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Rethinking Complexity

Group Intelligence

11/26/2013
Group Intelligence
Why does the intelligence of a group matter? What is group intelligence? We spend most of our lives engaged with people in a myriad of activities. Our livelihoods depend on our interaction with others.  For most of us living in modern societies, our success and quality of life are completely dependent on the various groups we belong to including our families and workplaces. We all have been exposed to the concepts of IQ and EQ as measures of intellectual and emotional intelligence, respectively.  These are individual constructs that we possess and can cultivate in ourselves. But...

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New Existentialists

The Tallest Trees Have the Strongest Roots

11/26/2013
The Tallest Trees Have the Strongest Roots
I chose this quote by Nietzsche as the title of my blog because I was reminded of it during a recent trip I took through southern Xing Jiang in Northwest China earlier this month. My friends in Xing Jiang introduced me to the multi-leaved poplar tree (poplar diversifolia). My friends brought me to admire the transient beauty of the poplar when it turns various hues of yellow prior to losing its leaves. This changing of color happens during a two-week period every year. The yellows hues are brilliant and draw large crowds from afar to come and experience its beauty. Of course, this beauty is...

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New Existentialists

Awakening the Senses: Materializing Our Own Meaning

11/25/2013
Awakening the Senses: Materializing Our Own Meaning
This past week I was looking for a definition of perception for some academic work and sat down to read through my notes on Aldous Huxley’s Doors of Perception (1954). The vivid accounts of magnanimous shifts of consciousness were enticing. I thought about the fantastic accounts of folds in trousers and bamboo chairs: how items in a drug store could appear as glorious as pixie dust and angels wings from a children’s storybook. How wonderful to be so enchanted by something so simple. To think, all it took was a shift in perception. Of course, Aldous Huxley took mescaline to reach...

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Rethinking Complexity

The School, Soul, Language, and Business of Sustainability

11/24/2013
The School, Soul, Language, and Business of Sustainability
On a snowy, bitterly cold Minneapolis afternoon, when my then-preschooler finally fell asleep after hours of stalling and my dog shook off large clusters of ice onto the kitchen floor following his backyard romp, it took some self-control and compassion to not snap at my mother. My compassion came from a place within that reminded me, “We don’t know what we don’t know.”  I had just finished cleaning up the kitchen mess and was putting forth great effort to lug the bright green recycling bin from the breezeway to the driveway’s unplowed, icy bottom. After...

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Rethinking Complexity

Rethinking an Organization Around its Website

11/22/2013
Rethinking an Organization Around its Website
This is a story about a website. Like many stories, however, the lessons are not about the obvious. It is a story about how redesigning a website created a structure for reconsidering an organization.    I serve on the executive committee of an international organization (actually, a federation of organizations), and have for the last ten years or so. The federation has never really had a physical presence, such as an office with furniture and employees. Like many professional associations, it is run by volunteers on a minimal budget, and has always been a “virtual...

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New Existentialists

Dreaming and Healing the Fragmented Psyche

11/22/2013
Dreaming and Healing the Fragmented Psyche
Row, row, row your boat… For the past three years, I have been very fortunate to be a member of a healing community that regularly comes together for powerful psychospiritual workshops. This community offers ample opportunities for deepening self awareness and healing for ourselves and each other. Earlier this month, at one of these workshops, I participated in a ceremonial healing ritual. This ritual, an underworld drumming trance journey known as a Spirit Boat, was rich with archetypal imagery and symbolism. We undertook the ceremony on behalf of a beloved community member whose...

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New Existentialists

The Courage to Seek: An Awakening Journey of Being: Part Five: The Struggle to Stay Awake

11/21/2013
The Courage to Seek: An Awakening Journey of Being: Part Five: The Struggle to Stay Awake
“The way to value life, the way to feel compassion for others, the way to love anything with greatest depth is to be aware that these experiences are destined to be lost” -- Yalom, 2008 It has been three months since I returned from the Bay Area. In some ways, it still feels surreal, to be back to a place that used to be so familiar to me; a place I call home, where nothing has really changed (more or less), yet feel that nothing is the same. The past year in the Bay Area has been an awakening journey for me, by far, the best experience I’ve had in my life. I won’t...

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New Existentialists

Money Money Money: Part Two: Poverty

11/20/2013
Money Money Money: Part Two: Poverty
In Part One, I focused on what too much money seems to do one’s Being-in-the World—how it shifts both one’s ability to interact with others as well as make decisions. But clearly, not having enough money to satisfy one’s basic needs—such as food, housing, and transportation—is also going to have an impact. This idea is not new—what is, however, is the growing body of research in light of the simultaneously growing impoverished population in the United States, as well as around the world. Sendhil Mullainathan, a Harvard economist, and Eldar Shafir, a...

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Rethinking Complexity

The Evolving Notion of “City Center”

11/19/2013
The Evolving Notion of “City Center”
The notion of city is morphing, including how it is structured and how it functions as a center of commerce. As they have done down through the ages, cities today are continuing to evolve. They are developing new forms of society and methods of commerce by weaving people and digital technology into dynamic systems not tied to a particular locale. These new forms are sociotechnological ecologies that enhance people and their livelihoods by collectively untethering them from geography and time zones. The emerging Information Age cities, while being part of a common human social trajectory, are...

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New Existentialists

Waxing Existential: The Dangers of the Creative Process, Part Two

11/19/2013
Waxing Existential: The Dangers of the Creative Process, Part Two
In The Courage to Create (1975), May stated: In human beings courage is necessary to make being and becoming possible. An assertion of the self, a commitment, is essential if the self is to have any reality.… Courage is not a virtue or value among other personal values.… It is the foundation that underlies and gives reality to all other virtues and personal values. (p. 13) In his book, Profiles in Courage, John F. Kennedy (1956) wrote: The courage of life is often a less dramatic spectacle than the courage of a final moment; but it is no less a magnificent mixture of triumph...

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