A Season of Growth for Peterborough Dialogues

Participants in one of the Peterborough Dialogues’ Core Conversation groups create a community mind map during one of their sessions.

A Season of Growth for Peterborough Dialogues

Deepening roots suggest abundant possibilities for fall

Autumn is harvest time, and the Peterborough Dialogues has been growing deeper and stronger roots for community building and learning.

Participants from the Dialogues’ Core Conversation groups explored plans for fall during digital and in-person gatherings over the last week.

One of the most exciting ideas is to hold multiple Dialogues series, each one focused on a specific theme emerging from the Core Conversation groups. Since the spring, these groups of community members have been exploring through thoughtful conversation and activities how to cultivate a resilient and thriving Peterborough starting with existing gifts and imagining possibilities.

  Emerging plans include a “Dialogues extravaganza” on multiple themes in the fall.

Local livelihoods, engaged citizenship, local food and neighbouring are some of the potential themes for this fall’s “Dialogues extravaganza.” The intention is to grow the circle of engaged community members so more relationships, ideas and gifts can flourish and develop into frameworks for deliberate action.

Laying the groundwork for these theme-specific Dialogues involves connecting with community members and organizations that have knowledge and skills sets relating to the specific themes. These groups and individuals could be participants and supporters who help bring to fruition projects seeded during the Dialogues process.

Energy is also bubbling around the possibilities for skills training which aligns with the Dialogues. A hosting circle is already meeting regularly so Dialogues’ participants can learn together how to effectively bring relationship- and community-building conversations into their own neighbourhoods and areas of interest, and possibly even connect like-minded individuals and groups.

Focused learning experiences could unfold this fall, such as a course in Generative Journalism, which anchors the Dialogues’ media-making work.

This capacity-building work could help to foster local livelihoods, which is one of the very pathways that the Dialogues points to for cultivating a resilient and thriving community.

  This capacity-building work could help to foster local livelihoods, which is one of the pathways the Dialogues points to.

It’s also hoped that local livelihoods could be cultivated from the work of the Dialogues itself, where arts and skills like hosting and media making are integral to shaping the narrative people want to live and to sharing the stories as they live it.

“That is a goal for the Peterborough Dialogues too, to create opportunities for people to pursue livelihoods as a result of this work and possibly in this work,” participants heard during the July 16 MaestroConference call. It’s one of a series of weekly interactive calls taking place this summer to explore what’s next for the Dialogues.

Other opportunities are also being sensed, such as how more conventional media making can grow to include the arts in storytelling. And technology is making it possible to generate interactive community asset and sense-making maps and to understand a community’s underlying energies and insights from such artifacts.

The Dialogues is an evolving story but one that is growing in the most organic way, through co-creation and co-funding.

And it’s come a long way. Since formally launching in the spring, Peterborough Dialogues’ participants have completed three core dialogue series, investing 1,000 hours into Core Conversations alone. Hundreds more hours have been spent face to face in “tree-fort” sessions fleshing out ideas and moving toward action on specific community-building themes.

Participants also stay connected through the Dialogues’ active social media, interactive calls and online forums, and the blogs and news stories found on the Peterborough Dialogues’ media site launched this spring.

Dialogues’ participants have also actively engaged in convening, hosting and participating in community events, such as a workshop on non-violent communication, a Neighbourhood Connections forum and the Ashburnham Ward community consultation process.

National and international interest in the Dialogues is growing, reaching community development and related networks through Facebook, Twitter as well as connections forged by community members and Axiom News.

As noted during the recent conversations, a movement is clearly emerging around the world of people working openly and collectively for their preferred future, The work is often based on the principles of renewed citizenship, co-creation and personal agency.

Peterborough can be a point of light in this pattern, shining like the season of growth and harvest that sustains us.

This story was originally posted on peterboroughdialogues.media, the news site of the Peterborough Dialogues, a local engagement project designed and hosted by Axiom News.

You can comment on this story below, or e-mail Lisa(at)axiomnews.com.

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Lisa Bailey

Lisa Bailey came to Axiom News with reporting and editing experience at newspapers across southern Ontario. She has enjoyed a new approach to journalism based in appreciative inquiry and asking catalytic questions, and the variety of interviewing people from sectors as different as long-term care and engineering.

“It’s important to record history as it is happening, and that’s what journalism does. But there can also be deeper meaning," she says. "You can be forward-thinking and try to facilitate change for the better."

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