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Share the Work (and Love) (S.5, Ep.10)

March 7

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About This Episode

In this episode (Season 5, Episode 10), co-hosts Jessica Beckendorf and Bob Bertsch talk about sharing the work and love – one of the eight ways of cultivating community resilience identified in the “Connecting Communities in Asset-based Community Recovery” project.

“Connecting Communities in Asset-based Community Recovery” is a collection of resources developed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic presented some really difficult challenges, but it also revealed some opportunities for building better systems and communities.



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Kalin Goble: Welcome to Practicing Connection, a podcast exploring the personal stories and collective practices that empower us to work together to improve our resilience and readiness in a rapidly changing world. Here to start the conversation are Jessica Beckendorf and Bob Bertsch.

Bob Bertsch: Hi, and welcome to the Practicing Connection Podcast. Today, we’ll be talking about sharing the work and the love, one of the eight ways of cultivating community resilience that we identified in our Connecting Communities in Asset-Based Community Recovery Project.

Jessica Beckendorf: In 2021, we worked with our colleagues Bridget Scott and Cheryl Kniesel to host interactive workshops with the purpose of providing a space to share our stories of community recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants in these workshops included military family service providers, extension educators, community developers, and others. Using the Asset-Based Community Recovery framework developed by Jonathan Massimi and Heather Keam for the Tamarack Institute, we worked together to identify the interdependencies, capacities, and assets that had emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic response.

The stories participants shared during the workshops helped point us toward what communities did really well in their recovery and what they could do a little better.

Bob: Yes, as we reflected on those incredible stories that we heard about in the workshops, eight themes for building individual and community resilience emerged for us. We’ve been discussing each of these themes in a podcast episode. So far, we’ve talked about five of those themes. We’ve got three more to go. You can find the past episodes on our website at In this episode, we’re going to be discussing the theme, Share the Work and the Love. Participants in the Asset-Based Community Recovery workshop shared several stories of people with unique strengths joining forces to help their community.

We heard the story of military kids using their experience with family transitions to help their classmates deal with the rapid changes that were brought on by the pandemic. One participant shared the story of community members who organized a pop-up food pantry to help their neighbors. These are examples of people sharing their strengths to help each other, and they can seem pretty simple, like the North Dakota native living in Texas who shared their knowledge of how to get cars unstuck during a major snow and ice storm, or the story of a youth who helped seniors learn to use technology to stay in touch with their families during COVID-19.

Jessica: You wouldn’t know anything about getting your car unstuck during major snow and ice storms?

Bob: No, not at all.

Jessica: Nothing at all? Okay. Participants also shared more complicated examples as well, including the story of young entrepreneurs who started a mutual aid company to help their community and then went on to run for elected office. The unique contributions of individuals, whether they seemed big or small, when organized in coordination and collaborations, aid in community resilience and recovery. Participants praised 4-H volunteers, health care, and other essential workers, city and county workers, faith-based communities, and others in stepping up to help.

Participants also told stories of communities demonstrating shared purpose and shared values. One community came together for the shared purpose of taking care of kids and their families by distributing supplies at their local school, and another community organized a bright-lights parade of cars in place of the usual holiday celebration. These kinds of stories are not unusual in the wake of a crisis, but participants in the workshops hoped the sense of community and connection these stories represent would still be felt after the pandemic. Sharing the work of and our love for the community is critical not only for recovery, but also for building the resilience necessary to face future disasters.

Bob: Yes, Jessica, like you said, it’s pretty clear that disaster recovery and preparedness and community resilience in general is shared work. Nobody can do it alone. Let’s try to get more specific about some of the things that we can think about when we’re trying to create those conditions for this kind of collaboration, especially when our community is not facing a disaster or crisis of some kind. Let’s start with the idea of fostering co-creation and collaboration to connect with community members and invite those affected by an issue to get involved in addressing it.

You have a lot of experience working with communities and organizations, and I’m interested in what your experience has been fostering that kind of co-creation and collaboration with the communities and organizations you’ve worked with.

Jessica: Yes, I would say that I’ve seen some really good examples of this, but I will admit, I’ve maybe seen some more examples of this not happening. I will say that I do think this is shifting a little. I’ve noticed a little bit of a shift, but many times over the years I’ve been the person in the room asking, “Who is affected by this issue but isn’t here in this room? How can we invite them?”

