Book preview: broccoli

Leslie’s Blog

Book preview: broccoli

January 4th, 2010

This post is an excerpt from my emerging book on Vibrational Facilitation: an emerging conversation.  Alright, I know everything is emerging …that’s the point!  The thoughts are forming, the grammar’s not the best, but this quickly emerging field of vibrational facilitation is…well emerging quickly…so jump in an be a part of it.  Let’s get started…

I’m laughing at how broccoli has woven its way through my work.  As a child, I never really cared for broccoli.  I like it, it’s alright now, but I’m really not talking about the par-cooked, bright green vegetable that arrives on my plate beside my steak.  It looks fine.  I know it’s very good for me and I eat the broccoli.  But that’s not what I’m talking about.  I’m talking about broccoli, the fractal.

Years ago, I was bashing my way through a Masters degree that was all about resistance (no wonder I was bashing!) and change and duality and existentialism.  One day I was walking through the university library and a book quite literally dropped off the shelf, a book entitled Leadership and New Science by Margaret Wheatley[i].  I opened it, and there inside was a picture of broccoli.

Broccoli, so Meg said, is a fractal.  It’s actually a repeating mathematical equation that creates stunningly beautiful art and things like broccoli and cauliflower.  As I looked more closely, I saw a whole head of broccoli and a spear of broccoli, and a tiny piece of broccoli called a fleuret and that were the same.  They look the same.  They are all made up of the same matter.  The only difference is scale.

I was transfixed with this idea of the fractal and how it plays out in the matter not just as the pure theoretical mathematical equation it is.

I enthusiastically brought heads of broccoli into every class.  The compliant vegetables began stinking as they heated up through the day in the middle of classroom floors and on tables and teaching areas on podiums or wherever I was teaching.  Often I wouldn’t talk about them.  I would just allow them to be there, the object of curiosity for students thirsty to learn.  Hungry is probably the better word.

In my classes, I used the broccoli as a metaphor for teaching and learning.  That which we do in the small, in the tiny, in the micro, is then reflected in the macro, for we are all the same.

One of my earliest websites had broccoli on it and my students would liked it.  They felt they were in on a secret handshake.  They knew they knew something important.  They were part of the broccoli club.

After a while I stopped bringing in the broccoli.  Now years later, I have a different website with dandelion seeds and flower petals.  The broccoli is gone.

As I was articulating my new work as a vibrational facilitator on a poster, a student asked why there was no broccoli.  She was bereft!  Her point of connection and inclusion was no longer visible.  In that instant, I knew that broccoli had to come back!

So, on to the new poster went the broccoli.  On to the brochure went the broccoli.  As I went to a conference, there was quite a buzz about the vibrational facilitation work that I was doing. People came up to me and they looked and they saw the broccoli and said, “you’ve got the broccoli! I remember the broccoli!  I’m so happy to see the broccoli!”

It’s like they fell back into some secret knowledge, some secret handshake.  They had the password, they had the key.  They were back in the club.  They belonged to something secret, unseen, unknown.

Your thoughts?  questions/ Experiences?  Curiosities?

Yup, the broccoli stays!

[i] Leadership and the New Science, Margaret Wheatley


  1. veronica § January 11th, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    I will look at broccoli quite differently from now on! I’ve always found it a fascinating plant (and delicious).
    hope to see you soon.

  2. Leslie § January 12th, 2010 at 12:17 am

    I wonder if the taste changes when know you are swallowing a fractal?

    Do you become wiser?

  3. Leslie § October 13th, 2010 at 11:25 am

    LOL…there’s probably something in that!

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.