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Re: [holistichelping] Re: Is Zimbabwe urgent for us?

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  • Janet Feldman
    Dear Andrius and All, Thank you in turn for your thoughtful letter and for your leadership! I know, and I m sure we all know, that your heart and your thinking
    Message 1 of 5 , Jun 29, 2008
      Dear Andrius and All,

      Thank you in turn for your thoughtful letter and for your leadership! I
      know, and I'm sure we all know, that your heart and your thinking were in a
      caring place when you acted for peace in Kenya!

      In reading your letter, something occurs to me: I think perhaps one
      difference in our approach has to do with my previous experience with some
      of our Kenyan leaders, which gave me complete confidence in them, including
      in their decision-making capabilities and in their ability to ensure that
      nothing would get bogged down, but would continue to operate smoothly.

      I know them as founders and heads of their own orgs, as individuals and
      groups who work with others on projects in a mutually cooperative fashion,
      and as all-around amazing people. This makes me see them as a peer (even if
      I am old enough to be their mother...at least, haha!), and I want to work
      with them that way.

      In that regard, cooperation and coordination seem a fitting way to organize
      and structure group activities and dynamics. We may be getting somewhat hung
      up by referring to that as "consensus", Andrius: in a crisis context, quick
      decision-making and direction by a smaller group are more effective than
      wide-spread consensus processes, so it is more cooperation and coordination
      I am thinking of in that context.

      "Local" decision-making is linked to this: deciding how to organize actions
      among those most involved in their local context.

      It is actually not surprising to me that our Kenyan leaders accepted your
      decision abt a command structure: you--and we--were giving them a great
      deal of support in many ways, including financially, and there was a crisis
      which daily presented extreme challenges. This was no time to think about
      alternatives to what was presented. It would have been surprising to me if
      that had been questioned!

      In addition, there are "authority-based" structures in Kenya: in
      government, in schools, often at home, with village elders. It has only been
      recently that some of that has been challenged or been changed: with
      government, by the post-election violence (and the election and candidates
      themselves did present differences in this regard); in schools, by a
      questioning of the discipline practices of teachers, who have heretofore
      been allowed to beat students with impunity.

      The home and the village level still, from what I hear, are more
      individualized (ie individual cases where there is change or the continuing
      traditional approach to and of authority).

      I am delighted that you would like to have broad-based input and inclusion
      to shape our structure or structures, Andrius, and I hope that many of us
      will participate. There may or may not be the same need or interest in this
      with non-peace-related projects (where we have worked cooperatively in any
      case), but perhaps it's worth our attention to think about the different
      structures we might want to have in our work on a number of different

      I have been mulling over the questions you've asked abt what else I might do
      besides networking with forums, and one thing would be to bring those people
      and orgs here among us who are interested in the subject, as well as working
      with them and everyone to figure out what we can do to respond.

      I would love to be involved in a project such as Masimba proposes, and with
      setting up an emergency ICTs network. I would also want to be thinking abt
      and acting upon ideas related to addressing sustainable development in ZW,
      including reviving the health sector, which has suffered terrible damage (as
      have so many people who need healthcare). And working on governance issues,
      in addition to peace-related concerns ("fighting peacefully" among them,
      since finding ways to address the challenges in ZW peacefully will be a big

      I can make this more detailed as we move along. For now I wanted to say that
      my own timeframe too will be constrained for 3-4 weeks, because I am doing
      some organizing for the International AIDS conference in Mexico City in
      early August. I will start networking this coming week or so, however, and
      laying some of the groundwork for a more concerted response.

      Andrius, my apologies for not being able to write this Fri night or Sat
      (it's early am Sunday here now), as you asked abt a chat. I am having to do
      some family-related things this weekend, so a call or "chat" is better for
      me sometime during the week, or next weekend. Thanks for thinking of this
      and taking the time to work on this, given your busy schedule!

      I will close on that note with greatest thanks and blessings, and look
      forward to hearing from many others and working together to build our brave
      new worlds! Janet

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Andrius Kulikauskas" <ms@...>
      To: <nafsiafrikasaana@yahoogroups.com>; <holistichelping@yahoogroups.com>
      Cc: <fightingpeacefully@yahoogroups.com>; <minciu_sodas_EN@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Friday, June 27, 2008 8:23 AM
      Subject: [holistichelping] Re: Is Zimbabwe urgent for us?

