AR+ Relational Action Inquiry Co-lab
Steward: Hilary Bradbury
RAIR convenes an online 'co-lab' community of inquiry/practice for those interested in transforming our collective use of power from "power-over" to "power-with." It started as a follow up to the book Eros/Power: Love in the Spirit of Inquiry (Bradbury & Torbert 2016) and workshops with Dana Carman and Heidi Gutekunst. RAIR cohorts have been convening since September 2016.
RAIR encourages us to learn - in cycles of action and reflection together - about the dynamics of power and attraction in relationship. And we are always in relationship. To this we bring special attention to today's complex context of gender relations, infused by eros (when we're lucky!) and other crucially important yet sensitive-to-deal-with matters that intersect with our multiple identities. Whew!
Thankfully we also make room for humor. We even manage to learn a lot!
Reimagining the Platonic Friendship
If we define eros as the soul surging toward the other (as Plato did!), eros mixing with power sparks collaborative creativity. But only if “power” is power with, not “power over.” Eros/Power is, then, a developmental effort that cultivates our creativity by developing our repertoire of power from “power over“ to “power with.” It takes effort, because we can’t just step over the fact that for millennia we’ve been taught to indulge or avoid, rather than inquire into, that delightful “turned on” feeling, that eros rising.
Today the patterns of biology laid down in evolution are playing out in the radically new social context in which women and men work closely together, (which Plato never imagined). It is time we get more conscious about eros and power interweaving. Our organizations often take a policeman mentality, but eros seems to love to plunder boundaries.
So many scandals continue to point to the havoc and public humiliation caused by a mindless erotic spell. Care-full mutuality, eros-infused partnership, however, can become a developmental journey, an invitation to upgrade interpersonal dynamics with regard to interweaving eros in collaboration.
“Force, hatred, history, all that. That's not life for men and women, insult and hatred.
And everybody knows that it's the very opposite of that that is really life.
What? says Alf.
Love, says Bloom.
I mean the opposite of hatred.”
- James Joyce, Ulysses.
"I realize that in each of the two RAIR cohorts that I have joined, something big has happened for me. Each has led to something quite transformative. For example, my former [work] group has now been dissolved, helped a lot by RAIR conversations, and we are starting a renewed and refreshed artistic/social-justice exploration.
With each of these transitions, the perspectives and ideas from the Eros/Power exploration have facilitated my integration and leadership."
- Spring, founder and co-principal, Resonance Path Institute. Seattle, WA.
Cultivating Eros/Power as a mindful, relational energy offers us a dynamo of creativity.
How might we experience creative friendship more in day to day life? How do we inquire into the places where power and attraction dynamics get stuck? How might we cultivate more eros infused friendship?
RAIR, like all AR+ efforts, is offered by donation.
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"We are desperately in need of a movement that shakes us at the very core of how we think about ourselves as individuals. What does it mean to love with courage?To make love an integral feature of moral [developmental] reasoning, the kind of love that risks in profound ways of being mutually vulnerable, [reimagining] who we call our neighbors…”
- George Yancy, Ph.D. Philosopher, Emory U.
RAIR meets monthly in inquiry about how to co-create richer relational space for personal and work life. We ask questions such as “how to surface dynamics of power and attraction in a collaborative way?’
In this taster video, a small RAIR group is discussing the artistic intervention we played with in smaller breakouts. Between meetings we each blog about our ‘homework’ and endeavor to meet for (virtual) coffee.
Objective: Co-inquiry to the heart of relational inquiry
RAIR provides a scholarly-practice space for the transformation of human relational darkness into light. We learn about relationship together in the practice of relationship. We liberate through welcoming, along with our joys and appreciations, those shadow parts of us so easily triggered. In a circle of likeminded/ kindminded friends, we remind ourselves that without truth there can be no sustainable creativity and that without humor there may be no point.
Beyond understanding the practice of good relational inquiry, RAIR convenes a new community (limited to 12) of like-minded practitioners. We practice by sharing personal experiences and projects that link power and love in our relationships and organizational lives. Some participants continue into the next cohort.
We harvest our learning to be shared as action research (in possible interventions? articles? a follow up book?…) as we learn more about bringing our fuller selves in creative relationships to wherever the fullness of creative work arises. In this way our efforts link subjective, inter-subjective and objective, i.e., first, second and third person research/practice in the domain of relationship.
Book and other materials that inform/explain the evolution of RAIR
Eros/Power: Love in the Spirit of Inquiry.
Reintegrating heart and mind: Toward a Transformational Social Science.
Video with Bill Torbert discussing Eros/Power.
RAIR Structure and Process
We rotate facilitation of our monthly online meetings in which we invite artistic methods. Outside of meetings we have an asynchronous writing forum where we share our experiments, insights and questions. Meetings are 75-90 minutes in a mix of small group and plenary dialogue.
Relational space requires mindfulness so that we foster friendship and development in a space both humorous/playful and earnest/structured, as appropriate. Let’s presume that wisdom is contained within and among all and thereby aim for enhancing shared intelligence and encouraging the generous contribution of input and constructive feedback.
We do all this with an eye to making the world a better place. In striving to concrete good community and dialogue, we are all invited, minimally, to do no harm and, ideally, to create learning and happiness that can spread. Specific process guidelines are shared at the first meeting.
Register and Donate
AR+ a non profit 501.c3 organization. Donations are tax deductible in the USA.
Scholarships are available upon request and mutual agreement.
No one will be turned away for want of funding. Contact Hilary if you need to discuss.
The suggested donation for participation in RAIR in 2017 is $250 per cohort program.