Dear Founding Members of the Constellation,

At the welcome driink of our extended Board Meeting Phil said: “If this is not connecting local response around the world, then what is?”. People (many of whom had never met) were cheering and laughing as if this was a family reunion!

As you might have followed in the aidscompetence forum, last week in Chiang Mai was a defining week in the short history of the Constellation.

The Constellation is alive, and has reached a level of organisation and achieved a global reach which I did not anticipate I would see in my life: I am experiencing some sort of after death experience!

So, to all of you, thank you. You had faith in our common vision and values. You invested, all of you in your own ways, in this common adventure. Again, thank you.

Of course, this is only the start, and here lies my concern: too many human undertakings have started with enthusiasm and then withered away. “The old man still lives iin us” says Antoine Saka Saka. “The story of Uganda teaches us a lesson: anyone can slide back”, says John Rwomushana.

What can we learn from our own experience of these last four years of the Constellation existence, and for some of us from our longer association since the eighties?

What inspired us? And what shall we do to allow inspiration to continue to flow? And what mistakes should we avoid?

If you have time, we all would appreciate learning from your insights.

Yours friendly

JL

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Thank you JL, for beginning this reflection. We had the opportunity yesterday to host 2 members of the CST to the newly formed Kenya Competence Trust members meeting. It was timely, as some of us conclude today a 20+ year facilitation team journey with The Salvation Army. What inspires: People not organizations or structure. How do we keep the inspiration flowing: stay connected to people. What mistakes to avoid: Let structure/organization serve people and not the other way around. So, as we looked at a beautiful diagram prepared by Lawan of the growing Constellation I didn't see structure so much as people and their response and that seems right on track. April
Many thanks April for taking the time to reflect and share, particularly on this day.

Yours friendly

JL
Dear April,

Beautifully said and succinctly stated. People and not the organisations are central to a response. Like a loving, caring family turns a house into a home.

Warm regards,

Rituu
Dear April,

Beautifully said and succinctly stated. People and not the organisations are central to a response. Like a loving, caring family turns a house into a home.

Warm regards,

Rituu
Dear all,

I think this is a good reflection JL is raising between us (if I'm allowed to say so...) ...

Well going throuhgout the questions made there I particularly think that there is no way of defining the ACP out of a connecting local response. otherwise it could be one more intervention on beneficairies (what sounds noising in me).

Untill now what I've learnt from the ACP (and I know still have allot to learn) is to respect people as they are and their choices. I know for people like me who are accustumated to interven... who see people as beneficiaries and respect better specialist opinions and bigg studies it is difficult to acept it. I was in a meeting today with USAID where was raised a question on what are the big challenges we face on monitoring the quality of our intervention... the first answer that came on me (and I was not expecting I'd come with it and say) was we human being - because it is difficult to recognise that we are wrong... what I did is wrong... it made the all room (of more than 50 people) enter in such a silence moment. Now I agree with my self... we are the problem of our people. so the constellation was like some one knoking my door and say hey look that you are working with people and becarefull that you a wounding them.

Each time I go to the communities (there where we are implementing activities) I learn something that I can apply into my life and my work. I mean, community is my inspiration base. I see people inspired and they transmit that posetive energy to me. Now what I can do to keep the inspiration flow, is obviouse that I need to keep visiting people to take lessons from them. however I still feel like there is allot to learn from other experiences from members of the ACP to get better...

thank you very much JL for this discussion, and I hope all are going to say something.

Best regards
Joao
Dear Joao, thanks for letting my inspiration flow :) Wonderful reflection
Dear JLL,

I am not a founding member. However, I must respond, as it is only because of the erstwhile ACP that I found the basis of our existence that we call life! Four years ago the first taste of ACP made me aware that everyone else is an equal human being, and advocating this was the least we could to display the smallest iota of human behaviour, that we claim to possess! From then on ACP and religion was the same for me! We have to practice it.

