What happened at Resonate!2017?

by Benjamin Smith

“What if we usher in a new epoch by weaving resonant communities together?”

This was the calling question at Resonate!2017: the first annual gathering of individuals from around the world committed to nurturing the emergence of a new era, committed to the birth of a new way of being in relationship and community.

Over three colourful autumn days in October of this year, thirty pioneers met at The Mount Community Centre in Peterborough, Canada to sense into the calling question. Writers, business people, non-profit leaders, musicians, artists, hosts, editors, anthropologists, and more all gathered together in a spirit of curiosity and dedication to serving life through our relationships, work, and community. What does it mean to stand in resonant relationship with one another? What are the practices that support it? And, how can we weave our resonant communities together?

Resonate!2017 was hosted by The Resonance Centre for Social Evolution and its amazing Peterborough hosting team. Founded in February 2017, The Resonance Centre knits together over a decade of pioneering work in generative journalism, community dialogue hosting, and deep and published theoretical work on generative community building. 

These robust threads came together in how Resonate!2017 was hosted.

“Change happens at the speed of relationship.”
This is one of the foundational tenets of resonance. And so the three days of Resonate!2017 offered ample time and space for participants to speak and listen in small groups to core questions around intention and values, identity and gifts. These small conversations brought people into authentic relationship with one another and allowed them to show up as whole people, not just roles, masks, and expectations. It is only through the fires of vulnerability and honesty that communities can reach the shores of resonance.

Art, music, movement, and ceremony
Much of the dysfunction in our current communities stems from simply being stuck in our heads too much. We fail to allow even the slightest space for the knowledge and wisdom we can tap into through any channel other than thought and rational analysis. This is a grave error. That’s why each day of the event alternated between elements that speak to various parts of our selves. Jovanna Soligo brought us into the event with a ceremony to ground us in nature, in The Mount, and in our intentions. Luke Lee Burton inspired us to drop into group playfulness through his amazing musical offerings. Magalie Bonneau turned our attention back to the knowledge of our bodies. Dougall Woodcox came in at regular intervals to return us to our breath. There was even an old-fashioned square dance, just to cut loose and have fun.

“Resonance can never emerge as long as we insist on consensus.”
Another tenet of resonance is the belief that sustainable, healing-and-wholing paths forward can never be forced or located at some lowest common denominator – they can only be discovered through a careful nurturing of conditions and practices. The hosting team for Resonate!2017 served this tenet by inviting the participants into a tested flow throughout the event that first built the foundations of connection and relationship before sensing into the energies and gifts in the room around the calling question. In this delicate balance of structure and freedom, the participants remained focused on their intentions to be present, while also allowing for the maximum openness to emergence, surprise, and wonder.

And what did emerge was nothing less than amazing.

To begin with, a number of relationships were forged and deepened. If we are to weave our resonant communities together, we must know one another. We must, as Peter Pula says, “learn to fall in love differently.” The diversity of the participants and the depth of the small-group conversations made a perfect storm for these connections to happen. A few weeks later, we’re already seeing the new sprouts these relationships germinated. Many people venture out of their home communities in the hope of finding new, authentic connections. In this regard, the event was a home run!

Resonate!2017 also drew out the energies and commitment to a number of concrete working groups focused on the calling question. Through an adapted Open Space practice together with something we call Adventure Maps and Ask & Offers, the participants identified seven projects they were interested in diving into more deeply. One group, for example, was drawn to the question of how writing and journalism can be used as tools for change in community.

Another played with the idea of creating an engaging manifesto for the development of resonant communities. A third looked at how to create a global community of practice around resonance. More than just ideas, these projects are now meeting to see what drive there is post-event to continue their explorations and manifest them in their own communities.

Equally important to these working groups, many individuals had deep, personal insights. One participant spoke of discovering the “emotional homelessness” so many suffer from, another of the power of putting relationship first. Many reflected back their deeper understanding of the need for skilled hosting and practices supporting resonance and into the revolutionary nature of this work. Insight is rarely a sufficient condition for lasting change, but it almost always a necessary one.

All told, Resonate!2017 was an auspicious beginning. In the spirit-filled halls of The Mount, among the changing colours of fall, thirty pioneers came together to sense into a new era of resonant communities. Now, they are back in their communities exploring those relationships, those working groups, and those insights.