I don’t usually say this part in the moment, but that statement’s actually missing an important part because it really isn’t and shouldn’t be about inviting someone to be part of a movement about an issue that affects them, but it really should be about how we can pause for a moment and maybe even start over a bit, moving forward together along the way. I think to me, once a group realizes that there’s no one in the room that’s directly affected by the issue, that that should be the moment that they pause and reassess what they’ve been doing and make a plan for how they’re going to engage with those affected or frankly, in a way, like I said before, start over and then co-construct or co-create, recreate the group accordingly.

Go and engage and recreate the group if there’s a group to be had accordingly, because without that, there really isn’t collaboration. It’s really about if you get to the point where you’ve been working on an issue or you’ve been meeting with some people and talking about an issue you’re concerned about, but there really isn’t anyone directly affected by this issue in the room, I think a group really needs to ask themselves, “Are we ready to tackle this issue? Do we have more groundwork to do?” Because you probably do.

You probably have more groundwork to do before you actually organize and start doing tasks and having goals related to this and starting again from a place of humility, like going back to that place, “Let’s pause for a minute. Let’s be a little humble here. What have we been missing.” Even in effective coalitions, I sometimes see the struggle between the members of that coalition.

You and I have talked about this on the podcast before, this idea of Blue Box thinking, it’s from the work of Robyn Keast, where an organization, or I’ve even seen an entire sector, might engage in behaviors that communicate to other organizations or to other sectors that you all need to jump onto our organization’s or sector’s way of doing and thinking about the issue. Essentially, they’re seeing themselves as that blue box, which really refers to being on top or a bit in charge, or your way of seeing things is the way to go, the way for everyone to move forward.

When you might need to consider those other sectors, those other organizations might’ve been tackling that same issue from other angles for decades or longer, and coming in and being that one who’s like, “You all need to see it from the way we do things” is not the right approach.

Bob: Yes, I’m really glad that you brought in Robyn’s work and the idea of humility. I’m so glad that you brought that in. It reminds me of Sandra an der Hel’s work on co-production. She was looking at co-production of research products. What she was able to do is define three different logics, the reasoning behind why scientists were co-producing and how they were co-producing. The first logic is the logic of accountability.

You’re pretty much going to do what you’re going to do, but you might want to be accountable to people, especially like funders, for instance. Let’s invite stakeholders in, and bringing these folks in as a way of just saying, “Well, we’re going to be accountable so when we finish the work, we can say, hey, we consulted these people and they can feel involved in it,” but it’s really just kind of a checks and balances approach. Then the next logic is the logic of impact. This is the idea of bringing somebody into the room to help you have a wider impact.

You’re not really interested in what they have to say about what you’re creating or the solution you’re creating. You’re just hoping by inviting these people in, then you’ll get more people to listen to your work. If we were doing something to help military spouses who are looking for employment, for instance, this would be the logic of bringing in military spouses, not because we really care about their opinions, but because once we launch the program, they’ll be on our side and help us spread the program and have a wider reach or impact.

By the way, there’s no value judgments here. We’re just talking to them on a scale. I was sharing this one time in a presentation. Somebody asked me, I was like– I had put it on a slide and for unknown reasons, really it had no meaning. I think I had colored each logic, like red, yellow, and green. That must have been subliminal on my part. They said, “Do the colors mean anything? Is one better than the other?” I’m like, “No, not really. They’re just different. There’s different ways of

approaching it.

Jessica: That’s really interesting though. That’s the same kind of feedback that Robyn Keast got on her work. That’s how the whole Blue Box thing came because it was just a slide that she had randomly chosen and the blue box happened to be at the top of all of her diagram. People were like, “Well, am I the blue box?” She got curious about that. This is interesting. Go ahead. Sorry.

Bob: No, people react to that. I just want to– you could probably hear that we’re advocating for more co-creation and collaboration, but that’s not to say that, taking a logic of impact doesn’t have some value. It might have some value, but it’s just not reaching all the way to that co-creative or collaborative space. The third logic, and this is where we get to that co-production, co-collaboration or co-creation space is the logic of humility. I’m just going to read what Sandra wrote about the purpose of co-production in this logic to be humble and reflexive about the role of science and society.

Remember, she’s talking about scientists, but I think we could apply that across the board. Humility, like you brought up, Jessica, and reflection. We’re not the only ones who can tackle this issue. Being really reflexive about why are we interested? What are we trying to achieve? Are we trying to be the blue box? What is really happening here? Continuously looking at that.

