Wie schaffen Mythen Realitäten?

Heute feiern wir die Gründung der Schweizerischen Eidgenossenschaft! Wir alle kennen die sagenumwobene Geschichte des Rütlischwurs, wo die Uhrkantone ein Bündnis schlossen und somit den Grundungsakt der Eidgenossenschaft festlegten. Gründungsmythen haben eine starke kulturelle und verbindende Relevanz, die nicht unterschätzt werden darf. Zum heutigen Nationalfeiertag stellen wir uns zwei Fragen: Wie schaffen Mythen Realitäten und wie sieht die Schweiz aus in der wir leben wollen?

"Mythen sind unabdingbar. Eine Nation, eine Gemeinschaft erzeugt Mythen und Traditionen, um zu existieren und zu überleben. Diese Erzählung legitimiert Aktionen und ermöglicht es, Ereignissen einen Sinn zu geben. Das gilt für die Schweiz genau so wie für alle Gesellschaften weltweit."

Prof. François Walter, Universität Genf

Der Gründungsmythos der Schweiz

Viele kennen sie, die Geschichte der drei Eidgenossen der Stände Uri (Walter Fürst), Schwyz (Werner Stauffacher) und Unterwalden (Arnold von Melchtal), welche sich auf der stillen Rütliwiese am Vierwaldstättersee trafen, um sich den ewigen Bund und Beistand zu schwören.

Die Historiographie der alten Eidgenossenschaft war zunächst geprägt von der volkstümlichen Form des Gründungsmythos mit Elementen wie dem Rütlischwur oder der Tellsage, wie er erstmals im Weissen Buch von Sarnen (1470er Jahre) fassbar ist und durch verschiedene Chronisten wie vor allem auch Friedrich Schillers Willhelm Tell stilisiert und popularisiert wurde. Die Mythen der Eidgenossenschaft gerieten bereits 1760 ins Zwielicht durch die Publikation des lange vergessenen lateinischen Bundesbriefes von 1291 und die Entdeckung der nordischen Wurzeln der Tellsage.

 Der Schwur auf dem Rütli von Jean Renggli dem Älteren: Der Rütlischwur, 1891 Luzern, Stadt Luzern

Der Schwur auf dem Rütli von Jean Renggli dem Älteren: Der Rütlischwur, 1891 Luzern, Stadt Luzern

“Mythology is not a lie, mythology is poetry, it is metaphorical. It has been well said that mythology is the penultimate truth -- penultimate because the ultimate cannot be put into words. It is beyond words. Beyond images, beyond that bounding rim of the Buddhist Wheel of Becoming. Mythology pitches the mind beyond that rim, to what can be known but not told.”

― Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

Wie schaffte der Gründungsmythos Realitäten?

Mythen sind mehr als Erzählungen, denn sie stiften politische Bedeutung. Sie strukturieren die Vergangenheit und haben Einfluss auf die Gegenwart und gestalten so die Zukunft mit.

Das lässt sich auch in der Geschichte der Schweiz erkennen:

  • Der Gründungsmythos der Schweiz unterstützte zu Zeiten der alten Eidgenossenschaft (bis 1798) die Solidarität innerhalb der Bündnisse gegen aussen.
  • Während der moderne Nationalstaat gebildet wurde, trug der Gründungsmythos zur Bildung einer nationalen Identität bei: Die Schweiz als “Willensnation”, welche weder durch die Sprache, noch wegen der Religion eine homogene Gemeinschaft bildet. Stattdessen wurde eben diese Heterogenität, die ihren Ausdruck in der Mehrsprachigkeit oder dem föderalistischen System findet, zu einem wichtigen Aspekt der “nationalen Kultur”.  
  • Während den Weltkriegen wurde der Gründungsmythos auch für die Aufrechterhaltung der Neutralität verwendet: Mit den Alpen als Schauplatz der eigenen Gründungsgeschichte, als Metapher der Freiheit und Unabhängigkeit.

Fragen zum Gedankenanstoss:

  1. Brauchen wir heute einen neuen Mythos, um unsere Vision einer zukünftigen Schweiz zu unterstützen? Wenn ja, wie stellst du dir diesen vor?

  2. Weshalb machst du was du heute machst? Wie ist es dazu gekommen?

  3. Wie sieht die Schweiz aus, in der du Leben möchtest?
     

“We need myths that will identify the individual not with his local group but with the planet.”

― Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth


Ein kurzer Geschichtsüberblick für Interessierte:

  • 1291 | Alte Eidgenossenschaft BÜNDNISPARTNERSCHAFTEN
    Wechselnde Bündnisse zwischen Städten und Landschaften bezwecken die Sicherung der politischen Ordnung gegen innen und der Unabhängigkeit gegen aussen. 1291 schliessen Uri, Schwyz und Unterwalden das erste dokumentierte Bündnis ab. Der Begriff «Eitgenoze» taucht 1315 auf. Im Lauf der Jahrhunderte wächst die Eidgenossenschaft durch weitere Bündnisse und durch Gebietseroberungen.
  • 1798 –1802 | Helvetik EINHEITSSTAAT UNTER FREMDER HERRSCHAFT
    Nach dem Einmarsch französischer Truppen wird die Eidgenossenschaft zur Helvetischen Republik umgestaltet: zu einem Einheitsstaat unter pariser Kontrolle.
  • 1803 –1814 | Mediation GELOCKERTE FREMDHERRSCHAFT
    Nach Bürgerkriegen zwischen Föderalisten und Anhängern der Helvetischen Republik gibt Napoleon der Schweiz eine Mediationsverfassung. Sie gibt den Kantonen eine gewisse Eigenständigkeit zurück und legt die meisten Kantonsgrenzen fest.
  • 1815 | Bundesvertrag NEUTRALITÄT UND STAATENBUND
    Nach dem Sturz Napoleons anerkennen die europäischen Grossmächte die Neutralität der Schweiz, und die heute gültigen Landesgrenzen werden fixiert. Der Bundesvertrag von 1815 fasst die verschiedenen eidgenössischen Bündnisse zu einem einzigen Staatenbund zusammen. Dieser ist für die Sicherheitspolitik zuständig.
  • 1847–1848 | Sonderbundskrieg LIBERALE GEGEN KONSERVATIVE
    Bei der Frage nach der Ausgestaltung des Bundes kommt es schlussendlich zu einem Bürgerkrieg zwischen liberalen und katholischkonservativen Kantonen. Der Sonderbundskrieg endet mit dem Sieg der liberalen Kräfte.
  • 1848 | Bundesverfassung DEMOKRATISCHER BUNDESSTAAT
    Die Bundesverfassung gewährt den meisten Bürgern – Männern – verschiedene Rechte und Freiheiten, u. a. das Stimm- und Wahlrecht (Frauenstimmrecht erst ab 1971). Auf Bundesebene wird nach amerikanischem Vorbild das Zweikammersystem eingeführt, mit einem National- und einem Ständerat, die den Bundesrat wählen. Einige Bereiche werden zentralisiert. Die Schweiz entwickelt sich zum einheitlichen Rechts- und Wirtschaftsraum.       

 

Wie sieht die Schweiz aus, in welcher du leben willst? 

Im Rahmen des ersten Collaboratio Festivals vom 18. Juni 2018 haben wir unterschiedlichen Menschen in der Schweiz diese Frage gestellt. Wie sieht deine Vision einer zukünftigen Schweiz aus? Teile sie mit uns unter dem Hashtag #visionCH!

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Quellen

https://www.swissinfo.ch/ger/kultur/fuenfte-schweiz_schweizer-clubs-haengen-am-gruendungsmythos-der-eidgenossenschaft/42354122
http://www.hls-dhs-dss.ch/textes/d/D26413.php?topdf=1
https://www.ekm.admin.ch/ekm/de/home/identitaet---zusammenhalt/identitaet/ident_natstaaten.html
Lichtmann, Tamàs (2010): Die Schweiz als Erzählung: Nationale und narrative identitätskonstruktionen in Max Frischs Stiller, Wilhelm Tell für die Schule und Dienstbüchlein. Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main.
Im Hof, Ulrich (1990): Nationale Identität der Schweiz: Konstanten im Wandel. In: Schweizer Monatshefte : Zeitschrift für Politik, Wirtschaft, Kultur. (70).
Quelle: https://www.bk.admin.ch/bk/de/home/dokumentation/der-bund-kurz-erklaert.html

Butterfly Check-In (method)

What is this method?

