Saturday, May 15, 2010

In Red Bubbles I have created some stepping stones for a Process to foster community resilience and thrivability:
- Start by uncovering common values at the core of a community
- Get to know the assets and resources available and underutilized.
- Encourage collective self interest, build trust, and be generous with your skills and strengths, help others grow and shine in theirs
- Cooperate and tangible projects building momentum of what is possible
- How can we move to putting this into action?

In the Yellow Bubbles I have wrote about different strategies for society to regenerate and co-evolve.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

From Problem Solving to Ideating & Co-realizing

My Excess:
In 6 years I have given up nearly everything I owned 6 times except for a few small things which continue to travel with me. The process of divulging of 'stuff' has let me see the tremendous value and reward of what really matters to me (time, friendship, love, play, connection, food, spirit, giving). In one week

My Consumption in a week:
In the past week I have only bought food:
- carrots
- zucchini
- lettuce
- fennel
- pepper
- sunflower seeds
- chickpeas
- canned tomatoes
- yogurt
- oat milk

I have also used toothpaste, shampoo, soap, cleaning products

Rethinking my consumption:
While I don't use many consumer goods I would like to think more about the ingredients within each product. I try and shop local and organic for my food and as much whole foods as possible. I support markets and farmers directly whenever I can. Those time when I do go to grocery stores I will be asking more about where there local produce section is, where there local bread is among other such questions to provoke a change in the system.

I have received enormous benefits from
unconsumer goods and from services and in-kind gifts:

- pilates class (my friend gives for free)
- running workout (my friend does for free)
- walk by the sea through the woods
- music and dance at home
- a sustainability film festival I've been helping with
- a sustainnovation workshop where I learned a number of new process tools, visioning exercises,
- a dinner at a friends
- a bike tune up (from a friend)

My Consumption & Fostering Innovative Community-based waste removal systems.

I think it's important to move beyond recycling for one week but thinking intentionally upstream about what we buy and need and where that comes from and who it is affecting. I am lucky when living in Halifax, Canada and Karlskrona, Sweden the past couple years there are advanced recycling and composting systems. In years when I've been away in Honduras and Ottawa, Canada I've started composting systems. In Honduras, as part of my work I volunteered with various communities and helped them dream up waste systems and recycling. We would do drawing exercises with a cross-section of the community to think about pride in their community and how they could take ownership and create an appropriate culture and system to deal with their waste.

Things I see in my Community I have dedicated time to this year:
While I find it hard to suggest projects in places where I am not from as I don't want to create dependencies and expectations while living in Sweden this year I have been part of realizing a number of powerful initiatives. I have participated in multicultural festival, a public action where we got locals to create a human graph to demonstrate lowering CO2 emissions, an Art of Hosting Training between innovative programs in Europe, helped organzie a Flow Game Training/ Exercise for our MSLS class, our course has been organizing a Sustainability Film Festival and Karlskrona dialogues, and as a project four of us have been supporting the Municipality for a comprehensive Employee Engagement plan for Sustainable Behaviour.

ACTION 1: Karlsrkona Dialogues: Co-Designing Healthy Food Systems:

As an interactive component of the 3 day Sustainability Film Music Festival in Karlskrona I worked with a core team to create a workshop on redesigning the local food system. Like in the Oasis stage of Dreaming we prototyped 2 systems. First using a wide range of ingredients (from my recycling from the week and natural and found object) we built 2 complex food systems: an oreo cookie and a hamburger). We traced the system from the farmers of the various initial ingredients to the consumers mouth.

In asking questions and getting creative with representing the system using objects (like sticks for sugar cane, stones for the heavy burden in their lives) of chemical additives to the transporation costs involved along the way, to the unfair wages doles out to the southern cash crops. Using probing questions to generate ideas and to ensure we covered the stages and life-cycle of the product I acted as a facilitator to guide the tables discussion.

ACTION 2 - Mobilizing Human Graph for Climate Action - Karlskrona, Sweden

For International Climate Action on October 24th, 2009 our Masters in Strategic Leadership Towards Sustainability (MSLS) class coordinated a powerful action in Karlskrona, Sweden. From speaking in highschools, to talking with strangers on surrounding streets we mobilized a group of 200 people to gather and participate in a human graph to illuminate the level that carbon dioxide must be brought down to in our global atmosphere to have a safe climate – 350 parts per million.

From grass roots organizing with dozens of active catalyzers and supporting volunteers offerring tea, biscuits, and coffee to keep warm and engaging citizens on climate change issues on the street we entered the public square to manifest the human graph. Within hours, images were captured as the graph was formed along with street interviews from those of us were gathering people from the pedestrian street to participate. The video was quickly transmitted and projected around the world with the thousands of other communties actions on

This video shows the 350 Human Graph our Masters in Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability coordinated in Karlskrona’s Stortorget. The event ran simultaneously to 5200 other events in 181 countries around the globe to unite our voice in demanding a global climate agreement that is ambitious, binding, fair and science-based.

