Love Society – Part 1 – Prof Bev Skeggs
Here in Morecambe Bay, a very eclectic group of us are having some conversations about how we might reimagine life together based on love and kindness towards people and the planet. In April, we were together around the theme ‘Love People’ and in May, this became ‘Love Society’.
To help us and catalyse us to really think about the issues involved, we welcomed Professor Bev Skeggs (Class, Self, Culture) and Hilary Cottam (Radical Help). This blog focuses on Bev and the learning she brought. There will be more on Hilary in future posts….
Bev is quite frankly amazing and is described by many in her field as the leading sociologist in the UK! She has been, until recently, Professor of Sociology at The London School of Economics, where she ran the Atlantic Fellowship Programme with the equally formidable Dr Kate Raworth (Doughnut Economics) and Dr Jason Hickel (The Divide). We are extremely happy that she has now joined the faculty at Lancaster University, thanks to the canny leadership of Prof Imogen Tyler. She opened our time together with an incredible tour through society, what it is, how it functions, how power relationships are held in place, how our judgements affect our relationships and how we create value and values! It is honestly the most helpful, eye-opening and challenging piece of teaching on society that I have ever heard. So, get yourself a cup of tea, sit back and watch this (credit to Andrew Towers and Purple Videos!) – then watch it again and let your thinking be undone and remade by this remarkable woman!
Love Society – Part 2 – Triads, Weaving a Web and Panel
Bev Skeggs gave us so much to think and talk about with each other. If you haven’t had a chance to watch her amazing talk yet, then please do so! You can find it in Part 1 of this blog series. She left us with a question – “How can we build value with those who are devalued?”
One of my favourite ways to explore big questions like this (and there are many methods we use through our ‘art of hosting’ training) is Triads. Triads is a simple and effective way of helping people have really meaningful conversations whilst being deeply listened to. It’s a very powerful experience. It involves breaking into groups of three (obviously). One person is the ‘speaker’, one person is the ‘listener’ and the other is the ‘witness’. The listener asks the speaker the question that everyone is exploring. The speaker then has 10-15 minutes (depending on time constraints) to answer the question in whatever way they want to. The listener listens deeply, might ask some more questions, or encourage the speaker to unpack what they’ve said a bit more. They stay curious, trying to draw out the wisdom of the speaker, but not slipping into the role of ‘speaker’ themselves. At the end of the time, the listener reflects back what they have heard. The witness holds the whole process and watches over the time and might offer some reflections of the process or things that have gone unspoken or unheard. Then everyone swaps round into different roles, so that by the end of 40-45 minutes, everyone has had a turn in each role.
When everyone was back in the room together and after a good coffee break, we asked the triads to reflect on the following question (moving from singular to combined wisdom – from ‘me’ to ‘we’), having heard from each person in turn: “What have we discovered that builds value?”
Each triad (or pair of triads) was then asked to come up with one sentence that captured their corporate wisdom. Here are the sentences that were spoken into the room – they are worthy of much reflection. I love how much synergy can come from a diverse group of people!
What have we discovered that builds value?
Jon Dorsett and Lou Andrews, part of our team and outstanding graphic harvesters (if you ever need any help!) turned this wisdom into a spider’s web of learning. This is a kind of framework for a renewed society, maybe! However, none of this is straightforward and my friend Roger Mitchell has also done some really helpful reflections of his own, in his excellent blog.
If we want to build a society based on love and kindness, we have to examine the value we place on people and the environment and the values which shape our society currently. That guy Jesus, once said, “What you value (treasure) is where your heart will be also….”
To finish the morning we had a reflective panel discussion – it was packed full of wisdom – enjoy!
Love Society – Part 3 – Hilary Cottam
We had the privilege of welcoming the ever wonderful Hilary Cottam to Morecambe Bay for our ‘Love Society’ event. If you have not read her book ‘Radical Help – How We Remake the Relationships Between us and Revolutionise the Welfare State’, then I would massively recommend that you do so. But as a little teaser, grab a cuppa, sit back, and enjoy this masterclass in the practicalities of how we build a loving society that works for us all. It is such common-sense but takes bravery and creative leadership to experiment in new ways.