Tamarack Reflections and I Believe in the Barking Dog

It’s Wednesday evening at the Tamarack Communities Collaborating Institute gathering. Scroll down for my first posting about the gathering. Today was chock full of workshops and a a carousel of mini-sessions. So much to take in. The mind is tired but it’s a good tired.

All I am going to share tonight is a few highlights, some key a-has!

I took in Michael Jones’ session on storytelling. I love to hear and tell stories especially about the work we do. For some reason today’s session made me think about the power of story telling as a way to bring vision to life. What I mean is using story telling about a future story of success for various clients or client archetypes – the single mom, the Aboringal man suffering fromg fetal alcohol syndrome, the homeless senior, the young gang member, and so on. The purpose here would be to express their story in the future that represents the successful achievement of our organization vision for each of them. The story would be different for each person because our vision will manifest indivdually. Could be a very powerful tool in vison setting and understanding.

I was reminded by Paul Born about the importance of stepping into systems not to change them but to find, support, and engage those in systems who want to change. They will, a long with their stakeholders identify the changes to make, not those of us trying to get the conversation going. We won’t create sustained change by changing systems from the outside. We might have short-term success but eventually that kind of change is too fragile to last because commitment levels were more forced than arrived at.

A great highlight of the day for me was givning the morning inspiration, which consisted of my reading of a piece I wrote some years back called I believe in the barking dog, which I have included at the end of this posting. As well I led the group in a great folk song called Never turning back. Google itfor the lyrics.


for Harley, a one of a kind dog, may he rest in peace

I believe in the barking dog. He keeps me awake for a reason. He digs holes and jumps fences. He wags his tail without shame and cares not what he knocks over with his happiness. He smells things I don’t want to and when he smiles, the smile is pure, never hiding guilt, always a joyful expression.

I believe in the barking dog. He sleeps in the sun and shade. Sometimes when I call to him, he just looks at me with disbelief. Other times he scampers to my side. But always when I am sad, he is there licking my face. If I ignore him, he slaps my arm with his paw, then licks the scratch he dug into my skin.

I believe in the barking dog. He warns me of danger. The spark in his eye is constant, even when he is tired or sad. He does not need much, some food and water, a pat on the head, a walk down the lane. When he is concerned, the hair on his back stands up. When he rolls onto his back to show me his belly, I know he believes in me. Sometimes he slobbers on my pillow or steals the blankets and looks curiously at me while I scold him. I know he dreams by the way he moans at night, though he never seems to want to share them with me. I like the sound of his toe nails on the wood floor, how they click a message as he patrols the house at night.

I believe in the barking dog. He has sharp teeth that could kill me and a heart that knows nothing of such evil. He thinks I am a better person than I am, no matter what I do. He feels his life clearly. I think he knows that dog is god spelled backwards, but I can tell by his big grin that sometimes he thinks it’s the other way around.

Mark Holmgren copyright  2010

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