I’d like to propose a theme that I’ve been curious about for some time. How do we create the conditions for opencare in our organisations and our communities? How do we design communities and organisations that are care-full, and promote health and flourishing? I’m curious about the interplay between policy and culture (as in ways of doing things rather than music and art). Are policies simply agreements about what we think works and what is right at any given time? Moreover how are they implemented at government or regional levels and in organisations, if they are to be more than good intentions? Do they end up needing enforced or policed by someone? Are they a tool of old ways of doing things built on hierarchy and power over? What role can they play in creating the conditions for opencare or for that matter for love and acceptance and generating the sense of coherence that Antonovsky describes in salutogenesis and its approach to study what creates health and well being rather than researching dis-ease?
My work through the GalGael Trust based in the Govan area of Glasgow has offered some hints that actively generating a healthy culture is perhaps more effective in achieving in an anchored way the ‘good intentions’ of policy. Strong values guide actions, decisions and behaviour, influence language and how we treat one another. Our workshop sees people working, for the most, part side by side. We’ve had people with violent histories, people who suffer agoraphobia, depression and addiction. Yet something about the space we’ve created has meant that people largely get on, there’ve been no violent incidents in our 20 year history and people describe their doctor taking them off medication, sometimes for the first time in many years.
It’s not a silver bullet. People lapse. They fall back in to the darkness at times. But there is something undeniable about the environment we’ve created and actively generate that has a therapeutic affect. While some of our participants and volunteers have said ‘the work is the therapy’ - this refers to the hands on purpose they find in their labours not the work we do with them. So is this as a result of policy or culture? What is it that creates the conditions for an environment of open care? How do we understand the architectures of love that are called for to create a more care-full society?
We’ve recently spent a year curating a collaborative process to explore what it means to ‘be GalGael’. It saw us going back to our beginnings and drawing on the learning from our days as an anti-motorway protest camp. We wrestled with our assumptions - which were shared and which were disputed? We explored whether our purpose was actually underneath it all - to bring about greater love. This contributes to our being in a good place to explore this theme more widely in our own organisation and its practical application in more depth.
Through the process we would like to connect and learn from other organisations exploring this theme.
What kind of structures and processes are essential building blocks or make up the ’hardware’?
What kind internal capacities and approaches make up the ‘software’ that keep a healthy organisation, healthy community or healthy societies humming with human flourishing?
The theme could also link to other themes that explore how we create the conditions such as:
citizens income and the politics of time;
nature of collaboration and how we exercise our freedoms and capacities;
the nature of work in care-full societies;
forms of leadership and personal capacity called for.
I’m very new to Edgeryders and I’ve not had much time to develop this so would appreciate feedback and thoughts as to whether this might be a theme of interest to others.