Friday, May 15, 2015

Okay, Now What?

by Connie Goodbread

Every change changes everything.  - Rabbi Edwin Friedman

In science, the “observer effect” refers to the fact that the act of observation will change the phenomenon being observed. The mere presence of the scientist in the experiment effects the measurements.  This is a great example of systems theory in action.  Systems theory is the biological theory of wholeness; everything is connected.  Isolated parts cannot be fully understood until they are understood within the system.  It is a trans-disciplinary theory, therefore, it applies to human (emotional) systems as well as physical systems.  Cleaning off your desk will affect the way you work.  Painting the nursery in the Education Wing will affect how the congregation behaves.  Every little change in a system affects the entire system.

There has been so much change in our Association that, at times, it can make your head swim.  Whether you have been paying attention or not, you need to know that every little change will have an effect on our system, yours and mine, and big changes are sometimes too big to even comprehend.  The big changes that we have been working on lately are so large that the system must now play catchup.  Building a new way means not doing things the old way, and yet the old way is in place and so homeostasis pulls us back in the old direction time and time again.

Our Southern Region did not create a large District called a Region.  We are really trying something new.  Trying something new can be scary.  It’s an adventure and that is exciting, but there is nothing sure about it - there is no road sign that says “the right way.”  Things that we are used to will change.  Mistakes will be made - course corrections will need to happen.  Great successes will be had and celebrated.

Every change changes everything.  The rest of the system does not reflect, and at times does not support, the changes that we have made.  In other words, the support system is in place to maintain the way things used to work – not necessarily the way they work now, much less how things will work in the future.  Sometimes leaders get confusing information.

For example, here is how the Southern Region supports Renaissance Modules and OWL trainings.

The Southern Region staff recognizes the tremendous value of Renaissance Modules and OWL trainings. Since Renaissance Modules and OWL trainings are generally requested by congregations, clusters,  religious educators and LREDA chapters the Southern Region staff sees itself in a support role for these events. The Southern Region staff will gladly help with registration, if needed, and publicity (regional calendar, newsletter, and website, as appropriate). Please check out our comprehensive planning guide for event planners and hosts, and let us know how we can help promote your event.

Link to event support guide:
OWL Training (UU):
OWL Training (UCC):
Link to RenMod:

This is not the way this has happened in the past.  It is not the way it happens in other regions.  So why is it different in the Southern Region?  For the last four years we have tried many different ways to offer Renaissance Modules.  We have polled groups of Religious Educators to see what they need.  We have offered Renaissance Modules as stand-alone trainings and as a track at a weekend event.  We have had trouble reaching the minimum requirements of ten participants.  We have been told that the added costs of travel, rooms and food make them too expensive.  The way it seems to work best is for a congregation to host, supply the food, space, and material and offer home hospitality.  We have had similar experiences when offering OWL trainings.

Your Southern Region Staff supports Renaissance Modules and OWL trainings being offered in this new way.  However, the rest of the system is still operating in support of the way it has been done in the past and the way it is done in other Regions. This is bound to result in some confusion. We ask that if you run into a problem, please contact us or follow the links above.