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This is our fourth conversation based on the model developed by Peter Block in Community: The Structure of Belonging, building on the "Dissent", "Possibility" and "Ownership" conversations we hosted in May, June and July respectively. Once again, we are delighted to welcome back co-hosts Eric and Elaine Hansen, who have worked extensively with Block, and are masters of this form.
The invitation conversation is considered to be the most important of the Six Conversations in this approach. Unlike the other five, it is not one that is engaged in once the group has convened. Rather, it is quite literally the invitation to join the gathering itself, as well as a concept that can extend into our lives more generally as a way of engaging with one another.
We explore this concept of "invitation as a way of being" by inviting YOU to join us as a fellow "steward" of Occupy Cafe. You can think of this as both an actual invitation (it is!) and as an opportunity for experiential learning regarding this set of concepts in general.
There are five elements to this form of invitation, two of which relate to its content and three of which concern the way in which it is extended. We offer the content elements--which consist of naming the possibility around which we are gathering and the hurdle (or price) that is required should you choose to accept the invitation-- for your consideration below [please note that this is a "working draft," and part of our goal here is to explore ways to refine it together]:
We wish to invite you to expand your participation into "stewardship" of the Cafe. It is perfectly fine to say "no," of course (we won't hold it against you!). Know, however, that you, and the unique gifts you have to offer this community, will be missed if you decline. We would also like to extend this invitation in a more personal manner, so if you have any interest in exploring this possibility with us, please let us know and we will arrange for a one-one conversation.
We are weaving a community of people aligned around a shared belief in the possibility that we can and must co-create a world that works for all. The community co-creates and stewards hospitable space in which we invite the world to engage in compassionate and appreciative dialogue to:
- Learn more about the various dimensions of systemic transformation that might be possible
- Foster meaningful connections that enhance the resilience and functionality of the broader network of change agents and those who wish to support them
- Provide a laboratory for innovation that supports our ability to work together and to "be the change we wish to see in the world," including experimentation with new models of economic exchange, governance.
The Hurdle (required price/exchange):
- Listen deeply and seek to understand before we react or respond
- Tend to relationships, paying as much attention to how we engage with others as to what it is we engage about, with a core commitment to practicing nonviolence
- Offer an exchange (of money, services, or both) in return for the value we receive and in support of the growth of this work.
As always, we invite you to begin the conversation right now on this forum, and to continue it here once our call is complete. We would like to start our discussion of "invitation as a way of being" by considering the core distinction it offers with approaches based on "mandate" or "persuasion:"
Photo by Maria Guimares via GroupWorksDeck.org
To receive an honest 'free' or 'no strings attached' isn't congruent with my Capitalist conditioning. But, even in an atmosphere of affection there is a burden or price, as stated. I'm open to accept such an offer, me not having any need for defensiveness. It seems obvious that the stated burdens are optional. It is compelling however, to let you know, you may need to exclude me so you can stay true to your topic for the following reason.
Due to integrity to my core principles I am unwilling to make any committment of non-violence (actually, I am not capable and would be surprised and in awe of any particpants who are capable.) I know non-violence is often used as a tag line with assumption that we're speaking about a trivial or superficial or limited form...
I do not, but rather see it as a deep and spiritually advanced act of love... the magnitude of selflessness which I am not yet capable. Short of this I see a 'forced' non-violence (before being ready) can produce cowardice in simply maneuvering to maintain safety. Non-violence & its levels, is quite a deep subject and worthy of its own inquiry.
Thank you, Dyck. The intention in the phrase "a core commitment to practicing nonviolence" is not that we must all be perfect at this--for me that is the concept of a "practice" in the most literal sense. Does that shift anything for you? What phrasing might work better in addressing your concerns about not being capable of this while still holding out the principle of nonviolence as a core element of the culture we are creating?
Also, I curious about your conclusion that "it seems obvious that the stated burdens are optional." What gives you that impression? What would it mean for you if they were not? (Ben)
To 'belong'... and to be 'accepted', are related when it comes to group participation. Conditions or requirements essentially are separative attributes used to unify those left after dividing. So, with an intention to be most inclusive, conditions and requirements would be at a minimum (so the most would agree). They are the 'go' - 'no-go' criteria for initial participation, so they would also be understood (clear, uncompromising, and important).
The reason this seems so important is that being accepted within a group (belonging) implies "one is accepted fully for who they are (without reservation)... except for any rule or condition imposed."