This method is a simple, fun and powerful way to break the ice, make people move and mingle, set the frame and check-in with each other.

HOW DOES THE PROCESS LOOK LIKE?

This method is useful for purposes of inclusion:

  • Helps break the ice
  • Creates a fun/light and warm atmosphere
  • Helps people get to know each other in a quick way
  • Can also help people “include” the topic
  • Encourage people to move around which creates a different energy in the room

Forming the Questions

This is an art in itself and below you will find a guideline on the art of powerful questions. In general there are no limits to your own creativity. Here are some elements you might want to consider:

Start it light and simple

  • How are you?
  • What is the most present feeling and/or thought right now?
  • What is the most personal question you dare to ask today?
  • What would be the most beautiful thing that can happen today?
  • What have you learned about the topic so far?

To facilitate relationships

  • Why do you really care about being here?
  • What excites you about the people that are here?
  • What is the potential of this group?
  • Why is it better to be here than on holiday?

Expand on question one or go deeper

  • What surprised you about [the topic, the previous question, …] so far?
  • What is needed for [goal] to happen?

Help people build a safe space themselves

  • What is important for you to have a powerful conversation [on the topic] today?
  • What is important when talking about [the topic]?
  • What is a safe space for you?

Break the Ice // Name what needs to be named:

  • What is the elephant in the room when talking about [topic]
  • What role does [money/power/comfort/courage/…] play in this?
  • What are we not talking about that we should be talking about?

For sense-making these generic ‘flow’ questions can help:

  • What are we learning?
  • Why does it matter to us right now?
  • What do we want to do about it?

Choice of Music

This is much more important than you might think. For example, In a Workshop on Gender Equality we once played the songs “It’s a Man’s World”, “(You make me feel like) A Natural Woman” and “It’s Raining Men”. The effect was very powerful as it really broke the ice and people got much more relaxed to talk about the sensitive topic.

Tips:

  • classics from when people were young
  • ridiculous music can be appropriate (e.g. ‘It’s a Barbie World’)
  • Sing-alongs
  • Avoid the build up, go straight to the chorus

Process

  1. 2min Intro: “We will do now a butterfly check-in. So please stand up & put the chairs aside. Now, as long as the music is playing just walk (or dance) around the space and mingle. When the music stops find the person next to you. I will then show you a Question that you’ll have around 3minutes between you to discuss your answer to it. When the music starts playing again say good-bye and thank you and mingle again. We will repeat this process XX times! Enjoy!”
    - If the purpose is for people to get to know each other you might want to add something like “You’re invited to share a bit more than you usually would, but only to the extent you still feel comfortable with it”

  2. 90 sec. Play music - then instead of pressing pause just fade it out with the volume (this helps people finding their partner)
    - Facilitate if needed “find your partner” or “there should be only 1 group of 3” (if the group is uneven and there are 2 or more facilitators, it helps if one of you joins in so that you are an even number)

  3. 2-4 min Ask Question 1
    - It helps to also have the question on several flipcharts in the room or on a powerpoint where everyone can read it
    - Be attentive to the energy in the room and adapt accordingly

  4. 90 sec. Fade the next song in
    - You can do it quickly or slowly, to give people a chance to finish their sentence.
    -> Tip: If people don’t stop you can make the music rather loud and say (shout) “mingle again” ;)

  5. 2-4 min Ask Question 2

  6. 90 sec. Fade next song in

Repeat this process according to the number of questions you want to ask.

7. 1min Closing
- “Thank you! This was now the last question. Let’s find now a seat and transition into …”
-> Alternatively, if you are interested and there is value topic wise to hear some voices, you might want to do so while people are standing or when they are back in the semi circle (can be a very smooth transition into the next session if fitting).

TOOLS, MATERIALS, TIME, ROLES

  • Time: 12min to 25min
  • Materials: Music. a “Dancefloor” (enough space), Flipchart/Powerpoint with, if needed a microphone the questions
  • From 6 people to infinity

First Cross-Women-Communities gathering hosted by WeSpace and Collaboratio Helvetica

On June 12, WeSpace invited representatives of women communities in Zurich to the first cross-women-communities event. WeSpace aimed to provide a physical space for the teams to meet, interact and share. However, we understood the need of professional expertise to be able to meet this goal, therefore, Collaboratio Helvetica was the obvious co-host. WeSpace aims to act as the home-base for women communities where interactions and collaborations can continue in the future.

 Women at the Cross-Women-Communities gathering

Women at the Cross-Women-Communities gathering

WeSpace is not only a co-working physical space for women, is also an interdisciplinary, cross-sector community. We see the need of a co-working and community space designed by women where our members feel comfortable in a shared space, where we can offer services tailored to women and where they can meet and co-create. Together we imagine a working world where feminine values and sensibilities are an asset rather than a liability.

 

We also believe in a community shaped by its members. This is why we designed WeSpace with a pilot phase prior to the opening of the permanent space. The pilot ran from April to June 2018 and aimed to gather feedback to iterate the concept. During this period, WeSpace was designed and shaped by its founding members (members during the pilot become WeSpace founding members).

Our mission is to provide a physical space for individuals, pre-existing communities and newly shaped initiatives, to facilitate the leadership journey of more women across a variety of sectors within corporations, institutions, and entrepreneurial ventures. We aim to provide an dynamic space to work, socialize and network as well as a community that empowers women.

For our End of Pilot event we wanted to give back to the women communities and representatives that had been supporting us during the pilot phase. Therefore, we designed the first cross-women-communities event, where representatives can meet each other, communicate and start collaborations. To be able to meet this goal, we approach Nora from Collaboratio Helvetica to help us create the most suitable framework for ecosystem awareness.

The event was a great success. We gather 12 different communities and 25 representatives. The session started with a great icebreaker game followed by a fruitful and inspiring introduction by Nora. The workshops afterwards enable iterations and sharing session between our guests. By the end, representatives benefited from a sharing experience and the kick-off of a long-lasting collaboration. The second cross-women-communities event will happen on 15th of August at WeSpace permanent space. the We are open to more and more women communities that want to be part of this big family. The bigger the better :) .

WeSpace will open the doors of the permanent space in September 2018. Stay tuned for latest news: www.wespace.ch

A part form women communities, can I be part of the WeSpace community?

Of course! We want to encourage women from all sectors and backgrounds who are willing to engage with the community bringing their energy and ready to co-work. Women who want flexible working environments, whether or not they have full-time desk or just want to be surrounded and inspired by other women who are willing to disrupt the existing system.

We want to gather not only women that need a space to work but also those who want to connect with women from different disciplines and sectors. Therefore, we offer two types of membership: the community membership and the co-working membership.

Further links:

www.wespace.ch

CNNMoney Switzerland LinkedIn


The author

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Estefania Tapias is the Founder and CEO of WeSpace, a co-working and community space for women. Estefania is also a researcher and project coordinator at ETH Zurich, focused on Future Cities. Estefania is an honoree of the Forbes 30 under 30 Europe list of 2018, WEF Global Shaper, Founding President of the European Institute of Innovation and technology (EIT) Alumni, Former President of the Climate-KIC Alumni Association and speaker. Estefania has been invited as speaker in different international events such as the World Web Forum, the Sustainable Innovation Forum, and the European Forum of Young Innovators – EURODOC. Estefania is committed to build up initiatives and communities that support and shape the sustainable future of societies and cities.

Epic formula to change the world

At collaboratio helvetica, one of our key methods and principles is dialogue. By ‘dialogue’ we mean the kinds of conversations that change something in us when we take part in them, and that shift something between the people who are involved in the conversation. We mean dialogues where we need  to “risk” being authentic and to co-create a space where others can do the same. We mean dialogues about challenging our habits of thought and conversation: listening with attention, speaking with intention and daring to turn the camera around to face ourselves and the roles we might have within the systems we are trying to change. 

