As Martin Luther King said, “we must all learn to live together as brothers, or we will all die together as fools.” While that’s scary, it’s also hopeful, because we can do it.

SELF-ORGANIZING IN OPEN SPACES

as developed and practiced by Harrison Owen

How the open space method works in large groups:

  1. 1.Come together and form a circle. “Circles create a soothing space, where
    even reticent people can realize that their voice is welcome.”
    Margaret Wheatley

  2. 2.Formulate a broad theme or question relating to “Aliveness and The Shift”.

  3. 3.Have people with a passion relating to the question, announce it, and point to the locations where their dialogue will be held.

  4. 4.After all groups are announced, invite all the others to go to the group that interests them the most.

  5. 5.If the attendance is large, over 30 or so, consider using sign up sheets for the formation of groups.

  6. 6.One person moderates and another writes down everything said. A large tabloid could capture the main ideas. (Make sure everyone has an opportunity to share.)

  7. 7.If for any reason someone wants to move to another group, apply the law of “two-feet” and move.

  8. 8.Notetakers bring your notes to a central place for compiling, so everyone knows what the others discussed.

  9. 9. Most important, from there you can do consensus building, form ongoing action teams, highlight ideas to carry forward, form a personal growth group, or any other follow-through activity.

Harrison Owen: Open Space Technology

A short Video Montage of it.  1:11

A more thorough explanation of it. 5:27

A MODEL EXAMPLE:

How Open Space Technology was used to begin a new “sustainability” community in England.

Making Connections around what matters to you...

Meetings where the central theme is Aliveness and The Shift could be called “CORE SHIFT” meetings. They are an opportunity to participate in an open approach for working on whatever needs, concerns, or passion(s) participants have regarding their personal growth and the welfare of the planet and all life on it. A person will experience “success” to the degree he or she has a passion and takes responsibility for it.


All growth involves some kind SHIFT. There are personal shifts; like a new perception, insight, attitude, world-view, understanding, belief, awareness, appreciation, aliveness, and shifts in responsibility, health and physique. There are cultural shifts; like a new sense of family, brotherhood, connectedness, entertainment, cross-cultural ties, generation kinship and the common good. And there are public policy shifts involving; social-norms, child-rearing, caregiving, pollution, production, consumption, population, energy, taxation, incentives, etc. Every dialogue has the potential of a shift.


The process is simple. (See the book Open Space Technology, by Harrison Owen.) Anyone can call a meeting.  It doesn’t matter what size they are; two or 500 people. No one is THE leader. Everyone is both a follower and a leader. There are no speakers. The overall theme is, “Aliveness and The Shift”. Under that, hundreds, perhaps thousands of sub-themes are possible. Which sub-theme(s) gets chosen for a meeting depends on the passions of the people present. A more detailed explanation with videos is on the web site <alivenesspower.com>. This site compliments the SHIFT dialogues.


The meetings may start off a little ragged - especially if there is no one there with experience in this kind of collaboration. But, by keeping them light, loving and accepting, they get easier, better and more fun as you go along. 


Concluding: If “enough” people with passion and responsibility make enough of the right kind of shifts, there is hope for a brighter, more life-giving future. If not, possibility will die, and so will civilization.

OPEN SPACE GATHERINGS:                             Back to OPEN SPACE


In open spaces, concerned people with strong passions begin asking the right questions, and searching for answers. Under the theme, “Growing Aliveness and The Shift”, one key question that emerges is, “how can we have a joyful, satisfying and meaningful life that also includes contributing something to the long term welfare of the planet and everyone on it?”


With “Aliveness and The Shift” as the context, people are coming together to lead, dialogue, participate and advance “CORE SHIFT” happenings. Topics emerge naturally out of the needs, concerns, or passion(s) of the participants.


Anyone can call a meeting. It doesn’t matter what size they are; 5, 50, or  500 people. There are no speakers, no one is in command (except for giving some procedural instructions. Everyone is both a follower and a leader at different times. A challenge everyone can relate to becomes the context, and the dynamics that make it work is interest, commitment and responsibility. 


The meetings may start off a little ragged - especially if experience in this kind of collaboration is lacking. By keeping them light, loving and accepting, they get easier, better, more fun AND productive as you go along.


Possibility is a vision that has its home in the present moment.


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Buckminster Fuller said, You never change things by fighting reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”


“Inititiatives provide continuity of effort and skill accumulation. Inititiatives enable productivity. Initiative-centered organization anchors a project and breaks down internal barriers.” Robert Hutchinson, Managing Director of the Rocky Mountain Institute

“True mastery can be gained by letting things go their own way. It can’t be gained by interfering.”    

Laozi (Lao Tzu) 6th Century BCE

Reference book: Open Space Technology by Harrison Owen

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