What is an underlying question that gives form to your work or interest in this field?
How might the wisdom, deep within each of us, be brought
forward collectively to heal the planet? A related question involves
how the individual in a role within an existing system can act from
this place of deeper wisdom.
What is your personal experience of collective
wisdom in groups?
My experience is one of spiritual intimacy, an intimacy
that allows each person increased capacity to speak truths from deep
within themselves. There is also an experience of harmonic resonance
that can be felt in the group itself, experienced in the silence, humor,
and humility that comes through each person. Finally, there is an increased
sensing of what words need to be spoken at a given moment in time and
what right actions need to be taken collectively. The wisdom can come
through anyone and often it is an experience of delight to be surprised
by what unfolds.
What is it about the work in this field that excites
you and connects you to your own deepest self?
I am in a field lying on my back, at night, and I am
staring up into the heavens. I am in awe of the night sky but also troubled.
What is it I am supposed to do on this planet? I am here for a reason,
am I not? I know it has something to do with harmony, healing, and vibration
but also conflict and polarity. When I meet others on this path and
hear their stories, I know a joy that is hard to express. There is a
growing network of us. What is it we are supposed to do? We are here
for a reason, are we not?
Please provide a brief storyline or snapshot of
what brought you to this work.
I was fifteen and aimless, in a noble way, when I read
about a man who went into the South Bronx and created a school from
a ragtag group of delinquents and drop outs. The school was not a building;
it was constructed from the lives of the children and their experience.
I thought this was the most remarkable thing, to create directly from
the experience of life. In my twenties, I ran a school for similarly
marginal children, wards of the State of Vermont. Later, I ran programs
for inmates from inside a prison block, and still later, I researched
the lives of prison guards inside a Federal prison. These early experiences
shaped my understanding of institutions and our creative capacities
that can be harmed but never extinguished. My work has always been with
groups, their capacity to do accomplish great things and also their
capacity to do great damage. There have been many transformational experience,
conceptual frameworks, mentors, and schools of thought along the way.
Underlying them all has been an instinct for the invisible, the healing
power of story, and the capacity of forgiveness and compassion to create
How would you like to be available to others in
I am gifted by many wonderful connections and limited
by what needs attention at the end of each day. I welcome those who
want to reach out to me and am realistically cautious about how much
contact I can maintain with our growing network of colleagues and fellow
travelers. I will continue to contribute through writing, networking,
and aiding visibility of this emerging field.
Links to this site or others:
Interview of Alan Briskin by Patricia
Neal on March 22, 2007:
Listen to Alan read The
Least Qualified Among Us, one of the stories from Centered
On the Edge.