Practicing Emergence

By Becca Krantz

At CORE, we bring people togetherto explore and cultivate core practices for social transformation to heal ourselves, our communities, and our world.  There is a lot of meaning embedded in this new “promise” statement. Let’s unpack the idea of practice for a minute.

One of my somatics teachers says “we are always practicing something,” whether we are conscious of it or not. For instance, I am practicing shifting my attention quickly from one thing to another when I write at a computer screen wheretext messages and other notifications pop up unbidden. (As I contemplated whether to use that as my example or not, I received a text message!)

One of the key things we practice at CORE is being present, through activities such as mindfulness meditation, deep listening, and asking and answering honest, open questions. Presence is a “core practice” because the ability to be present is a basic capacity that makes other thingspossible. It builds self-awareness and strengthens relationships. It enables connection and understanding between people from very different life experiences. Inspired by the work of the Presencing Institute, we practice being present enough to listen for the future that is wanting to emerge. With open mind, open heart, and open will, we can sense with our whole being the next step to take into that future.

This week Madison has a rare opportunity to listen to a wonderful practitioner of emergence, adrienne maree brown. She’ll be speaking about her recently published book Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds (Wed. April 11th, at 5:00-6:30 pm at Nancy Nicholas Hall, 1300 Linden Drive Room 2235). (The event is free but there’s an Eventbrite registration – which says its for planning purposes only and does not guarantee a seat! Better get there early!)

I first met adrienne in 2006, when she and I were in a year-long training together called the Art of Change. adrienne was already a rock star in the world of social activism, and I experienced her presence as expansive, loving, and playful. adrienne has continued to be an inspiration to me, as she is to many, many others. Whenever I dip into her blog, I am grateful and moved and wish I remembered to go there more often. She is now a teacher in the somatics lineage that I study, and she facilitated a big part of CORE’s Exploratory Journey in 2016.

I haven’t read all of Emergent Strategy yet – it’s the kind of book I seem to like to pick up and put down, with lots of pondering in between – but I can tell you it’s chock full of wisdom, as well as practical tools for facilitating groups and change processes. Emergence, adrienne says, is about wonder. It’s about how complex systems and patterns arise out of simple interactions. She says:

Emergence emphasizes critical connections over critical mass, building authentic relationships, listening with all the senses of the body and mind. With our human gift of reasoning, we have tried to control or overcome the emergent processes that are our own nature, the processes of the planet we live on, and the universe we call home. The result is crisis at each scale we are aware of, from our deepest inner moral sensibilities to the collective scale of climate and planetary health and beyond, to our species in relation to space and time.

The crisis is everywhere, massive massive massive.

And we are small.

But emergence notices the way small actions and connections create complex systems, patterns that become ecosystems and societies. Emergence is our inheritance as part of this universe; it is how we change. Emergent strategy is how we intentionally change in ways that grow our capacity to embody the just and liberated worlds we long for.

So here’s some possible next steps you can take towards embodying that change: Buy adrienne’s book. Go listen to her talk. Read her blog. And come practice with us any time at CORE.