Zoom, 2 April 2020 – Twenty participants gather online for the second Perspectivity Writeshop. Purpose: learn to write and write to learn together. Will the guided collective writing approach, that created ‘magic in the room’ last year, also work online? That’s our challenge this time.
Due to Corona, we had little choice, so we decided to run it as an experiment. Also because of Corona, some participants had cancelled. Kids at home, emerging work-demands. But also new participants joined, from the Netherlands, the Middle East and as far as New-Zealand. Very exciting to gather such a diverse group.
The Perspectivity Writeshop is a two-day guided writing process in which we together share, explore, analyse, structure and deepen stories of change in complexity. This year’s theme was on the role of power in system change.
We used the same flow as last year. Including a check-in, exploring and reflecting on the central topic (power), free writing – with a pen on a piece of paper! – and step by step fleshing out the story. A short-cycled method, with lots of sharing in small groups. ‘Beam me up Scotty’, became the running gag, as we sent off subgroups in break-out rooms for yet another exchange or feedback round.
And although it was intense, it worked out. In the final reflection round on Friday afternoon, everybody shared their lessons learned. An impression of what people experienced:
“I have a bad habit; I want to go fast. I learned that it is much better to go slow and reflect.”
“The method gave me a lot of courage. That it is possible to write something in a reasonable amount of time.”
“The power I believe in most is the power daring to be vulnerable. I think we achieved this. Writing is one of the most vulnerable things we do. It was very safe. Impressive. Instead of spoken words, we used written words.”
“Thanks to Corona, doing it online, also has a value. We were at our own homes, desks. Breakouts, connecting from our comfort zones. It is easier for me.”
“You created something really powerful, a story in itself.”
Prologue: The bonfire
Zoom, 1 May 2020 – It’s raining outside. I cuddle up with my coffee on the couch for the virtual bonfire, curiously waiting for the stories to be shared. One by one the Writeshop participants read their story out loud. I am moved. We’re all moved. The stories are very different – in topic, scope, place and style of writing. What they all have in common is that they take us along on a personal journey of the practitioner, with struggles and highlights, to deal with power issues in complex situations. I feel the vulnerability that was mentioned in the reflection round. In the corner of my screen I see the fire lit up in Elien’s fireplace.