Subj: Atlanta Gathering
Date: 98-07-21 15:50:58 EDT
From: (Sherryl R. Stalinski)
CC:,,,,,, (Janet M. Eaton)

Tom Mandel
G.A. Swanson
Bela A. Banathy
Bela H. Banathy
Charles Francois
Janet Eaton
Janet Allen
Enrique Herrscher


Good Afternoon,

Dr. Swanson, I want to thank you for the invitation to participate at
the 42nd annual meeting of the ISSS in Atlanta. I am happy we were able
to attend Monday's session as it gave me an opportunity to meet many of
you, and observe the ISSS as an organizational whole.

I found myself processing and absorbing Monday's events during our
flight home, and I feel compelled to share some of these observations
with you all now, even while your meetings are still in progress in

First, I want to thank the ISSS for the warm welcome. Patrick and I were
delighted by the gracious reception on our arrival Monday morning. Ms.
Allen, the staff at Georgia Tech is to be commended for their hard work,
their southern hospitality and their genuine enthusiasm in hosting this
event. Please extend to them our gratitude for their efforts.

It is my sincerest hope that the ISSS will use this session to cement
your commitment to the organization's healthy future. "Systems thinking
is in the air" perhaps, but may I respectfully encourage this wisdom to
manifest as well? It is not enough for an organization to simply share
its knowledge among themselves, and to bemoan the fact that systems
thinking rarely goes beyond the boundaries of the academic circles of
the systems scientists. I found myself thinking, "Physician, heal
thyself." If the ISSS as an organizational whole ever hopes to
communicate their knowledge to the general public, it is not enough to
simply write more papers. As Dr. Herrscher communicated during his
plenary session Monday morning... there are already "too many" theories.
It's time for application.

As an organization, ISSS' only hope of reaching a broader "audience" is
to demonstrate the applications of systems knowledge... AS AN
ORGANIZATION. To serve as an example of the synergetic effectiveness of
an appropriate human system. To provide an unquestionable proof of the
validity of systems thinking by its implementation and application
within the ISSS itself.

Respectfully, I heard many wise words during the plenary session and our
first paper session on Monday. I saw little effort to manifest that
wisdom even between the members of the organization which is *the*
proponent of systems thinking.

During our afternoon paper session for the Primer Group, a roundtable
discussion evolved around our proposed "Whole Story" curriculum project.
Imagine how I felt, as a newcomer to ISSS, hearing another ISSS member
argue that the Primer Group "wasn't focused" and "changed direction" too
often. It seemed pretty obvious to me, and Dr. Herrscher seemed to agree
during this dialogue, that it is this very diversity of focus which the
ISSS *should* embrace and encourage. Instead of fighting the inherent
"ambiguity" of soft systems, use it, capitalize on it, and communicate
to the world that we're being "ambiguous" ON PURPOSE. It has nothing to
do with being unable to reach concensus, rather an UNWILLINGNESS to
reach concensus if that concensus would destroy the very
multidisciplinary focus which is the hallmark of systems understanding.
Do not be afraid of being misunderstood in the world. If the global
community sees that these concepts are applicable in their own lives, by
your example, they will gravitate towards you and seek to understand
*why* it works. But until the ISSS can demonstrate, as an organization,
that it can be co-creative and effective even in its own diversity of
membership, as an organization, you hold little hope to make a statement
to the world beyond your own membership, regardless of what is "in the

The very atmosphere of Georgia Tech, which only 2 years ago hosted the
athletes of the ‘96 summer Olympics was inspiring. Yet, even as these
competitors and athletes gathered to represent their respective
countries, this summer, academic scholars come together as mutual
representatives of "team world" -- global humanity. I get the sense that
until we all realize the unique and diverse gifts we bring to *share*,
we will continue to think our purpose is instead to compete and prove
"our way." How sad that would be. We did not gather at Georgia Tech to
win medals for our respective countries, or our respective disciplines,
but to win as an organization and thus *win* on behalf of humanity.
Respectfully, the winning for the whole didn't seem to be making ground,
at least by the time we needed to leave on Monday. It is my sincerest
hope that the ISSS will be able to realize its objectives during the
remainder of its meeting. Please understand that it is not just the ISSS
as an organization which is at stake. The world is counting on you. Show
us the way by your *example*, so your words hold true meaning.

Charles, I hope your presentation will succeed to this end as you had
expressed your hope. Bela, indeed the ISSS needs your support and wisdom
to evolve itself into its own "design community." Enrique, continue to
verbalize that the bridge between theory and practice already exists, we
only need the courage to cross it together.

I came to Atlanta in hopes of understanding what support the ISSS would
be willing to commit on behalf of the "Whole Story" curriculum for
children. If instead, all the Aurora Now Foundation can accomplish is to
encourage and support your efforts to revitalize into a healthy and
effective whole again, we will be satisfied. We can only be "whole"
together. So instead of asking for your commitment to our shared
efforts, I ask instead for your commitment to yourself as an
organization. Only then can we "win" together for humanity.

With highest regards,

Sherryl Stalinski, Executive Director
Aurora Now Foundation || e-mail:
"I became convinced that we're here for each other. "
--R. Buckminster Fuller


Subj: Re: Atlanta Gathering
Date: 98-07-28 20:22:22 EDT


Dear Sherryl,

Back in Buenos Aires after what I consider an outstanding meeting (as far
as meetings can be: they are a little like Bateson´s map - the territory
out there is something different), I found your message and fully agree.
Thanks for your kind words. A pity you could not stay longer. I met you
only for a short time, but quality is more important than quantity, and for
me it was very valuable. Let us hope we can meet soon again.

To all persons copied, I want to join Sherryl´s warm words of appreciation
for all the big and small things you all did to make this conference a
success, including the "Southern" nice way of doing them. Many thanks and
all the best for all.