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Thoughts from ASIA2, Feb 16-18th, Santa Barbara, CA

Written by Ann Taylor
February 21, 2012

Wow, I just had an extraordinary experience co-planning and cofacilitating our  collaborative work at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.  The final afternoon, Saturday, which is the subject of this blogpost, was co-planned and co-facilitated by me, and we focused on how we might envision together new ways of collaborating from several WP sites (Piasa Bluffs, Gateway, South Coast), two museums (Santa Barbara Museum of Art, and St Louis Art Museum), and the national network.  We brought to the discussion the fruits of our focused and intentional navigations during the previous days.  Together we had formed a community of learners with a shared theory of action, the CoLab’s ResponsiveDesign.  Drawing on this theory, we explored, envisioned and enacted sequences of ideas around Museums and the possibilities they offer as cultural landscapes for learning.  

I noticed such attentive listening from the participants, as each of the four groups shared their envisionings for collaboration.  After a 3 minutes sharing from the group members as they stood before their chart papers, we heard each person’s noticings.  I was struck by how much this additional round of pointing and naming really helped me to see and understand the groups’ ideas more deeply.  Whether we draw on Catherine Bateston and others insights about our need for others perspectives to helps us with our “blind spots,” or we head into brain research and studies of attention blindness, written about in popular form by Cathy Davidson, the message is clear – we need each others voices and language to grow into the possibilites before us.   Next each of the participants  moved to a round of wondering or interpretation about what the group had shared, and I appreciated the many connections which began to emerge between the presentations.  Frankly, I was in awe of how smoothly we worked together and new possibilities emerged that were of a new order of complexity and possiblity – again my mind heads into the decades long research on complexity theory and “emergence” written about by Steven Johnson (2001). 

And now, as I quickwrite to scoop up some of the insights, I wonder, where would we go if we had a 5 day workshop, rather than this 3 day one?  How might participants deepen and extend their learning if they had a Day 4 experience to work and think as an individual and document and record their work.  Then I envision Day 5 might be an opportunity to return to the whole, to offer another rich opportunity to share and revise plans.  I am sure many folks, having participated in an event like this, would like the opportunity to imagine how they might lead it at their site.  Perhaps there would be another 5 day workshop for those interested in learning to lead such events.  

My final thoughts are that the hours that we (all of the participants and co-leaders) put in together, walking, eating, talking, add enormously to the richness of the event.