What is the gift you have received from being part of the Occupy conversation?

Please help us start this dialogue now and then join the Cafe Call on Monday, 11/5 as well:

8-10a PDT | 11a-1p EDT | 3-5p GMT
Click here to register for all our Monday Vital Conversations

This theme will also inform our Tuesday "Connect2012" and Thursday "Occupy Heart" calls.

"Gifts" completes our cycle of the Six Conversations based on the model developed by Peter Block in Community: The Structure of Belonging, building on the "Dissent""Possibility", "Ownership," "Invitation" and "Commitment" conversations we hosted from May through October.  

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.  Our deep thanks and appreciation goes out to them for collaborating with us over these months to bring forth some amazing conversations.  What a gift that has been!  Thanks also to Peter, for his wisdom, insight and humor in designing and sharing this "way of being."

Here is Block's take on the essence of the Gifts conversation:

In our attraction to problems, deficiencies, disabilities, and needs, the missing community conversation is about gifts. The only cultural practices that focus on gifts are retirement parties and funerals. We only express gratitude for your gifts when you are on your way out or gone. If we really want to know what gifts others see in us, we have to wait for our own eulogy, and even then, as the story goes, we will miss it by a few days.

In community building, rather than focusing on our deficiencies and weaknesses, which will most likely not go away, we gain more leverage when we focus on the gifts we bring and seek ways to capitalize on them. Instead of problematizing people and work, the conversation that searches for the mystery of our gifts brings the greatest change and results. 

The focus on gifts confronts people with their essential core, that which has the potential to make the difference and change lives for good. This resolves the unnatural separation between work and life. Who we are at work is our life. Who we are in life is our work. The leadership task––indeed the task of every citizen––is to bring the gifts of those on the margin into the center. This applies to each of us as an individual, for our life work is to bring our gifts into the world. This is a core quality of a hospitable community, whose work is to bring into play the gifts of all its members, especially strangers.... 

This means we enforce a complete ban on denying gifts and discussing weaknesses and what is missing. No human problem solving allowed. Often, people, so conditioned by the retributive culture that we have experienced, want negative feedback. This is packaged in the name of learning and growth. 

Don’t buy the packaging. The longing for feedback that we can “work on” is really a defense against the terrible burden of acknowledging our gifts and getting about the work of living into them, which we can call “fulfilling our destiny”––language so demanding and imposing, no wonder I would rather keep swimming in the morass of my needs and incompleteness. 

Community: The Structure of Belonging, pp. 139-141

Image courtesy Sindrome Feliz via the Group Works Deck

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Hi Ben - on the "let go of the need for efficacy and success" - I think that is exactly what "without expectation of recognition or reward" is about.  For me, the question as crafted calls me reflect on my actions and motives to discover "what am I willing to do for the well being of the whole?"...a selfless act. 

I am doing what I do with the hope it will contribute to creating a better world for the generations that come after me - and realizing I may never know if it makes any difference.

Elaine, I'm participating perhaps like others, to help me move along my path to living in harmony with other on the earth.  And like seeking love, I don't feel the need to have education, skill or training to find my way.  I do appreciate Ben's posted quotes.  But, I don't much like talking about what 'others' might do or mean.

I mostly view these books of Wheatley and Block and others as tools for teachers and facilitators.  For it is you who must bridge the gap of the participants.  You must see that all of us, including teachers, facilitators and authors are at differing places on personal journeys.  Books might also be used as a substitute (a poor one) for the difficult and general lack of capability for an inquiry process.

My sight is that most of us are not yet aware of an inner world.  Others are in various stages of awakening and have not yet begun an inward journey.  A few others have begun an inner movement and some attune to more subtle paths... and beyond.  Yet we must live together and somehow communicate to find harmony.  If you agree with this line of deduction perhaps you see the leaning for all, including us, teachers and facilitators, is coming from the intermixing of these journeys as we find our interconnectedness. 

Dyck - I'm afraid I'm not tracking with you on "I don't much like talking about what "others"might do or mean."

I've re-read my posts here - and I spoke from a personal perspective.  I'm confused - can you point out to me where I "talked about others might do or mean?"

And yes, of course, everyone is on their own journey and at their own pace and uses the tools that work for them. Did you think I meant otherwise? 

And the questions we use are always meant as an invitation to self-reflection.  The key word being "invitation" - saying I pass or no, is a good answer.

And like you, I am reading others posts through my own filters and perceptions and trying hard to set those aside, to hear what they are really saying - not what I assume they are saying.

First I apologize.  I had no intent to be critical or disrespectful... just to state my own truth.

The instances that triggered this in me was back 3 or 4 posts with you and Ben.  It is quite a common attribute on any forum.. to talk about what others mean, to make statements on their behalf, and to quote an authority to gain more credibility in making a point.  I do this myself occasionally too.  But, I feel the need to say, it can be damaging and I don't like it.  In dialogue it seems to often take us in a personal direction apart from one another... and escapes exposing what we don't or do really know... hierarchy often does that.  Personal and relationship clarity is enhanced when not having to 'lean on' another or an authority.

Jerry, you say "I can't this." and "I don't that." and "I want to..."  That must be your 'inner sanctum' view... cuz this never comes across in our dialogues.  This is an unusual post for you and I sense you getting closer to me... Saying this must be quite necessary.   Thank you, thank you.  I'm hearing lots of love in this... perhaps she's fencing with whatever pesky ego you've got left.

Out here, you're adding to the fresh air in my life.  You're stories are full of fresh air and truth.  And as you often imply, you've earned that truth.  And if you don't know this value, it doesn't diminish it in any way... (maybe there is some humility here too).  I see your experience and clear eyed honesty as part of your bedrock, along w powerful love for humanity, that make Jerry who he is.  Wouldn't you expect this to include some fragility & confusion?

You make a difference... in my life.
 PS, I've been meaning to talk with you more about your ideas of getting our 'new ideas' into schools.  I have a lot of energy for this and know our changes will come in the future.... mostly after I've dropped my body (died).


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Regular Calls are no longer being held.  Below is the schedule that was maintained from the Fall of 2011 through Jan 10, 2013.

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