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As we create third spaces we also create spaces between spaces. Which seem to hold the most potential for life to thrive. Working within institutions and silos to create change seems, by contrast to working in the spaces in between, to be very, very limiting and difficult. Some of the same processes we have been using in institutions might be far better put to work, liberated even, by using them between institutions.

  Holding the edges is what just might make (institutions) helpful partners for transformation . . .

A few weeks ago I found myself in a conversation with a member of an important local institution. We were in a third space, but I found myself talking to him as if he were a representative of his institution. I was trying to convince him to get his institution to participate in a certain way. Even me, as wise as I am (smiles), fell into the trap of reaching through him to his institution. I stopped myself and him. I decided instead to see and approach him as a citizen first, one who happens to be involved in the police and other institutions.

A citizen first in a third space. That changed everything. The power of our institutions, because of what they CAN DO, is strong and maybe even a little bit alluring, even if we know better. Holding the edges is what just might make them helpful partners for transformation, but certainly not by asking them to do in the third spaces what they are doing in their own bodies.

In my local experience I realize the institutions actually do not know what to do or how to be in the third spaces. They are in many ways lost, innocents. They want to help but don't know how. I'm not so sure we, or more directly, I . . .  know how to ask them and for what.

Lately my answer is . . . send us citizens. Then we'll see.

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Peter is the Founder and CEO of Axiom News. During his 22 years in business he has also founded and led a community newspaper and a corporate communications agency. He has served as a member and chairperson on the boards and committees of children's services, schools, municipal grants, arts, and local exchange organizations.

Peter has been invited to host workshops in Canada, Europe, and the United States on the practice of Generative Journalism, an open communications approach for emergent and constructive change in organizations, networks, and communities.

He has been integrating lessons from the Asset-based Community Development, Appreciative Inquiry Gifts and Possibilities communities with the journalistic arts as practiced at Axiom News.

To bring dialogic and narrative arts together Peter has hosted dozens of conversations shaped by Appreciative Inquiry, A Small Group, Open Spaces, and Rapid Prototyping. Most recently, he has been exploring the wisdom in the Art of Hosting community.

Alongside international colleagues, Peter is bringing complementary practices and business models together to support ongoing community-building, new narratives.