Broccoli Seed Agreement

In our current consumption-driven societies, where time and knowledge are perceived as commodities and education is becoming a transactional process between clients and service providers, we would like to create a different form of relationship with those interested in learning about the work of the collective.

In our experience, we have found frequently that people look for approaches with a very strong desire for something that fits their expectations of immediate consumption, convenience and autonomy/choice (we call this “candy”): they want something practical, fulfilling and pleasurable, and very frequently they feel disappointed, frustrated and sometimes angry when they do not have their demands met and desires fulfilled. Thus, we say that, while we understand that people may want “candy”, we can only offer “broccoli seeds” that will require soil, planting, watering and attending to for a possible harvest.

We request that people engaging with our work consider the following “broccoli seed agreement” that confirms that they understand what may happen during this engagement, particularly the experiential sessions.

The broccoli seed agreement invites you to consider the following statement:

I understand that …

  1. The engagement with the work of the collective may not have any immediate practical application in my context and that is ok.
    In our experience, if participants are driven by urgencies and priorities of their own contexts, they tend to spend a lot of energy trying to make what we offer “fit” into what they expect to be useful, and sometimes we have participants imposing their own priorities on other participant and on the process itself, trying to negotiate how to make the process more useful for themselves. Because our (non-Western psychoanalytic) pedagogy is counter intuitive, you will only be able to see any results if you let it work for a while.  We ask you to bracket your priorities and sense of urgency to make space for this approach to have a chance of “landing” for you.
  2. I do not have to agree with anything presented, but I am happy to see what happens.
    Since we are not trying to convince you of any specific content, but to help you to expand your capacity to engage with multi-layered and conflicting dynamic realities, we will need to use language and images in ways that provoke discomfort.  We ask participants to take note of their discomfort, without demanding to be rescued and without taking up collective space in trying to deflect, fight or resist it. In order to protect the limited collective time we have for the tools and exercises, we ask participants who have questions or critiques about the use of words or images to contact us after the session rather than take up collective time. The more time we use to discuss individual preferences, the more we deflect from the more difficult work to be done.
  3. I may feel uncomfortable, confused and frustrated through this process and I take responsibility for observing and learning from my conscious and unconscious responses/resistances/fragilities.
    We offer you unconditional regard. Our approach does not involve though policing/silencing, confessional events or an evaluation of your virtues or character. You will be encouraged to examine the multiple voices within and around you in all their complexity and plurality, including absurdities and contradictions (practicing “acceptance without endorsement”). However, we won’t have the space/time to hear all the multiple voices within each of us that need to be heard. We will offer you tools that can help you to hold space for the different voices within yourself and we will ask you to share only what has already been processed – what you have learned from listening to different parts of yourself and of others.
  4. It is up to me to decide when to push myself further and when to stop and reflect/observe.
    In order to offer you unconditional regard, we have to lovingly not care about what you think (in terms of content). However we do care about our collective capacity to “dig deeper, and relate wider”. You have the option of participating fully or just being a witness in any exercise. If you don’t feel that an exercise is particularly suited for you, just take a step back and become a witness. You can change the exercise for yourself if you feel you need to, but please avoid trying to change the exercises for others.

Part of what is counter-intuitive about our pedagogy is that it is not trying to offer a universal description of the world or a prescription for how everyone needs to think or what everyone needs to do. This is up to each person, in each context. What we offer is an invitation to grow up and show up to each other differently as we move together in foggy terrain full of potholes.

This is not about content, but about ways of relating (to each other, to knowledge, to our self-images, to meaning, to time…). We offer a tentative aspirational compass (towards sobriety, maturity, discernment and accountability),  maps of potholes and ditches that other people have encountered (see for example the “happier, healthier, wealthier cartography“), new vocabularies that can help us see the limits of the current system within and around us (see for example “cartographies of aging“), and  a political practice based on honesty, humility, hyper-self-reflexivity and humour (see “Co-sensing with radical tenderness“).

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