Collaboration is crackling in the air.  Ben, Pia and I attended a conference in Seattle that called on attendees to imagine a national infrastructure for improving civic discourse.  More simply, how can we improve the ways in which we get more diverse voices together to talk about things that matter in a constructive and productive manner? 

After all, changes need to happen and we're struggling to get them going at a scale of meaningful impact.

3-5p PDT | 6-8p EDT | 10p-12a GMT
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One realization rose to the surface in virtually every conversation regarding collaboration—relationships matter!  Erik Liu, a main welcome speaker for the NCDD conference, concluded by speaking of the need for an "infrastructure of the heart."  Leaders of currently successful multi-organizational collaborations shared, the most important thing they've learned to date is that quality of relationship is the key to coming together.

"All relationships are founded on One, the one with your Self" has been the tagline for my transformation work for many years.  The quality of the inner relationship we have with our own self dictates the quality of all our outer relationships, at every scale.  If you want to accelerate your collaborative effectiveness, look at your personal foundation—your relationship with your self. 

Imagine a collaborative venture with followers of Groucho Marx (no, not Karl), the guy who wouldn't belong to club that would have him as a member.  Sadly, we may have had an experience or two trying to collaborate with folks that are combative, argumentative, dictatorial or simply unhappy with anything proposed as a way to move forward.  That hypothetical person is a classic example of someone who neither likes, accepts nor trusts themselves.  Their inner foundation is shaky, at best—and it shakes everyone around them.  On the other side of that experience, the more grounded we are in accepting ourselves, the more clarity and ability we'll have to navigate those experiences with compassion and creativity.  We can count on these challenges to arise wherever we go.  We won't need to retaliate with control, so long as we strengthen our inner foundation through awareness, acceptance, compassion and clarity of purpose with ourselves.

We'll explore strengthening our personal foundations for collaboration this week along with how we might better support each other.  Trust and acceptance within, builds trust and acceptance without.

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A couple of suggestions for you C.A.:

  1. Organize and host a call or begin a thread on women, patriarchy or women's studies.  You'll attract people interested in exploring the conversation.  I don't have the same compelling drive for the topic as you do and would not be the ideal host.
  2. Notice that the integrative relational dynamics being illuminated in Occupy Heart, and this thread in particular, are in fact an antidote to patriarchy without narrowing the framework to be exclusionary or judgmental as the term "patriarchy" often is.  I think patriarchy warrants being called out and named at times, though I don't agree that this space is really a match for it.  Patriarchy can be healed without ever mentioning the term.  I have taught integrative transformation for 20 years with one of the most balanced gender demographics attending transformational work.  I have never registered one complaint regarding gender exclusion.  Women studies are powerful for those interested in women's studies.  However, one does not necessarily need to address women's studies, whatever that may mean to whomever is conceiving the study, in order to achieve honor and respect for women or the feminine principle.  There is a powerful woman standing next to me encouraging this perspective.

If you are the one with the vision, then lead it.  This is a collaborative community space.  Step up and create what you want and see who jumps up to join in.

C.A.--AS we've indicated to you before, our goal is not, nor has it ever been, to "organize Occupy."  This movement is the epitome of a self-organizing system.  Not that it is "leaderless" in our view, but rather "leaderfull."  That includes YOU, which was Jitendra's point I'd say.  

If you want to get a better idea of Jitendra's "approach," why not join a call?  Google Voice is free and appears to be working fairly well with Maestro these days.

"The Mission of Occupy Cafe is to expand the Occupy movement and support the conversations it has ignited into the wider world.  Real and meaningful change for good comes when WE THE PEOPLE stand, speak and act together, cooperatively and collaboratively."

I just assumed that "act together" required organization.  Are there any examples of "self-organizing" systems involving more than a few dozen people having done anything?

It is a strange and meaningful question.

To advance the discussion I can ask the next one:

Why the example of human system (much more than few dozen involved:-) is not relevant?  (Do we have to organize or re-organize? Is it possible to re-start from the beginning or rather to unbar the path eliminating flaws?)

My question comes from my (possibly flawed) understanding of group dynamics.

People in a small tribe (village, hunter-gathers, whatever) of a few dozen or less can successfully self-organize to accomplish a task.  Individuals will take on roles within the group: energizer, harmonizer, information seeker, etc.  (See

Imagine several groups coming together to accomplish something.  For example, a group of villages might agree to build a bridge for the convenience of all the villages.  To complete this project, a more formal organization is needed to parse out necessary tasks and responsibilities. 

It is not likely the project would be halted while the villagers seek to improve their “inner relationships.”  Historical and profound movements have been successful in spite of the flawed people involved.  (King David, Ghandi, Moses, MLK, etc.)  No doubt all the projects would have been more successful had everyone involved been more like Ghandi, but we usually have to make do with what we have. 

Evolution has given us an ability to self-organize that may be close to optimal.  Even if we could remake each individual into an harmonizer, we risk screwing up the group dynamics dictated by Mother Nature.   



