Mon 3 Apr 2017 5:23AM

Power and Hierarchy in Mindfulness for Change

PJ Peter Jacobson Public Seen by 48

From what I understand there is always power inequality and hierarchy - how do we acknowledge and handle that in our community?


Peter Jacobson Mon 3 Apr 2017 5:24AM

There's a quote something like: "the closest we can get to no heirarchy is a self-dismantling heirarchy"
Can this be our core principle?
Seems important for anyone in community to be able and free to call out misuse or 'imbalance' of power - how do we create channels/empower EVERYONE to do this? Theatresport roleplay games?


Nick Laurence Mon 3 Apr 2017 7:10AM

Thanks for raising this @petejakey! I like the notion of explicitly valuing self-dismantling hierarchy, and think its essential that people should be able and encouraged to call out the misuse of power. I was also struck by something Andrew Morrison said to me along the lines of "the centre of the wheel should be empty". I like that idea. My hope is that the principles/DNA of MfC that we're working on will establish a prototype for how the centre can be held with decreasing reliance on "people who have been around longer/doing more and have more context for what's going on".

I find the distinction between actualising hierarchies and dominator hierarchies to be a useful one. I think this is Fredrick Laloux's distinction originally. He's basically saying that actualising hierarchies are natural and useful - for example, I wouldn't want someone who has no mechanical skills to be equal in the hierarchy to a fifteen-year experienced mechanic in the company I was entrusting with repairing my car. Having power over someone else from a title rather than from skill/usefulness is where the potential for harm comes in hierarchy, I think is his gist.

I think in MfC we could develop a mindful relationship to roles and skills, whereby people are fully committed in the present moment to carrying out the task they're responsible for, but not attached to the task and act as kaitiaki or stewards of the task rather than owners of the "job title". I'd also add consent into the mix here - think its important that for decisions, the people who are affected by the decisions are consulted and have the opportunity to give consent. These considerations are being worked into the list of "MfC principles" that are being developed out of the purpose work we did in Hui #2.


Lana Bright Mon 3 Apr 2017 8:00AM

If power is a concept we hold in our minds we are equally powerful

Hierarchy that is inclusive caring and wise can liberate and not entrap us all in roles and responsibilities


Patricia Morgan Mon 3 Apr 2017 8:10AM

This is a great question @petejakey what kind of channel were you thinking of - did you have an idea for how this might work? I'd be interested in discussing that further.

I like what you say here Nick @nicklaurence about Laloux's distinction - as I have seen that happen in MfC - maybe in a slightly different way where the people doing the work are setting a direction and that seems fair enough to me but maybe there is a grey area there? I remember Caroline was speaking about those in the margins of MfC - for example those from the first hui who didn't come back to the second and that it was a good idea to get some feedback from them, I don't know if anything came of that? @carolinetaylor Do you know Caroline? I look forward to seeing how we develop MfC principles develop - is there a working group for that? It's been interesting to be a part of working on the Mediation and Conflict Resolution document with others from Enspiral and suggest that we might have something like that. I also think it would be great to have a way to hear all of our voices - though maybe easier said than done.


Nick Laurence Mon 3 Apr 2017 8:40AM

Yeah, we are setting a direction (although I see it as more of a "context" than a "direction") as a shared-holders group, although have always been mindful to seek consent and include the community in the creation of that context. Have had the intention to be doing work on behalf of the community, and really hope that anyone from the community who disagrees with something we do feels that they can voice that disagreement.

Re the margins comment, the shared-holder group have been doing interviews over the past month or so, and heard some voices from the margins, and have prepared a bunch of questions that will be shared at Hui #3 to invite more people from the margins involved in co-creating MfC. There's no working group on the principles at the moment, it's something we intend to prototype with the community at large at Hui #3 and it may be that a working group could carry it from Hui #3 onwards.

We've also discussed how our intention at the moment is for the shared-holder group to do itself out of a job over time, so that the centre will be empty. Once the basic infrastructure has been set up, any further work on the "commons" (tangible and intangible resources common to everyone in the MfC network) will most probably be done by working groups. That's the intention at the moment - will be updating people on this at Hui #3 - and as always, it's a prototype that is subject to change.


Patricia Morgan Mon 3 Apr 2017 8:46AM

Hi Nick @nicklaurence nice to hear from you and thanks for that - great to get a sense of what is happening in this area!


Sam O'Sullivan Mon 3 Apr 2017 11:10PM

Love that this has become a discussion and love what I'm reading!

I think the key is empowering everyone to feel that at all times they can question anything, influence anything, create anything, and dissent to anything people put out there. That way, any organic leadership that arises will be questioned and decisions will be developed for the interest of MfC and wider communities. Hopefully people will free to step up and take the lead on something that they are knowledgeable about or feel called to. Hierarchies could exist in a way that is organic, changing, and flowing with the energies affecting the system. This will help us persevere within within the changing and impermanent global system.

I think it's important that some people fall into the role of holding space for the community, but their aim is to say as little as possible and generally speak up when complex issues arise that could negatively affect the community, i.e., conflict.


