Creating Community: Cooking with Stones

Once there were two travelers  Tired, hungry and cold, they arrived in a small village and asked for food and lodging. One by one, the villagers either said, they had no beds or no food to share. And so the two travellers began to build a fire in the centre of the village. Over it, they hung a cooking pot filled with water and added a simple stone. What were they up to?

The first villager came over to find out. “We are making stone soup”, said the travellers. “You will see, it is delicious! Of course, the flavour improves even more with a carrot!” “I think I might have just one carrot”, said the woman. Later someone came with a potato, and then came some beans, some milk, a bit of chicken … soon everybody was standing around the pot sharing some of this delicious soup and the travellers had a warm place for the night. “Imagine!”, the villagers said to each other, “what wonders you can create with just a simple stone!”

I found this Story on Stephanie Boldt’s blog – you remember our new lighthouse in Hamburg? – and it resonates a lot. Because firstly, I am deeply impressed by the Stephanie’s very personal reflections on change in her life and how she uses a different version of the wolf knocking on the hen’s door. Secondly, I know the guy in me who is repeatedly waiting for the perfect incredients to prepare a soup, forgetting that the main thing is cooking together. And thirdly, because the story is talking about an inversion which requires totally new modes of thinking.

I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been. Wayne Gretsky

In his blog series about community development Luc Gallopin uses the ice hockey metaphor to search for examples of inversions of the deterministic world view, we happen to have made us comfortable – ignoring that the „structure of belonging“ (Peter Block) is the opposite.

The default culture would have us believe that the past creates the future, that a change in individuals causes a change in organizations and community and that people in authority create people in a subordinate position. That we are determined by anything aside from free will.

But there is another passage in this book from Peter Block I don’t want to withhold from you.

I suggest that you consider making it clear that it is the future that one lives into that shapes one’s being and action in the present. And, the reason that it appears that it is the past that shapes one’s being and action in the present is that for most of the people the past lives in (shapes) their view of the future.“

It makes clear that our present is determined from our visions we decide to live. That we have to „invert our thinking about what is cause and effect in order for communities to develop.“ The inverted puck of organizational change is heading where the change practitioners locate themselves in advance. It is a question of stance, trust, and co-creation.


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