All posts by Bert Speelpenning

Earth Rise: the Overview Effect

At the end of 2018, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first journey around the moon by Apollo 8.  The astronauts took an unplanned picture of earth that has since become iconic, called Earth Rise.  Here is the picture:

There is a great write-up at https://www.space.com/42842-earthrise-apollo-8-photograph-50-years-later.html.  Carl Sagan referred to this picture when he famously described the earth as “a pale blue dot”.  The article mentions the Overview Efffect, which is the shift that often happens to people when they see the picture.  It is a shift in perspective that has a deep effect on how they experience their life and their situation.  The article uses the words “awe” and “fragility”.  In our courses we aim for a related shift in perspective -also from zooming out from the particulars of your life and your situation – for  which the words “resilience” and “belonging” are more fitting.

workshops presented at the Conference for Global Transformation

Session IAM4 of our course Institutions and Me deals with the state we may find ourselves in, where we’ve given up.  Not the act of giving up, but the state of already having given up.  The session is based on material we presented in a workshop for the Conference for Global Transformation in 2013.  A Powerpoint version of that workshop is available here: beyond rah rah – cgt 2013 bert speelpenning.

Sessions NI3 and NI44 of our course Navigating Institutions deal with a circumstance that we may find ourselves in, where a contribution we want to make is blocked by a gatekeeper, and we find ourselves thwarted.  The sessions are based on material we presented in a workshop for the Conference for Global Transformation in 2015.  A Powerpoint of that workshop is available here: getting past the gatekeeper – cgt 2015 bert speelpenning.

On Institutions

When people hear the word institution they often first think of large old buildings with lots of marble.  Even in this limited meaning, we could say that much of our lives are lived in “in the shadow” of these  buildings, and we tell ourselves “you can’t fight City Hall.”

In our courses, we use the word institution in a far wider sense.  In Wikipedia we find a useful definition from a political scientist: institutions are stable, valued, recurring patterns of behavior.  Yet are they all really valued?  Let’s take a look at this Dilbert comic strip:

dilbert on institutions

Dilbert points out an example of the phenomenon of unwanted recurring behaviors we encounter in our lives, one that should be familiar to all of us – as familiar as City Hall.  Rather than valued recurring patterns of behavior, we may think of these as stuck or entrenched.

In our attempts to make the world a better place, we are bound to bump up against institutions.  What is the nature of this phenomenon of institutions, these ‘things’ that seem to live a life of their own and have an agenda of their own?  We pursue this question in the Grace with Institutions sequence of courses.

Who We Are

Carey Battle and Bert Speelpenning are both experienced at leading impactful courses by conference telephone calls, having done so since 2003.
Both Carey and Bert have several successful careers behind them.  Between them, they’ve been a biologist, high-tech engineer, tax-accountant, business owner and educators.
Carey is from Galveston, Texas and has lived in Texas her entire life, though she has traveled to many parts of the world.  Bert is from the Netherlands, has lived in the United States for forty years (including 16 years in Silicon Valley) and has been in Seattle since 1995.  Both have adult kids and grandkids.

On Dec 9 2019 Carey passed away.  We will always miss her gregarious spirit and her down to earth style of acting and interacting.

Chace Oldmixon has been actively supporting these courses in many ways for many years.  He leads the What Are You Really Up To course.  Chace has lived in many places in the world and has worked for many startup companies.  He describes himself as a Digital Nomad.  As of the end of 2022, Chace lives in Turkey with his wife Anna, who is Russian and runs a company based in dance, and their son Adam, who is 3 years old and speaks fluent American English and Russian.  Adam is expecting to get a younger brother in January 2023.