 A group of people at a dialogue evening. 

A group of people at a dialogue evening. 

What do we see is happening

We live in a fast paced world, and as our challenges grow more global and complicated, the need to find solutions increases rapidly. Luckily we are the generations who has all  the solutions we need to change any of the current situations we face.

However we are also in an era in which systemic issues often lie at the root of those critical challenges, where the problems become counter-intuitive and in which cause-and-effect relationships are not immediately applicable nor apparent. In many cases the problems are actually paradoxes and when our focus is to solve those (perceived problems) as fast as possible, we might actually repeat or deteriorate the issue even further (Just think of President Trump's latest proposal to solve the danger of school shootings by giving the teachers the right to wear guns). Therefore a different way, a more multifaceted way, to tackle current societal challenges is needed, and such approach has been recited to us before. By people such as Albert Einstein, who said: “The problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that created them.”

We are the first problem

The problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that created them. This means that we have to shift the level from where we think and deal with things. Our very own thinking is therefore the first problem. Especially as we often are not aware of where our thinking (individually and collectively) is coming from, and how our operating belief system reproduces mechanisms that makes problems continue or deteriorate.

The metaphor of the chained elephant might help us to further comprehend this antithesis. Have you ever been to the circus and seen an elephant? If you go you might see an elephant being tied to a particular pole that allows the elephant a certain range to move and with nothing else than a leash or a thin chain to hold it set on its spot. How come that the elephant does not just use its power to break the thin chain? The reason for that is that when the elephant was little and it is for the first time tied to its pole it learned that it does not have the power to go anywhere. This belief imprints itself into the animal, and so even when it has become a full grown, equipped and strong elephant it is held back by the same belief and concept that it has been used and been reminded of since childhood. The elephant is shackled by its training not by its chain.

The metaphor reminds us of what it means to become enslaved by chains we have the power to break. Even us humans are sacked not by our chains but by our training and habitual way of dealing with problems. We are so used to entering spaces with the clear focus set on the outcome, on finding the solution to our problem, on delegating responsibility for our problems. It creates in us a lot of anxiety not to have a clear plan to achieve an expected outcome, and we like to operate from the idea that the reason for coming together is to find, plan and implement the right actions as fast as possible. But how can you expect a certain outcome based on a set of assumptions and still claim to be open to challenging those assumptions, which came up with the problem in the first place? And is It possible to act out of necessity to reach a fast solution without blurring the ability to slow down and to listen deeply?

What is needed?

My answer to those two questions would be no. What I see is needed is a notion that any sustainable development and SDG (sustainable development goals) related work and efforts requires 2 kinds of spaces to prevail with their purposes. One kind of space is the space for negotiation, discussion and debate. Settings that allows for analysing results, converging strategies and effective decision making. The other kind of space is the space for dialogue. In a dialogue we can experience how letting go of our habits of truth (assumptions about what the problem is in the first place) and our personal agendas, helps the nameless tacit possibilities, the powerful connections and the deeper listening to manifest. This is why dialogue spaces are key to decompose old operating systems. The moment when there is a genuine interest and deeper understanding for the other’s perspective and story, is the moment when radical meaning creation and experimentation can shape a different, deeper and new collective solution. We have traditionally been putting a lot of attention on the results and the content of our organisations. Dialogue suggests that the process, the way we engage with each other, matters too. This blog wants to explore this suggestion.

Working with dialogue

Dialogue is part of the vision at collaboratio helvetica. Over the last year,  we have been hosting open spaces for dialogue between versatile groups of people in CH on different relevant societal issues or topics around the Sustainable Development Goals(SDG´s).

The way we have seen dialogue work is that it helps participants to engage with difficult topics, seeing their own part within the bigger system, but without leading them to feeling overwhelmed by apathetic or paralysation.

We have seen and experienced how a person enters into a dialogue about gender equality, with a clear opinion at hand, with some un-comprehensions towards parts of the “system”, and some wish to find solutions to her frustrations. And we have seen the person leaving that space again with new questions such as “If I  don’t want to move beyond the box that I like, how can I expect people to break the boxes I don’t like?”, and with the intention of working more on her own self-harmony.

We have seen and experienced a person entering a dialogue space about sustainable consumption, with an agitation towards current society, a lack of hope, and some wish to find solutions to his frustrations. Leaving that space again with a notion that sustainable consumption might be driven forward as much by someone placing an adversarial commend, than from someone throwing a metal can in nature. His next intention being to stop focusing on the sustainable consumption of the world, and start focusing on the quality of human connection in the world.

Something happened to both these individuals that they could not have encountered before entering the space, and which gave them a new level of thinking from where to approach the issue.

All that we don’t yet know

And with these approaches driven forth by a dialogue vision I, and we at collaboratio helvetica, are still carrying a beginners mind where we wish to learn and grow together around the topic of dialogue with other people who are curious and who also ask themselves the question “How to hold the space for such transformation?”

And as we hold this question, which we know is key to prevailing with our vision, others follow:

What is the right speed? How fast or slow can things move? (do we just ought to jump into the cold water from one moment to the other? or is more patience needed? (like the diver who has been deep underwater for a long time, and getting up is a meticulous process, little by little, to adapt to a new kind of pressure?)

If asking penetrating questions is what shifts thinking radically and what we wish versatile groups of people to experience, then how do we even get the right people interested? How do we get the right people into the room? How do we create curiosity if others don't understand the value before they experience it?

How do we reclaim our ability to hold and explore questions more than answers? We get educated not in asking questions but in answering questions, and the question is how do we ever shift this agenda, when the urgent “answers first” agenda is subversive for establishing an “questions first” agenda. Why is it so challenging and triggering for us when we lack the meaning or the trajectory? And is there a point and a quality when we admit that we feel incoherent, meaningless, clueless?

What might happen if such questions were brought into an open, authentic and versatile space to be explored through dialogue?

To you want to experience dialogue? Visit one of our up-coming dialogue evenings.

 

The author:

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Sidsel Andersen is from Denmark and has been connected to Switzerland every since she entered the kaospilot education. She is an experienced process leader and facilitator, and in collaboratio helvetica she works with the Dialogue Evenings and the methodology, practice and community for dialogue. 

Portraits of the mind - Why you should join the next Gender Lab

The Gender Lab as an experiential tool for self-reflection, intellectual empowerment, and collective action.

 Harvesting from the last Gender Lab retreat: "what are we learning?" (by Sketchy Solutions/ Filippo Buzzini)

Harvesting from the last Gender Lab retreat: "what are we learning?" (by Sketchy Solutions/ Filippo Buzzini)

Eleven years ago, I made a conscious decision to wear my permanent Gender glasses.

Despite pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies, Rhetoric and Public Discourse at the time, when my influential university professor, Shira Tarrant, introduced me to the field of gender justice, my entire worldview drastically changed.

I suddenly found new avenues for intellectual development through the fascinating lenses of feminist theory. It was then when I decided to shift my professional journey to fit my career as a Gender Policy Analyst. My work allowed me to look at Gender from a global perspective in Colombia, the United States, Asia Pacific and most recently, western Europe.

Throughout all contexts and levels of policy and ethnographic/fieldwork in which I engaged, a consistent set of patterns emerged:

Gender is an emotional topic;
Gender is controversial;
Gender is context-bound;
And Gender is genuinely complex and subjective

Two years before joining the Gender Lab, I experienced, what our brilliant Gender Lab Colleague, Lisa Domenghino, calls, ‘a Gender burnout.’ I felt that I had no motivation left (at the time) to continue working on the Gender Field. I was tired of the monolithic discourse that prevails in the weary world of gender justice.

Even though, as an idealist and positivist, I celebrated every progressive milestone, I encountered a lot of negativity and backlash in my day to day work.  

After the burnout, I left the field and dedicated many extracurricular hours to decoding the art of navigating difficult conversations. I started asking, why is there so much discomfort around the topic?

