I recently wrote about Kiva
- an amazing microfinace website and then on the human touch
- the importance of face to face communication in my Knowledge Cafes and so I was delighted to receive this email from Larry Gardiner that I have included in full:
First an update on your item about Kiva. We asked our family and friends to send Kiva Gift Certificates instead of cards and presents at Christmas after reading about Kiva.org in your newsletter. 15 Kiva certificates have now been redeemed and we receive regular bulletins on our portfolio of micro-finance investments from Cambodia, Vietnam, Peru, Mexico, Nigeria and Kenya. Each of our investments is thriving and the most rewarding part of watching their progress is the sense of solidarity which I think is also a feature of the human touch you were talking about.
We have started convening Parent Cafe's too. The purpose here is to facilitate knowledge sharing around the development of parent and peer advocacy for families with disabled children (http://www.parentadvocatestogether.org.uk). We also have used the time-discipline you talked about so that each person has the same amount of air-time.
We have not intentionally set out to create a therapeutic knowledge cafe, or I suppose what would be a support group session, but to simply borrow from a framework of ideas (which we do use to promote emotional support and 'discharge' in other parent support groups convened for that specific purpose). I suppose that when everyone knows that they will get their own space, their own air time and their own opportunity to think and listen out loud, it makes it easier for us to relax and to listen and to process on what what each speaker is saying.
While we didn't deliberately set out to do this awarely; solidarity and mutual self-help and assistance are what we seem to be eliciting in each of our own knowledge cafe ventures. It is very satisfying and rather beautiful both to see and to experience. It is rather that the experience of using co-counselling tools in that setting that has enabled us to cross-pollinate some of the ideas. We have noticed that they have been useful in promoting an emotional safety allowing people to enjoy and even to revel in the human touch you talked about.
You are absolutely right to claim that it is this human touch which is the key distinguishing feature of the knowledge cafe phenomenon. Essentially, we now set out purposefully to cultivate, nurture and promote every opportunity for creating that human touch you have described in every knowledge cafe where we participate. From experience we can state that 'the human touch is also the magic touch!' As far as culture change is concerned; this is simply a smarter way to work.
Secretary - Parent Advocates Together