Where I see I can make a difference:
Mental Models are holding people back :
Some people are apathetic
People feel separated, lonely, and blocked by the perception of barriers. Projects, communities, departments, sectors, and disciplines are often siloed preventing sharing of knowledge, ideas, and possibilities from being actualized.

My Light - invigorating a can-do attitude:
Therefore I want invigorate a sense of resourcefulness and social innovation in individuals and communities. A playful, creative, appreciative, collaborative and compassionate outlook!!!

My plan for making a difference:

Step 1- Identifying my Passion and Gifts
My passion lies in connecting people with people, people with projects, and people with their own talents and skills.

Step 2- Projects Ideas developing
Recently I spent time creating a story and Business Plan for a grant for 'Playing for Change' in Sweden. I co-created and co-wrote with a friend Maria Richter (fellow Community Builder) about the potential play has to inspire and bring communities to action.

I have initiated and facilitated workshops on Oasis Mundi and spreading this into the world
I have given presentations on creative interactive city mobilization for Kaos Pilots and schools in Canada
I am interviewing individuals and doing surveys about community capital and the collaborative services and will be creating a guidebook. I will be attending (Re)Designing the Regions in Copenhagen.

Step 3- Identifying Collaborators
New and Old Friends discovering, sharing, learning, co-creating future ideas and projects. I have connected with people around the world to collaborate on spreading Oasis and similar forms of community mobilization and interactive processes, some of the special gems I've had ongoing conversation with:
Benjamin Aaron Deganheart, Jay Standish, Sherri Herndron, Nathan Daniel, Lana Sole, Spud Marshal, Sonja Niedhumer, Giuliana Jorge Netto, Rachel Derrah, Sarah Craig, Edmund Colville, Clara Stewart Robertson, Jennifer Prithchard, Sonja Neidheimer, John Thackara, Nicholas Croyer Blok, Josha Lautner, Joanne Macrae, Mark Anielski, Adrian Mohareb, Lora Metanchuk, Laura Keresztesi, Kati Thompson, Maria Richter, Saskia Tait, Shahar Rabi, Matt Neville, Laura MacPherson, Ronny Daniel, Maurita Prato, Maya Givon,

Step 4 - Bringing Projects into Being and Action
What is emerging from these conversations:
From this a number of projects have emerged which are underway and others are in planning phases many for this summer and fall:

- Innovation Camp on renewable energy and community development in Copenhagen
- ReWork the World Workshop Host
- 4 Days Festival in Halifax, Canada
- Shanghai Oasis actions from Kaos Pilots team and 'Better City Better Life' world expo
- John Thackara will now be collaborating with Oasis team to realize a dozen or so Oasis projects in India
- I will be attending Global Youth Congress in Turkey (where I'm hoping to help with an Oasis action)
- I hope to attend an Oasis training in the Netherlands in June
- I will be working with Sense Festival: Celebrating Community in Jarna Sweden in collaboration with Youth Initiatives Program to help with processes, harvesting, community building and an Oasis Action
- I will working at the main camp of 'Secret Garden Party' to put on interactive workshops about Aesthetic Resilience/ Mapping/ Garden Building project in the UK

Step 5- Creating a Vision in line with my purpose, intention, and gifts:
My Vision for Summer 2010:
My plan for this summer is to put into practice the skills I have to offer and the tools and processes I have learned and created. I hope to connect communities and organizations to their potential inspiring the power to innovate and grow their capacity fostering well being. I will be looking for common ground introducing people, projects, ideas, workshops, and events which I will buzz around harvesting and pollinating as I go.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Co-creating Resilience

My Dreams:
I dream of reaching beyond my own limitations and learning from people and their everyday actions who are creating their own alternate realities by improving their communities. I want to illuminate these people, and their stories and to inspire learning across cultures, disciplines, projects, and communities.

My aim is to build individual and community capacity by fostering resilient local economies that promote a more equitable, prosperous and humane world.

My Challenges?
My generation is facing complex and challenging issues that we need to resolve if we wish to improve the world's overall capacity to sustain itself. To do so in a creative interactive way I see two main stumbling blocks:
1) Working in a system that doesn't place a value of social cultural and natural capitals
2) Reinvigorating a sense of hope of what is possible beyond the status quo

My Purpose:

Why I want to take part in Warriors without Weapons?
I knew the moment I heard about Oasis and Warriors without Weapons it was calling me. I've had three recent moments which directed me to WWW:

1 – doing a presentation about the common call and reuniting of the Americas Continent from North to South where I spoke of communities in adversity creating their own solutions and my good friend and collaborator Giuliana spoke of Warriors without Weapons and its cooperative and trust games using indigenous knowledge.

