Women & the World
Delfina is a Delicate Activist who designs educational and social innovation journeys. She is the initiator of Iniciativa Murmullo, which is born from the joint need of a community of professionals who considers their practice as the path of development, learning and growth. This community works steadily towards the inner life of social organizations to generate practical, reflective and collaborative practices, thus creating conditions conducive to life. She works for Vivir Agradecidos designing and facilitating an Evolutionary Learning Ecosystem with a team of colleagues. Her previous work was to design the content and train facilitators of learning communities in a School Climate and Emotional Education Program led by the provincial government of Buenos Aires for 2000 public schools. Delfina’s strategy is to hold sustainability of the viable spaces within organizations to generate systemic well-being. Communities of practice represent the container where synergy occurs in such a way that regenerates the social tissue of the system. She believes that we can work as a community to become the community we want to see in the world.
Rajni Vohra– Delicate activism is a newer and more radical term. How would delineate to those who are unversed with it?
Delfina –To understand more about the necessities of these times, to learn individually and collectively to respond wisely, we need to dive within ourselves to learn how to navigate and hold a complex, uncertain and ambiguous world with others. As a community, an institution or an organization learning to adapt to these particular times is an invaluable skill. We can do this by acting with the same mindset that has created the problems and the results we are having today or we can generate the awareness we need to become more resonant with life.
Delicate activism is a phenomenological approach to change, as their authors, Sue Davidoff and Allan Kaplan, wrote “it is truly radical in that it is aware of itself, and understands that its way of seeing is the change it wants to see”. Delicate activism is an invitation to realize how we are approaching activism, how we are approaching our practice and our work in the world. Is to understand that if our approach lies in a fixed theory we will be making meaning of the world as it is emerging only through that lens and we will be missing every other possibility there.
We can start, in these indelicate times, with our practice of observation that can play a healing role in the world. We need to make sense of the world experience to shed light on our responsibilities as humans. It is important not to look for a management or controlling response, opening up to become conscious of ourselves because that awareness is the generative force for transformation.
Rajni Vohra– You are a social-emotional learning specialist who creates and holds safe spaces within organizations to generate systemic well-being. Let us know more about it.
Delfina– I do work mostly with educational institutions, NGO’s and software organizations. Each organization is an expression and part of a larger system. It is of fundamental importance to understand the larger system, the organization itself and the team or individual participating. What is their purpose, how are relationships, processes and structures in place playing out. What are the symptoms that are coming up because of the inner dynamic of the organization, what are the current practices that are nurturing and unleashing potentialities within the organization, what are those habits or narratives that must go in order to create a safe environment for growth, what are those practices that sustain an organizational culture infused with wellbeing. All of these aspects show mainly the invisible forces that shape culture, capabilities and at the end of the day the results of an organization. If the organization makes space to learn from itself, to become aware of these dynamic forces playing out, it allows to create coherence between what the organization’s purpose is and the strategic actions they use to achieve it. This is a new way of attending to our potentialities as a collective, a way of designing the future.
Of course it starts from the individual, if leaders are available to change and take the responsibility to create relationships based on trust and respect, understanding that instant solutions ignited by fear are detrimental to the health of the organization at the medium and long run then the culture that starts unraveling is one infused with wellbeing. It becomes a positive cycle process, by working together with these deep human values at the center of the team or community allows coherent answers to emerge for collective questions. Once this starts to happen the organization becomes the author of its own future by developing new practices and evolving with new demands.
Rajni Vohra– We are currently living in times where a lot more is going through massive transition and turmoil that in turn leading to the emergence of a new set of unfamiliar challenges. How do you view the process of diversity , equality and inclusion in light of this current reality?
Delfina– I think great opportunities come when we become conscious of what we have excluded, othered and ignored as individuals, as communities, as larger systems. This goes for ourselves in our inner movements such as emotions, needs , impulses and so on, but works as well when we expand to the groups we belong to, the organizations and societies.
In my work I always imagine the organization or institution like a living organism that belongs to an evolutionary learning ecosystem and at the same time they are one as well. Where all beings involved in that ecosystem benefit by creating powerful and meaningful relationships with one another. Thriveability fundations for any ecosystem is the integration of the experience and mutual learning of all beings.
This biological concept applies to the social realm. The success of a community or organization lies in its capacity to learn and adapt. If there are participants of the organization that are being excluded, othered or ignored then the learning capacity of the organization is low. If an organization members are only like-minded people then its learning capacity is low. If the organization can not integrate its unseen or unheard its capacity for learning is low. All these aspects diminish the lifespan of an organization. Diversity is life, it is rich in itself and sets the nurturing soil for creativity, innovation , intelligence and adaptability. I am very much in favor of DEI practices that nourish any community or organization.
Rajni Vohra– How do gauge the impact of your work at the fundamental level?
Delfina-This is an interesting question, Heidegger wrote “ to let that which shows itself be seen from itself in the very way in which it shows itself from itself” I love this quote because it brings me back to what’s important. Thoughts and emotions, relational dynamics and so on are invisible, so then how do you measure them? If I try to measure that which is invisible with the same parameter of our analytic mind then I will miss the true impact of my work.
I have always struggled to measure my work for thus its impact is an effect not a result. Carol Sandford defines effects as “ truly indirect products of an action and can show up in systemic changes and will be invisible to anyone who hasn’t developed the capacity to look for them”. So I write about my work, I work a lot with phenomenology, with grounded theory, interviews, etc. I look for different ways to assess what really matters to me, what I want to show the world.
Rajni Vohra– Your learning from life…
Delfina– Wow this is a big question! I am learning from life to be patient, to allow life to guide me instead of pushing my own agenda. This learning has accompanied me throughout my life. I am very active and energetic, I see how I can get mixed up and become my own limitation. Today, I try to trust the process and be confident that life will present itself to guide me, if I manage to listen deeply, towards what she needs me the most.
Rajni Vohra -Thank you for talking to us!