      > Janet,
      > Thank you for your leadership and your thoughtful letter. I do want to
      > acknowledge your broad and farsighted caring and that of Rachel and others
      > as well. I agree with you that we go without too much structure for as
      > long as we can until we have to. There certainly can be too much "command
      > structure" just as there can be too much "consensus structure". That was
      > my concern in Kenya, that what was working well not get bogged down and so
      > to offer an alternative, which, perhaps surprisingly, was accepted by our
      > leaders there, notably Dennis Kimambo, Kennedy Owino and Rachel Wambui
      > Kungu, who demonstrated responsibility and accountability in applying and
      > distributing our resources. Janet, I admit that my focus then was on our
      > Kenyan leaders and now, having more time and the opportunity to be in
      > touch, I agree that we include all who would like to shape our structure,
      > understanding that now is the time and later that may be less possible or
      > hardly at all.
      > I suggest that we all speak up about the roles that we'd like to play, and
      > I especially encourage our participants in Africa. This will help us act
      > as a team and support each other's leadership. I myself intend to offer
      > and provide training in "fighting peacefully", take steps to organize an
      > online response center, reach out to offer our help and services, and
      > coordinate activity at our lab where there is a need. I encourage Masimba
      > Biriwasha, Kennedy Owino and others to take the lead to coordinate us, and
      > otherwise I will act, although I am quite constrained these next few
      > weeks.
      > Janet, thank you for your leadership and the steps you'll take to engage
      > and inspire the many forums. How else might you lead? I support your
      > initiative to proceed as you think best. I invite us to work at our wiki
      > page:
      > http://www.worknets.org/wiki.cgi?Zimbabwe
      > This Saturday or Sunday we could chat at our chat room
      > http://www.worknets.org/chat/
      > is there a good time?
      > I will set up the domain http://www.lovecommand.org Janet, I invite your
      > help to think that through, what would be best. I know it is a challenge!
      > I invite our response.
      > P.S. I apologize for the many automated messages that I accidentally let
      > through to Eluned Hurn's Fighting Peacefully working group.
      > Andrius
      > Andrius Kulikauskas
      > Minciu Sodas
      > http://www.ms.lt
      > ms@...
      >> Dear Andrius, Masimba, Hannington, and All,
      >> Thanks for your great messages, and for the exciting proposal and
      >> response
      >> from Masimba and Andrius. Masimba, I was thinking when I read it how
      >> perfect
      >> a fit it would be for a Rising Voices project and grant. It's too bad the
      >> deadline has just passed for this round, but there will be another in
      >> November.
      >> I know that seems a long time away, but it's something to think about,
      >> and
      >> in the meantime, hopefully other opportunities will present themselves. I
      >> will keep my eyes and ears open!
      >> Hannington, thank you for the posting abt Avaaz, which gives us much food
      >> for thought about our own possible actions, linkages, and involvement,
      >> both
      >> individually and collectively.
      >> Andrius, I like the ideas you have presented here for helping:
      >> "We might start to work on that and do what we can to help social
      >> networking
      >> in Zimbabwe, helping people to use Flickr, Facebook and other tools, as
      >> you
      >> write. We could find people who might help us develop strategies for
      >> marginal Internet access such as the Includer".
      >> Masimba, I have contacts in ZW with a variety of individuals and
      >> orgs--SAfAIDS, Dzidzai Foundation (development org with a focus on youth
      >> and
      >> ICTs), Amakhosi Center (use of arts for development purposes), Mountain
      >> Entertainment (youth addressing HIV/AIDS via arts)--and with most there
      >> is
      >> some focus on youth and ICTs. There is an org in the USA, Empowerment
      >> Works, that has projects in ZW, and they have several types of
      >> activities,
      >> including development, ICTs, arts, food-security.
      >> I can do networking in forums to link with more orgs and individuals, and
      >> hopefully they in turn can link with others too. So that may be part of
      >> the
      >> "social networking" Andrius mentions. Do you have a group of young people
      >> already in mind for this project? If not, and even if you do, hopefully
      >> what I have proposed above might still be helpful.
