Reaching Into the Universe

Notes on a Holacracy strategy meeting

plane landing over simpson bayBay Area Integral's strategy meeting (a type of Holacracy meeting) was great to be part of. Of course I think it went better because I was doing it with other skillful, integral people. Perhaps a better test for Holacracy would be to take it offroading into the wilds of the typical workplace, working with a group of more diverse development levels. Even then, I suspect it would work well.

The meeting started with a check in by roles (everyone in a holacracy fills one or more roles). I'm always impressed with how people in the integral community hold sacred space, moving in and out of it as necessary, quickly, with a minimum of fuss.

The bulk of the meeting followed the standard diamond-shaped creative process: a period of divergent brainstorming followed by a focusing convergence toward our meeting outputs. Every Holacracy meeting has well defined, concrete outputs—in this case, a high level theme for the organization for the year, our core value proposition, and our strategic direction for the year.

The last part of the convergence phase involves a proposal being made based on everything that's been brought up at the meeting which is then run through Holacracy's Integrative Decision-Making™ (trademarked, really?) process. This is a highly structured process that seems to have a lot of power: all views get heard and integrated without having to struggle with consensus, and perfectionism never even makes it into the room—the Holacracy definition of an Objection is "a tangible reason why adopting the proposal is not workable… at least for now". When the proposal can make it through an objection round with no objections it is adopted. At which point there was much rejoicing.

We had just made it through 4.5 hours of strategy meeting, finished early, and smoothly landed a plane that looked, for a while, like it had no engines, mangled landing gear, and only one wing. We were excited by the outputs we had developed, and grateful to, and appreciative of, our circle members for being along for the ride together.


Event: BACE Timebank 1st POSSE Party

Party buttonOMG, someone turned POSSE into an acronym: Potluck Orientation Swapmeet Skillshare Event.

The Bay Area Timebank is hosting an event where you can get oriented to the timebank and what it's all about, meet timebank members and even exchange goods and services, and have a good time.

Who: You, and anyone you want to bring
When: Fri, Jan 21, 2011, 6-9pmish
6:10pm Orientation
6:30pm Potluck, skillshare, swapmeet
7:30pm Party!
Where: Blacklight Ventures, 1543 Mission St. 3rd Floor, San Francisco

This is what they say about it:

Please join the Timebank membership for its first POSSE Party in the SOMA and bring your favorite dish to share or instrument to play. If you are new to the Timebank, show up early to our orientation at 6pm. If you have skills like sewing, bike repair, massage, bread-making, Spanish lessons, or goods like homemade jam, produce, kombucha or textiles, you can earn hours at this event just for showing up and sharing! And do not forget to bring your dancing shoes and friends who might be interested in joining the Timebank! These POSSE Parties will be initiated by Timebank members in other neighborhoods on a regular basis. Contact timebankinfo (at) to host one in your neighborhood. It is your Timebank!

Also, if you want to volunteer, they need help, especially if you are a Ruby on Rails developer. They say:

The next Timebank meeting is on Mon. Jan. 10 at 8pm, Noisebridge 2169 Mission St. 3rd floor SF. For meeting announcements, check the calendar at the bottom of the Timebank home page (logged in view), join the volunteer listserv, or contact mira (at)

Come to a meeting to volunteer! We need your input in the design, outreach, and oversight of the Timebank. We are an unfunded, volunteer-based, community-run Timebank, which means we need YOU! We can definitely use help in doing outreach at events, meetings, and to organizations that serve the community. We also need small donations for making brochures and cards with info. about the Timebank.

The Timebank needs help with it's website development in Ruby on Rails. Please contact us if you have the skills and the time to participate.


Holiday gift: healthcare! from Karma Clinic Network

What better gift than the gift of health? But when was the last time your doctor gave you medical treatment as a gift?

Dr. Aumatma Binal Shah does just that, along with a number of health-related practitioners. I met Aumatma at an Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream Symposium and learned that she was operating a gift-economy health care clinic called Karma Clinic.

What is gift-economy? It's a system where goods and services are given and received as gifts rather than exchanged for other goods and services (as in barter economies) or money (as in market economies). At Karma Clinic, you can receive treatment as a gift, no strings attached. You are welcomed to make a gift to Karma Clinic if you feel moved. The clinic is sustained on these gifts alone.

Since its inception Karma Clinic has expanded into a network, with services ranging from bodywork & yoga to coaching & acupuncture from practitioners located in East Bay, San Francisco, and North Bay. The network model means you can contact any of the practitioners you are interested in directly, rather than having to get a referral from the clinic, and you can see them in various places other than Karma Clinic's Oakland location.

