May Green


trees communicate differently. the fresh spring green of the beech trees must be an archetypal colour as the soul is reacting strongly to it; it is balsamic, cleansing, soothing on such a deep deep level. i can feel that my whole being is soaking up this color green. may renewal green. how touching, when riding alone in the landscape, one with the horse, the subtle doesn’t hide from me. completely accepted, woven in with the wild, the wild and I part of the same matrix. pains fall into place, perspectives become spring clear. all is well.



The nuptial flight of the queen

Our local beekeeper asked us to put some of his hives on the property. Here, he said they would be safe and close to the canola fields. In the past 4 weeks, we were privileged to witness an interesting bee phenomenon: all of a sudden, a loud buzzing noise fills the air, you can´t miss it – the air is full of buzz and bees. IMG_8459

Then, 10 minutes later, they find a place to settle, on a bush or a tree. They form a large clump hanging down from a tree or bush.

Swarming, explains our beekeeperis the process by which a new honey bee colony is formed when the queen bee leaves the colony with a large group of worker bees. In the prime swarm, about 60% of the worker bees leave the original hive location with the old queen.

Our beekeeper had to come and collect as many as 7 swarms. He comes with his gear  and scoops them into an empty box, hoping he gets the queen. As the worker bees follow her, he soon has a new hive, with about 20- 25’000 bees.

Bees: Distributed Decision Making Process

I find it extremely interesting how they communicate and find a new place for their hives in the wild: First, the worker bees follow the pheromone track of the old queen bee. Once they settle on a tree, the scouting bees swarm out to look for a new place to go.  Then, scouting bees swarm out again to look for new potential locations. Wikipedia explains about nest place selection: “On returning to the cluster, they use their famous waggle dance to indicate direction, distance, and quality to others in the swarm. The more excited she is about her findings the more excitedly she dances. If she can convince other scouts to check out the location she found, they may take off, check out the proposed site, and may choose to promote the site further upon their return. Several different sites may be promoted by different scouts at first. After several hours and sometimes days, slowly a favorite location emerges from this decision making process. In order for a decision to be made in a relatively short amount of time (the swarm can only survive for about three days on the honey on which they gorged themselves before leaving the hive), a decision will often be made when somewhere around 80% of the scouts have agreed upon a single location, and/or when there is a quorum of 20-30 scouts present at a potential nest site. When that happens, the whole cluster takes off and flies to it. A swarm may fly a kilometer or more to the scouted location, with the scouts guiding the rest of the bees by quickly flying overhead in the proper direction. This collective decision making process is remarkably successful in identifying the most suitable new nest site and keeping the swarm intact. A good nest site has to be large enough to accommodate the swarm (minimum 15 liters in volume, preferably ~40 liters), has to be well protected from the elements, have a small entrance (approximately 12.5 cm squared) located at the bottom of the cavity, receive a certain amount of warmth from the sun and not be infested with ants. In addition to these criteria, nest sites with abandoned honeycombs are preferred, as this allows the bees to better conserve their resources”

This is how they ended up in a hollow in our old lime tree. I was wondering how they knew…

At the end, about 4 swarms are rewilded, the beekeeper has 7 new ones and we ended up with 10 liters of prime canola honey from the fields next door. IMAG1685

Emergent themes in organizational development

Impressions from the workshop with Bonnitta Roy from APP Associates, Alderlore Insight Center, USA, Ct.; April 1 – 3, 2016

With fantastic people from all over Europe (and some US) we spent 3 fun intensive days looking into a kind of organizational development that deals with self-organization, elegant architectures and those principles that foster emergent behavior, team intelligence, distributive power and decision-making – without rigid new governance models. We explored and examined the key principles, central practices and deep processes of open authentic participation in organizational life.