      >> Andrius, I like the idea you suggest of having two approaches, certainly
      >> in
      >> our minds, as a framework for whatever actions we take. To me the
      >> "urgent"
      >> work might include developing a phone and ICTs network--like what Masimba
      >> proposes--and hooking up with people like Mary Brennan and whatever org
      >> she
      >> is affiliated with, who seem to have roots already in ZW. We can also
      >> link
      >> up with Avaaz.
      >> I would like to see us explore how to work with INSTEDD too, which uses
      >> technology to address conflict and peace issues. I have written to Judith
      >> Kleinberg about that (I saw that she unsubscribed from HH, perhaps not
      >> knowing what we're abt or getting too much mail, so I wrote to tell her
      >> of
      >> my/our great interest in their work).
      >> I'm not sure how quick an urgent response of any kind can be on our part,
      >> as
      >> we do not have a ready-made network there as we did in Kenya (in Kenya,
      >> we
      >> first reached out to friends, who then reached out to others, and
      >> momentum
      >> built from there).
      >> So "urgency" may be defined more in terms of "what" we do (emergency
      >> phone
      >> network, for example) than in when we do it, though of course it would be
      >> good to set up a social network "asap".
      >> A "patient" response might be one in which we teach ICTs-related skills,
      >> such as you have mentioned. And think abt longer-term needs, such as
      >> civic
      >> education, income-generation and food-security. The Includer is a good
      >> example of a longer-term, "patient" response.
      >> As for outreach to so-called "enemies" in ZW, the situation there may be
      >> different than in Kenya. The "enemies" in this case seem to be political
      >> parties, those who support Mugabe and those who do not. Masimba, is there
      >> an
      >> ethnic or other connection to a party which is also an issue (ie in
      >> Kenya,
      >> Kikuyus were first targeted because President Kibaki is Kikuyu, hence it
      >> wasn't just political differences, ie "you are PNU and I am ODM")?
      >> While political change--including governmental structures--needed to
      >> happen
      >> in Kenya, it is of such dire necessity in ZW that this may call for
      >> different approaches, reasoning, responses. Or perhaps not, but that's
      >> where
      >> discussion comes in, especially if "we" (some of our forums and members
      >> of
      >> MS) decide to work on some specific actions or projects there.
      >> Andrius, all of the suggestions you have made for steps we can take sound
      >> great! Of course, individuals are free to do whatever they want to do. If
      >> in
      >> doing that there are contacts, news, or other info which seem appropriate
      >> to
      >> bring to a larger group of us who may be responding collectively, that
      >> would
      >> be wonderful (for example, if a member networks on their own and finds
      >> individuals or groups to link us with, that is valuable)!
      >> I agree with you--and always had the same thing in mind in Kenya, as I
      >> believe we all did (after the first week, I should say...that first week,
      >> I
      >> thinking uppermost abt the safety of people I know and care abt, which I
      >> believe was true for all of us, hence our concern in the first
      >> place)--that
      >> one major goal is to reach out to people we do not know, either directly
      >> or
      >> via outreach to those we do know, who will then carry that outreach into
      >> their local and national environment (and perhaps beyond).
      >> It makes sense that, in order to ensure safety and well-being for one's
      >> friends--let alone peace and development for individuals, communities,
      >> countries, and the world--it is important to engage those we do not know,
      >> and who may not be "friends", at least as that is perceived at the same
      >> (since conflict tends to create an "us vs. them" feeling or outlook).
      >> So if you have believed all this time that I wanted to reach out to and
      >> help
      >> only our friends in Kenya, Andrius, that is not an accurate view of my
      >> motives or goals. I am a trained mediator. I have studied conflict and
      >> its
      >> resolution (including many alternative ways in which it can be resolved)
      >> at
      >> the graduate level, and been trained in how to apply it at the
      >> "practical"
      >> level.
      >> Knowing that there are at least two or more sides to a conflict, and
      >> trying
      >> to get people who regard each other as opponents (enemies) to listen to