Seems to me that the Occupy movement, whatever its flaws and its current state, is a fine example of such self-organization.  It shifted the global conversation, embedding the 99% meme firmly in the collective consciousness.

Our ability to do this on a mass scale is quite new.  It took 100 years for the printing press to lead to the protestant reformation.  Humanity's new "nervous system" has only been well established for five years or so.  I don't think we have a hundred years to work our way out of the current mess, mind you.  But the pace of change has accelerated.  Can any of us even know the full dimensions of the collaborative energy that is already being unleashed?  

The Hippie Movement firmly planted a meme.  Now, 40 years later, teens wear ragged jeans.  Don’t we want more?

Instead of seeking to understand our “inner relationships,” our time would be better spent seeking to understand the tactics of the 1%.  See, for example, the report from the Cato Institute described at this link:

We are facing a strong resourceful enemy.  It seems like WWII again.  The troops are assembled on the British Isles, and General Eisenhower tells them to self-organize, but to first seek to improve their “inner relationships,” then find some way to get to the Normandy shores.   


Richard: I get your view that inner work is not only not important but a dangerous detour at a time when urgent action is required. If your grand narrative is that we are at war and what is needed are effective generals, that makes sense. I wonder how many others here find that story compelling?

And I find it interesting that, at the same time that you disparage the importance of inner work, you post here in a mocking tone, as if that is likely to create the shift you seek. You may wish we were all part of an army, duty bound to obey you or some other authority. But given that is not currently the case, my takeaway from your posts is simply the stuck energy of cynicism. Am I missing something?

Are you missing something?  More likely, in the interest of making my points, I’m being careless with nuances.

I didn’t mean to “disparage the importance of inner work.”  I have a high regard for Jung, use of dreams, psychotherapy, and I practice meditation, although not as often as I probably should.  But yes, I do see it as a dangerous detour.

The analogy with war isn’t completely valid.  We are engaged in a conflict within a political environment.  A democratic response is absolutely necessary.  My main interest is in building (quickly) democratic infrastructures.  (I’ve been in the military – enlisted to avoid the draft -- and believe the military would be more effective with more democracy.)

“Stuck energy of cynicism” doesn’t ring true, but I’ll consider the possibility.  My primary feelings are of urgency and frankly, fear.  I’m urgently concerned about our future – about the future of my grandchildren. 

I imagine all of us are aware of the state of our environment, but as a reminder, let me ask you to view this short video:


It’s possible I’ve stumbled into the wrong café.  If you want to end this thread, let me know so I can search elsewhere.

Ben responding to Richard's post above, wondering if he's at the right Cafe

Richard: I'm reminded of a speaker at Bioneers last week who said "when I tell someone something depressing about the state of the world and they ask me to stop because it's depressing them, I find THAT depressing!"

You most certainly are in the "right Cafe" (is there another one around where you could have this conversation?!) and I really do share and empathize with your concerns.  I also disagree with the notion that there is no inner dimension to the transformation we seek.  Ultimately, this shift is about the collective choices of billions of people on this planet.  Yes, corporations are powerful and government institutions are corrupt and an elite few who are benefiting from the status quo will stop at nothing in their efforts to preserve it.  But that power depends on the acquiescence of the people.  And the people don't want revolution right now, as far as I can tell.  They are scared and angry.  Many are in denial, many more in cynicism and resignation.  What is the answer to that?

Peter Block writes:

Resignation is the ultimate act of powerlessness and a stance against possibility. It is a passive form of control. It is born of our cynicism and loss of faith. What we are resigning from is the future and what we are embracing is the past. None of us is strong enough to carry the dead weight of others’ resignation or even our own. Resignation ultimately alienates us and destroys community. It is the spiritual cause of isolation and not belonging. Beware of resignation, for it presents itself as if data  and experience were on its side. (Community, p.134)

I believe that, in order for us to take effective action to address this state of affairs, we need a New Story to help us frame both the challenge and the possibility for change.  There is no shortage of work already in motion to tackle various elements of the current system.  If you're here, I presume it's because you're already engaged with those efforts to whatever degree feels right and yet you are also wanting more.  For now, the conversations we are hosting are designed to help us frame the New Story that can inspire us with the sense that transformation is possible.  

If we can use our conversations together to recharge our batteries of possibility, we can take that out into the world and be effective agents for change, driven not by fear but by love.  And perhaps we can align as a community around some set of actions we might take together, if we feel called as a group to do more than help spread this New Story. It is not clear to me however, that the work of spreading that story isn't a sufficient contribution to the whole for the Cafe to undertake.  I like the way the Metta Center for Nonviolence has framed it in their Roadmap for change.

Another possibility is that this Cafe becomes part of a larger collaborative endeavor, linking up with one or more entities that is already creating the architecture to support people coming together in action.  As I mentioned in another post, here are some examples of the sort of entity I am thinking might synergize with what we are offering.  Perhaps you know of some others?


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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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