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Building the Bridge

130. Building the Bridge

A number of years ago I went to Mariondale Center to assist their resident storyteller in leading the St. Francis of Assisi celebration day. I took three sets of Tinkertoys and we divided them into four sets—not necessarily equally because everyone has different resources. We divided the 50 or 60 people into four groups and each group had two tables, separated by two to three feet.

They were instructed that they needed to build a bridge with their set of Tinkertoys from one table to the other. It had to have a little bit of lift to it. It couldn’t be just Tinkertoys stuck together and laid across the chasm. They were to put their Tinkertoys in the middle of one table and look at them (not touching them) and plan as a group for ten minutes how they would build their bridge. Then they were given ten minutes to actually build the bridge, but during that ten minutes they could not speak to each other. And it happened. The four groups created four distinctive wonderful bridges. It was not competitive—they were just each told to create a beautiful, imaginative bridge. And they did it.

In the time afterwards as we all talked about the process they shared that they had made some amazing discoveries: it paid to listen to each other; good ideas came from different people; each of them got nervous at different places in the process; they could work together; they didn’t need language; they didn’t have time to argue and disagree.

WOW.

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