      >> each
      >> other and work together to resolve their conflicts is as natural to me as
      >> breathing. So this has been one of my most cherished goals in my own
      >> peacework in Kenya.
      >> Rachel had been doing this for some time with the Peace Caravan, ditto
      >> the
      >> work of Nafsi, REPACTED, and others working on peace issues in Kenya.
      >> Because that groundwork had already been laid, it was easier to
      >> accomplish
      >> more with the Pyramid of Peace, and they with their own organizational
      >> endeavors.
      >> Further, what I know from this work is that a person may be able to
      >> command
      >> people who agree to place themselves under that person's command (in that
      >> sense, your "Love Command" is more truly voluntary than the command
      >> structure placed by you onto our Pyramid of Peace work). Or commands can
      >> come from a dictator, an oppressive state.
      >> One cannot command one's enemies, though (unless they are utterly
      >> defeated
      >> in battle, and that does not cause automatic acceptance or obedience
      >> sometimes) : so-called "enemies" need to be approached more as equals
      >> (in
      >> a
      >> human sense), as people/entities having thoughts, feelings, beliefs,
      >> dreams,
      >> needs. An approach which truly fosters peace and a deeper sense of
      >> security
      >> will by necessity be more "cooperative", in that it will involve both or
      >> all
      >> parties agreeing together on peace as a mutual gain.
      >> In ZW, because social change is so crucial--as this will most likely
      >> involve
      >> a change of governance--there may be other layers added to whatever we
      >> may
      >> do, in terms of challenges, issues, and consequences. That is one good
      >> reason to have discussion and dialogue among us as a group, should we get
      >> involved in some way beyond the organization of independent thinkers
      >> (even
      >> so, there may be a political link with that too).
      >> Andrius writes: "In the patient way, we may not need to have any
      >> leaders.
      >> In the urgent way, everybody acts as a leader on their own."
      >> Andrius, to me, we can all be leaders in both a patient and an urgent
      >> approach:
      >> 1) In an urgent approach, let those of us interested decide what steps to
      >> take "now", and then individually (via networking with our own contacts
      >> and
      >> the orgs we know et al) and as a group put those into operation. Your
      >> list
      >> is a great place to start. Each of us interested can see what we might do
      >> or
      >> bring to the larger group forming to address the goals on this list.
      >> 2) In a patient approach, do essentially the same, only perhaps with
      >> different goals (we will need to decide what is urgent and what is
      >> longer-term...maybe those things will be one and the same, only done in
      >> different stages).
      >> Of course, urgent approaches need more concentrated and/or quick
      >> decision-making. And perhaps a few decision-makers who are leading the
      >> urgent response is a more sustained and "directive" way. That may be more
      >> your view of "leadership" vs "no leadership", Andrius?
      >> It seems so much more complicated--or at least not as effective--to
      >> divide
      >> our work and our responses into different approaches, Andrius: you with
      >> "command/hierarchy" and "urgent", and me with "cooperative/egalitarian"
      >> and
      >> "patient" responses. I assume from what you've said below that you would
      >> want to have the "urgent"...perhaps I have misunderstood you? I want
      >> "urgent" too, though :))))!
      >> I believe that Masimba would like to work on this, and hopefully others.
      >> Mary Brennan has asked for advice and to use our "emergency phone
      >> network"
      >> model. I'm sure I could network individuals and orgs in ZW who would be
      >> interested to work with us in some of the ways you have suggested
      >> (organizing thinkers, ICTs literacy, et al).
      >> It seems to me that we have an opening there. Further, there are things
      >> we
      >> can do, both in the present term and in the longer-term. Would it make
      >> sense
      >> to divide up the goals or work on different ideas, in a framework in
      >> which
      >> we are all leaders in some way?
      >> If this is not something you care to do, then perhaps we should consider
      >> responding in our own (yours and mine) way, in two different forums: MS
      >> and
      >> HH, for example. That would not be my preference, esp as I think it would
      >> decrease our effectiveness--and is not "synergistic" in an optimal
