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Sheryl Erickson
Uxbridge, Massachusetts, USA

(508) 278-3247 fax


Sheryl (bottom left) with daughters, Hannah and Sophie and husband, Martin Fuchs (three at right of photo) on an Alaskan glacier

What is an underlying question that gives form to your work or interest in this field?

What can we aspire together to create?

What is your personal experience of collective wisdom in groups?

Because I am visually oriented, spatial and kinesthetic, my sensitivities in groups often show up by means of image, intuitions, patterns, metaphors or provocations that appear in the moment. This is my experience of what can happen in 1:1 conversations, just as it also happens “when three or more are gathered together”. I am alert to tone of voice, energy of intent and glimmerings of ideas that arise spontaneously between two people or within a group. Over the years, with more opportunities to practice, I am noticing greater awareness and readiness for these more subtle dimensions that present themselves in groups. Many are maturing in skills of dialogue, group listening and the creative process.

Aesthetics and a natural inclination for design, play strong roles in my own personal inclination to seek coherence and make things manifest when working in groups. I love to create tangible artifacts -- in ensemble -- from substantive material that demonstrates a clear message and ability to engage. For me, there is immense power and vitality generated when a group creates something tangible together, when they spontaneously and organically tap into complementary talents and skills, give form or clear shape to ideas and experience what it is to crystallize collective intent.

I became most conscious of my call to convene groups and explore the creative capacities of groups about 15 years ago with a first large gathering of 375 people in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. This gathering came into form from a strong personal intuition, inspiration and the power of collective creative process that was spirit-filled. This was the first of two Bretton Woods Gatherings that I felt called to create (with Terri Seever and a large circle of fellow stewards) on behalf of a community of colleagues beginning to form a field of study and practice identified as organizational learning. Based on these early illuminating experiences, I have continued to convene gatherings large and small, to experiment with group creative process and now turn my attention to deeper understanding of the capacities of collective wisdom. I am asking, “What is this emerging field of study and practice? How can I (with others) support its emergence and well-being?”

What is it about the work in this field that excites you and connects you to your own deepest self?

What excites me about this work is that helping to evolve the emerging field of collective wisdom represents a convergence of spiritual awareness and insight, ease and growing finesse with a collective creative process, and maturing of a more refined intellectual capacity, all in service of action in the world. I know that I have a part to play in this emerging field of collective wisdom. I also know in my bones that -- in my quiet, persistent and behind-the-scenes manner -- I am called to this work to find a larger dynamic and enabling structure to further the work. I am here as a midwife, guardian of the perimeter and one-who-fans-the-flames of the Collective Wisdom Initiative.

Please provide a brief storyline or snapshot of what brought you to this work.

My early life experience was nested in a rural environment, living in a small Oregon community, surrounded by the fertile Willamette Valley and lush forests. Trees, rain, ferns, fog, moss. More rain. Forests teaming with life. Appreciation and reverence for Nature were pillars of everyday life. Most of my early years were spent out of doors. Mountains, streams, wild animals and the weather were constant companions.

I mention these, because I believe strong connections with the vibrancy of nature during my youth has brought me to the work that is my calling today. It has to do with cultivating our capacities of collective wisdom, with our ability to tap into the fullness of life and to partner with and be guided by it.

My Scandinavian and Swiss ancestry and family lines imbued in me values of caring for one another in community, generosity, integrity, humility and a high regard for ingenuity and resourcefulness. That which today I consider “spiritual” was woven into everyday life, embodied and made manifest through relationships. These too have brought me to my part in the Collective Wisdom Initiative.

In the course of moving into larger worlds from that rural beginning, I have been drawn to find my resonant place and to contribute to endeavors that have been inherently generative: design and evaluation of early childhood education programs, curriculum instruction and design, community organizing, applied social science research, human services systems design, leadership development, graphic design and group explorations of the creative process. Based on these experiences, I have found myself regularly convening groups and gathering together colleagues, compelled by a desire to practice the creative process and by the possibility of turning imaginings and ideas into manifest form. I love to make things and to design spaces and experiences where people engage and co-create with one another. Guided by a natural aesthetic and spatial orientation, I find my sensitivities expanding, seeking greater understanding of nuance and what has been described as subtle realms. How do I/ we become more facile with skills of accessing, discerning and expressing insight and multiple ways of knowing? How do we become more skillful in this practice as ensembles?

A number of authors and books have been instrumental in shaping my thinking that moved me toward my collective wisdom work today: Paulo Friere, Pedagogy of the Oppressed; Krishnamurti (all of his writings); Christopher Alexander, The Timeless Way of Building and The Nature of Order; A Course in Miracles; Chogyam Trungpa, Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior; Faith and Practice: New England Yearly Meeting of Friends and Lynn Hoffman, Exchanging Voices. I am also grateful for the teachings and opportunities for practice with Robert Fritz, Charlie Kiefer and Peter Senge, The Fifth Discipline, for their intricate interweaving of ideas and practices of the creative process, collective alignment, power of enrollment, systems thinking and the call to create together the future to which we most aspire.

I have been called over the past 15-20 years to learn more of what can come through groups who join one another with caring and a common intent, in service of something larger than self-interest. My underlying question has continued to deepen: What can we aspire together to create? How can we consciously cultivate capacities of collective wisdom? How do we cultivate and trust in the power of relationships and in the integral presence of that which is spiritual, i.e., profound meaning, coherence, wholeness and our collective potential for serving humanity?

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

I am available through the Collective Wisdom Initiative website and directly by email. If you would like to contact me, let’s begin in this way. It is most valuable for me to connect initially at least by telephone and to allow insight or ideas to come through a relaxed and exploratory conversation. My commitment is to serve the emergence of the collective wisdom field by co-creating with people in this field.

The aperture of possibilities for me is wide. Day by day, I am listening, watching, sensing, acting on image and inspiration as I experience the collective wisdom field present itself through the CWI website. Please join me in doing the same. I welcome your reflections and observations on behalf of this emerging field. We can listen together for insight and guidance and then find, invent and enable what is natural and a next right action.

Links to this site or others:

Collective Wisdom Initiative


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