The more I immersed myself into the world of social change through my current work in migration and entrepreneurship, the more polarised opinions I encountered.  Therefore, as I started to do personal market research on innovative spaces and organisations which are revolutionising the world of diversity, I was referred to collaboratio helvetica's Gender Lab by several friends and colleagues.

As soon as I knew that Nicole, Nora and Osi were leading the Lab, I knew that this was the opportunity to re-enter the world of Gender through a safe space.

I was told that I was the first applicant! My heart was excited about it, and my belly was on fire. I wanted to be part of the Lab no matter what. I was selected to be part of the first cohort of Gender Lab Explorers, and I felt genuinely privileged.

The Gender Lab has been one of the most transformative experiences I’ve had. As we navigate life, specific experiences intersect your mind, body and soul profoundly. For me, this is what the Gender Lab embodied.

Not only did I meet brilliant peers from the same field, but I could also share and relate to the experiences and frustrations of others through the powerful tools from the Theory U.

Each Explorer of the Gender Lab from collaboratio helvetica represents the collective wisdom of extraordinary individuals who are out there, challenging the status quo on a daily basis. We are a unison of voices from diverse corners of Switzerland who are committed to transforming our current (outdated) landscape of Gender policies and practices into the gender-ideal country we would like to live in.

In moments of despair outside of the Lab, I think, what would my fellow G-Labers do? - My answer always guides me towards a sensation of kindness, inclusiveness, and proactivity. When outsiders ask us to describe our experience at the Gender Lab, we fall short on words. Words cannot possibly capture the magic we’ve built and the enduring relationships we've forged.

One of the most significant learnings from the Lab was to understand how to incorporate Gender back into the work I do while simultaneously interlacing the impactful work of the rest of the G-Labers. Apart from the deep introspective journey I went through to evaluate my own sets of judgements and assumptions, I incorporated the learnings from the Lab into the following aspects initiatives:

A. Intersectionality at work: Through an intersectional approach, meaning, through understanding how different segments of salient identity dictate the number of opportunities that an individual may have, we would like to incorporate Gender as a tertiary pillar of operations.

  1. At one of the proud co-founders from Capacity Zurich, a startup incubator for entrepreneurs with refugee and migrant background, we work at the intersection of Migration, Integration and Entrepreneurship. The Gender Lab gave me ideas on how to move forward and conduct research on barriers that refugee/ migrant women face as migrant/refugee entrepreneurs and while trying to enter the Swiss Labor Market (a real, current problem). 

  2. Apart from adding a gender-lens focus on equal access to opportunities for our entrepreneurs, trainers and collaborators (representation of sex and gender identity) at the organisation, we implemented a family-friendly approach at work and during any of our workshops/events. Parents can bring their children to any of our activities, and we have caregivers who make sure that the children are taken care of. We also implemented agile work models in which we take flexibility at work to the next level through multiple options for virtual engagement.

B. The Imperfct Circle (TiC): Doing battle with the binary, bias and blindness! TiC is an innovative dialogic platform for new thinking and acting in the gender space. As a co-initiator of the circle, we added an LGBTQ component to our discussion rounds.

  1. We opened up our sessions for any person who would like to come and use the platform to tell their story. Sebastian and Adrien, two of this year’s Gender Lab Explorers, did a session called, ‘Go queer or go home - Our lives beyond normativity,’ and kicked off a series of discussions on the topic.

We are currently prototyping another idea within the Lab, and we have unveiled it during the Collaboratio Festival, on June 18th. It was a day to connect, co-create and celebrate the Switzerland we want to live in!

Finally, I would like to close this reflection with one of my favourite quotes:

“It has been said that pessimists are usually right, but optimists change the world. Without optimism, political change is impossible. Only optimism gives us the courage to take risks... If we are to achieve a social revolution, we have to join forces and nurture our anger, imagine change, and be optimistic enough to believe that rewards will outweigh risks”
― Madeleine M. Kunin | The new #feminist agenda
 

The author:

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Valentina S. Velandia is a social entrepreneur with a high dose of global perspectives and experiences and has been working at the intersection of Gender Policy, Migration and Entrepreneurship for the past ten years. As an avid social justice advocate, she is proud to be a member of the ever-inspiring collaboratio helvetica community and hopes to continue to co-create the colourful Switzerland in which we would like to live in. 

Holding the Question

For how long might we allow ourselves to hold a question, and what could it create?

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WHAT IS THIS METHOD?

"As we enter an era in which systemic issues often lie at the root of critical challenges, in which diverse perspectives are required for sustainable solutions, and in which cause-and-effect relationships are not immediately apparent, the capacity to raise penetrating questions that challenge current operating assumptions will be key to creating positive futures.”
- the art of powerful questions.

In our lives today questions and answers does not have the same weight or value. This partly has to do with the influence of our educational environments. Since the beginning of our educational entry point, we learn that when there is a question it means that there is an answer, and that your success as a student is tied to with which speed and accuracy you can find this answer. We do not get educated in asking questions but in answering questions.

In our everyday life we all know the experience of having a question and the assiduous tickling need of wanting (so badly) to find the answer or the solution. The mechanism is as natural and familiar as making coffee after waking up is for many. The bigger and more important the question in front of us seems to be, the more energy we put into finding the answer and the solution as fast as possible. Unless you function as a researcher, you will most likely go about this answer-finding-process by occupying your own mind. Potentially you might bring your question(s) to some friend or family members whom you feel familiar with and close, too. Or you might not even have to because right at our fingertips, google might already offer us all the answers you need.This is an completely normative process of how to deal with questions, that we all know about and use.

Holding the question is about bringing the focus away from the answer and back to the question. It is about putting as much thought into the question as we have traditionally given to answers. Holding the question is a method of opening the mind and asking life to respond. 

HOW DOES THE PROCESS LOOK LIKE?

  1. First becoming aware of the present condition (of yourself or your group), to sit with the needs that are surfaced, and from there it is about crafting a powerful question. Without giving in to any creeping urge to answer it right away, it is instead about appreciating the quality of the question in itself and to notice all the new possibilities it brings.
    1. a. powerful questions are usually made with Why, How, or What prepositions, they possibility-focused and not problem-oriented, they are open and they often evokes more questions. A powerful question invites and challenges you to reflect on a deeper level — to find the knowledge or wisdom that’s already there beneath the surface. Using a powerful question usually adds more value to the process than one that is not.
  2. When the question is there and presents itself to you, you want to decide for how long you are going to hold it.
  3. Then you will go about your life as usual, but you will be holding a question, and you will ask life to respond to give you clues and signals. Being aware of the question and not trying to consciously answer it, but rather inviting a state of mind that allows a natural flow, thoughts, ideas and images related to the question will flow into the mind. It is especially helpful to take a walk in nature when holding a question.
  4. Do not expect to find any answer before the time of the holding is coming to an end, just collect undeterred what comes and trust that it will make sense later. (Use the metaphor of a basket that you fill up with clues)
  5. When the time of holding the question is over, you sit with your question again, and you might wanna try to conduct and define an answer. However what is most likely to happen is that the entire process of holding the question long enough dismantles or changes the reason for holding the question. The process often allows the arrival of a non-dual state and meaning creation, which resolve tensions we had and helps us shift the thinking we had when we made the question. This allows us to understand the question we asked from a new depth, to find more profound answers and to penetrate and rejuvenate our assumptions. Holding the question opens the door to dialogue and discovery.
“If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.”
—Albert Einstein

TOOLS, MATERIALS, TIME, ROLES

Holding the question can last from hours, days, weeks and even months. It depends on the question and the context. A person might hold a question that pops up over the lunch-break, a couple might hold a question for some weeks about where they would like to travel to in summer, a team or a group might hold a question together for a longer period about which direction their project or work should take.

The question(s) that are held need(s) to be put somewhere into writing, and there needs to be an agreement with the self or with the people, on the timeframe of how long the question will be hold and when it needs to be re-visited.

Although groups can easily use this method, we recommend to use it mostly as an individual practice.

 

Source:

Further literature to the topic:

  • Peter Block (2008): Community.
 

What is the Call of Our Times?

This blogpost shares the story of how I came to find my own calling and how I found a new work approach within collaboratio helvetica allowing me to do things differently and more aligned with a deeper intention of who I want to be in the midst of all these big societal challenges we face.