Karma Clinic has also branched out with a Berkeley satellite project. Twice a month Karma Clinic transforms hip eatery Himalayan Flavors into a gift-economy drop in clinic. Not only does this provide more opportunities for clients and patients to see practitioners, it gives practitioners another venue in which to give their services. Many practitioners who aren't in the Karma Clinic network participate in this satellite clinic. To get on the email list to be notified of Karma Clinic dates, send an email

As if all of that wasn't enough to keep a person busy, Aumatma is one of the driving forces bethind Himalayan Flavors' new Ambrosia Juice Bar. With flavors like Pomegrateful and Sweet Date With a Monkey, Aumatma draws on her training as a naturopathic doctor to offer drinks that are both delicious and healthy. But the most unique offerings are the herbal teas. With ingredients ranging from passionflower to astragulus, these look like real medicine, not your average Wild Berry Zinger.

So, eat, drink, and be merry this holiday season... and don't forget to gift yourself with health and good self-care.

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What does green really mean?

"Do I see anyone around me whose work is their joy, whose time is their own, whose love is their passion?"

Passion FlowerThis quote from Ascent of Humanity has stuck with me. It would seem to point to a need to go beyond questions of sustainability—after all, many people sustain their dreary work lives for decades or a lifetime—but I think it points to the need to get really clear on just what we mean when we say sustainability.

If green means spiritually fulfilling, physically healthy, economically & socially just, and environmentally sustainable, then don't issues of joy, autonomy, and passion find a place in there somewhere? Because that's the only kind of green I'm interested in.

Here is the full context of the quote:

As for my intuition of magnificent possibilities for my own life, well, my expectations are too high. Grow up, the voices say, life is just like this. What right have I to expect the unreasonable magnificence whose possibility certain moments have shown me? No, it is my intuitions that are not to be trusted. The examples of what life is surround me and define what is normal. Do I see anyone around me whose work is their joy, whose time is their own, whose love is their passion? It can't happen. Be thankful, say the voices, that my job is reasonably stimulating, that I feel "in love" at least once in a while, that the pain is manageable and life's uncertainties under control. Let good enough be good enough. Sure, life can be a drag, but at least I can afford to escape it sometimes. Life is about work, self-discipline, responsibility, but if I get these out of the way quickly and efficiently, I can enjoy vacations, entertainment, weekends, maybe even early retirement. Listening to these voices, is it any wonder that for many years, I devoted most of my energy and vitality to the escapes from life? Is it any wonder that so many of my students at Penn State look forward already, at age 21, to retirement?

Ahh, a man after my own heart.

We can't achieve the desired exterior transformations of sustainability—environmental care, physical health—without also transforming their corresponding interiors: the cultural injustices engaged in by, and bankrupt beliefs held in the hearts and minds of, every single one of us.

Everything has to change: the it, the we, and the me, the you. We cannot effectively call for change in the world "out there" without also changing ourselves and how we relate to one another. It doesn't work, which is a lesson my grandma taught me by never learning it herself.


Let’s get naked

StreakersPerhaps the most glaring piece of ignorance in Lauren Smiley's article Overexposed comes from Smiley herself when she claims that the gay men of the 70s & 80s Castro have by now “grown up, settled down, and had babies.” Actually, Ms. Smiley, most of them died of AIDS.

Eclipsing Ms. Smiley’s offensiveness and insensitivity is her apparent lack of understanding that AIDS was a major factor in how things got to be the way they are today. As a friend of mine, Woody, points out in the online comments on the article, “Without my gay brothers dying, many apartments would not have been available for conversion to TICs or Condos and more men might have been able to fight those forces which evicted them.” This damage was exacerbated by the homophobic politics under Reagan.

Smiley treats the current state of the gayborhood as a given, disconnected from that history—a history of gay struggle in the face of those who would suppress that which is different. Perhaps it is that history, not gay sexuality, that makes the Castro attractive to others who are different.

Perhaps the mostly straight naked men come to the Castro not because they expect that we will enjoy looking at them but because they expect us to know something about the importance of being allowed the freedom of living your life when you’re not harming anyone else even when other people don’t understand or like it. That’s what this issue comes down to: some people just don’t like it. That’s not good enough. If it were, Crocs would be illegal in the Castro by now.

What about the kids? I have as much patience for people who think naked bodies harm children as I do for people who think gay marriage should be illegal because God said it’s a sin. Flawed beliefs backed by emotional irrationality are not a basis for good public policy, no matter how much you want them to be.

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Join the Bay Area Time Bank

I've started experimenting with this Time Bank initiative from Bay Area Community Exchange, It seems like the closest thing I've seen to an answer to a question I've had: What would happen if we kept doing what we were doing but stopped using money?

It's part social-networking site, part alternative economy. You sign up, fill out a profile, offer your services and accept others' offers... not in return, but freely. The system keeps track of how many hours you've given and received, so gross imbalances get policed by the community through transparency.

It could stand to broaden its appeal a bit, but that's where you come in. Just because you're not necessarily into "urban homesteading" and other arcane sections of the Time Bank doesn't mean you couldn't benefit from it or others couldn't benefit from things you have to offer. It would be good to expand its appeal by getting more diversity there.

I'm experimenting with offering a Mindful Touch class payable via Time Bank. Other people are offering everything from eggs from their backyard chickens (all the rage currently) to basic tech support. Looks like there's room for some builders, lawyers, and drivers. Got a car you can give rides with? It's that simple.

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