Yes, dearest friends, fellow travellers, co-sojourners, practitioners, after 33 years we have decided to let go!
Since 2012, our director Nomvula Dlamini, with a small group of associates, have been holding the core of an increasingly dispersed CDRA while looking for an organizational form appropriate for the times. Since reluctantly accepting Nomvula’s resignation at the end of last year, the Board, in consultation with the remaining practitioners, has reflected on its role in holding up the CDRA’s concerted attempts to find a new form. While there is still important work being done by those who have been holding the core, it is clear that the work inspired and supported by the CDRA increasingly lies widely spread and held in the web of relationships spun out of the organization over the past thirty years.
When we look for the work, we see it everywhere. Over recent years the practitioners who built the organisation and did its work have ventured out to make their contributions independently.
In seeing how CDRA lives in the world, we have concluded that its contribution can no longer be meaningfully held and supported by an “old school” NGO-with-board type structure. So, at our 2018 AGM we decided to let go of the formal organisational CDRA for which we as board are responsible. This was partly because the work, as we are practicing it, is no longer funded, and therefore no longer needs a funding accountability structure. But it also feels timely and right to close this chapter, honour the people and work, and in that farewell possibly open spaces for the new to emerge. As active practitioners we are very much alive and will still be working out of the CDRA impulse, whether individually, or in new association. Over the many years CDRA has offered various forums for practitioners to meet, reflect and work, starting from its internal homeweek, the OD Event, the Biennial Practice Conference, and in recent years, the Barefoot Guides.
Wherever we go we find traces of CDRA’s reach: common sense about good development practice and the values from which it flows, a sense that CDRA played some part in helping create; fellow practitioners and colleagues with whom we partner, and work with from inside of a shared language and ethos; clients, partners and old friends to whom we might wave from a distance and say of each other, with a fond smile, “Yes, I know them.” Students, practitioners and teachers who cite reference to one or other CDRA publication as being seminal in supporting their thinking through, and about practice; thousands of people who recall with an intensity of feeling (sometimes delight, sometimes horror), their experience of a CDRA facilitated process, be it OD, courses or a gathering like the OD Event or the Biennial Practice Conference. An intensity of feeling and a connectedness to living process that taps into lived experience, makes meaning of that, and invokes the next practical steps.
In keeping with our understanding of how organisations develop and evolve, and our commitment to working with living process, the board and practitioners have initiated a ‘process’ to finally release the CDRA from its old form, in ‘finding a good death’, as quoted above.
We do this fully cognisant that the approach and practices that the CDRA has been using and promoting are in their ascendancy and have never been more needed. We are deeply mindful that the times, and young people especially, are expressing a need very close to the need that gave birth to CDRA’s own founding 33 years ago. As I said in my last Chairperson’s annual message, “We stand back in awe of what we have collectively brought to the field; this inimitably “’CDRA thing’, the detailed attention to process, to “the incorporation of the message and the meaning in the method of our practice. As terrified as we are, we are heeding the call to enter the wilderness of death in search of new forms of be-ing and growth, seeking new avenues of exploring personal and professional spaces for expanding and deepening our presence in the world.” (CDRA Annual Report, 2018)
We have decided to put in place a process for winding down which includes the following bricks:
AN INVITATION TO