Marc Gardiner

The Solution-Focused Collective meeting on 10th May looked at how solution-focused ideas and practices can be brought to bear on environmental matters.

A record turnout (17 of us) listened to the reflections of four solution-focused practitioners who’ve been considering this: Mirjana Radovic (Serbia), John Sharry (Ireland), Fred Ehresmann (England – and also working with John in Ireland) and Mark Allenby (England). The conversation then opened out to all, and it was a good one. See this subsequent blog by Fred.

During this open discussion, John Sharry mentioned the book From What Is to What If, by Rob Hopkins, a resident of Totnes, England and founder of the Transition Town movement, which has global reach. John sees the essence of solution-focused thinking in the book, which argues that better futures are best created by starting with asking “What if” the world could be like x, and imagining the rich detail. John said he doesn’t know Rob, nor whether Rob knows and is influenced by solution-focused practice.

Following some discussion of the book, we agreed this will be our text for the SF Collective Reading Group meeting of 20th July. I’ve since been reading it, and can see something of SF in there.

Cut to Saturday 5th June, and I’m on Plymouth Hoe for the start of Extinction Rebellion (XR)’s walk to the G7 summit at Carbis Bay, south-west Cornwall, an impressive action organised by Totnes XR. I spotted Rob Hopkins and decided to seize the moment and went over and introduced myself. We chatted for a minute, then I said, “I have a question for you: do you know about solution-focused practice?”

Mystery solved: the answer was “No.” So I explained a bit about SF, and the SF Collective, and about John’s reference to Rob’s book. He showed some interest, though he had other stuff to attend to right then. Later that day I emailed him details of the SF Collective. I wonder if he’ll look into SF, and us.

I find it interesting when different thinkers, practitioners and activists arrive at a comparable place via different routes. I remember when I first came across Appreciative Inquiry and was surprised to learn that David Cooperrider & co. had no knowledge of the work of the founders of SFBT.

So: to what extent does Rob Hopkins’ thinking in From What Is to What If contain something of SF?

If you fancy discussing this, read it and join us at our Reading Group – details below.

SF Collective Reading Group

Date: Tuesday 20th July 2021

Time: 6-8pm London time (BST)

Location: Zoom – please email for the link

We look forward to seeing you there

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