Jimmy Tue 4 Apr 2017 12:15AM

Differences in quantity and type of power and influence seem to form naturally, and I don't think it's valuable to try to get rid of them. But they can be made explicit. What if there was an exercise where everyone was asked to make some kind of honest statement about their perception of who has power. Even rank people according to how much they perceive them to be the people who are influencing decisions or something like that. Something that says 'who cares how awkward it is, lets make everything visible'.


Jimmy Tue 4 Apr 2017 12:16AM

That makes an objective view much easier to see and discuss. Then people might say, you know what, that person is influencing and goddam I like it.


Jimmy Tue 4 Apr 2017 12:16AM

Or not!


Kate MacIntyre Tue 4 Apr 2017 10:12PM

My view is that some level of hierarchy will always take a shape and at times is desirable and relevant and also can become problematic and create difficulty. I think the important issues have been said, it will be organic and it has and will continue to keep on happening and shaping up around structures, people and spaces, keep an eye on it for problems, talk about and identify it openly and compassionately, create space for everyone to have their say. This group is already modelling those approaches.


Sarrah Jayne Sun 9 Apr 2017 8:55PM

I love what has been discussed here.
I am keen to explore this and unearth the different ways we see this playing out in creative ways perhaps through roleplay. I love the idea of theatre sports (as Pete suggested) and/or interpretive movement to describe in a fun and light way what is happening and how we feel about it and if we desire it to change. I think as long as consent is sought after and we are transparent and explicit then we are on the right track. I agree with Patricia that it might be nice at some point to discuss how disagreements and conflict will be held/mediated by the community and resolved. I think it's important at this stage to surface a commitment to holding those involved through a safe process if it does come up (but perhaps that's another loomio thread).


Dharan Longley Tue 16 May 2017 10:01AM

Great question. Answer? Put it on the agenda of Open Space conversations at the next Hui.... and share some aspects of how it appeared to us at this just-completed one.


Poll Created Tue 27 Jun 2017 4:15AM

Changing the name "Shared-Holder" to "Stewardship / Kaitiaki" group Closed Tue 4 Jul 2017 8:01AM

by Nick Laurence Tue 4 Jul 2017 9:13PM

100% agreement - decision made. The "Shared-Holder" level of the community is now known by the dual English/Māori name of "Stewardship/ Kaitiaki" group. :D

Propose that we change the name representing the Shared-Holder level of the community to the dual name of "Stewardship / Kaitiaki" Group.


Results Option % of points Voters
Abstain 0.0% 0  
Disagree 0.0% 0  
Block 0.0% 0  

14 of 54 people have voted (25%)


Nick Laurence
Tue 27 Jun 2017 4:16AM

Have put reasoning in thread.


Caroline Taylor
Tue 27 Jun 2017 6:22AM

Love it!


Ming Janssen
Wed 28 Jun 2017 1:32AM



Sam O'Sullivan
Wed 28 Jun 2017 10:49PM

This change feels really good to me. Great proposal Nick!


Richard Turton
Sun 2 Jul 2017 2:23AM

Feels like a clearer and more appropriate name for the group


Nick Laurence Tue 27 Jun 2017 4:20AM

Re the proposal I've just put up: I have been wondering about the name "Shared-Holders", which represents the centre-most level of the community in the concentric circles diagram. It seems to me that what we exist for is to work on the commons of MfC, which is to serve the community and do work that serves people in the network. It's not about 'command and control' but more about sensing and responding into what would be useful and what opportunities exist. I would be in favour of renaming it to a "Stewardship" or "Kaitiaki" Group, and am in favour of a dual English/Māori name, representing that we are not a fully kaupapa Māori group but are dedicated to the principles of the Treaty.

In terms of power and hierarchy at MfC, this feels like a positive change for me because (for me) it implies that we have some power to make decisions, which is important on a practical level (that we don't have to refer to the community for every little decision). But it recognises that we draw our power from the wider community/ies that we're stewarding, so anyone from the community can voice concerns or objections to what we decide on. This has always been the intention of how we want to operate anyway, but the name seems to reflect that more accurately to me.


Patricia Morgan Tue 27 Jun 2017 9:48AM

Hi Nick @nicklaurence sounds good to me but could you say a bit more about what "shared holder" means in this context, at the moment for me shared holder and steward seem fairly similar? All the best, Patricia


Nick Laurence Tue 27 Jun 2017 9:28PM

Hi Patricia, yeah they are fairly similar. "Shared Holder" basically refers to the idea that our role is to hold space, and we share that role - not directing, but not being completely passive either. For me the word steward/kaitiaki seems more widely understood in the world than shared-holder - and I'd noticed that quite a few people assumed (understandably) that it was similar in meaning to "shareholder", which its not at all in a financial sense.


Patricia Morgan Wed 28 Jun 2017 9:54AM

Hi Nick @nicklaurence thanks so much for that - a little light bulb just went off - "shareholder" as in the holder of shares in a company! In that sense steward seems better. All the best, Patricia