 Sidsel holding a Dialogue facilitation training.

Sidsel holding a Dialogue facilitation training.

Some time ago I came across a characteristic and impressive quote that reflects for me with what kind of work I would love to support this world.  

“What is the call of our times? I believe it is to realise that the future is already here. All the seeds, all the living examples, all the partners we need to pull this off are already here. But we need to attend to and connect with them, and nurture the deeper eco-systems of collaboration and co-creation.”

(Otto Scharmer, senior lecturer at MIT, founder of theory U)

I think it happens to every human being, that at some point in our life we are faced with the same question “What is my calling?”  I personally believe that this realisation initiates from the moment we dare to admit to ourselves that we might not know (at all) why we are doing what we are doing. And might also not be sure why it matters.

For me this realisation happened some years ago when I was a student at the university, and sitting in the study hall in Copenhagen. This day as I happened to look around, I saw people being deeply into their minds and papers, I was looking at the paper I was writing, and started to imagine how many papers like these were actually going through the KU (Københavns Universitet) education machine. So much knowledge and so little connection. Such an empty feeling and sadness for all the waste of human potential I saw in that moment entered my body. Where and how do we learn and practice real collaboration and co-creation? Where do we learn about attitudes and not only about knowledge? I could not see it (at all)?

I realized that my education has the power to influence me and change my values. In ways that goes beyond the knowledge I am taught, in ways that I am in fact blind to. As soon as I had this realization I could not deviate from it anymore. It was like a gate that had been opened, and as I continued to pay attention, it was not possible to close that gate again. In fact, it just became more open. I left the traditional education system, I went out into the world (and into the unknown) and decided on a path that I really wanted and felt I had truly chosen myself.

What are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) beyond an abstract framework?

The limitation I experienced within my education surely instigated a big shift in my own life, but the message that I want to share from my story is that this was also a personal experience with SDG no. 4. I realized my own personal dis-connection and tension towards an educational problem or lack of real quality as I perceived it.

The problematiques represented in the SDGs are in fact present and reflected in many of our everyday lives and experiences. As soon as we open our eyes and ask ourselves how we would love our (local) everyday world and life to look like, we can see the connection to the SDGs present in the way we experience issues in our environment. Unfortunately complex issues such as poverty, climate change or gender discrimination are often discussed only in the political arena, between "important" actors and much of civil society does not feel personally connected to the SDGs.

Making the connection to our personal and local experiences are the first place to source energy and intention towards change and engagement. Luckily many people do act on these experiences. Especially in Switzerland I see (and know) so many individuals and also organisations who care, who do outstanding work and try to shape the future of this country and of their own environments.

At the same time it often seems like we do not really change things fast enough. In fact all of the solutions are there, they are in our hands, but the solutions are not always taking root as we would like them to, or the implementation of solutions do not always turn out like we imagined. So what can we do besides running faster or try harder?

What are the real problems?

The answer seems to nest in the deeper understanding of the nature of these major problems. In their nature these societal problems are systemic, which makes them counter-intuitive, complex and deeply connected to each other. And we do not fully understand how to deal with that, often we try but we do not solve anything because we do not realise that we are dealing with the consequences of problems not with the root causes, which at times makes the problems repeat themselves.

This is complicated. It is challenging for all of us to implement such complex awareness into our daily action and doings, where many of us already feel stressed from pushing, pushing and pushing for making things better. In the pursuit of making a change, sometimes the consequences might be a burn out or we simply reach a point of despair and stop caring. No wonder we leave it to the politicians and to the leaders to make the change.

How do we deal with the real problems?

“What is the call of our times? I believe it is to realise that the future is already here. All the seeds, all the living examples, all the partners we need to pull this off are already here. But we need to attend to and connect with them, and nurture the deeper eco-systems of collaboration and co-creation.”

(Otto Scharmer)

These phrases happen to also be the heartbeat that perpetuates the vision behind collaboratio helvetica. collaboratio helvetica believes that in order to address the world's biggest challenges and to elevate our collective contribution to the SDGs, we need to collaborate and to come together all of us across sectors… neighbours, friends, politicians, corporations, NGO etc. We believe that only together we can tackle the real root causes of our problems. Because only in collaboration we have the power and the capacity to work in a systemic way, to see our own role in the problem, and to solve societal problems.

We also believe that developing the skills to engage in true dialogue, understood as way of conversation that is different from the one we usually have, one that has the power to change everyone involved, is an important - maybe even crucial - element for the challenges we face. Dialogue helps us to learn more about how the world looks like from other points of views and to develop agency on topics we often feel we’re unequipped to think about, because of their complex and ambiguous nature.

This is why collaboratio helvetica creates spaces for open dialogue, experimentation and collaboration for the SDGs. During our work I have been touched and fascinated about the potential and authentic energy for change that seems to emerge when traditional debate and factual inquiry is replaced with a safe space, human connection, and a focus on our personal experiences and on the questions we hold.

My own calling

It makes me convey to the idea that the future might already be here, and if so maybe all we need is to pay attention to the quality of our connections and the conversation we have with each other. I am delighted every time I realize that the quote from Otto Scharmer IS reflecting my work. I am proud everytime I realise that I am part of an initiative that sees societal challenges and our contribution to the global implementation of the Agenda 2030 happening through dialogue-focused, collaborative and experimental approaches.

 

The author:

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Sidsel Andersen is from Denmark and has been connected to Switzerland every since she entered the kaospilot education. She is an experienced process leader and facilitator, and in collaboratio helvetica she works with the Dialogue Evenings and the methodology, practice and community for dialogue.

Design For Wiser Action

From the Art of Hosting

 Impressions from the  collaboratio helvetica Community Forum  where this method was applied. 

Impressions from the collaboratio helvetica Community Forum where this method was applied. 

What is the purpose of this method?

The Design for Wiser Action is a great way to co-create a project or a piece of work with the help of diverse perspectives. The process enables all participants to put their learnings and experiences in service of new creative projects. On the one hand, the process enables the project-giver to get support and advice and on the other hand it allows for the collective intelligence to unfold.

Briefly explained, a person is asked to share a project or piece of work they are responsible for (“project caller”) and invite a group of people to contribute to the thinking and design of actions that will bring it to life. Through the exploration of questions like “what is the need or purpose”, “who is the group” or “what methods will most support a wise action”, insights and solutions for the implementation of the project will be found.

The Art of Hosting community created a canvas (“harvesting template”) which outlines several prescriptions which form the building blocks for the planning activities. Everything that emerges during the group conversations is written down into the assigned blocks.

 Our example of the harvesting template. 

Our example of the harvesting template. 

How does the process look like?

  1. Invite persons to bring a project or a piece of work (a fews days in advance)

  2. Explain the method to all the participants (10min)

  3. Introduce the chosen projects (2-3min per project)

  4. Explain the empty canvases and go through the questions the participants will be working with (10min)

  5. Project design/Group work (75min)

    • The participants form groups and circle around a project canvas (5min)

    • Each project-giver briefly introduces his/her project (10min)

    • The groups ask questions and the project-givers answer (10min)

    • Co-creation: Fill in the canvas blocks with ideas that come up during the sharing of experiences and learnings (20min)

    • Peer-Coaching: The participants turn into coaches who start a discussion about the project. The project-giver steps out of the circle and just listens to the conversations of the “coaches” (15min)

    • The project-giver returns to the group and continues with the conversation based on what he/she have learnt while being out of the circle (15min)

  6. Return to the full group with all the participants and report back on the different outcomes (10-20min)

If there is more time available, the participants can shift tables and do the whole procedure for another project.

Tools, materials, Time, Roles

  • Questions that guide the conversation (“what is the need” etc.)
  • The harvesting template
  • A good work space/ good working atmosphere
  • Optimal timing 2-4 hours (depending on whether the participants work on only one or several projects)

Roles:

  • One or two Hosts: They introduce the process to the group and invite and instruct the project-givers, hosting the full group processes
  • Project-giver (“caller”): This is the person who wants helps on becoming clear and crafting focus, design and practice in action, applied to a particular event or events
  • Co-designers: Are the people who help to co-create design. 
 

