BK in SIngapore

The Inaugural Writing for Change Workshop on 25th November, 2014 in Singapore

A Berrett-Koehler Event in Association with The Sequoia Group

The Purpose
The Writing for Change initiative is a strategic initiative that emerged from the BK Global Task Force chaired by Johanna Vondeling, comprising a core team of BK staff, authors and local partners.  The purpose of the WfC is to help nurture and build a vibrant, local community and network of authors, emerging writers, activists, and practitioners dedicated to helping to “Create a World that works for All” (BK’s Mission).   Our collective aim is to increase conversations about creating positive change through writing, and to support the development, publication, and marketing of transformational books and other thought-inspiring content.


The Call

The call to help nurture the start-up of a Writing for Change (WfC)

Singapore community came through a chance meeting in January 2014 between Michael Prince, a BK Global Task Force member and Jacqueline Wong, Founder of Sequoia Group.  Following the format of the very first WfC held in Perth, the inaugural Writing for Change workshop in Singapore hosted by Sequoia Group was launched on 25 Nov 2014.

The People 

Twenty-five curious minds, current and aspiring writers, spanning

self-employed entrepreneurs, social activists, civil servants, teachers to senior doctors and corporate directors, executive coaches and consultants, received Sequoia Group’s invitation. They responded to the call to join this inaugural dialogue held in the pristine Ceylon room of the AXA Asia Pacific Campus at No. 3 Ladyhill Road.  Conserved from the colonial days, the room had a beautiful mix of the modern and the old and the walls were lined with paintings created by corporate leaders and participants of the AXA Campus programmes. 

The panelists comprise visiting BK author Dr Marcia Reynolds, who just completed her latest book, The Discomfort Zone, and  Singaporean writer and award-winning poet, Alvin Pang.  The event was co-hosted by Jacqueline Wong, Managing Director and Founder of Sequoia Group, and Michael Prince, member of the BK Global Task Force. 

The Writers’ Inner Journey

The seeding questions started with a walk down memory lane for
the authors to share their own personal stories about what and how they came to their own journey as writers.  

The audience enjoyed the landscape of personal motivations that had inspired the writers to make visible their thoughts through their works, as well as personal stories of life experiences shaped and impacted their world views.  Coming from different parts of the world, the cultural nuances stood out brightly through the two voices, one North American and one Asian, but both shared an underlying passion for creativity, expression and impact, and a deep desire contribute towards the advancement of the human spirit.

The authors shed light on an interesting fact that underscored what fuels their passion for writing – it is not just about how they hoped their writing would change the world, but how their writing has actually changed them.

What inspired all of us the most were perhaps the earnest, fiery and curious questions from the audience sharing their own deeper perceptions and fears about both ‘writing' and ‘change'.   For some, it was the very first time they are stepping into the realization that this is something they would actually pursue, regardless of what they do in their day jobs.  They all had something they cared deeply about, and were longing for a way to share these ideas and passions with other like-minded people.   

The Invitation into Possibilities

The Facilitators opened up the space to invite hosts from the
audience to step up with themes and questions that they are passionate or curious about and the rest of the audience to step up as ‘bumble-bees’ and ‘butterflies’ to travel to the emerging topics that they might be keen to pursue in their writing.  The audience, at this point, changed visibly to a self-organising community either hosting the space for deeper questions that are emerging for them to themes of books they wish to write and publish.  

Some of the Open Space topics that emerged include

+ Capturing stories and insights from the journey of healthcare transformation in an acute care hospital
+ Writing stories for my grandchildren
+ Enabling people to redefine and expand their definition of success in all its forms
+ How do we go beyond our inner dialogue and articulate them in a way that is meaningful through writing?
+ Writing for social change – How can we bring about positive change in the community through the nurturing of writing?

The group closed with new ideas, to first steps and new connections for follow-up with people whom they wish to carry the dialogue further.

The first Writing for Change evoked dreams and possibilities for everyone and left us with a sense that “we are not alone” in our own desires for a space to express the ideas, thoughts and insights we care deeply about.

What’s Next for WfC Singapore

Singapore is unique gateway between the east and the west and offers a colourful blend of the eastern and western traditions. It is a space rich with inspiration for aspiring writers who wish to be part-take in the capturing, harvesting and contribution of perspectives to Asia’s rising and transformation. From Singapore, we hope to contribute towards the co-creating of a world that works for all, one that honours the diversity, expression and promotes deeper understanding across boundaries.  As a way to continue fanning this spark, Sequoia Group will form an interest group in 2015, inviting participants from the first WfC to continue the dialogue about what supporting tools, resources, platforms and infrastructures will they need most going forward, and how they would like to play a role in contributing towards this ground-up initiative.  Together with our local authors, publisher, partners and co-sponsors, we hope conduct regular creative Writing for Change workshops to bring together a wider circle of people who are interested in the same mission.   

Our Special Thanks

We wish to express our appreciation to all the participants who made this possible.  Our special thanks to Berrett-Koehler, Johanna Vondeling and the BK Global Task Force members for their sponsorship and support, the AXA Asia Campus for their generous venue sponsorship; to our two wonderful panelists for inspiring us their personal writing journeys, and to Michael Prince, who got us all started on this journey. 

Written by Natasha Dalmia and Jacqueline Wong
Photographs by Zafirah Mohamed


Perviz said...

Thanks for writing and sharing this. It sounds like a fabulous collaboration and building of community.

Natasha Dalmia said...

Thanks Perviz for your witnessing, it is a collaboration in the fabulous process of co-creation still :) Anyone visiting Singapore is welcomed to flow with us.