Catalysing collaboration

Our approach is all about supporting the co-creation of relational cultures that support transformative collaboration.

By this we mean the work of creating the processes, structures and agreements (containers) that support us to be able to relate in embodied and heart-centred ways such that that we are able to attune to everyone's needs and act in mutually beneficial ways.

Starter Culture was conceived through what we call a ‘Cups of Tea’ process: a relational approach initially involving more than 100 conversations exploring what it is like for those trying to include an inner dimension into social and ecological change work. It was these exploratory conversations that shaped the evolution of Starter Culture into what it is in its current iteration.

Current Cups of Tea processes - June 2021

Having carried out five pilot Cups of Tea processes back in 2019, we identified a number of place-based and thematic areas with a critical mass of people and organisations already engaged in some form of inner-led change. We are now collaborating with a range of organisations and practitioners to identify what is needed to support inner-led change to flourish across a range of place and practice-based communities.

We are currently supporting the following Cups of Tea processes:

* Radical leadership amongst people of colour across England
The coordinators of this process, Elizabeth Mpyisi and Calvin Niles, have hosted some 20 courageous conversations exploring challenges, needs, opportunities and emergent threads around supporting inner-led radical leadership amongst people of colour to flourish in service of deep cultural transformation. The conversations revealed a number of areas of work that need resourcing and recommendations around our themes of Resilience, Connection, Decolonising, and Collaboration.

You can read about Elizabeth's reflections on the Radical Leadership courageous conversations.

* International Rites of Passage for young people: a trans-local exploration.
In collaboration with Israh Goodall we are exploring how to support the escalating crises among young people across the globe today. Israh has spoken to a range of Rites of Passage guides in several different countries to explore the challenges, needs and opportunities being experienced in regard to enabling Rites of Passage work to flourish. Many strong threads emerged which we look forward to reporting on soon.

You can read more about this Rites of Passage work here.

* Nepal: exploring identity and power across the development sector.
This series of conversations is being coordinated by Shreya Thapa - one of Starter Culture's new core team members, and her colleague Vipassana Karmacharya. Together they are courageously delving into the challenges of identity and power in the development sector in Nepal -exploring the lived experiences of both non-nationals and Nepalis working in development/academia. The exploration is focusing on Nepal and Nepali culture relative to colonial/western systems (e.g. professionalism, communication styles, relationships with time and how we make meaning and constitute truth and knowledge) and the implications this has on Nepali individuals, their families, and larger society. The dialogue seeks to address issues of internalized inferiority, systemic bias/oppression, and imbalanced power dynamics - and begin t reveal what it is Nepali's themselves long for and what change is needed for them to be able to define and manifest their own futures.

* Cymru (Wales): Integrating an inner-dimension into our social and ecological change efforts.
In collaboration with Simon Griffiths, Lucy Morus-Baird and Julia Forster from Calon Meddwl Corff (Heart Mind Body), we are exploring how to support inner-led change across Cymru (Wales). This Cups of Tea process explored the challenges, needs and opportunities being experienced by those attempting to integrate an inner dimension into their efforts around social and ecological change. The threads emerging from these conversations were striking in both their particularity to Cymru and the flavours and fragrances of cultural and historical uniques - as well as how resonant they are with what is emerging from many of our other Cups of Tea processes. Watch this space for the summary report which is coming soon.

* Bristol, England: Integrating an inner-dimension into social, ecological and arts-based work
In collaboration with Danny Balla and Bex Baxter from Co-Resist, we are exploring how to support inner-led change across Bristol - a city renowned for its radical social and ecological change work and its rich community of artists, (re)makers and performers. This Cups of Tea process explored the challenges, needs and opportunities being experienced by those attempting to integrate an inner dimension into their efforts around social and ecological change.

Pilot Cups of Tea processes - 2019

During 2019 we experimented with five Cups of Tea processes that explored the challenges, needs and opportunities being experienced in relation to integrating an inner dimension into social and ecological change efforts across:

* Scotland and England
* Oxfordshire (south east England)
* South Devon (south west England)
* Internationally - with people working outside the UK, those working trans-locally and those working at an international level of scale.

A number of common threads and collaborative initiatives emerged from these conversations. What's more it was very apparent that simply mapping and connecting those interested in inner-led change was incredibly suportive and generative in and of itself.

The simple act of making space to talk about how it is to try and integrate an inner dimension into our work and groups enabled valuable connection and solidarity. This instantly felt transformative in and of itself. Simply connecting around this common theme resulted in us feeling much more confident to speak more boldly about the importance of inner-led change.

Our conversations also highlighted that whilst a collaborative approach is common within outer focused work, efforts around inner-led change still tend to happen quite disparately and in the margins. This seems to be significantly hindering the potential for deepening and scaling up this vital work.

Communities of Practice

These Cups of Tea processes are revealing a need and desire to bring together those of us engaging in inner-led change.

We are currently exploring how to best enable and resource such communities of practise so as to support the peer-peer collaboration, cross-pollination, reflection, learning, skill and resource-sharing and solidarity needed to deepen and scale up our efforts around inner-led cultural transformation in service of our whole earth community.

Join the conversation.

We are seeking conversations with practitioners across the globe working around the following themes: politics, democracy and collective decision-making; activism; frontline health-care; education; legal system; radical diversity and anti-oppression; community responses to trauma; rites of passage; and indigeneity.

Do you have a good understanding of and strong networks and connections across any of these sectors and themes?

Are you are engaged and well connected within another theme or sector you sense is ripe for a Cup of Tea process?

If so, we would love to connect with you - please use the form at the end of the page.

Feedback and suggestions for collaborative conversations

Do you have a connection to the themes shared above, and / or is there a place or theme you feel is ripe and ready for a Cups of Tea process and/or collaboration more generally?
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