Sustainable Consumption - Awareness shouldn’t paralyze you and it shouldn’t frustrate you

How a Dialogue Evening on Sustainable Consumption helped leading change actors to let go of frustration and anger and become more positive towards their actions.

Why do many people who try to make a difference often feel frustrated or angered because the world isn’t changing fast enough for them or that some people do not share their awareness about an issue? In this story, leading activists for more sustainable human behaviour feel that they carry the weight of the consumption patterns of 8 billion people on their backs. But this negativity only hinders their contributions for a more sustainable future. In this blog article I share with you my insights from a Dialogue Evening on Sustainable Consumption, and how it offered us some solutions.

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On the evening of April 5th 2018 a group of 9 people gathered in the Impact Hub Lausanne for a Dialogue Evening (see footer) on the topic of Sustainable Consumption, the focus of Sustainable Development Goal 12. It is a topic broadly debated in society. Can we consume sustainably? What does it mean to consume sustainably? How much can we consume now whilst sustaining our planet for future generations? During this Dialogue Evening we were asked to exchange views on our own relationship towards the consumption of food, relationships, money and more. We approached the topic from different angles: How our backgrounds and families shaped our consumption patterns, when in our lives we realized that our consumption comes with consequences or what actually keeps us from changing our behaviour.

What struck me during this evening were the negative emotions that some of the people in this group – myself included – expressed during the conversations. Anger, frustration and guilt are often connected to the topic of Sustainable Consumption. It is the feeling of guilt that comes with the consumption of certain goods and the feeling of anger or frustration that leading actors pushing for a change in this topic carry.

Negative feelings around Sustainable Consumption

Let us focus a bit more on the second group of emotions: Anger and Frustration. Many activists and leader for a change to a more sustainable society are people who bring all of themselves, all of their best intentions and loads of innovative ideas to guide the way forward for a better world. They put an enormous amount of energy into their convictions and want to share their awareness on the topic with the rest of society. However, observing the way that the world and its resources are currently still exploited by the world’s population, one participant commented that this role was challenging:

“Activists are translators of knowledge and hold the weight of the behaviour of 8 billion people.”

(Participant Dialogue Evening, Impact Hub Lausanne, 5th April 2018)

Consumption is first and foremost a personal matter. It is to some extend about consuming right or wrongly, and this is where our emotions towards the outside gets activated. Living with a permanent sense of frustration with the situation, and anger against those who are perceived not to be changing things despite clearly understood issues and solutions is exhausting and depressing for those trying to drive social change or be socially responsible. What can be done about this? Persistent negativity is not attractive, and activists run the risk of giving up, succumbing to depression or becoming passive.

Dialogue provides a way forwards

To a certain degree this Dialogue Evening was a first step for a change. While talking and connecting on a deeper level with each other, the group became aware of the anger and frustration in the room. The people present became aware of their emotions and started to question their attitude. Other persons offered support as they saw them struggle to let go of the negativity.

“Activists really struggle with anxiety. I want to contribute to make them feel better.”

(Participant Dialogue Evening, Impact Hub Lausanne, 5th April 2018)

Another participant said: “Awareness shouldn’t paralyze you and it shouldn’t frustrate you”. This sentence made quite an impression on me. I often catch myself in situations where I observe other people’s unsustainable behaviour which angers me. Or another moment where I eat something that my sustainable consciousness wouldn’t actually allow – which produces guilt. But these reactions don’t really change anything: It only frustrates me and if I show this feeling against the other person he or her might get upset.

What do we take away from the Dialogue Evening?

Everybody left this Dialogue Evening with a good feeling. There was no frustration, anger or guilt produced. We listened carefully to each other’s perspectives and experiences. All the people taking part had the chance to reflect on their own behaviour and the feelings coming with it. Everyone took something with her or him and left the evening either motivated, felt understood or maybe just a tiny bit more aware of themselves and their surroundings.

“I want to support the emergence of a more sustainable future but with a positive feeling and attitude!”

(Participant Dialogue Evening, Impact Hub Lausanne, 5th April 2018)

Where do we go from here?

We decided to make another Dialogue Evening on June 12th where everybody in the room agreed on taking someone with them that wouldn’t have come her-/himself. Either because they do not care much about the topic or are just not attracted by the format. We will see if and how different the conversations will be. But I am sure that if we approach the new people in the group with the same openness and positivity, a similar positive atmosphere like on this last evening in Lausanne will occur.

 

Intrigued? Join one of the #cohe Dialogue Evenings or contact Sidsel if you want to organise a Dialogue Evening around a specific topic in your community or municipality.

 

On Dialogue Evenings:

A Dialogue Evening is a format that allows a group to exchange on personal and local experiences of a societal challenge. It is all about the quality of listening and speaking. And therein lies the way we can change relationships between us when we dare to deeply listen to others perspectives, ideas and experiences.

The author:

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Isabelle Ruckli is communication manager at collaboratio helvetica. She is highly interested in the nexus of human behaviour, sustainable development, democracy and governance. She wrote this blog article after visiting a Dialogue Evening in Lausanne on the topic of Sustainable Consumption. 

Prototyping the future of job searches and hiring: get to know the person before deciding to hire them

In December 2017, collaboratio helvetica (cohe) began to recruit some new team members to join its core team. The process was unusual: Over one month, around 25 people were brought together in different spaces, from whom 2-3 were subsequently selected to join the team. Why would cohe do this? Cohe is an organisation dedicated to creating spaces for open dialogue, experimentation and collaboration to create the Switzerland we want to live in. It is an organisation that tries to lead by example: trying new methods and approaches, and learning as it does so. It is also a very small organisation, juggling many commitments, projects, contacts and trying to do big, complex things on a small budget. Therefore, the right team members are crucial.

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So what did we actually do?

Consider the usual hiring process: everyone sends in their CV and a cover letter, trying with tiny differences to stand out from the crowd. You then meet the interviewing team for an hour, maybe longer, and they will meet everyone across one to two gruelling days. Maybe there is some follow-up interviewing, maybe not, but at the end of the day, the decision will be made in a short time based on a couple of hours and some bits of paper. When the person actually starts, there is then an onboarding process, and that is when the character, style and overall compatibility begins to become clear. Sometimes (often) it works out, other times it does not - that is why contracts typically include a ‘probation’ period.  

cohe started their hiring process with a week-long ‘coworkation’, or residential week of thinking, dreaming, planning, cooking, hiking and interacting. At the end of that, the soft skills (i.e. those that are hard to pin down on a written CV) of each person were much more visible, everyone had built both work and social relationships, and the team were able to see who would fit with their needs and characters. The potential team members had also acquired a good sense of the organisation and the people they might work with, and could decide if the match was suitable from their side.

Was the time invested worth it?

The team and applicants took a whole week together to find their new person. The outcome is a small, dynamic group of people who already feel like friends (helpful for working together), and within a month, three team members left and 3 new ones joined, in a relatively smooth process.
For the team members who led the process, it was very powerful to hear people share about why they chose to apply for collaboratio helvetica and to realise that we all have so much more in common than what separates us. Already this set the stage to not only be present in a situation of concurrence, but in a situation of conscious selection - which to us is part of real collaboration. 
For those who joined, it was a fun hiring process: a chance to network with similar people (whilst eyeing them sideways as competition!), to learn and think a bit, to appreciate new ways of hiring which make one feel valued even if you do not get selected (rather than feeling rejected). 

Would cohe do it again?  

Very likely - it has brought together a new team quickly and (relatively) efficiently in terms of the personal interactions - often one of the hardest aspects of joining a new team.  However, it did not solve the usual challenges of joining a new organisation with its own ways of communicating, working and doing things which takes time to become familiar with.

What would they change about the process? For the new team members, a longer overlap with the outgoing team members would have been useful to facilitate the hand-over process of technical and organisational knowledge. The cohe team also acknowledge that there were issues with the process: asking jobseekers to take a whole week in the hope of getting a job is not always easy, and clearer communication about the process and expectations would have been valued.

