to welcoming new CMM Institute Fellows in the coming year and learning from their research and practice in their own contexts of contributing to better social worlds. And be on the lookout for Robyn Penman’s new book on relationally responsible justice to be published by the CMM Institute Press next year. These are just a few of the many initiatives we are continuing into the new year.

I end these reflections with a license plate that I saw immediately after our Stewards’ meeting:

soar license plate

Without knowing it, the driver of this car is promoting something near and dear to the work of the Institute. SOARing is one of our children’s songs and it’s what CosmoKidz invites them to do in their interactions:

Sense what’s around you

Open your hands to help other

Act with kindness

Respect other people

 

My dear friend and all-things-CosmoKidz-collaborator, Marit, has an adult version of SOAR:

Sensibility

Openness

Awareness and Acknowledgement

Re-Imagining.

So, let us continue in 2024 to imagine, re-imagine, and dedicate ourselves to living what we know about communication as quantum—that everything exists in interdependent relationships and that we will rise or fall together. May this move us ever closer to setting the long table of companionship that Rumi so clearly envisioned over 800 years ago.

And special thanks to three Stewards of the CMM Institute who are rotating off of the Board and whose imprint will continue long after their departure: Jan Elliott, Rik Spann, and Eerika Hedman-Phillips. You are an inspiration to us all and we love you!

Kim Pearce

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