Occupy Cafe is grounded in the idea that "conversations that matter" are one of the highest forms of action.  The Occupy movement has demonstrated this by changing the global conversation.  What conversations do you see inspiring us to live into humanity's New Story?

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David Isaacs, co-creator of the World Cafe process, asks "what if conversation is to people as water is to fish?"  Peter Block and others have suggested that all transformation is essentially linguistic, rooted in the stories we tell ourselves individually and collectively.

The core team of Occupy Cafe is currently attending the biannual conference of the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation (NCDD), a gathering of people who are inspired by the possibilities that emerge when conversations are designed and hosted with care, skill and trust in the wisdom of the group.  On our Monday call, we will share with you some of the insights and inspiration we have gleaned from the conference, as a launching point for  for dialogue about the conversations you believe have the power to create transformation.

We invite you to start this discussion now here on the forum:

  • Describe a time when you participated in a powerful conversation that rippled out into the world and catalyzed change.
  • What questions, if answered, could make a difference in the degree to which powerful conversations emerge and flourish in our society?

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Can we formulate any meaningful synthesis at any local level unless "WE" first synthesize the universal meaning of our human existence?

Well, Pawel, I guess I'm suspicious of an approach that requires us to all get on the same page--especially to agree on something as challenging as "universal meaning."  And it sounds like you are suggesting that we shouldn't engage in dialogue about anything else until we do, which really feels constricting to me.  I vote for a "both/and" approach here.  I do see that we need something that brings us together into a space where collective inquiry and intention can occur, otherwise we are simply talking at one another.  But just what is it that can function in an inclusive way to do so?

The New Story idea comes up for me right now as the most resonant approach to this, both for the Cafe and humanity as a whole.  Does it require, as Cohen suggests in the piece you cite, that we hold some sort of collective understanding of the "soul?"  Perhaps.  Gary Horvitz posted provocatively on this topic over in the Indigenous Wisdom recently thread as well.  An excerpt:

This is spiritual grounding that has little to do with spirit in the sense that we ascend to spirit--we descend into soul. The muddying of this distinction is everywhere in our culture, with millions taking refuge in the spiritual dimension, with so much magical thinking attending to it all, the evangelicals waiting for some external entity to come and save them. There's nothing wrong with acknowledging spirit as a source, but what I think we get from exploration of the soul is a descent into the collective reality as opposed to merely nurturing an individual relationship with a disembodied entity. 

This healing process has nothing to do with shamanism or magic. It is not about ascending to anything. It is more about inscendance, a term Bill Plotkin uses. It is embodiment in the same sense in which Jitendra means it, coming into our body more fully, the body of life, the body of time, the embodied and hence connected self in which our indigenous memory is alive and present.

Jitendra teases me when I tell him that I am an atheist, saying that he doesn't believe me.  I find that amusing.

What a marvelous experience to listen to the two-hour  dialogue between Ron Friedman, physician, poet and founder of The Vistar Method and Ashok Gangadean, long-term Professor of Philosophy at Haaverford  College.  It was sweet indeed.


Not only was the topic the Shift from Egologue to Dialogue, but the discussion was dialogue at its finest.I hope you all had the opportunity to listen.  If not, it will be on the Vistar Foundation web site within 24 hours or so.

Dialogue requires listening and is vital but we don't begin by listening.  Gandhi said that "First they ignore you...."  I think this is what he was talking about.  We begin by not listening.  He continued, "...then they laugh at you...."  My experience is that this is what happens when you've made a big enough noise that people can't ignore you anymore.

"...then they fight you..."  Now, at last, we have dialogue.  It might seem to you that this fighting is not what we are after, but consider our present lack of consensus on a practical path to a better world.  There's something to be said for achieving consensus that we should all love each other, but history has taught us that we will need to fight about how to love each other well, because in fact we don't love each other - isn't that implicit in the consensus that loving each other is a path to a better world that doesn't yet exist?

"...and then you win."  When people who truly care but disagree engage in dialogue they will argue passionately, and because they truly care they will reason to a solution. Thus, if one has presented a solution, then it will succeed, and all will win.  But first we need to fight with each other.

If we don't yet have consensus on a practical path, and we are not fighting, then either we're still ignoring or laughing at each other, or we just don't genuinely care about other people and are here only to listen to the sound of our own voice.

Ben, all is fair in Synthesis because it takes from all, even opposites, and yields a harmony.  Per Wikapedia if we narrow our scope to the Humanities one example of the word, Synthesis being the combining of Thesis and Antithesis and producing something new.  But, of course one does not have to only begin with Thesis.  One can start with a dream too, or a postulate, or a belief, or an observation, or impression, or fact.

Having common language means we also make a practical attempt to establish common meanings among us.  This is more work in the beginning AND more difficult to restrain ourselves, not diverge, and not lose sight if the initial purpose.  My experience is, if not overdone, the preliminary work can pay off many fold later in a dialogue.  But 'if not overdone' becomes a new problem in itself along with "my wanting to retain MY 'tested' meanings."  (So, this too is dialogue and potential for synthesis, no?)

It seems whatever we do (each moment, e.g. to prepare for) is a microcosm of what we're trying to do or to produce (the goal)... to dialogue & relate, learn, create something new.  This makes me think of the relationship of microscopic atomic structure and the solar structure... universal-- going inward or outward.  Vi's-a-vi, the journey is the real goal... not some distant place.

Kevin, thanks for your 'steps of dialogue'.  This makes sense to me yet for some reason hasn't been within reach.  It is reassuring to me to bring this aboard.

If you have a sincere question for me, I welcome it.

If not, I yield to your conclusions.

Its a noticeable feature that very few women seem to engage in the forums and I kind of wonder why that is. Though they do seem to be represented in the Live streams. 

What a marvelous experience to listen to the two-hour  dialogue between Ron Friedman, physician, poet and founder of The Vistar Method and Ashok Gangadean, long-term Professor of Philosophy at Haaverford  College.  It was sweet indeed.


Not only was the topic the Shift from Egologue to Dialogue, but the discussion was dialogue at its finest.I hope you all had the opportunity to listen.  If not, it will be on the Vistar Foundation web site within 24 hours or so.

Sounds interesting, Harvey.  Can you share some of what you felt were the highlights?  And perhaps also the link once it is up?

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