      >> way--but
      >> it is one possibility.
      >> What would be a "middle way"? I will mull that over, so can you, and
      >> hopefully we'll get feedback from others too.
      >> On that note I will close this letter with my initial feedback, and be
      >> back
      >> soon with more, I hope! With thanks and blessings, Janet
      >> ----- Original Message -----
      >> From: "Andrius Kulikauskas" <ms@...>
      >> Sent: Tuesday, June 24, 2008 2:25 PM
      >> Subject: [nafsiafrikasaana] Is Zimbabwe urgent for us?
      >>> Janet, Thank you for your concern for Zimbabwe and how we might help.
      >>> Eluned, thank you for your letters.
      >>> Janet, I suggest we pursue two approaches, in parallel, patient and
      >>> urgent. The patient approach is that we coordinate first - we wait for
      >>> everybody to have their say - and then we act as a group. The urgent is
      >>> that we encourage everybody to act now individually - and then we
      >>> coordinate later, as we go along.
      >>> In the patient way, we may not need to have any leaders. In the urgent
      >>> way, everybody acts as a leader on their own.
      >>> I encourage us to share actions that we are taking, or want to take. I
      >>> and
      >>> others are interested to help.
      >>> I dedicated myself to provide leadership for our urgent response in
      >>> Kenya.
      >>> Here are the steps I would take to respond in Zimbabwe:
      >>> * Find at least one person we know, whether in Zimbabwe or not, who
      >>> "calls
      >>> for help", so that it's clear to me there is a wish for us to be there,
      >>> and somebody is accountable for that.
      >>> * Reach out and organize independent thinkers who are in Zimbabwe or
      >>> care
      >>> about Zimbabwe, so that we are together online.
      >>> * Understand the dire needs of each person and also how they might help
      >>> others.
      >>> * Respond to their needs, but especially for those who want to reach out
      >>> for us to help others, but especially the enemy.
      >>> * As we respond in small ways, and start to reach out, start to organize
      >>> ourselves online to provide information support.
      >>> * As we are more visible, look for resources so that we could apply
      >>> ourselves and support ourselves.
      >>> Is there a "call for help"? Who might wish to join us online?
      >>> Janet, the logic of "helping people so they can reach out to help other
      >>> people" (rather than simply "helping the people we know") is the
      >>> approach
      >>> I took by which we had a much greater impact than simply amongst the
      >>> people we already knew. This is also the logic which made a
      >>> hierarchical
      >>> structure relevant and effective. Even more so, in focusing our efforts
      >>> on "loving our enemy", with the need for giving and taking complete
      >>> authority, but also making sure that people are taking small risks
      >>> rather
      >>> than big risks, and are focused on loving their enemy rather than
      >>> helping
      >>> their friends, leads to the voluntary command structure which I lead.
      >>> Janet, I suggest that we prepare to pursue two strategies - a patient
      >>> one
      >>> and an urgent one - and with your blessing - or if there is a "call for
      >>> help" - I will lead an urgent strategy. We should think through our
      >>> plans
      >>> if we would like to cooperate as otherwise I will simply act
      >>> independently. If you suggest a "middle way", then I think it should be
      >>> devised ahead of time, not made up as we go along, so that the urgent
      >>> strategy is not at the mercy of the patient strategy. Instead, I would
      >>> simply act independently, although I appreciate your insights.
      >>> I note also that it is very normal for an urgent leadership to come from
      >>> outside of a region - Kofi Annan was not a Kenyan - for many reasons,
      >>> including that the source of the problem (like colonialism) may not be
      >>> local, there may be a system of local allegiances that make it difficult
      >>> for anybody to rise above them, and indeed there may be disinclinations
      >>> which keep locals from proceeding directly - so for example we were able
      >>> to engage the "good" Kalenjins (through the net and through our network)
      >>> to engage the youth on the roads because I was not averse to thinking in
      >>> terms of tribes where that is relevant.
      >>> Andrius
      >>> Andrius Kulikauskas
      >>> Minciu Sodas
      >>> http://www.ms.lt
      >>> ms@...
      >>> +1 312 618 3345
      >>>> Dear Friends,
      >>>> It is wonderful to hear from so many of you, and I am excited about the
