Monday, December 31, 2012

Creating a place and space for authentic dialogue and transformational conversation

To be in a place of equal voicing, where all present are on an equal playing field is not the everyday real life situation! I have been honoured to design, develop, and deliver by way of facilitating experiences of conversation and dialogue over the last 3 years of my consulting, and community change, and transformation work. As I reflect on my journey upon returning from the states where I studied and worked at Bethel University from 2004 to 2009, even in the states I was afforded the blessing to operate projects and programs that ultimately encouraged, and set the tone for conversation, dialogue, and people coming together. During my work at Bethel University my flagship project was project "Heita South Africa", which primarily focussed on providing participants the opportunity to engage in experiential learning through conversation and dialogue that would enrich learning in reconciliation, diversity, justice and inclusivity. In August 2009, having returned to South Africa I was honoured to consult and deliver work for streetfootballworld, and the Football for Hope movement of FIFA. Here my role was operational, but still anchored to engaging people in conversation and dialogue to mobilize our Football for Hope movement 2010. In October of 2010, I was honoured to serve the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation in designing, developing and delivering the youth focussed non racialism dialogues, and the inaugural youth festival of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation 2011. My work involved project management and project execution to ensure that we brought together a diverse grouping of youth and community leaders in 3 series of dialogues to further explore the learning and understanding on non racialism. In July 2011, I was contracted by the Salvation Army South Africa to deliver their focussed engagement as an organization and a Church on Reconciliation. I was honoured to design, and develop the content, experiential learning, and delivered with a team of 9 other skilled and motivated facilitators a worthy crucial, critical, and courageous conversation. People shared deeply in an open forum of their personal and organizational struggles, and even if nothing changed dramatically, several participants described the relief they experienced by merely having their voice heard. In September 2011, I was contracted to Young&Able to consult for the Gordon Institute of Business Science and the centre for Leadership and Dialogue. Here I served as the project lead on project Qiniso (truth) dialogues. Our focus to bring together a cross sector of leaders, and so called mover and shakers to consider the critical questions we should be asking as South Africans as it relates to our democracy and our future. We delivered 5 series of dialogues that inspired people through experiential learning, conversation and engagement of the other. In November 2011, I was contracted again to Young&Able as a transformation and diversity connoisseur on a contract for Transnet Freight Rail, on a campaign to bring about an experiential learning conversation to aid employees across South Africa in the area of conflict engagement. Participants shared personal and professional hurts and trials, and there were those who described the conversation as a saving grace. In March 2012, I was honoured to facilitate the Heartlines Comes to Town community dialogues for the community of Veesplaas in the Eastern Cape. Our key focus to develop a social compact as participants from different sectors of the community to engage in conversation, dialogue and experiential learning that would spark the flame for social innovation and community change. Also In March 2012, I was honoured to lead facilitate the Columba 1400 SA leadership academy, that was customized to have adult learners from the corporate space, together with teachers and students from the high school space, work through a week long journey of value based conversation to explore leadership and living life to our full potential. In June 2012, I began a conversation with the Hervormde Kerk Brackenhurst Congregation “Seester Gemeente”, our conversations turned into a 2 series conversation for their leadership team, a broader group of small group leaders, as well as a transformational preaching series, where I coached and critically analyzed the minister’s message of a 6 series of messages, designed to address 40 days in the word. It was an honour to look into Rick Warren’s series that was contextualized for an Afrikaner Christian community by Rev. Gys Els, and to bring along a theology of reconciliation and transformation that would encourage, inspire and challenge the community. In September 2012, I was afforded the opportunity to deliver a pro bono consult for the Johannesburg Roads Agency, hosted by MMC Rehana Moosajee. This conversation was focussed on change and transformation. Our conversation was enriched by the participation of a diverse grouping of community leaders, staff and leadership of the JRA. I was honoured to show case my offering, and consulting services, but more especially I was motivated by the deep conversation and the desire people have to be in a place and space that allows for critical learning, and learning that encourages and mobilises positive change and transformation. Also in September 2012, I was honoured to serve on the Heartlines team of designers, and facilitators for the inter faith dialogue that was ultimately hosted by Brand South Africa. This dialogue engagement was focussed on building relationships and allowing for people from different faith traditions to come together to consider the possibilities of partnering in light of addressing the social issues within our current democracy. My focus the social issues of racism, xenophobia, and the need for continued reonciliation conversation and activism! As I look back and take a moment to reflect on the last 3 years being back home in South Africa, it has been an honour to be of service in a great diversity of systems, organizations, communities, and people of a rich diversity of culture, language, religion, nationality, age, ethnicity/race, gender, class, and physical abilities. It is my hope to “Get up in faith, community, and purpose, as I pursue the New Year. "2013", I declare will be a year of a greater sense of belief, belonging, and becoming for myself, our family, our community, and the people I am honoured to engage with in authentic dialogue and transformational conversation!

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