2 – Participating in COP 15 and Survival Academy and having many friends who have participated in Oasis events

3- Being introduced and exchanging moments of light with Edgard. Being connected through a common friend and collaborator Benjamin who suggested Edgard and I should meet and that we would have a lot in common to talk about. Meeting the tall brilliant human in a bustling Barcelona we walked the boulevard where I lead us to a hectic public square where a glass building in a public square where kids had been playing earlier that day redesigning their neighbourhoods with coloured tape, chalk, and Velcro and we sat overlooking the Christmas madness below.

As we talked and shared stories about community invigoration, public space redesign, sustainable development various projects emerged. The poetic steps and powerful impact Oasis and Warriors without Weapons holds moved me deeply to call it inspiring would be an understatement!

I left with a renewed purpose to support Oasis spread throughout the world and have since been hosting conversations between programs in Europe about trainings, and Oasis actions. I am craving some real hands on background and to touch, smell, taste, experience where the methodology came from and how it works.

This opportunity is calling me to participate, activate, and collaborate on a different level. I am ready to play!

My Commitment:
Collective and Transformative Activities:

In Honduras, I worked alongside the grass roots, poverty-reduction organization Honduran Committee for Action and Peace (COHAPAZ) this organization connects 30 urban shantytown communities. In my role as a Sustainability Officer I was responsible for facilitating environmental and health related workshops with community members. Other days I was working in the shantytowns with kitchen gardens, water catchment systems, and solar ovens to build local capacity for improving housing, sewage systems, recycling programs, etc. Having the privilege of working with such powerful and innovative individuals. and communities I become a connector of dots and people and helped enable financial capital and organizational and political resources to make food sovereignty, community-building, self-sufficiency and social and artistic expression more integrated and connected..

What I am doing to make a difference?

Honduras not only exposed me to a multitude of global issues - climate change, food sovereignty, and local economies of scale it also unveiled the firsthand devastating impact they had on local communities. While I have explained my time in Honduras and the hope I saw within communities I also saw great injustice in one particular community I witnessed devastating impacts from destructive mining practices from a Canadian company. Driven by this injustice and inspired by the strength and determination of the Honduran people, I resolved to be part of the solution. Thus upon returning to Canada I felt even more responsible for the change I could foster in my own backyard. I volunteered with community development and action groups, attended workshops, provided information to media and organized and spoke at forums, schools, and libraries. I have remained in contact with the communities I had the pleasure of working with in Central America to continue to learn from them and offer my support.

While Honduras provided me with countless profound experiences, the situation I returned to in Halifax was equally dramatic. With fresh eyes, I was struck by the lack of civic engagement and transparency in planning and development processes at home. Citizens and decision-makers alike were ill prepared and uninspired to affect change. Seeing the need, a group of like-minded community activists collaborated to jump-start the Halifax Planning & Design Centre. Our goal was to work together, and to include citizens earlier on in the planning and design process, to strengthen the overall vitality and health of Halifax. Through creative tools and processes we co-created exercises to vision the city’s potential. We designed projects varying from interactive public art, to public art design competitions, to city forums, neighbourhood design charettes, public cardboard city dreaming and making.

Currently, I have come to Sweden to pursue a Masters program in Sustainability to gain a more strategic approach. While here I have helped organize:

  • Art of Hosting training for three innovative programs in Europe
  • as part of AoH I hosted open space session and a proaction cafe session on Oasis Mundi for how we could collaborate to support the movement.
  • My thesis had been about looking into way to support communities discover how to co-initiate mutual benefit projects that can help move them towards bioregional resilience. We are looking to create a resource for communities to be map their journeys.
  • I have been in discussions with Youth Initiatives Program to help them with Sense Festival: Celebrating Community and an Oasis Action.
  • I am volunteering for the ReWork the World Conference and will be supporting the Youth Harvesting Team
  • I am planning on going to the Secret Garden Party to host conversations about aesthetic resilience and interactive community building (with reused materials)
  • I have am in discussions with Energy Crossroads to see how to support an social innovation camp for youth
  • I have been in discussions with New Earth Institute in Halifax for developing curriculum and a youth program
  • Continuing collaborations with community projects such as 4days festival in Halifax
  • I have been visiting and finding synergies in interesting cultural centres and Hubs around Europe
  • I have been in discussions about a writing a book about community projects and innovation
Please enjoy my other venues where I regularly post interesting videos, poems, links, organizations, and questions

Facebook - Sophia Horwitz
Twitter - Sophia Horwitz
Personal Blog - Civic Explorer's Journey (
Affiliated Websites:
* Honduras -
* Halifax - /
* Sweden -