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Alan Briskin, PhD
Oakland, California


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 new possibilities.

How would you like to be available to others in this field?

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:

Alan's website

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.

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