Book Review: Parachuting Cats into Borneo: And Other Lessons from the Change Café

Parachuting Cats into Borneo: And Other Lessons from the Change Café

By Axel Klimek and Alan AtKisson, 2016.

SERES champion Sherry Miller with SERES facilitators and change agents.

Yes! It’s true. In the 1950s the World Health Organization (WHO) supported a call to create positive change in Borneo by parachuting 14,000 cats into the country! With their somewhat surprising arrival, the cats significantly helped decrease the rat population that was raising havoc, spreading typhus and plague. The people were also happy to have their feline friends back, most of whom had died eating geckos full of poisoned insects intimately tied to the outbreak of malaria, via mosquitoes hooked up with parasitic wasps and DDT-infected caterpillars–talk about the interconnectedness of life!

Yes! It’s true. The co-founders of the Center for Sustainability Transformation, Axel Klimek and Alan AtKisson, chose to title their new book after this classic example of creative transformation using systemic thinking and bold risk-taking for the greater good. I found this to be an excellent collection of strategies to affirm and nourish practicing change-makers and a great tool-kit for anyone looking for ways to jump into the growing pool of sustainability leaders our world so needs.

Working with empowered and transformative youth leaders via SERES here in Guatemala and El Salvador, I am delighted to be able to share this book with them and invite them to think about how they are thinking about and advocating change in their local communities, countries and ultimately, the world.

I love the way Axel and Alan use the Change Cafe model via invitations throughout the book to stop and think, to make it personal, to dig deeper inside and let the change emerge first in “me” before “we”. The book is more like a conversation than a lecture. It brings energy, deep pause, companionship, inspiration and motivation to the reader as few books I’ve ever read do. It makes me want to start a living book group to hold it, dance with it, nest in it and then go forth with even greater confidence, believing, “Yes, we can build/create/write a new story and become a healthier, more peaceful and truly sustainable world!”

The four basic questions they explore with us in this book that they consider crucial for a successful change process to occur include:

  1. What basic beliefs do we have, as change agents, about the process of changing systems?
  2. What method (or methods) do we have for supporting a system to move from state A to state B?
  3. What is our relationship to the system?
  4. How can we increase the capacity of the system to not just change but actually improve performance?

I highly recommend you explore their answers to these questions in which they share multiple strategies, deep wisdom, clear conviction and most of all, an invitation to find your own “change- maker” within. Nourished by both the proven tools and deep personal learning this book offers, I believe more than ever that together we can navigate the uncertainty, complexity and increasing ways we can connect virtually as well as face to face as we build our capacity for creating transformation in today’s world for tomorrow’s children–I mean, why not?!

Review by Sherry Miller, Ed.D.

SERES Global Ambassador

Purchase this book through Amazon Smile and they will donate a percentage of profits to SERES Youth Leadership Programs!

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