Overall, is it superior to other hiring methods? Everyone involved enjoyed it - we all met inspiring new people and had some great conversations.  In terms of developing the personal relationships vital to working in a small team, the method is brilliant - everyone quickly felt at home, able to ask for support or whatever was needed.  In terms of the technical and practical aspects of joining a new organisation (filing systems, communication systems, etc) - it did not really make a difference. But we will probably use it again in the future!

What do we take away from this?

collaboratio helvetica wants to drive social transformation - and in doing so, we try to live the future now. The future of work, the values and the well-being of people are the topics of our “Work-Money-Wellbeing Lab” - and by trying out novel methods such as a different way of hiring people, cohe endeavours to show that doing things differently is possible, that the system we live in can be altered.

We prototype - and hope that others feel inspired to try out new ideas too!  

Gender Equality: expert tips from the top

Interview With Director Sylvie Durrer Of The Eidgenössisches Büro Für Die Gleichstellung Von Frau Und Mann (EBG)


We, the Explorers from the newly minted Gender Lab (GL), are embarking on a mission-focused journey. We have the audacity to think that by bringing together a diverse group of voices into a judgment-free (well at least we try to be) space using the latest collaboration modalities and social intervention methodologies we might trigger systemic change to realize gender equality. This journey is meant to take us from our inner selves and the biases we hold and the emotions we harbor outward to our families, friends and communities in Switzerland. We are only at the beginning of this quest and there will be generations of explorers who we will pass on the baton gifting them our findings, our curiosity, our unwavering support and our faint inklings of what our shared future might hold. On any given day we waver between unbridled optimism and overwhelming doubt.

 The Gender Lab Explorers during their Interview with EBG director Sylvie Durrer (at the top of the table). 

The Gender Lab Explorers during their Interview with EBG director Sylvie Durrer (at the top of the table). 

We know there already exists great wisdom on sustainable change programs. We wanted to connect with the current state of affairs, find out what is working, and avoid dead-ends and past patterns of fixed thinking. On February 20th in Bern at the understated headquarters of the Eidgenössisches Büro für die Gleichstellung von Frau und Mann (EBG), we found a gleaming ray of hope. Director Sylvie Durrer has led the charge here for 7 years prior to her cantonal work on gender equality and her light burns brightly.

GL: For the uninitiated, what are the priorities of the EBG?

Director Durrer: Our mandate stems from Article 8 of the Federal Constitution; gender equality is a target in the fields of work, family, and education. More specifically, issuing from the Gender Equality Act of 1995, we focus on gender equality in worklife and in adherence with several international conventions of law, CEDAW and the Istanbul Convention, we address domestic violence. We take our direction from the legislative program and as an office within the Federal Department of Home Affairs we work closely with Federal Council President Alain Berset.

GL: You point out efficiency as a defining characteristic of the work of the EBG. Can you share an example of a small action rippling into a big effect?

Director Durrer: I want to call attention to two actions. First, an equal pay measurement tool, Logib. It is simple to use and makes use of already reported data. As it is voluntary, companies willing to self-examine their practices and address discrepancies and the root cause ultimately enhance their reputation. It is indeed possible to be both profitable and fair. This self-analysis tool has moved the dialog forward on equal pay. We are still striving to close the gap. My mantra, in German, French and English, is always Equal Pay!
This brings me to my second secret to calling attention to inequities: statistics!  We need to make the numbers relatable. When we say that there remains an unexplained 7% gap, that translates into 7.7 bn CHF per year. When we communicate on this at an individual level, our audience thinks, ”Yes, indeed, we have made good progress”. But when we generalize that to the cost for society, we communicate the urgency and magnitude of the problem. And the only reason women do not have these billions is solely because they are women. It is no longer an individual issue, it has become a public issue.

GL: The EBG has many broad reaching initiatives which need the full continuum of support. What is your advice on creating collaborations and including more diverse voices in the cause?  

Director Durrer: We are not going to reach all people. We start with what is possible. You can lose energy and resources by trying to engage those at the far ends of the poles. Look for where there is an opening to take a step further. Gender equality was for far too long in the domain of women. When I came to EBG in 2011, there was not a single man; now we have 30% representation. We must lead by example. We need more men working on this to make our programs balanced and credible.  
Perhaps the next wave could involve the older generation. Grandfathers are interesting to engage. Personal experience often dictates the level of interest. Until those unfamiliar with discrimination have lived it themselves they don’t relate to the issue. But now many have highly educated granddaughters and are surprised to hear of difficulty/discrimination in finding good job placement and advancement opportunities.

GL: Where do you face the most resistance?What can we learn from you first-hand experience?

Director Durrer: I’d like to share some guidance on stark resistance: if there is a brick wall, do not keep banging up against it but rather move on to where you see an open door. The time will come again when it is ready to open. Here is where we encounter resistance: Gender equality and language. It is so tiny but it is incredible how it strikes an emotional chord. Language belongs to all people and are an intimate part of your upbringing.  We have found that symbols are more difficult to move than the materiality. 
Gender quotas in politics. Gender quotas have been hotly debated and strongly rejected by the population. For a while it wasn’t possible to even speak about quotas, but now we are discussing quotas on boards indicating forward movement. If you come up too quickly with a certain theme, you will not only fail but you will encounter difficulty addressing this theme for quite a few years. Sometimes there are surprises. Now for board quotas the time is nearly ripe and when it is, we will only have to push the door a bit and it will open.

GL: How do you sustain your momentum and where do you find hope?

Director Durrer: We are going in the right direction albeit not fast enough. We see progress because there is a great concerted effort to bring change. We are marching uphill so if we don’t go forwards we will quickly fall backward. Equal pay is where I find hope. It is an issue for women, for families, for couples, for divorced couples, for offspring in both the short- and long-term (income now and pensions later). The unexplained gap is the hands of the companies. It is about justice for women but it is also about fair competition. Part of the explained gap is attributed to child care availability which is the work of the federal government. I am working for the betterment of society today and for coming generations. My work is about opening up more freedom of choice across gender. When individuals have the power to choose, they are more content with their choices and they can contribute to the community more fully.   

 

This interview was held and written by three Explorers of the current Gender Lab: Anne Murray, Anna Krebs and Adrian Ott. 

collaboratio helvetica at SDSN launch Switzerland!

We partnered up with SDSN and supported the design of their launch conference. In particular, we designed flow and are co-facilitating the break-out session. Nora and Osi, together with a facilitator crew of 10 people, will take the participants through a process including storytelling as the main methodology.

If you want to know how we plan to collectively learn from stories and take action towards the SDGs, check out this video.

"We can’t wait to see what will come out of this unique space for dialogue and collaboration that we are opening together with SDSN" - Nora Wilhelm

SDSN Switzerland's official launch conference

Some 250 decision makers will meet in Bern on 15 February in order to drive forward implementation by Switzerland of the global Sustainable Development Goals. They convene under the theme "Where Society, Science and Politics create solutions".

Swiss politics, business, science and society are challenged: The Federal Council shall submit a report by July 2018, indicating where and how Switzerland can deliver its contribution to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are the central plank of the UN’s Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.

Implementation of the SDGs will require concrete and practical solutions that set Switzerland on the road to sustainability. The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Switzerland has, therefore, convened a conference in Bern on 15 February that will be attended by representatives from the scientific and research communities, think-tanks, politicians and government officials, civil society, industry as well as international organisations. The aim is to establish a broad basis for implementing the SDGs in Switzerland.

