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IDEAS, NEWS AND RESOURCES  | January 2016    
We hope you enjoy receiving our newsletter which includes constructionist ideas and practices as well as news and resources from the Taos Institute.
Brief Encounters with The Taos Institute
This month we welcome Claire Fialkov as she shares reflections on creating new worlds of meaning as we move forward together.

Faith as a Way Forward: New Worlds of Meaning are Possible

by Claire Fialkov

I usually look forward to the year-end photo section of the New York Times, but 2015 was called the year of the great unraveling. Political and religious conflicts threatened the globe, creating uncertainty and anxiety. I found myself gazing at pictures of the Islamic State in Palmyra and Paris, Aleppo, and San Bernadino. Seeing the pain inflicted by Boko Haram and the Shabab in Africa. Witnessing abuse in Myanmar and Ukraine, and the defeat of serious Mideast peace talks.
How do we remember that new worlds of meaning are possible? How might we channel the resources of social constructionist practice to inspire a way forward, to create more faith and life giving energy in the world?
This past summer my colleague, David Haddad, and I did an inquiry about trust and safety with Kimo, an NGO of healthcare counselors and educators in Kenya. Many members of Kimo lived through ethnic or civil wars and community trauma; they are a resilient bunch. We started by creating an appreciative interview that asked, "How do you know when trust is present in a relationship, in a team, in a community? What nurtures trust and safety? What are your early experiences with trust in a family or in a group?" We talked a lot about our mutual experiences with trust. We invited comments and structured reflections about each other's personal histories and shared cultures. We wondered about the new possibilities that might emerge in the community if the valuable lessons of the past were used to create a way forward. Instead of using our English word "trust," Kimo preferred to call the interview "Imani," a Swahili word that translates to mean "faith." Nelly Nduta Ndirangu and James Karanja Kamau, Kimo team leaders (and new Taos Associates) said they had faith that the process of staying in the conversation would work. Knowing that even when we come from different tribes and disagree, we can join together. Nelly said that the benefit of having an environment of faith is that it "erases fears of interacting...this causes peacefulness and an improved positive focus on life. "
Research suggests that people who survive and rebound from trauma frequently have had an early caregiver who showered them with unconditional love. Trust comes from early on and bubbles up when we are again surrounded by safe and secure relationships. Faith is born out of harder times, when we need to draw on our resilience to survive and thrive. Faith is the capacity to not despair. The good news is that we are flexible and open to change throughout our lifetimes. We can all decide to collect micro experiences of faith throughout our lives that give rise to Imani, the faith that things can change and we can make our way forward together.
On December 21, a bus was traveling on a dirt road near Mandera, in the far Northeast corner of Kenya. The bus was attacked with gunfire and two passengers were immediately killed. The narrative had become painfully familiar, with Shabab militants ordering passengers off the bus with a separation of Christians and Muslims and the intention to kill the Christian "infidels." But this time faith prevailed. Muslim passenger Abdirazak Aden Yarow said, "First, one of us shouted that we were all Muslims, and then everyone did the same." Clothing was quickly exchanged, with the Christian women receiving headscarves from the Muslim women on the bus. In the chaos, the gunmen became confused and ordered, "Go back to your bus!" Nairobi Islamic scholar Sheikh Mohamed Ibrahim Shakul said, "it is good people see the real position of the Muslims ... this is going to bring bond and closeness." The driver of the bus, Shukri Farah Abikar said the community will not be separated because, "We live together and travel together on this road."
As I was looking at the New York Times photos of the year, I was grateful to remember the Mandera bus story. Let's all remember that new worlds of meaning are possible. Focus on the photos of the global climate change deal, the lowering of the Confederate flag over the South Carolina State House, the UN deal to limit nuclear ambitions in Iran, and the raw faith of hundreds of gatherers outside Notre Dam Cathedral in Paris to commemorate the victims of the terrorist attack. During this first month of the New Year, let's continue to discover, elevate, and send back into the community the powerful faith building practices of everyday life.  
Taos Institute Events and Gatherings - The Many Ways to Get Involved.....

Applications due  
Feb. 15th for the Taos Institute Ph.D. Program

The Taos PhD program is designed for mature professionals who wish to pursue a line of inquiry that will enrich their endeavors and speak to the concerns of a broader audience of scholars and practitioners. The grounding orientation of the program has its roots in social constructionist theory and practice. The relationship between the Taos Institute and several Dutch and Belgian universities provides the opportunity for students, whose work is approved by the matriculating university, to receive a Ph.D. The Taos Institute provides advisory and supportive services, including focused research and theory workshops where students can explore their dissertation topic in detail with Taos faculty and other students. The Ph.D. is ultimately conferred by the related university.