I think– Sandra van der Hel doesn’t necessarily address this, but I think in our experience and the more that we have talked about collaboration and co-creation, I think that reflection and humility is not something that we just do at the beginning, although that’s helpful, but that as we’re working with people and as we’re working on an issue that we’re continuously coming back to that sense of humility and reflection on like, how are we doing? As a group, even, like, “How are we doing on this, guys? Are we really getting collaboration? Are we really getting co-creation? Are we really setting a stage and creating an environment?”

I think when we go back and talk about the community resilience side of this, by doing that even as just one small group, you are creating part of the environment that maybe can help the entire community and provide an example for other groups as a way of working together.

Jessica: Some of the best examples that I have seen of this kind of co-creative collaborative work really started from that place of humility where people noticed or had been told about a need and then started to get curious about it. You and I like to talk about how curiosity is a really great place to start, coming at this from having worked in a lot of very rural communities, the best examples have started from the place of humility.

I do think that people can start from one of those, like the logics of co-production from one of those other logics. I do believe that they can change as a group too once they realize, “Oh my goodness, what have we been doing? Let’s just stop the presses for a moment. [chuckles] Let’s regroup. Let’s remake ourselves. Let’s rethink all of this.” I do think that that’s very, very possible.

Bob: Yes. It’s part of that reflexive process too. Because we are only aware of the ways of working that we have experienced. Maybe not we’re only aware of, but we definitely tend to adopt the ways of working that we have experienced. Most of us have mostly experienced hierarchical ways of working. Honestly, this is not some kind of value judgment about the culture or anything. It’s just true that most of us have experienced very little true co-creation and collaboration. That means we have to be thoughtful about that.

Jessica: It’s such an important part. I think one of the biggest ways that we can practice this kind of mindset, I guess, this co-creative collaborative mindset, is actually to practice it at all the micro levels and at macro levels. You can practice reflexivity at a conversation level even. You can bring it right down to the level of how it looks at that level is, “I’m going to be open, curious, humble. I’m going to know enough about myself that I’m willing to be a little vulnerable and share with other people. I’m going to be open to what they’re saying, and then I’m going to reflect on it after. Even at that level, you can be practicing this kind of a mindset.

Another thing that we could think about is engaging in a range of perspectives and experiences. We need to seek out diversity in all forms. It’s the only way to find the unique strengths that are needed to address the complex challenge of community resilience.

Bob: I think not just the strengths, very important, by the way, especially this is discussion about asset-based community resilience, that’s where the assets come from, in large part is the strengths of the individuals in the community. I think also fostering this diversity opens up the adjacent possible. It’s like the door that we didn’t know existed until we met each other. Neither of us knew that this door existed. Then we connected and we realized, “Oh, wait, this is something that is possible.” It existed all the time. That door was always there, but we just couldn’t see it until we had connected the dots.

Jessica: Our peripheral vision was terrible until we met each other.

Bob: Yes. That’s a great way of putting it. This kind of diversity I think opens up lots of adjacent possibles. That if all these possibilities, all these potential paths forward exist for our group or our organization or our community, the more that we foster these kinds of diversities of perspective, the more that we will be able to see those paths. Jerry Nagel and Kathy Jardine have written about this and they use this term “Worldview intelligence,” which recognizes that each individual organization, community, and system has one or more unique worldviews.

We’ve talked a little about assets and strengths and perspectives, but also just a way of seeing the world that we each have one or more unique way of seeing the world. They suggest that the greatest opportunities and innovations come from when those intersections between worldviews happen. Just like the adjacent possible idea from Steven Johnson. The ability for us, if we can build our skills to invite in and hold space for those perspectives or worldviews, that’s going to allow us to make better decisions, make progress on complex issues and get to that place of co-creation and collaboration.

Jessica: I really love that you brought up the appreciation of the many varied and unique worldviews. In some of the workshops that I teach, we actually touch on the aspect of both engaging with some bravery and vulnerability by being willing to share your own worldviews with others. I think that’s really hard for a lot of people. It puts you in the spotlight a bit because you’re sharing something that you think about a topic and that’s maybe not hard for everyone, but it is hard for a lot of people. It puts you in the spotlight.

What’s hard about that partly is not just the vulnerability of it, because that’s definitely part of it, but also we need to understand that how we feel right now in this moment might shift over time a little. How we feel right now in this moment, we need to be able to share that and have conversations about it and learn from other perspectives so that later we can shift a little, but we can’t do that if we don’t share anything about how we’re thinking. We touch on both that aspect and about being curious and open to hearing other worldviews and more than hearing.

