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Blog #12 The new book is in the world - Three Rivers Flowing

So my new book is out: Understanding Phenomenological Reflective Practice in the Social and Ecological Fields Three Rivers Flowing – on a social practice that is attuned to the living world.


Summarising some of the book, in Blog #11 I offered an alternative to instrumental work – an approach founded on a living frame, foregrounding observing, understanding, and then working ‘alongside’, accompanying, and working from the ‘inside-out’ of a social organism (a group, community or organisation), as well as highlighting responsivity and receptivity that is edgy and present.


Some 10 years ago I embarked on this journey of exploring living practice to understand how to bring some fresh and rigorous new sensibilities to practice in the social and ecological fields. Those sensibilities can be understood as phenomenological and reflective (hence the title of the new book). The nub of the new sensibilities is perhaps best understood through the question explored by a gathering of 26 people at Towerland, South Africa early on this journey.


Allan Kaplan and Sue Davidoff (key mentors in writing this book), in hosting a gathering over a six-day retreat at Towerland, asked us to reflect on the living question:


Can a social practice that foregrounds observation contribute to healing in the world?’


Enfolded in this question is much to ponder. For example -

  • An observational practice without reaching for effect or an instrumental need to change things.

  • An observational practice that is in a subtle way an intervention in-and-of-itself.

  • An observational practice characterised by rigour, care, imagination, linking the inner and outer, the movement that is life, that reaches to perceive from the ‘inside-out’ of organisms, yes, social organisms too, and;

  • A participatory sensory observation that is not detached yet is rigorous.

I assume the reader is left with more questions than answers in this quest for the nub. But patience is needed (or buy the book :)).


In my next blog, i'll begin to explore the four elementals of this phenomenological reflective practice and how it can be applied.

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