These were some of  our other topics:

  • succeeding with uncertainty
  • how self organization happens and why we can trust it
  • how values both enable and constrain participation
  • expanding our trust network
  • intention, identity and interaction in group dynamics
  • asymmetric needs and power relations
  • strategic conversations in four languages of change
  • participatory governance
  • how resource allocations drive innovation (or not)
  • assessing team action-potentials
  • building team synergy and high velocity performance
  • method-free facilitation
  • catalyzing insight in teams
  • creativity and cognitive flow

APPWEBLOGO (1)Playing with complex adaptive and complex responsive systems, we gained a new understanding of the nature of emergent processes. We explored new guidance and design principles for organzational life. We looked at how to negotiate organizational and personal intentions, value streams and identities, how to solve the tension between our uniqueness, asymmetrical needs and the distribution of energy, decision and power in a group. We looked at the design of the architecture of the organizational space– one that allows for the release of built up complexity, for emergent behavior and novelty to arise.  We experimented with the four languages of change, that are at the core of Bonnie’s OPO, the Open Participatory Organization: “I call this new design The Open Participatory Organization, or OPO for short. The OPO is a fully integrated design. It is an open architecture that is supported by a participatory communications platform and is backed-up by a governance that evolves as the organization evolves” from Bonnie’s blog post).
4 languages of changePicture: Bonnitta Roy, APP Associates. 

There are four ‘locations’ with distinctly different values sets, objectives, outcomes and strategic conversations to be held around them. Most organizations have one or two of them, but hardly any are engaging in all of the necessary conversations.

At the end, we explored why this really matters: we are working and living in environments where we have to make choices when we cannot predict outcomes.  Knowing how to allow group dynamics to be emergent becomes invaluable.

Bonnitta Roy’s workshop left us totally inspired, and with many many kind of thoughts and processes to unpack, think about and apply. It opened up new, generative, collaborative spaces. Turning howe to our own business, we have started applying the OPO principles, practices and processes – with first insights and their consequences. We know there are many more insights to come. In some instances we are holding new strategic conversations around our trust networks and new alliances, for example and with our Swedish friends around the Crisp Network. Watch this space!  Comments welcome.



You can read more about Bonnitta Roy’s work here in her blog posts.  The next workshop with her is in the US, Ct, in June 16 – 19, and with us in Schmagerow again November 4 – 6. Do not miss it.

Also, check out the pre-conference workshop at the Berlin Change Days the week before, October 26-27.


The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Wendell Berry, “The Peace of Wild Things”

from The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry.

Labyrinth @ Schmagerow

In the same week as the cooking course we have had friends and visitors from all over Europe to help constructing a Labyrinth on the premises. We selected a space that seemed fit, both for the terrain and the energies and started doing the basic geometric calculations following a simple yet elegant design.               indisch_5_stufe3  The first task was to clear the space and construct an equilateral triangle. Then we layed out the half circles on either side with two different focal points. Next we connected the emerging pathways to complete the labyrinth. Fun work and so rewarding to walk it afterwards. Next landart projects are coming!

Corso di Cucina Italiana

We had really fun and yummy cooking course @Schmagerow in July. Our good friend and chef Massimiliano Trombacco was introducing us to the secrets of Italian homestyle cooking, which included typical Roman dishes such as “Spaghetti Cacio Pepe”, “Spaghetti Carbonara” and “Saltimboca alla Romana”.

i secreti - spaghetti cacio pepe
i secreti – spaghetti cacio pepe

Here are some mouth watering impressions of the course…..


An English Moment

What a wonderful spring break at Schmagerow. We were out and about listening to a lot of stories from the past – from the past of the place, the manor, the wars, the invasions – to the past of the people involved. Then we went on celebrating the present. On Helma’s 80st birthday yesterday she said: I don’t live in the past anymore, the presence is far to beautiful. And in this period of my life I am actually really young. And present. So we celebrated. We took the hamper on the derelict patch to the wild plum treethat presented itself in a bridal gown. And enjoyed a truely present English Moment. And later went back to House Schmagerow and planted 6 apple trees, 2 quinces, 3 pears and 2 cherry trees. For future reference.