Gender Lab: first learnings

We had the second Gender Lab retreat and it was an intense and profound exploration where we touched upon the deep systemic forces shaping our current reality. Here we would like to share our first learnings:

Our amazingly diverse cohort of explorers are from:

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Learnings so far

There are many different perspectives on this topic, and different ways to look at an ideal future. Language is important, and we need to be aware of our own blind spots when falling into the binary man/woman. It’s a topic that’s inherently systemic but never not personal. The four clusters that were formed so far: inclusive language, power dynamics, entry points/dialogue and parenting/education

 

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Participants speak:

"The first retreat had a powerful impact on me. Through sharing openly our diverse experiences and perceptions with each other I learned more about gender equality than I ever could have through studying. Being out of our comfort zones and experiencing an unconventional and fresh way of approaching this topic has already given me new energy, curiosity and motivation - I am excited to continue this exploration and to see what solutions we will come up with!” - Anna Krebs, institutional project coordinator at Tdh
 

Methodologies in use:

Diving into discussions without formal introductions on who we are and what we do was very appreciated. The four levels of listening (Theory U) are a powerful tool. It’s important to take it slow when introducing embodiment practices and for example do another warm-up exercise before the stuck exercise. Less is more, and everything takes a little more time than expected. Our agreements (rules of engagement) help hold a safe space. People struggle or have resistance with different aspects of the methodology at different times. The theories we use are sometimes abstract and difficult to grasp, especially when it’s something we culturally are resistant towards, so clear explanations are important. To do this work we must start with ourselves. 

 
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Participants speak:

“Gender equality is a big issue for our society and it is crucial to achieve more for marginalised and discriminated groups. The gender lab is a great opportunity to raise awareness, create visibility and develop solutions to change the system. With people from very different backgrounds, this project is very intersectional and diverse. Through it, I got in touch with people I would never have worked with otherwise, my boundaries got pushed and my horizon was enlarged. Thank you for these new perspectives, it is helpful and insightful.” - Pascal Pajic, Member of the National Board of JUSO Schweiz and medical student in Fribourg
 

Questions we hold

  • What does gender equality even mean?
  • Whose voices are we missing? 
  • How can we transform ourselves and shed our biases?
  • How can we avoid repeating patterns in our own efforts to change the system?
  • What’s our contribution to the system?
  • Where do we find power dynamics at play, what is their root cause, and how can we disrupt them?
  • Do we need to get rid of the genders and labels completely or can there be a spectrum with a healthy masculine and healthy feminine?
  • How do we talk about this with those not interested?

-> More information to the Gender Lab here
-> Gender Equality events

 

Support

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Das Eidgenössische Büro für die Gleichstellung von Frau und Mann unterstützt das Projekt mit Finanzhilfen nach dem Gleichstellungsgesetz.

Coworkation: Can a mix of working and holidays be restorative?

To work during holidays or go on holidays and work at the same time sounded very counterintuitive to me. I thought no way could this mix be productive or regenerative, specially not both at the same time, right? A great experience with my new colleagues taught me otherwise.

There are probably a million different ways to do a coworkation, but the basic idea is to go on a retreat with a team or group of people with whom you want to achieve something: work on concrete projects; gather ideas and inspiration; or work on strategies and concepts. In my case, there were twenty of us in a big farmhouse in the canton of Appenzell, deep in the Swiss countryside. The building had room for thirty people, leaving ample space for each of us, and was set in large but charming grounds, with plenty of space for recreation. We were surrounded – by nature, cows (lots of them, we were in Switzerland, after all) and abundant possibilities for walks.

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On a sunny day I was one of the first to arrive at this secluded location, and was warmly greeted. I left my belongings in my small but cosy room, where a little note with my name and a flower were waiting for me; I was then shown around the house and introduced to the “concept of the week”. The location gradually filled up with all the participants. I was especially struck by the concept used for the wall with the program and structure for the week. Each day was split into early morning, breakfast, morning, lunch, afternoon, dinner and evening. Anyone could suggest program points for work or nonwork related activities. For example, people who had projects for which they wanted input suggested a day and a time to present it, and how long it would take. The same approach applied to leisure activities, with someone proposing yoga before breakfast, or going for a walk to the nearby river amid the sunshine. None of the program was set in stone, and the group decided at the beginning of each day whether the structure still made sense, setting the priorities for the day together. We always agreed the day before which two people would prepare breakfast, lunch or dinner. It was striking how easily and smoothly this process worked, with everybody working together to create a good and memorable experience.

I am convinced that there is no better way to get to know people, how they work, how they behave in groups, how much they are willing to contribute to the greater good. The work sessions were extremely efficient and inspiring, as they were well “timeboxed” with deadlines and deliverables for each slot. As a result, we knew we wouldn’t have to spend the whole day working, and there would also be time for recreation and relaxation. I firmly believe that the combination of well-timed working sessions and free time helped me to be focused and inspired at the right time. Even when I had to prepare a meal with someone, I got to discuss all manner of topics with a different person, which was always a fruitful experience. As someone who needs their personal time, I also appreciated being able to retreat if I felt the need to do so and regenerate at my own rhythm.

I experienced the coworkation as a very powerful opportunity for exchange, inspiration and getting to know one another in a very natural way. I would describe it as neither working nor holidays, but a whole new way of collaboration and doing things together. The experience was an uplifting mixture of efficient and regenerative. I returned home with a mind teeming with new ideas, a heart filled with memorable encounters and a body bursting with energy to take over the world!

by Daphne Bucher Info-Flow responsible at Collaboratio Helvetica

Read more about how coworkation works

Case Clinic - A Theory U tool

Description of the method

Case Clinics guide a team or a group of peers through a process in which a case giver presents a case, and a group of 3-4 peers or team members help as consultants based on the principles of the U- Process and process consultation. Case Clinics allow participants to generate new ways to look at a challenge or question and develop new approaches for responding to the challenge or question. 

Purpose:
To access the wisdom and experience of peers and to help a peer respond to an important and immediate leadership challenge in a better and more innovative way.

Principles:
The case should be a leadership challenge that is current and concrete.
The case giver needs to be a key player in the case.
The participants in the case clinics are peers, so there is no hierarchical relationship among them.
Don’t give advice; instead listen deeply.

Uses and outcomes:
Concrete and innovative ideas for how to respond to a pressing leadership challenge      
High level of trust and positive energy among the peer group
Use with: Mindfulness and listening practices

An example:
Participants of a master class program form peer learning groups. They do their first case clinic while they are in the program, and then use the process for monthly phone calls that allow each participant to present a case.

How to prepare?

  • Duration: Minimum of 70 minutes
  • Materials needed: Chairs or pillows to sit in a circle, optionally around a table, handout of the process
  • How many people?: 4-5 people: 1 case giver, 3-4 peers

Implementation

Roles

  • Case giver: Share your personal aspiration and leadership challenge that is current, concrete, and important, and that you happen to be a key player in. You should be able to present the case in 15 min and the case should stand to benefit from the feedback of your peers. Include your personal learning threshold (what you need to let- go of and learn).
  • Coaches: Listen deeply—do not try to “fix” the problem, but listen deeply to the case giver while also attending to the images, metaphors, feelings and gestures that the story evokes in you.
  • Timekeeper: One of the coaches manages the time.  

Sequence:

Step 1 (2min): Select case giver and time keeper

Step 2 (15min): Intention statement by case giver
Take a moment to reflect on your sense of calling. Then clarify these questions:
Current situation: What key challenge or question are you up against?
Stakeholders: How might others view this situation?
Intention: What future are you trying to create?
Learning threshold: What do you need to let-go of – and what do you need to learn
Help: Where do you need input or help?
Coaches listen deeply and may ask clarifying questions (don’t give advice!)

Step 3 (3min): Stillness
Listen to your heart: Connect with your heart to what you’re hearing.
Listen to what resonates: What images, metaphors, feelings and gestures come up for you that capture the essence of what you heard?

Step 4 (10min): Mirroring: Images (Open Mind), Feelings (Open Heart), Gestures (Open Will)
Each coach shares the images/metaphors, feelings and gestures that came up in the silence or while listening to the case story.
Having listened to all coaches, the case giver reflects back on what s/he heard.

Step 5 (20min): Generative dialogue
All reflect on remarks by the case giver and move into a generative dialogue on how these observations can offer new perspectives on the case giver’s situation and journey.
Go with the flow of the dialogue. Build on each other’s ideas. Stay in service of the case giver without pressure to fix or resolve his/her challenge.

Step 6 (8min): Closing remarks by coaches

Step 7 (2min): By case giver: How do I now see my situation and way forward?
Thanks & acknowledgment: An expression of genuine appreciation to each other.

Step 8 (follow-up): Individual journaling to capture the learning points.

 

Sources and further literature