Also, to make agreements seems important, no? Otherwise why make them? Certainly not to deceive or mislead. The Topic agreement stated implies that all violence will or should be avoided and that it is 'bad'. Yet, in my opinion there are some conditions that would justify violence. Some would not. Some circumstances would not fit being called violence yet perhaps many would call them violent. Some circumstances are benevolent and might best be termed non-violent violence.
But, perhaps most important is that blind commitment or intention can lead to low behavior that has one avoiding violence for selfish reasons, thus cowardice (harming many). In this instance even a promise of intention of non-violence is wrong-headed (can lead to harm). Although I would gladly commit to defend, to prevent and to not bring harm to the earth, myself and others... even knowing I can not do this fully, it can be my lofty intention.
I would categorise myself as a coward, ie avoiding violence for selfish reasons. Perhaps that would be allowable in your scheme of things because I am a woman, and old. But to me it would be better if more people were cowards, I don't see it as morally reprehensible. Being a coward means that you put your own safety first, which is where it should be.
I mean this private question to be neither cruel nor judgmental... Do you love anyone?
I guess you are wanting to ask would I jump in to save someone I love if it would put me in danger. Yes I love many people, and I honestly don't know if it came to it whether I would put myself in physical danger. Since it's never been put to the test.......? I don't admire heroes, people do whatever they do. Honouring self-sacrifice serves the military. I still wish there were more cowards.
My implication is more to the contemplative point "where fear is, love is not... and where love is, fear is not." This is my basis in exploring non-violence.
Add to this contemplation how self-preoccupation or (being always being at the center of one's own attention), plays out in one's ability to love.
This assumes one agrees that pure love embodies an absence of self.
I was offered the opportinity to join the staff of another Occupy forum, and I was thrilled. However the actuality was very different, since it felt to me there was very little real equality among staff members. The unspoken hierarchy was untouchable, no matter how much I tried to expose it. The ethos was - we have a job to do, deadlines to meet, and we may have to compromise a bit on horizontality in order to get it done.
So it depends very much on what you are offering. The possibility of being a steward appears to offer the potential to play an equal part in decision making around this forum, to take some responsibility. It is saying 'Come and join us'., which is very different from 'think as I do', or 'accept my belief structure'.
On the other hand I do not find the wording of the Possibilitiy and the Hurdle very appealing or inviting. By 'provide a laboratory of innovation' do you mean - be open to new ideas? Makes it sound very grand and could have been said much more simply.
I hope to be on the conversation so perhaps clarify some of the ideas expressed above.
So glad you will join us on the call today, Anna. I'm curious what might be more appealing to you than what we have written above.
As far as the "laboratory for innovation," we actually do mean that. We want to manifest aspects of the new economy and alternative governance structures within the Cafe Community and we want to create a "container" where others can bring forth ideas they want to develop more fully and find training, tools and collaborators to move their work forward.
Thus far, we've made more progress on the governance side, although that hasn't been all that visible to those outside our seven person "core team" to date. We're working on something with the working title of the "OC learning center" that is our first step towards a more concrete manifestation of the laboratory idea.
That is exciting, Ben. Can't wait! And yes, I see (and feel) elegance in the facilitation part (including advances in 'setting the tone', 'good listening', 'extending the conversation', and 'managing') that is at the leading edge of my appreciation. Great team effort.
Sharing from 1st question: What drew you to be here today?
I was attracted by the invitation for involvement. Hasn't been much transparency abt how OC works. Interested in finding out more about how OC works.
Searching for people whoa are willing to let go of 99%/1% meme. Looking for people to go beyond the meme of the enemy. Need to recognize roles of victim/perpetrator, but not use it to fuel division.
Seeking authenticity in conversations and where those conversations go.
I'm here because I want to see this world operate differently. Here to participate in this community to make a step toward creating greater change in the world.
Want to relate to everyone as a human being and not to treat people [as characterized groups, e.g.-99%/1%]
In response to the question what brought you here:
Mary Linda sought connection with like-minded and light-hearted people. Sitting in sunroom and loving conversation.
Mushin is committed to seeing the OccupyCafe as an appreciative inquiry for tranformational action in our world. Loves it's all done by done.
Iwanka is part of the Occupy Movement and wants to see it grow. The OccupyCafe offers a fertile enviroment for that movement to grow.
Cheryl is here to be a part of this big experiment called OccupyCafe to weave people together and nurture relationships using a virtual platform to engage people to be the change they want to see in the world. She's exploring how to integrate the virtual conversation utilizing tools such as Maestro Conference into Community Weaving our world.
Sam will join our breakout group.