Saturday, 6 July 2013

Being There: The Relational Change Community Day



Following the last meeting of the Relational Change Founding Community in London on June 24th, 2013, the usual ‘Action Notes’ were distributed. One of the attendees suggested that it could be helpful to offer more of a ‘felt-sense’ of what being at the meeting was like, (thanks to Shaun Whatling of our Advisory Group for the suggestion).

Clearly, a major reason for founding Relational Change was to try and establish a supportive and stimulating community, and the day was conducted in that spirit. Sue Gammons, (Advisory Group Member), provided a feedback from ‘The Relational Turn’ Conference at Esalen, and led an experiential enquiry focussing on individual passions that might be supported via membership of Relational Change. We also continued to discuss shared principles that form our organisational DNA.

We asked Mike Clark, (Advisory Group Member and non-Gestalt practitioner), to write a few words about his experience of the meeting. Very generously, Mike agreed, and here is what he wrote: we hope you find it interesting.

Being There: The Relational Change Community Day: June 24, 2013.

Starting a new, collaborative initiative is exciting, but also nerve-wracking.  Everyone comes along with some idea of what they are starting, but they cannot be concretely sure how it will turn out, nor how others feel and think about the ideas. 

As an outsider to the Gestalt world I had only a vague sense of what Relational Change (RC) was about but saw something in how it seemed to overlap with various social science ideas I had read about, plus I felt that it resonated with my sense of how people ought to act.  Others will have had more concrete ideas of what RC was or ought to be about.  They may have also needed a clearer idea than I to be able work out how it fitted with their worlds that were already full of Gestalt work.  Part of the beauty of a new endeavour like RC which is developed in the right spirit is that it can accommodate a broad range of ideas and needs and be mutually nourishing.

So, what was it like for me, with a career in research, to attend the last RC community day?  The enthusiasm of people is energising for me as I see their ideas and actions emerging to develop RC activities.  Various metaphors were used to help make sense of where RC is at.  The idea of a walk in the woods was used and extended and reinterpreted.  From a pleasant summer's afternoon stroll with friends to a fairy tale of scary monsters in the dark depths, the story evolved.  I was reminded of  the story supposedly written to win a bet that a fully formed story could be written in 6 words. The authorship is attributed to Hemmingway, but it probably pre-dated him. The story is:

 'For sale: baby shoes, never worn'. 

 Imagination and emotive connection - in abundance in this story and in RC meetings.

RC will forever remain in some sense evolving as people, ideas and situations emerge and interact to develop new endeavours.  This is part of the excitement - though nerves will jangle again at times.  But there is, and will remain, a sense of a core set of ideas and principles for RC to keep returning to.  This may not always be fully articulated in one 'constitution', but members will feel it and it will help to provide an overall sense of purpose and unity, and from which to develop new energies and ideas.

Mike Clark.

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