In 2020, in response to the multiple and interconnected pressures and crises we experience collectively, a dedicated and curious core team from the SUNY New Paltz community creatively explored embodied and systems-oriented processes to feel into possible just and regenerative pathways forward.
Our guiding research question has been: How can we, together, embrace the adventure of learning and educating around values that are care-driven, relational, restorative, and centered on the long-term well-being of all beings?
Think Tanks and System Drawing
We started this process through a virtual think tank in June 2020. Our strategies for bringing the Eddy to life have been collaborative, experiential, and informed by creative embodied processes developed by Michael Asbill and Andrea Frank (tree speed collaborative). They have a long history working with the every evolving System Drawing format, which was developed by Frank and invites participants across disciplines to collaboratively enter an emergent process around urgent themes.
We then further formalized our inquiry by embracing a social change framework developed by MIT’s Presencing Institute called Theory U. It invites us to tap our individual and collective capacities in a way that is more intentional, authentic, embodied, and strategic, opening toward collective “eco-system awareness”, rather than remaining “ego-system” focused. In the spring of 2021, we were accepted into u.lab 2x, u.lab’s global accelerator for systems transformation, a six-month process. Our expanded team included members from all areas of campus. Part of this practice is deep listening to all parts of campus, as well as a series of collaborative embodied process workshops (called 3D and 4D Mapping), through which a collective vision and intention for Eddy prototypes emerged.
In spring 2022, we embraced another u.lab2x process, this time to focus on forging relationships with the Newburgh community with a focus on Health, Wellness, and Environmental Justice. In this emergent process, we support the work of Prof. Erin Bell / U Albany around PFAS contamination, held a related symposium at SUNY New Paltz in April 2022, and are currently working toward creative collaborative projects with community members. We invite colleagues and students to join us in this inspiring work. Our engagement process and a calendar of events can be found here.
Social Presencing Theater
Social Presencing Theater, an embodied practice for groups, is an integral part of Theory U and u.lab. In the spring of 2022, its founder Arawana Hayashi generously offered a regular Social Presencing Theater practice group at Unison Arts Center, which was co-hosted by Andrea Frank/Eddy. Stay tuned for more.
- The Essentials of Theory U (a great short book on u.lab core principles and tools)
- Think tanks and system drawing sessions organized by Andrea frank and tree speed