      >>>> letters of Pam, Chris, and Ed (I will forward what is not at HH to that
      >>>> forum soon), Sam (who has written such an eloquent travelogue and
      >>>> meditation on thinking and doing!), and those who have joined us more
      >>>> recently with a focus on Afghanistan, including Don, whose garden I
      >>>> would
      >>>> love to stroll in too sometime (Andrius, hope you stopped to smell the
      >>>> roses for us all).
      >>>> Pam, Ed, Chris: "holistic" thinking has a "systemic" focus, which
      >>>> essentially means connecting one thing to another, and hopefully
      >>>> designing
      >>>> action plans which include a number of subject areas, as well as
      >>>> solutions
      >>>> which cover several bases at once, whenever possible. Poverty,
      >>>> education,
      >>>> ICTs, peace and conflict, hunger, creativity, health, human rights are
      >>>> all
      >>>> linked in some basic and essential ways. That is, the challenges
      >>>> themselves, and how we go about addressing them (singly, as subject
      >>>> areas,
      >>>> and collectively, ie as a larger whole).
      >>>> I am very interested in exploring these subject areas in our forums,
      >>>> with
      >>>> a view to finding/making linkages and developing action plans to
      >>>> address
      >>>> same, the result hopefully being a deeper and more sustainable
      >>>> development.
      >>>> I will pick up on your letters and the themes therein as soon as
      >>>> possible.
      >>>> In the meantime, a specific question for Pam:
      >>>> can you or someone in the WWP study group post to our forums a summary
      >>>> of
      >>>> discussions and ideas which this group generates, including those of
      >>>> Yunus
      >>>> too, of course?
      >>>> Many of us will regretfully not be able to "attend" the discussions,
      >>>> but
      >>>> if a summary or some type of synopsis can be posted, we can keep
      >>>> abreast
      >>>> of what is being discussed. And, even more importantly, we can
      >>>> hopefully
      >>>> use the ideas and discussions generated as the basis for
      >>>> action-oriented
      >>>> plans and projects. Immense thanks for considering this matter!
      >>>> Andrius, my own school might be something like: School for Synergistic
      >>>> Spirit (aided by cooperative creativity :)). I love the idea of HH
      >>>> being
      >>>> a
      >>>> "healing" space too, which I see synergies (linkages and integrations
      >>>> that
      >>>> help each part to build upon each other part, the whole becoming more
      >>>> healthy and sustainable accordingly) accomplishing.
      >>>> I want very much to focus attention on this and also on Afghanistan,
      >>>> Kenya, and other subjects, but for now there is an imminent crisis
      >>>> looming
      >>>> in Zimbabwe, where civil war seems to be a possibility, or at least a
      >>>> great deal of violence and loss of life.
      >>>> This is of crucial and immediate concern, and I think we need to
      >>>> discuss
      >>>> how to proceed asap. Masimba, Andrius, all: what are our thoughts? I
      >>>> hope that Mary has received our notes now (Pam's contact), so she knows
      >>>> we
      >>>> are thinking about ways in which we might be helpful. Perhaps another
      >>>> note
      >>>> to her would be a good idea.
      >>>> I also have many friends and contacts in ZW, including those in my arts
      >>>> coalition, ActALIVE, and these folks I can try to bring into an
      >>>> emergency-network situation. I can also do outreach to orgs there too,
      >>>> hoping that some kind of specific network will emerge.
      >>>> I see possible linkages we can make between what we've done in Kenya
      >>>> and
      >>>> what we might do in ZW--and beyond--and also how peace is so much
      >>>> linked
      >>>> to issues related to poverty and its amelioration if not eradication,
      >>>> education, good governance, and systems that foster and encourage
      >>>> broad-based participation and involvement in addressing these
      >>>> challenges.
      >>>> Hopefully we can work on both the specific ("microcosm") and the
      >>>> general
      >>>> ("macrocosm") at the same time, in true holistic/systemic fashion.
      >>>> With greatest thanks and blessings to all, Janet
      >>> --
      >>> Minciu Sodas
      >>> http://www.ms.lt
      >>> ms@...
      >>> +1 312 618 3345
      >>> ------------------------------------
      >>> Yahoo! Groups Links
      >> ------------------------------------
      >> Yahoo! Groups Links
      > --
      > Minciu Sodas
      > http://www.ms.lt
      > ms@...
      > +1 312 618 3345
      > ------------------------------------
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