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Peggy Holman

Bellevue, Washington


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

“How do we seed, grow, and evolve enlightened communities and inspired organizations?"

What is your personal experience of collective wisdom in groups?

I am a founder of the Open Space Institute (US) and was a steward of Spirited Work, an Open Space learning community for many years.

Whenever I work with emergent processes, in particular, Open Space, Appreciative Inquiry, and Dialogue, I see some degree of collective wisdom appear. My experience is that the more vital the purpose for coming together, the longer the gathering, the more diverse the participation, the deeper the wisdom that appears.

I have had the privilege of working in many different settings, for example, street kids in Bogotá, Palestinian teachers in Ramallah, and journalists in the U.S. They humble me with the insights that emerge from the field we create together.

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

There is something that calls me; that wakes me up when I am immersed in this work. I viscerally experience the liberation of the human spirit, individually and collectively, when emergent processes work their magic. Witnessing the light in people’s eyes, palpably feeling people, including me, connect to each other and the larger whole keeps me committed to this work. My belief is that the more people remember their capacity to act from their deepest core – taking responsibility for what they love – the more collective wisdom appears.

My current learning edge is around the nature of dynamic tensions – male/female, spirit/matter, being/doing, individual/collective, etc. I am coming to believe that collective wisdom involves growing our capacity for being with difference while staying connected. What shows up as conflict is often simply one aspect of a larger dynamic pattern. By welcoming that disturbance and understanding the nature of what it is in tension with, we can embrace the larger context from which to draw insights and answers.

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

With a background in software development, project management and Total Quality, I stumbled into this path through three pivotal experiences. In 1986, I attended a series of workshops from Context Associates that put me in touch with myself. The experience radically altered my worldview from an outward to an inward focus. In 1994, I experienced my first Open Space gathering and fell in love because it was the first time I saw a collective come together in a way that the good of the individual and of the collective were both served. From that moment, my work involved engaging people in uncovering their individual and collective answers. In 2000, I attended Nine Gates Mystery School. That brought the spiritual dimension of this work to light for me, deepening my personal practice and opening me to deeper aspects and potential for this work, which I believe is about creating a world that works for all.

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

I am happy to talk with others and be of service in ways that are meaningful.

Links to this site or others:

Engaging Emergence

The Open Circle Company

The Change Handbook: The Definitive Resource on Today's Best Methods for Engaging Whole Systems

Journalism that Matters

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