After months of gathering weekly to dialogue on the art of Generative Journalism and the New Narrative Arts, one member of a small media makers’ circle extended an invitation to disrupt the usual pattern of exchange.
“As we went around the circle checking in, I sensed, under the positive atmosphere of expectation that always gets generated at Axiom News, some density of complexity, a feeling of not-doneness, how muddiness is inevitable,” Jo Hayward-Haines wrote later.
“As the rest of us watched the exchange anyone could sense the apprehension in the room.”
— Jocasta Boone
“What happens here itself needs media, someone observed. I felt energized and engaged, I explained, because of the interviews my grandson Riley and I have been doing with each other. His mother, my daughter Avery who’s a newscaster with CityTV, had suggested this and sent along recording equipment for us.
“We have both been so surprised at the questions we came up with as well as with the answers that emerged. We had agreed on the need to create together an atmosphere of trust and clarity. So I suggested we try the same thing right now, right here as we were pondering possibilities and I felt momentum was getting lost.”
Though Jo was ready to leap in, others of the group hesitated, seeking more clarity, understanding. What theme? Who to ask? Doesn’t matter, was Jo’s response, adding “I’m writing my questions right now. Three minutes!”
Bill Templeman was one those most seeking more clarity.
“Driven by the need to balance Be and Do, we created a recording of insights that spun off each others’ statements of truth.”
— Jo Hayward-Haines
“Entered in fog, not much clarity, kicked and screamed about doing Jo’s activity,” was his description of his response.
“As the rest of us watched the exchange anyone could sense the apprehension in the room,” Jocasta Boone noted. “As we all explored our own tension between the be/do paradigm and the realization that within our own tight circle with beloved friends there was strife.”
But rather than trying to appease or rectify it, the group decided to lean in to the apprehension, tension and Jo’s determination. “We jumped in and did it. We wrote, asked and answered the questions.”
And what happened was nothing short of magical. “Beautiful, provocative questions sparked insightful, heartfelt answers,” Jocasta continues. “We got to see each other in the room in a new way, got to understand a craft in a new way, got to ‘be’ in a new way.”
“Part of this magic came from being as honest and as clear as we could be about experiences we don’t usually talk about.”
— Bill Templeman
And Bill’s insights? “We probed, engaged, then stumbled into a clearing in the forest and discovered we all wanted to stay there in the magical light. Thank you, Jo! Driven by the need to balance Be and Do, we created a recording of insights that spun off each others’ statements of truth.”
“Part of this magic came from being as honest and as clear as we could be about experiences we don’t usually talk about, like being present as a practice or a form of mental yoga,” Bill adds.
In the middle of the experience, Jo had to leave for an appointment.
She writes: “When I returned I was astonished and embarrassed to be met with applause — they were all still at it — and the experience had generated deeper insights and more shifts than had been expected. We need another word beyond gratitude.
“I have to say — thanks so much, Avery. The Inside Story lives on.”
Note: This story is a weaving together of 200-word notes emanating from the experience and crafted by Jo, Jocasta and Bill.
Illustration: The image above is a portion of visual notes taken by Yvonne Hollandy during the gathering.