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The chaordic stepping…apples?

I was waking up on Sunday, just coming out of a rather pleasant dream and reaching for my glasses when this thought hit me:
Why do the Chaordic Stepping Stones have to be stones at all?
Now, please understand that I was deeply vested in that idea. After all, I had just spent my Saturday night crafting two-sided stepping stones out of paper plates in preparation for Sunday afternoon’s facilitation. They were cool, they were fun, they were tactile… they could demonstrate the non-linear nature of the process. Not to mention that the stones were always how I’d heard them presented–by any number of amazing people in the Art of Hosting community… at various gatherings, in institutes, on websites, you name it. Stepping stones. Stones.
So why was I thinking about a tree? I mean, how could that relate as a non-linear process? You plant the seed, the tree grows. Those who know me–big surprise: I had to start drawing it out. (I know–shocking!) It seemed to make some sense. So I tried it out in that afternoon’s meeting. I didn’t record myself, but this is basically how it went:
If you want to get together to do “something”–let’s say plant a tree (or organize an event, or create an organization… ), that “something” is your concept–the big idea/view of how we can meet our purpose. The concept grows out of the purpose, so the purpose is our seed–what we want to become. That purpose ideally is rooted in the needs of our world, so the need becomes the taproot for the purpose.
Once we have a purpose that’s rooted in need, we ground it (and ourselves) in our principles–how we want to work together and how we want to work with our community. Once the seed is planted, other roots start to grow the purpose and give it traction, and that’s where the people come in–who’s called to the purpose, who’s got our backs, with some growing deeper into the work than others, but all are beneficial.
Out of this beginning, the concept really begins to emerge. It’s not just a tree… it’s a fruit tree! No, it’s an apple tree! And we’ll plant it now and in a few years we’ll have lots of apples to harvest in the fall and we’ll give them away or sell them or let them fall back into the ground and start new trees of their own.
But now, that means that we need to start considering some structural pieces–like just what type of seed we’ll need to plant, who’s going to water it and tend to it, who’s going to pick the apples, who’s going to give them away. Funny, that also sounds like planning for the harvest! We need to know what we want to harvest from our work in order to know what we need to plant.
And the health of our tree is dependent on the health of our environment, or beliefs. Some of our beliefs are supportive and nurturing, and some are limiting and potentially hazardous to the health of our tree. Is the sun warm, or is it too hot and it’s going to fry our tree’s young roots? Are the clouds full of lightning, or do they bring much needed rain? Tending to our tree also means tending to our environment (limiting beliefs).
All that’s left at this point is to engage in our practice–to be that farmer, just get going and do the work!
You may know you want to grow a tree, you may know you want to bake a pie, you may know that the world needs more delicious fruit and that’s what you want to help create, you may look around and think this is the perfect spot for an orchard, you may be talking with friends and you all suddenly have a crazy craving for apples. However it unfolds, I think I’ll be walking my chaordic path with a pocketful of apples. De-licious!
… although peaches are a stone fruit…

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