Entangled Life: Insights from Amicables coLAB
Blog by Susanne Pratt, Ruth Förster and Alastair Wyllie
Within the AR+ Amicables coLAB we draw on provocative books, music, films, photograph, poetry, art to inspire our action research for transformation.
We have two key intentions – 1. “Being inspired by each other” in which we share what speaks to each of us, personally and profoundly, in our learning and sense-making about the creative artefact we’ve engaged with. 2. “Inspiring Ourselves” in which we reflect and talk about the implications for our practice and ourselves as practitioners.
Our hope is, that together, in noticing our own experiences, we intend to offer ourselves learning that is at the creative and developmental edge and stretch of our ARTistry – our action research for transformation.
For the first Amicables Co-Lab session of 2023 we focused on the notion of “entangled life,” inspired by fungi / mycelium. We invited people to explore both:
- Merlin Sheldrake: Intro to book “Entangled Life”: https://www.merlinsheldrake.com/audiobook [14min]
- The Inner Lives of Fungi” Life Worlds Podcast – Interview with Giuliana Furci https://www.lifeworld.earth/episodes-blog/fungigiulianafurci [57 min]
We experimented with using the online whiteboarding tool Miro – see image below – to capture our reflections, individually before the session and then during the session. Taking inspiration from mushroom circles, the miro board was designed as a large mushroom ring, flourishing with images of mushrooms. Participants selected zones in the outer ring to reflect individually responding to the above creative artefacts with prompts:
What has been stimulated and provoked for you from the “entangled life” listenings? What speaks to you?
What are the implications for your practice and ARTistry (action research for transformation)
In starting the session, we invited people to meditate on the fungi inside themselves, connect with this, and then imagine the mycelium webs between them and the other participants in the zoom space, thinking of those webs connecting us across country and entangling with the virtual. Our conversations then moved to the ineffable “awe” that these fungi, as interface between life and non-life, inspire. This provoked questions around transition and transformation, through a focus on mushrooms’ embodied actions.
During the session, our dialogue / conversations on the two phases of the session “being inspired by each other” and “inspiring ourselves” was captured on miro as part of the entangled mycelium web at the centre of the mushroom circle. The connections made in the web spoke to our dialogic entanglements.
Our conversations meandered with mushrooms. Some of the questions our conversation inspired and gravitated around were:
- What is interspecies communication? How do we listen deeply and be called to find them? what is calling me in transformative learning processes to engage? what / who is calling me and how am i training my sense to not miss the call?
- A new respect for my yoghurt. Can i resonate with what seems to be happening when I make my own yoghurt?
- how do we tune into the rhizome growing mode – how do we tune into being in one’s biological function and the different forms of sensing this enacts?
- how do we allow composting its space? How do we work in ways that are a little more attuned to composting?
- In composting – where is it important to have things preserved and where do things need to rot? [which mindsets have to rot?]
- are we like fungi the catalysers for transformation?
- what is intelligence? what is mind? what is body-mind?
- researching and consuming in different ways, consuming ones research and the different senses this entails and opens.
- What does this mean for research more broadly?
The second phase of our discussion—reflecting on the impacts for our action research practice—the conversation moved to exploring ways of understanding and measuring a groups transformational edge, their learning, and different forms of leadership. This moved us to ask what mycelium can offer, how can they irritate a system, how do mycellium do it? The sense of swarms and transition patterns emerged, drawing on one participant’s research on creative leadership and swarms. How within swarms there are limited number of transition patterns, in how an individual is relating to a group, for example, always follow bird on the right side or allows orientate to the fish in front of you.
“We asked, what is the rule (conscious / unconscious) that I am following in this conversation?”
The art of improvisation extended this discussion of transformational leadership and swarm intelligence. Some rules of improvisation that resonated included:
1. set intention, but not outcome,
2. set up actions for activity,
3. stay connected with self but open to what emerges. Which is also about sensing the field. This is an awareness of self, other and holding space for emergence.
We pondered how do we create cultures in which people can rise to higher group level?
Fungi and mycelium networks invited us to reflect on the ways one breaks new fields of research with full sensing. Which also surprisingly and delightfully became a conversation about rotting and resonance, and reframing flows of energy. To close our reflection circle, we also reflected on working with Miro, of having the images and visuals of mushrooms there as active agents as part of our conversation. For one member this brought up a sense of “beauty, truth and goodness” and a gratitude for that.
We look forward to where Amicables takes us next. Reach out if you’d like to join. details and registration here: https://actionresearchplus.com/amicable-colab-2023/
Miro board designed by Susanne Pratt