How to Bring the New to Life - Generative Journalism - PS107

How to Bring the New to Life – Generative Journalism – PS107

When I came up with this season's affirmative title of Appreciative Leading, Peter Pula was the first and obvious choice in the profession of journalism as he is at the forefront of generative journalism. I wanted him to share with us his craft and art as a journalist and his vision and practice to transform journalism.

Generative Journalism Episode Overview

Meet Peter Pula

Imagine what community life would be like if each of us was seen and heard, if our gifts were recognized and enlivened, if we as community members came together to create the things we wanted to see. What if, in our uniqueness and diversity, we were supported in our goals by those near to us, and they were supported in their goals by us? Peter Pula

Peter has been leading in the creation, the practice and development of generative journalism as an agent of healing and social evolution in communities, networks, and organizations. Peter Pula, from Peterborough, Ontario, Canada founded Axiom News, an online news medium 16 years ago. If you're looking for intellectual, heartfelt. life changing life affirming human stories. Examples are in the Links Section below.

Loving Journalism and “Loving Journalism”

Generative Journalism - Peter Pula
Peter Pula – AxiomNews Founder

From an early age, traveling the world with his family, Peter had a “penchant for newspapers”- “addicted,” he says. He had a love for journalism, even starting his own newspaper at university. As he matured into his profession, he found that it was the act of co-creating stories and dialogues that generated into a meme I might call “loving journalism” – a form of journalism that focuses on what gives live, and that's what we know as generative journalism.

What is Generative Journalism?

Peter: If a work of journalism is going to be considered to be generative, it has to have the capacity or capability of bringing something new to life, for giving birth to something new. That's one of the main criteria. We're always looking through our inquiry and the way we ask questions to discover the emerging future, as the people that we're speaking with envision that and are working towards it. That's really the key of it. Generative Journalism is the capacity to bring the new to life and to generate and create in the process.

Being Present to Others

Peter: I've always had this notion that the job of the journalist is to learn in public and, to me, and to be open and in inquiry, to be vulnerable and open to learning and to be prepared to share one's journey through their work in a public way. I remember it was a Griet Bouwen at the Appreciative Inquiry conference in Ghent, Belgium who first introduced me to this idea of “presence.” She asked:

Where does this idea of presence land in your work in generative journalism?

Peter: At the time, I kind of screwed my nose up and said, I don't really know. I don't really get it, but over the years I'm starting to realize that to be a deeply healing practitioner of this work, to be present to the people that we're interviewing and speaking to and learning from is an important part of it.

And I find in some of the community hosting work I do is also, challenging, but it is also something to honor if I can be still and present enough to await the question that seems to want to be asked. I very often discover something about the relationship or something about what's happening that I wouldn't have otherwise discovered. So learning to be present requires a great deal of personal growth and a willingness to be open and vulnerable in the world and in the work while also being sensible and strong.

How has Appreciative Inquiry Impacted you?

Community Dialogue

Peter: There's more understanding and more to work with in terms of conceptual clarity about how and why working from a strengths-based approach makes sense and how it actually brings the mood changes. There is this whole community of people around the world that are doing things this way. So Appreciative Inquiry brought, to me anyway, a great number of concepts, like very straightforward ones, such as the power of positive questions. The body of work that had been done helped us understand how our questions can shape culture and shape change and catalyze new things into life.

And there is also the community. I've met so many wonderful people in the Appreciative Inquiry community that have helped me and my colleagues feel very much that we're not alone and that there is a marvelous community, people that are working on a very right-hearted things. That's a big, big deal when you're working in the question of positive, or constructive, or generative changes.

Building Community through Inquiry

Generative Journalism - graphic
Generative Journalism – Courtesy of Axiom News

Robyn: And what I'm taking from that is it's very much focused on the co-creative piece. Like we're in this together. And I think with the development you've done and what you're talking about now, it's been an evolution. Perhaps is that what led you to start creating the hosting events that you do? For example, with the Peterborough dialogues?

Peter: Yeah. I'm not sure what the cause and the effect was. The impetus to start the Peterborough dialogues was really working from generative principals and working in generative inquiry. We continued to run into generative people and a lot of those generative people were hosting community. So we kept being called into this question of community and generativity and at the same time many of the people that were working this way and living this way were very much making the case to do the work in place. So in our own homes, in our own geographical areas … what does it mean to be indigenous: indigenous to our neighborhood, to our town, to our city, to our province nation, the universe?

Does this Increase a Sense of Belonging?

Peter: Absolutely. Yes, it does because we're bonded by place and we're bound by place. I think what's happening with the way the communication works now is that we are exposed. The beneficial side of that is that we can learn from others and have access to this vast amount of knowledge and wisdom, but by the same token, we can also be bombarded by news and influences that can overwhelm in that we certainly can also see all of the problems of the world, but they're somewhat dissociated from us because we don't have any agency. There's very little we can do about any of these things.

Whereas in place we can actually become aware of the people in the place. There is something to proximity as well in terms of shaping resonance between two or more people actually being knee to knee or in a small circle. And physical proximity changes the capacity for resonance and for generativity. So doing that work in community with place as a container and as a boundary and in intimate settings with provocative questions and good hosting, as well as the storytelling capacity. Those seem to me to be the ingredients of the next step of social evolution.

What does Journalism Need to Learn?

What does journalism need to learn if we are to accept it as a civic art that can be of real assistance to democracy?

To find out Peter's response to this question and learn so much more about generative journalism, and Peter, please listen to the entire interview.

How to Connect to Peter Pula

Books and Links to Resources

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