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The Space In Between

As we create third spaces we also create spaces between spaces. Which seem to hold the most potential for life to thrive. Working within institutions and silos to create change seems, by contrast to working in the spaces in between, to be very, very limiting and difficult. Some of the same processes we have been using in institutions might be far better put to work, liberated even, by using them between institutions.

  Holding the edges is what just might make (institutions) helpful partners for transformation . . .
   

A few weeks ago I found myself in a conversation with a member of an important local institution. We were in a third space, but I found myself talking to him as if he were a representative of his institution. I was trying to convince him to get his institution to participate in a certain way. Even me, as wise as I am (smiles), fell into the trap of reaching through him to his institution. I stopped myself and him. I decided instead to see and approach him as a citizen first, one who happens to be involved in the police and other institutions.

A citizen first in a third space. That changed everything. The power of our institutions, because of what they CAN DO, is strong and maybe even a little bit alluring, even if we know better. Holding the edges is what just might make them helpful partners for transformation, but certainly not by asking them to do in the third spaces what they are doing in their own bodies.

In my local experience I realize the institutions actually do not know what to do or how to be in the third spaces. They are in many ways lost, innocents. They want to help but don't know how. I'm not so sure we, or more directly, I . . .  know how to ask them and for what.

Lately my answer is . . . send us citizens. Then we'll see.

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Peter
Pula

Peter is the Founder of Axiom News. He has also founded and led a community newspaper and a corporate communications agency. He has served as a member and chairperson on the boards and committees of children's services, schools, municipal grants, arts, and local exchange organizations.

Peter led the discovery, founding, and practice of Generative Journalism as a healing and community art.

He has been invited to host workshops in Canada, Europe, and the United States on the practice of Generative Journalism, an open communications approach for emergent and constructive change in organizations, networks, and communities.

To bring dialogic and narrative arts together Peter and Axiom News initiated the Peterborough Dialogues in 2015. Over 150 deep dialogues, circles of trust, working circles, and summits have been held in Peterborough, Ontario to cultivate citizen-led community co-creation with beautiful results. The Peterborough Dialogues continues to be a rich practice field delivering up daily insights into the power of community convening.

Peter continues to integrate convening, journalism, and narrative arts practices to hold space for community to heal and for citizens to take the lead in creating the community of their dreams.

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There are two recurring complaints addressed in this letter:

  • Generative journalism just publishes “nice” and “positive” stories and doesn’t face reality
  • The phrase, “emerging narrative of gifts” is a string of buzzwords that are ultimately meaningless.

The stories we tell shape our culture. Journalism as a civic art, to be of real assistance to democracy, has a few things to overcome.

I have come to see capitalism as the ideology or worship of capital, of money. Absentee investment is the root of so much in the way of dissociation. Money for money’s sake, and not for what it can do. Instead, we should look at intimate and engaged investment, that puts the power of money to good use.

One of the challenges we face in realizing a reimagined democracy is the force of narrative. The dominant narrative, the one purveyed by mainstream media, corporate communications, and political campaigns, is for the most part an institutional narrative. It isn’t really for or by the grassroots at all.

During election time, we can easily get lost in the notion that voting and politicians are at the centre of democracy. And yet, democracy is so much more.

Today, democracy’s detractors point to the US experiment to denigrate the idea. In Canada, our politics have to a degree followed suit.

“The future of journalism is to play a fundamental and important role in an ecology of community development works and capacities and professions,” says Peter Pula, founder of Axiom News and pioneer of Generative Journalism.

Peter is now co-leading a local initiative to bring citizen-led dialogue and community development in direct partnership with the media.

Awakening to healing and becoming whole In community

In 2015, the year Axiom News gave birth to the Peterborough Dialogues, over 100 gatherings were hosted. I was asked by an astounded colleague in Europe, why would anyone do that? Well, to know and to serve. That’s why.