2004.07.18: July 18, 2004: Headlines: Negotation: Community: Peace: Abby Larsen: Harrison Owen sources his inspiration for Open Space technology in his Peace Corps experience in the tiny rural indigenous villages of West Africa, where this is how meetings ran, with no flipcharts or leaders

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Peace Corps Library: Community Development: January 23, 2005: Index: PCOL Exclusive: Community Development : 2004.07.18: July 18, 2004: Headlines: Negotation: Community: Peace: Abby Larsen: Harrison Owen sources his inspiration for Open Space technology in his Peace Corps experience in the tiny rural indigenous villages of West Africa, where this is how meetings ran, with no flipcharts or leaders

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-234-53.balt.east.verizon.net - 151.196.234.53) on Wednesday, April 12, 2006 - 4:44 pm: Edit Post

Harrison Owen sources his inspiration for Open Space technology in his Peace Corps experience in the tiny rural indigenous villages of West Africa, where this is how meetings ran, with no flipcharts or leaders

Harrison Owen sources his inspiration for Open Space technology in his Peace Corps experience in the tiny rural indigenous villages of West Africa, where this is how meetings ran, with no flipcharts or leaders

Open Space is a way of meeting and taking action that replaces old-guard paradigms like conferences and such. Basically, a bunch of people come together over a theme they feel energy for. Then, a leader introduces them to the idea, and says "Whoever has an issue or opportunity relating to our theme that they feel passionate about and will take responsibility for running a meeting on, please write it down and put it up on the wall." Then, after scores of topics go up, they all get organized into meeting times and places, and then Bam! Everybody goes to the topics that interest them. It's really quite simple, and ruled by the Law of Two Feet: If you don't feel you're learning or contributing where you are, only you have the mobility to put yourself where you are learning and contributing. Following this law creates "bees" who cross-pollinate from one meeting to another. It may or may not sound revolutionary, but believe me, people wet their pants at these Open Spaces. It transforms workplaces and communities (at least during the Open Space, but sometimes longer!). Great stuff.

Harrison Owen sources his inspiration for Open Space technology in his Peace Corps experience in the tiny rural indigenous villages of West Africa, where this is how meetings ran, with no flipcharts or leaders

It's All About Peace

You know, for a long time, I've had this little scar on my left hand. I got it at a Tracker school class in a fishing spear construction accident. I'll leave the back story at that. Suffice to say, the little damn scar is the perfect replica of a broken arrow!

I've had people remark on it, as if I purposely went to a piercing parlor to get it done. It's always kinda confused me - one of those messages from beyond that hits you with a repeating dull thud, without providing insight or clarity, until you get used to it. Like the time my Dad was in a transitional period of life, and out of the blue, was constantly bashing one of his elbows into things until it started to get quite swollen. I don't know that he ever figured out why that was happening, but one day it just stopped. If you're not a believer in messages from beyond, that's fine; even us believers end up ignoring them.

I mean, what do you do? There it is. A little broken arrow.

I've been slowly bringing together several different areas of passion and interest, trying to turn them into some kind of mosaic picture. What do they have in common? There's the Mythmap, of course (if it needs explaining, I came up with a good one sentence jobber: "The Mythmap - Community, Nature, and Landscape as a whole mythic being, like a sleeping Giantess, kept alive and healthy by Story, Song, Riddles, Secrets, Quests, and most of all - Celebration."). There's Nonviolent and needs-based communication. There's the Iroquois Confederacy and the Great Law of Peace. There's connection to Nature. There's martial-arts. Then, most recently, I was reading about something I've been interested in for a while, yet never really experienced: a revolutionary social technology for human gatherings called Open Space.

Open Space is a way of meeting and taking action that replaces old-guard paradigms like conferences and such. Basically, a bunch of people come together over a theme they feel energy for. Then, a leader introduces them to the idea, and says "Whoever has an issue or opportunity relating to our theme that they feel passionate about and will take responsibility for running a meeting on, please write it down and put it up on the wall." Then, after scores of topics go up, they all get organized into meeting times and places, and then Bam! Everybody goes to the topics that interest them. It's really quite simple, and ruled by the Law of Two Feet: If you don't feel you're learning or contributing where you are, only you have the mobility to put yourself where you are learning and contributing. Following this law creates "bees" who cross-pollinate from one meeting to another. It may or may not sound revolutionary, but believe me, people wet their pants at these Open Spaces. It transforms workplaces and communities (at least during the Open Space, but sometimes longer!). Great stuff.

So, I was reading more about this, and the "inventor" of Open Space, Harrison Owen, mentioned that really what it was all about was Peace. Open Space, in his experience, created Peace. Not lack of chaos or confusion, but room for chaos and confusion. People weren't any smarter or less selfish or "better", but there was just more room for everybody to be who they were, and it created what he felt was Peace.

He gives credit where credit is due, and sources his inspiration for this technology in his Peace Corps experience in the tiny rural indigenous villages of West Africa, where this is how meetings ran, with no flipcharts or leaders.

Peace. I don't know, but there might be something here - and it makes me wonder, if Open Space creates Peace (the classic example Owen gives is of a meeting of Palestinians and Israelis in Italy that started very tense and ended up quite different), then what might the Mythmap create? Most of us humans are busy warring against something most of the time - each other, Nature, what have you. Maybe Peace is what connects that list of things together.

I think what did it for me, was when Owen, in explaining all this, unconsciously (I assume) paraphrased an Iroquois author I had just read. Owen said "Peace is infinitely more than just the cessation of hostilities."

If the opposite of War is not Peace, then what is Peace? Owen's opinion: "Peace without chaos, confusion and conflict is no Peace, not because we would not prefer it that way, but because each member of this unholy trinity makes a positive contribution to the process of living. Equally, Peace without ending and death is productive of an idealized, static life, stuck in its ways precluding the possibility of any sort of evolution."

I like the sound of this exciting version of Peace! If Peace is a process, not a goal, if Peace is a journey, not a destination...isn't that what most of us are doing, Questing for Peace? I never though of myself as a peaceful "age of aquarius" type of person, but I'm starting to see how that doesn't describe Peace anyway. The most Peaceful community is the natural world itself. The Law of Life is a peace-keeping law. Being someone else's food was not something to take personally, until one culture amongst thousands of cultures made it so: ours. About 10,000 years ago. So, I guess, of course it's all about Peace.

Never thought of it that way before. Maybe that's what the little scar is saying. I wonder where this'll all go next?





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Story Source: Abby Larsen

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Negotation; Community; Peace

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