For information:

Upcoming Seminars:
For details and to register visit:
Click Here>

 A Conference

Join us for
Inspiring Lea
rning Life 

13 - 15 APRIL 2016 OSLO, NORWAY 

The overall purpose of this movement: 
*To increase the motivation - and indeed the joy - of learning and teaching.
*To bring education into synchrony with emerging world conditions.
*To ensure education for all, regardless of ability or need.
*To increase the opportunities for everyone to make use of their full potential.
"Designing TIE´s Future" in Madrid, Spain, 
22-24 January 2016

Join with  Taos Institute Europe for a conference and the TIE annual meeting.  This event is open to associates, friends and colleagues who are interested in learning social and relational design methodologies and also to practice them by designing new ways of organizing, working and collaborating together. We will use our own organization as a platform for practice.

Sheila McNamee, Diana Whitney and other prominent Taos associates will open the conference with a panel on Social Construction, Design and Challenges facing us in 21st-century Europe. We will learn about different design methodologies through conversations and experiences facilitated by renowned international designers--including Celiane Camargo-Borges, Jacob Storch, Luc Verheijen, Diana Whitney and others--and we will use our own organization, Taos Institute Europe, as a platform to practice (through hands-on design circles) how to move forward our co-created visions of a shared future.

The meeting will be held at the Circulo de Bellas Artes de Madrid (

More Details> 

TIE Coordinator:

Maria Munoz-Grandes - email:

FREE Downloadable Books 
We are thrilled to introduce our newest WorldShare Book and we hope you will take a few minutes to download your free copy today. 

Psychosocial Innovation In Post-War Sri Lanka
by Laurie L Charlés And Gameela Samarasinghe

This books shares the fruits of a project that focused on how psychosocial workers and staff at Family Rehabilitation Centre, an NGO (non-governmental organization) in Sri Lanka, utilize relational understandings of suffering in their psychosocial programming. This objective addresses peacebuilding efforts in transforming a country that had experienced 30 years of conflict, terminating in the end of the civil war in 2009.
See all the WorldShare Books >
NEW BOOK Getting Great Reviews

70Candles! Women Thriving in Their 8th Decade
by Jane Giddan and Ellen Cole

See more at:
by Emerson F. Rasera
Taos Institute Publications, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-938552-31-1
Paperback, 212 pages

For more information
U&ME: Communicating in Moments that Matter - New and Revised Edition
by John Stewart
Taos Institute Publications, 2014 (new and revised edition)
Paperback, 281 pages

For more information  
by Glenn E. Boyd
Taos Institute Publications, 2014
Paperback, 112 pages
ISBN: 978-1-938552-22-9

For more information
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By focusing on the positive aspects of aging, and the availability of resources, skills, and resiliencies, research not only brings useful insights into the realm of practice but creates hope and empowers action among older people. By moving beyond practices of repair and prevention, to emphasize growth-enhancing activities, practitioners also contribute more effectively to the societal reconstruction of aging. 
Appreciative Inquiry: Past, Present and Future

Celebrating with
Jane Watkins
Please join us as we gather to explore the Past, Present and Future of Appreciative Inquiry with top thought leaders in the field of AI, like David Cooperrider, Marge Schiller, Joep de Jong and many others.  Appreciative Inquiry and positive change to the world. Come be part of this thriving community as we rekindle old connections and make new ones to broaden and expand Appreciative Inquiry theory and practice.

Early bird registration ends Jan. 19th so register now! 

February 19 - 21, 2016 in Williamsburg, VA at William and Mary College, School of Education
Click here to register. 
Welcome (Bienvenidos) to the International Journal of Collaborative Practices. The Journal brings together members of a growing international community of practitioners, scholars, educators, researchers, and consultants interested in postmodern collaborative practices.

Sponsored by Taos Institute and Houston Galveston Institute

Issue 5 - Available Now in English and Spanish - 
Relational Research Symposium - A Virtual Online Learning Opportunity

Conversations About Relational Research for Social Transformation

Dates: March 14-15, 2016
Registration: Click Here
Virtual Host Location: University of Puerto Rico

Virtual Connections:
Anywhere in the World. Get a group together and join us virtually for the 2-day symposium. Or join as an individual and connect with people around the world.

Please join in this virtual conversation about relational research and explore the ways research has the potential for transforming individual lives, families, organizations, communities, and the world. We'll enter into dialogues online at the Taos Institute Learning Community site AND using a conference calling platform for live conversations and presentations. We will explore the ways in which research can be used as a resource to produce social and personal changes that expand spaces for dialogue and participation to improve human beings' quality of life.

Learn More and Register Now

The Taos Institute's mission is to bring together scholars and practitioners concerned with the social processes essential for the construction of reason, knowledge, and human value.

We are committed to exploring, developing and disseminating ideas and practices that promote creative, appreciative and collaborative processes in families, communities and organizations around the world through a social constructionist lens.

We look forward to your participation in the dialogue.  Keep up with our updates!

Dawn Dole, Executive Director
The Taos Institute
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