Being curious about what their worldview is, but then when they share their worldview, being curious about that. Like, “Oh, tell me a little more about that. That’s different than what I’ve experienced or than what I know or what I think and I’m really interested in your experiences about that.” We touch on both sharing your worldviews hearing, others worldviews, and then reflecting on that.

Again, if you’ve heard, this is part of the reflexive process that we’ve already mentioned, but then reflecting on that and being willing to learn and grow from it, which I think is one of the vehicles that can actually get us to that ability to making better decisions and to making progress together if we allow ourselves to reflect and grow from our interactions and from hearing the different perspectives.

Bob: I love that, Jessica. I’m only going to call out one Practicast for this because there’s a ton of Practicasts we could probably call out in all of here, but when you’re talking about opening yourself up to worldviews and being curious and opening to hearing others, Jessica has a great practice on empathetic listening that we recorded a Practicast on recently. Check that out on the website,

That’s a great way to start practicing that curiosity and empathy that will allow us to be curious and open to other worldviews and find that intersection that Jerry and Kathy talk about that, results in the greatest opportunities and innovations. One other thing that I think we might want to talk about is exploring new ways of working together. We’ve alluded to this a couple of times about how our structures might affect our ability to do some of the things we’ve talked about already.

Working together, especially across differences, is not easy. New ways of organizing people and communicating with each other to aid collaboration and help us branch out beyond the structures and mindsets that we’ve become used to can be really important to getting to this collaborative community resilience that we’re talking about and sharing the work and the love that we’re talking about today.

Jessica: This reminds me of the chaotic stepping stones. I know that’s a really strange word. Chaotic stands for basically the chaos and order, it’s kind of pushed together. When you think about this in terms of ways of working together, the chaotic stepping stones at their core is really a set of questions that you can use. I’m sure you can use it for many, many reasons. The ways I’ve used it has been in planning processes and how we might approach a particular issue that a group is trying to deal with.

Also, I have used it in just planning one meeting. How can we maintain that balance between, right, you can be overly chaotic, which is really uncomfortable for a lot of groups, and you can be overly in the order area. What I have seen a lot of times is a lot of groups get together because, frankly, none of us has time to be part of another volunteer group. [chuckles] We get into these, and I think our go-to, and you’ve heard me say this over and over again, our go-to is to like, “Let’s get right to the actions as quickly as we possibly can.” That’s really over in that order side.

Chaos isn’t bad. Order isn’t bad. Being in the space of chaos and order, that balance between the two, you’re not even striving necessarily to be there all the time, but it is a healthy space to be in, and I think it’s what we’re talking about here with the key word being explore. Allowing for that exploration in a way that allows for a bit of this circuitous, squiggly line of exploring, while also providing just enough order to keep moving things forward. Being able to set aside time or rituals.

Rituals could be annual, rituals could be monthly. It just really depends on the group that allow for some of that exploration of how you might tackle particular issues or tasks while still accomplishing some of those important milestones. Allowing for a bit of chaos in the exploration while also trying to add just enough order in there to keep moving things forward. Getting to tasks immediately is not conducive to relationship building. It’s also not conducive to innovative or different approaches. It’s something that I think even needs to be incorporated. The idea of allowing for exploration of ideas needs to be incorporated, even at the group principles level.

If your group has sort of some ground rules, some people call them ground rules, even at that level, so you’re trying to incorporate that into the culture of your group that you’re going to allow for some exploration, but that you also are going to keep things moving forward.

Bob: Yes, I think it’s that’s really helpful, Jessica. Thanks for sharing that. The chaotic path or chaotic stepping stones are really, I think, a great place to start to think about some of these alternative structures and practices. The other thing I’ll say is, it can be really difficult. I’m not trying to discourage you from doing this, but it can be really difficult to just say, “Well, we’re going to throw out the traditional way of structuring things. We’re going to adopt something brand new, whole cloth.” Because, as we mentioned before, everybody is used to the traditional ways.

I think it can be really useful to try and work it in and just try and shift maybe some of the group. When you’re talking about inviting some chaos and some relationality and things like that into groups, I think there’s some resources out there. Again, I don’t want to make this like pointing to a million different Practicing Connection podcasts you can listen to, but I think of Bjorn Peterson and his great podcast that he shared with us where he talked about using art to do that. Just trying to bring in something that is not what we would expect to talk about in a meeting. The music we like or what we think of a piece of art or doing a drawing together or something. These little ways of trying to incorporate those things.

