Thursday, October 20, 2011

Emerging out of hibernation....with a LOT to say!

It has been quite a while since I blogged on this site  One could say that I was hibernating if one thinks of it as a time of stepping back and re-creating, and re-connecting because that is what happens during winter, when animals hibernate.  One the surface it looks as if nothing is happening, but deep inside lots of things are happening.  So what have I been doing?

In February, I started a conversation with Birgitte Davy and Margaret Laubser, and this gave birth to 'The Stream Initiative'.  We bring our skills and experience together, with a commitment to facilitating change, creative engagement around issues, and supporting growth.  Birgitte has a wealth of experience in facilitating leadership development and change in the corporate and civil society sectors - globally; Margaret has  experience as a process art facilitator and storyteller working with individuals, groups and organisations, and I have years of experience of facilitating change and leadership development in the civil society and corporate sector in Africa and the UK, using story and song as part of my tool kit.  We have a particular heart for the African continent - our home. 

We have worked slowly - meeting once a week for 6 months, using TheoryU ( as the basis to explore ways of bringing our work together.  It has been a process of building a working relationship, testing ideas together, and creating.  Our first offering was 'Sculpting Change' which we facilitated in August to a small group of diverse individuals.  We have since facilitated a bespoke programme for the 'Kamers vol geskenke' team- an amazing organisation that supports crafters all over South Africa, and holds two big craft fairs every year (  We will continue to explore ways to use creative process in our work collectively and individually.

I also spent quite a bit of time this year working with Argo Marketing - a small, dynamic media company with big dreams, that focuses on youth and education.  The owner, Sue Fontanaz, is a passionate entreperneur with a heart for education (  They have been running the Star Awards for teachers for about 4 years, in partnership with ViaAfrika.  This is the only teachers award in South Africa that recognises teachers who go the extra mile, giving non-curricula support to their learners and community.  Anyone connected with schools knows that teaching is such a challenging job, and teachers do a lot more than teach in the classroom!

This year Argo launched the Education Roundtable - an initiative aimed at bringing roleplayers in education together to explore possibility, and to build on what they were each doing for education.  I had the honour of being one of the co-facilitators.  It was a fabulous event in Johannesburg, in June, and there is an intention to keep this going.  One of the intended outcomes is to create a website that highlights top innovative projects in Education in South Africa.  This website is

I have also worked with storytelling.  Two highlights - One was facilitating 300 women through a reflective storytelling process at the University of Cape Town's Graduate School of Business's Womens conference called 'Celebrating Women through Stories!'  The participants had listened to many wonderful stories, from a range of inspiring women, and my role was to get them to connect the story that most stirred them, with their own life story, and for them to realise they too have wonderful amazing stories to tell.  And I got them to each write a short poem!  Another highlight was being invited to be a storyteller in a workshop for the Global Peace Alliance.  There I put my facilitator hat aside, and just narrated stories.

Wordpaintings in the Gallery
I have had two poetry readings - both at the Rust-en-Vrede Gallery and Clay Mueseum, in Durbanville (  The one in February it was "Broken open and beautiful: an evening of poetry and song about life, love, emigration and the Resilience of the human spirit" with a dear friend from Romania, Madalina Florea.  She has just published a bilingual anthology called "Poems with Survivor" - a beautiful piece of work.  We found parallel themes in our lives as women living on two different continents but who share common themes of teaching, being insiders and outsiders, having lived in countries undergoing political turmoil...  It was wonderful.  Then in July I performed again at the Rust-en-Vrede.  This time it was 'Portraits of my Heart - a window into my life'. This was a set of poems that were autobiographical - and reminded again of the statement "When you make it personal, everyone says, that is my story too!"  My audience was mostly white, Afrikaans speaking people, yet so many related to parts of the story - even though they were aware of how different we were.  When all is said and done, we are all human beings. 

Voicing Bodaciously...!
I started singing lessons (and have continued to sing with the Cape Town Gospel Choir) - to get back into voice, and to explore ideas that I can use in the processes that I facilitate.  That has been lots of fun.  The human voice is an amazing instrument!  When I sing, I become incredibly present and mindful.  I have to be aware of my whole body, to relax, to breath right down to the bottom of my tummy, to listen, to imagine and hear the sound, to think about the words I am communicating, to connect with the piece, myself, the accompaniment, the audience - and yet to let go and let the music work.  Singing in a group creates a great sense of community.  It requires one to pay attention to ones own part, and yet to listen carefully to the rest, and to see how one fits in with the rest.  I recently had the priveledge of singing with a group of 7 other singers, and a wonderful team of musicians - an amazing saxophonist, keyboard players, strings, guitarists drummers - with mics and monitors...  Hard work, lots of fun, and what a blessing!

The voice work will lead to new work, I believe that because in challenging times like this we need to be fully present adn mindful.. - But for now, I am just enjoying singing, and listening, and am feeling really centered and present.

Audio blogging
My most recent escapade is to build up an audio bank of talks and ideas that will go out into the world.  This is still very much in its pilot phase, but I am loving every minute of it... watch this space1