Friday, May 15, 2009

Just Noticeable Difference

In psychophysiology, Limen refers to the moment when a small increment of change becomes noticeable—for example, if a light source is increased in tiny increments, the limen is the moment when someone can perceive the change. This is also known as the “just noticeable difference”. In this section we will highlight work and activities of the Limen co-founders between retreats. Sometimes this may feel to us (and perhaps to you, our readers!) that little progress has been made—but actually we are all inching forward and at some point our progress will become noticeable!

Our first retreat took place on February 13,2009 (click here for a summary of that meeting). Since our February retreat Liz, Anne and Stacey have been meeting, thinking, processing and talking. None of the above will come as any surprise to those of you who know us. Our first task was to process the flood of input that came from our first retreat. We had 42 people in attendance, and the day was stimulating, exciting, and confusing at times. We discussed feeling as if the process of the day was a success, with diverse voices being heard and opinions being expressed in an environment of support and respect. On the more confusing side, many issues were called into question including the different levels of the Limen model, whether we should be a non-profit, and even whether there should be an actual physical center versus virtual meetings and face to face consultation. We summarized the retreat in a memo so that those who attended as well as those who were unable to would have a narrative of the day.

We also wrote up the notes from the numerous afternoon breakout groups at the retreat. These notes were rich with ideas and gave us much to think about. We plan on offering the notes as a shared, working document to all Limen Group members, some time after retreat #2 or #3 (once we feel we have a better shared understanding of our mission), so that all in our virtual group can continue to work together to develop the different levels, goals and foci of the project.

One of the themes that became clear to us right way was the challenge of truly putting collective leadership into action. How can we hear and be responsive to many diverse opinions while still being able to make decisions and move forward concretely with plans? Dan Rosen summed it up well at the retreat, stating that he likes to be up in the clouds discussing lofty ideas, but also wants to have his feet on the ground and be “doing the work”. We feel the same way! In order to get some guidance about this we consulted with Karma Ruder at the Center for Ethical Leadership. CEL provides consultation locally and nationally to organizations who are striving to manifest an ethical, collective leadership model. Karma was enormously helpful to us, and some of her ideas will be evident in the work of our second retreat, where we will focus on relationship building and identifying our common, core values. Please note that the Center for Ethical Leadership is offering an upcoming workshop in June on creating “gracious space”; see “Announcements” section of the blog for a description.

We held our second retreat on Saturday, May 2 at the beautiful, newly renovated Filipino Community Center (click here for a summary). With a small group we were able to share an intimate space and our work focused on relationship building, making meaning of "social justice work," and identifying core values. We also discussed some possibilities for initial "feet on the ground" (as opposed to head in the clouds) work that we can do together, including forming some workgroups and/or consult groups around particular topics.

A very pragmatic issue has been to find dates for future meetings that work for as many people as possible. With everyone’s busy schedules we know it’s not possible to find a date that will work for all, and we hope you will find this blog, other email correspondence from us, and smaller group meetings to be useful ways to stay in touch and keep the momentum going between retreats. We have already heard from several of you that you have followed up with someone you met at the first retreat, and couldn’t be happier about this outcome of our first retreat.

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