"The eloquence of our own affection for one another
keeps the world healthy."
—Martín Prechtel, author and educator
If the last two years of social distance and isolation has taught us anything, it’s how vital relationships are to human thriving.
Martín Prechtel's words are both poetically and practically true; the quality of our connection shapes our individual health, the vitality of our organizations, and the wellbeing of society. But choosing to center connection amidst the pressures of time or the impact of trauma is far from easy. There is so much that gets in the way: how our brains are wired, how our time is structured, and the ever-present inequitable structures of power. And yet, when we look closely, we can find people doggedly building relationships, strengthening trust, making new possibilities come to life all around us.
So looking closely is what my team and I have been doing. Together with our partners at the Greater Good Science Center and Einhorn Collaborative, we’re thrilled to share A Call To Connection: Rediscovering the Transformative Power of Relationships.
This document responds to the question, “Wherever we find ourselves, how can we cultivate a culture of connection?”
Drawing on ancient wisdom practices that have nourished communities for thousands of years, cutting-edge scientific research, and real-life stories from leaders on the ground, this primer is written for leaders wanting to deepen their relational approach. It is for you if you are trying to strengthen relationships on your team, build community in your neighborhood, or shape the strategy of your company, foundation or non-profit to take seriously the power and potential of human relationships.
Over and over we learned how simple practices like celebrating together, listening to one another’s stories, and creating social containers, transformed the experience of everyday life. While celebrating efforts to change systems, structures, and policies, our focus in this document is learning how to return again and again to cultivating a culture of connection.
Threaded between the scientific evidence, reflection prompts, and practical guidance, we share stories from a hospital in New York City, a farm in North Carolina, a legal practice in Chicago as well as insights from athletic coaches, community organizers, technologists, business strategists, philanthropic leaders, and even a summer camp specialist!
Because one of our principles at Sacred Design Lab is that the means and ends must cohere, we designed the research and writing process to embody the values of connection. All three partners invested time to build relationships––not just as a step toward achieving our shared goals, but knowing that these connections would yield new possibilities beyond the specifics of this project (as indeed they did!). We envisioned, workshopped, analyzed, and edited together, while also bringing in external thought partners who added necessary expertise and perspective from the very beginning. I was inspired to see so many strands of insight and wisdom come together into one collaborative and coherent explanation of the change we’re seeking to advance, together.
I’m grateful that we were able to fulfill our collective liberation commitments and that, as Jonathan Gruber from Einhorn remarked, “The process stoked moments of authentic connection and in that way modeled the aspirations of the primer.” It takes diligence and generosity from all sides for a complex partnership to work, and I hope that joyful sense of collaboration resonates with this primer’s readers.
Indeed, if reading it gives you just an ounce of the hope and practical insight it has given us in researching and writing it, I promise it will be worth your time.