Jessica: Like what piece of art or what song reminds you of this issue that we’re dealing with here today? It’s one of the things I have appreciated about Bjorn’s work is he has this something called the cycle of praxis for community development. One of the things I really appreciate about it is part of that cycle is, after a group has explored their lived experience and brought that forward about a particular issue, then one of the steps is exploring the cultural artifacts of that issue.

I think when I’ve tried to implement this among very traditional thinking groups, that part has been so confusing to them. Like, “Let’s just get to the task,” yet it seems like a very grounding way to begin. Just before you get to that discussion of tasks, it’s a really cool addition to any discussion. It gets at what we’re talking about here, which is exploring new ways of working together. Maybe those artifacts, those cultural pieces are not going to contribute to your actual tasks that you end up doing later, but they might. It’s like this other thing you can bring in to think a little differently.

Bob: Look for those. That’s what I would encourage people to look for those little ways. There are whole systems, different systems for organizing, like the Jemez Principles. Six simple rules that were put together by people who got together and wanted to work on an issue together. They’re great principles for gathering that might not be the traditional way that we would think of of gathering and organizing, or the pro-social process, which you can find out about at, which, again, is the same idea. Different principles, actually they’re called core design principles.

They’re a little bit different principles. Some overlap with the Jemez Principles, but just exposing yourself to those things and thinking, “Well, how might I bring this or a little bit of this feeling to whatever it is that you’re organizing or to organizations that you’re already a part of,” I think can help us get to this point of co-creation and collaboration.

Jessica: Let’s get into some action steps that can help you start to share the work and love. One of the first ones we’ve identified is inviting someone to co-learn with you. Collaboration can be really difficult and high-risk. Asking someone to learn about a community issue with you has lower stakes and can build a foundation for a collaboration.

Bob: Another action step you might think about taking is to host a conversation about something you care about. Again, using these principles we’ve talked about about humility and wanting to co-create, but get people together, talk about an issue, help people connect with each other, reveal their unique strengths without hopefully jumping right to the tasks and getting things done.

Jessica: I would say even without an expectation. We need to go in with the mindset that we all can learn from each other, but without an expectation that someone’s going to teach you something. Next, subvert the traditional structure of an interaction, conversation, or meeting. The ways we communicate are often grounded in old frameworks with uneven power relationships. Try turning those frameworks upside down. Answer the question, “How are you” with something other than, “I’m fine,” or co-create the agenda for a meeting after it has already started.

Bob: I love that way of disrupting things. It’s not just disrupting the order, right?

Jessica: Yes.

Bob: You were talking about chaos and order. Not just the order in the room or in the organization or between the people and the relationships, it’s also disrupting the order in our mind. We love patterns. We love to operate in patterns as humans. Just doing something like that can also just, like a snap of the fingers, snap us out of it for a minute and get us thinking a little bit differently.

Jessica: It’s exactly why Bob and I often very much talk about maintaining presence, being present with things because our minds are often running constantly. When we talk about subverting traditional structure of an interaction or a conversation or meeting, we’re really talking about– we all know how to have an interaction, we all know how to have a conversation and we all know how to have a meeting, but we have these regular patterns that we are into and some of them are unhealthy and some of them are just perpetuating old structures. Let’s find different ways to be different. [laughs] Just be different. That’ll be our new slogan, be different.

Bob: I like it. Thanks, Jessica. That’s it for this episode. You can learn more about how you can help connect communities to build their resilience from our free booklet, Eight Ways to Cultivate Community in Times of Change, which is full of practical ways you can boost your community building and deepen relationships. You can receive a digital version of the booklet by just emailing us. Send us an email. Our new email address, by the way, if you have the other one saved, is Thanks for joining us. You can keep up with Practicing Connection by subscribing to the podcast in your favorite podcast app, and by joining the Practicing Connection community on LinkedIn, visit to subscribe and join.

Jessica: Finally, we’d also like to thank our co-producer, Coral Owen, our announcer, Caitlin Goble, Maggie Lucas, and Terry Miesenbach for their help with marketing, and Nathan Grimm, who composed and performed all the music you hear on the podcast. We hope you’ll join us next week for a Practicast on using improvisation techniques to change the way you work. In the meantime, keep practicing.


Kalin: The Practicing Connection Podcast is a production of One Op, and is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Office of Military Family Readiness Policy, U.S. Department of Defense, under award numbers 2019-48770-30366 and 2023-48770-41333.

[00:31:39] [END OF AUDIO]


March 7
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