Thursday, September 07, 2006

Communities of practice: rhythm and rituals

Saturday night in Zhongdian

My favorite place in China was Zhongdian, where I made this video of the people dancing on the market square in the evening. It was saturday evening, actually don't know whether they do it every evening or just on saturdays, but the atmosphere was great, on the way back the square was completely full of people who had joined this group. It reminded me of rituals and rhythm in communities of practice. In the e-collaboration group, we agreed to quarterly meetings to complement the online exchange, wednesday afternoons, everytime hosted by a different member. I hope that may provide a sort of rhythm. I don't think that a rhythm dictated by a CoP coordinator can work though, in a way the rhythm has to come from the group. (I use the word rhythm because I'm almost allergic to the word rituals as it sounds close to traditions and I always feel stiffled by traditions..); it also has some kind of religious connotation, googling on rituals gives all kind of weird sites and references to satanic rituals!! But then what can you do as facilitator to create a rhythm?

Nancy White has written something about rituals in online interaction
"Rites and rituals, celebration of special events and member milestones can help bring members together and feel like a group or community. Rituals might include new member initiations, rituals for elevating members to formalized volunteer roles (greeters, cybrarians, guides) or simply a place for people to note it is a birthday, anniversary or special event and allow other members to "celebrate" with them. Celebrating milestones, friendly initiation rituals, reflection practices and holidays are some examples."

By the way I decided to try and host my video on Youtube instead of my old castpost and I got a remark from someone going to Zhongdian. So it's easier to make links using such a popular site. Blogging your video is as easy as on castpost.


Nancy White said...

Hey, I think you are on to something, Joitske. That piece I wrote (long ago) has enlarged in my practice to always consider not just our intellectual contributions, but those that reflect spirit and heart. Music, dancing, drumming, drawing, painting, mandalas -- there are so many options. The mandala in this photo set ( ) was created by the community of practice at one of their F2F gatherings. For me, sitting on the floor with beautiful things, placing items, watching my friends place theirs, reacting, acting - laughing when we added chocolate bars - it was really a lot about both community and practice, if not domain at some point. It did something that our intellectual discussions alone could not do.

Joitske said...

Hi, thanks for sharing this. I think this is also a bit scary to me once you start using this more consciously (building a group by eg. by what the first years students do, 'ontgroening' don't know the english name...)