August 2010 River Meeting

Attendance: Jared, Vinny, Ryan, Bill, Harold, Shad, Bart Sr, Bart Jr. Mel

Meeting lead by Harold:

It’s time to start talking about what we really want and who we really want to be as a group. Our time and energy has been consumed by business and structure, and attention has lagged in this crucial area.


Preparation for this conversation and direction has been ongoing for several months; current events have made it all the more relevant. So we’re starting the process now.  We’ll discover some of what to do as it develops.


Only scratching the surface tonight, and laying the foundation. Will be more meetings to come. Is very hard to do in short evenings. We need to carve out some time to really work on it, and it needs the input and participation of everyone in the group (I can’t stress this enough. We need your voice, no matter who you are and how long you’ve been with us). It’s not a common vision if only a few contribute. We need to make a genuine commitment to the work to reap the rewards.


We hope we can have the process largely complete before selection next year.


The roots of many things that people have strong opinions on, and have generated conflict in the past are in the need for a coherent and common vision. This conversation tonight and ongoing is about together visioning an ICO that works, for everyone. It’s not for talking about what’s wrong or about those conflicts, but rather, discovering what can be really right; together.


That said, many of those conflicts need to be addressed in active ways right now; let’s make that happen. Ongoing resentments and conflict will make our work harder; it will consciously and unconsciously color and influence the conversation and make it harder for us to work together. People have strong feelings about some things, and they need to be heard. It’s time to pay some real attention to this. I believe it’s a critical part of being a responsible member of the group and supporting our mission.  People who have real gripes need to speak up in a responsible way, just as much as they need to be heard and paid attention to. What’s more, just talking to the people who most agree with us will not solve anything, and often creates factions and schism, which truly hurts our ability to function. You can help create our common vision by addressing any current issues you have with other members. Talk to me. I can help with the “speaking up responsibly” part, as well as with the “being heard” part, both. Let’s clean some of this up; now.


OK then, what would the best possible ICO look like?

How can we be not just good, but shine?


Basic points:

  • All the ingredients we need are present in this room
  • And each person here has something to contribute
  • Just beginning the journey today.
  • I have no hidden agenda, no specific outcome expected or pushed for; this is a process of mutual discovery.


Requirements. For it to work, everyone needs to:

  • Show up
  • Listen (in order to know what to say, you need to hear what’s been said, and everyone needs to be heard)
  • Speak your truth
  • Detach from outcome, to the extent you can; see what we can discover together


May look like we’re starting far away from where we need to be. To the degree you can, I ask that you just come along with it at the beginning; hopefully you’ll see how it fits together with some of the larger issues as we go forward. In the coming months if you still are unhappy with the direction, please do talk to me. We may be able to include your concerns into the process, and indeed, we may even be missing something that you are noticing.



There are two areas to pay attention to:

1) what we bring to the participants, what are we to them; what kind of service are we actually offering?


 and: 2) what we are to each other; who we are to each other; what kind of organization/group are we?



(Here we began the content part of the evening. In order for everyone to be on the same page and “up to speed” with the conversation, I’m going to retell the exercise, in a somewhat abbreviated form, below. I highly recommend you read it, then go through it yourself before you go any further or read the results below. You will have answers of your own that may or may not agree with those that others came up with, and it’s important that you know yours as well those of others for future discussion)



·      Put both feet on the floor. Feel them there.

·      Close your eyes, take three breaths, each one deeper and fuller than the last.

·      Then ask yourself:


“What do you love most/what does it do for you being on the river/river trips?”


- We’re talking “river trips” in general, not any specific trip, not even ICO trips per se. It can be on or off river, but it’s about a river trip.


Write your answer down. (important)


(do all this before you go further)


Now do it again. Feet on the floor, close eyes, three breaths, ask:


“What do you love most about hanging with/working with river guides/guide culture/river people”?


Write your answer down.


Answers to the first question at the meeting were:

loss of ego/getting present (3)


connecting with others deeply (“togetherness zone”)


laughter (2+ and more)


focusing outside of self

getting humble

other-centered service



testing self

joie de vivre

good time with a common goal

canyon walls (3+)

beautiful places not otherwise accessible


tune in/relationship with river and creation


 “Can we all agree that these things are what we want, have to offer, and/or share with people who need this, and who can’t get it other ways?”


The group agreed that yes they could agree with that.



We may all have differing reasons and goals for valuing these things, and differing opinions as to why our participants need them, but we agree at the foundation that we want them, and they’re what we want to offer in ICO. As our work progresses here, we will be talking more about specifics, but not just yet.


To the second question, answers were:

being with people who have common stories (most agreed)

common experience (hard to explain to anyone who’s not been there and done that)

belonging/family (also many)

people who you can trust/are responsible (3+)

shared mind/common skills and challenges/shared language

fun folks

synergy (whole is more than the sum of the parts/working together well)

sharing a common goal

sharing the journey

sharing accomplishment

sharing laughter

people who are willing to test limits


The question was asked in reference to this list was, “can we all agree this atmosphere and way of relating is what we want to foster within our organization, amongst ourselves?”


It was agreed that we did.


We stopped here; more to come in future meetings.


Preparation for the next meeting: take some time, and write this down.

What’s your personal story? Why did you join ICO, what brought you here? (Not what ICO is and does, but rather, think back to that moment when you decided to join, and what events led you to decide? Your personal story) Example might be Jon’s story that he shared with us online earlier last week. Yours may not be as long or as dramatic, but it’s about you, and it’s important.


And: (apologies to those at the meeting; forgot to include this)

What are your best moments on trips? The ones that gave you the most satisfaction, joy, or sense of accomplishment?


*May or may not end up telling your answers to the group (hopefully yes; depends on time available, number of folks who show, format etc.), but write it down and bring it with you next; it will be important to know it and to refer back to it.


A few guidelines and ground rules:

Respectfully request that we NOT have this discussion online at this time. This is very important. Gets in the way of group process, and of people knowing they’ve been heard. Please help create a good container for it to grow. There will definitely be a time to “go electronic” as we move forward. Posting discussion about this on the community site prompts an un-moderated conversation where things can often get said that make unity and focus hard. If you have issues with the process, talk to me. If you have something on the topic, come to the next time we meet and share it. But at the beginning here, it needs to happen in person, not online. It works when everyone is present to hear, ask, share.



Next: concentrated time of discussion; need personal commitment from those involved. A day (more or less) for chance to hang out, socialize, eat well J, and explore further, when folks aren’t rushed, or tired from a day’s work. This is important work; let’s make the space for it.


I definitely need help organizing that. Floated the idea of the last weekend of August at the meeting, and there was mixed reaction to that. Also may be too soon to do well . . . In either case, we want to meet again sooner rather than later to keep the momentum going. If you can help and are willing, contact me ASAP; I can use a lot of help in this area; really, I can J.


There will also be opportunities upcoming for folks to contribute to the planning/implementation of the discussion itself. This will be an organic process; where we go may sometimes be determined by what we discover; “read and run” J I ask only that anyone who would like to help this way be in agreement with the “basic points” and “requirements” above (important) and be committed to the development of a common and inclusive vision. Other than that, I welcome your input. Please let me know if you’re interested. I’ll be in touch as opportunities develop.