The Constellation is alive and achieved a global reach because:
1) It is established on the principle of human equality.
2) The SALT process is another pillar on which ACP grows because it draws out the experience and strengths of the Community collectively, rather than imposing an experts' opinion as we do in all the other "projects". This brings to light, facts and experiences from the community that has never been documented.
3) Drawing on the Community's innate resources, as well as the mostly voluntary basis of work by ACP practitioners has helped ACP to withstand the onslaught of the global recession. While other similar organizations have passed out, the ACP model of voluntarism is sustainable, and could be the best method to keep away the wolf of recession.
4) Our flexibility, and our willingness to be students always, and thereby to learn, keeps us in a constant change-mode. Shedding the expert mode is pre-requisite to attain this attitude. Every AAR and retrospection, is a calm acceptance of where we could have done better, for after all to err is human!
5) Also, we found our vision evolving, and accordingly renamed ACP more holistically as CLCP.

There are certainly more reasons for ACP and now CLCP's continued growth and success, but this is what occurred to me this morning.

Hoping to add more,

Rafique
Hi JL and all
I must say that I echo Phil's comment about the welcoming meeting. It was very nice though surprising to meet old friends and new ones and feel that we could start talking right away in a common language, with a shared attitude of being part of a community that is spread all over the world.

I have been thinking about the concerns you show here about how the future of the movement. I think it is very important to maintain the exchange of enthusiasm that the Constellation promotes, first by stimulating us all, and then giving us the opportunity to returning it back to stimulate others. For me this is of great value because it keeps the flame alive.

All that enthusiasm made it possible to build up the organization very quickly and to put a structure in place, and that is precisely one of the aspects that I would be most vigilant to avoid sliding back. I agree with April that one of the most important motivations we have to become members of the Constellation is the fact that we are dealing with people, not with organizations. So I would say that we need to pay special attention to what level of organization is necessary to be effective and what level is jus enough to avoid 'consolidating' too much. That is, the structure needs to be loose enough to allow for adaptation, for change and for flexibility, so that to avoid people becoming submitted to structure. but it also needs to provide the necessary support for us to move forward.

I think there is a need to balance expansion and consolidation in such a way that we can dance with both in harmony. Too much of each risks either burning out or solidifying.

In any case, I feel inspired when I have the opportunity to share with so many different and realize that we have so much in common. I enjoy the idea of listening to so many different stories, being told in different languages, but still the principles under those stories as so much alike.

Love
MariJo
What are we learning that nurtures hope?

Local response is the indicator of effectiveness and efficiency and integrity. It entails community conversation which has to be authentically owned . So the principles and practices of counselling are needed and ensure an ethical and participatory and objective process . Community counselling inclusive of relational encounter in home and neighbourhood as well as facility is under recognised -the Constellation is slow to learn that this is actually the foundation to health and life competence that is distinctive. 'Proving' validity depends on this recognition.

Equally the people of organisations will only avoid corruption of spirit if they learn from and with the local response. Invitation and relational respect is the context, and learning with application is the response needed. 'Facilitation team' is therefore more than a cluster of individual facilitators -it is a community of practice which works through a more diverse community conversation which has it its core, a community counselling framework. Such an approach fosters local and global reconciliation. Does the Constellation understand the practice and complexity sufficiently? No-but we are learning.

SALT is the main 'connector', that need not cost anything.

Priority for expenditure of energy should be focussed on these fundamentals. It probably is, most of the time.

The founding members are of no significance except in terms of sharing a genuine vision, contributing moral support and courage , generously , at the critical beginning, and being one accountability connection for the Constellation . It will be valuable to mutually include more often each founding member with particular questions relating to foundations and future such as that raised by Jean-Louis. Responses should be welcomed by any channel please? Phone, email, Ning, Facebook, and especially face to face as often as possible.

Thanks to JL and the team for pushing forward all the time. It will never be over. We are all privileged to belong to but not own each other, and to realise optimism even as we recognise incompletion

Ian and Alison

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