Please use this discussion to offer your suggestions for Core Conversations to be hosted here on the Cafe website and on our Cafe Calls.  We suggest you consider framing a topic in terms of a "powerful question."  This monograph by Eric Vogt, David Isaacs and Juanita Brown, courtesy of The World Cafe, provides some excellent guidelines.

NOTE!!! This discussion is intended to be about the range of topics we might want to focus on ONLY.

It is NOT intended to be the place where we actually HAVE those discussions.  If something that is proposed here grabs you, by all means start a thread about it in Member-Initiated Discussions.  Or, if it's a really big and juicy subject, perhaps you might even want to start a group to discuss it--each group has its own forum, as well as "pages" that can be created and edited together.

Thanks for helping us keep our discussions organized.  And thanks for all the great energy and ideas that you have been posting here so far!


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as "the 99%" we are many speaking with one voice through Occupy; as "the 99%" we are pluralistic, diverse,contain and hold many different  and sometimes opposing viewpoints; as "the 99%"we reflect the pluralism of modern society, a pluralism that transcends two party politics; as "the 99%" acting and speaking as "the 99%" we speak with one voice and in consensus that we finally see the wizard behind the curtain pulling the levers (the 1%), we finally see what has been happening for a long time and hopefully we will see past the shoulder of our frustrations, fears, anger, outrage to co-creating new foundations for our nations, for our wolrd that serve the 99%..that serve the 100%, that serve life and honor the planet.

Isn't that why we are here at Occupy stand in solidarity with the Occupy movements around the world  to occupy with them  the present and the future to facilitate  and emanate , to  co-create this new  order that serves life and honors the planet that includes the 100%?   

The wise across the ages have always said, their can be no unity without diversity .

Agreed, Lindsay.  And I'm not sure what you are suggesting re the discussion Craig and I are having about how best to frame this particular question.  He's right, of course, about "frustrations" being a key energy source.  My concern is about how to use that energy to bring forth a generative conversation, rather than one that leaves people feeling more frustrated or powerless.

(Ben Roberts, logged in as Admin)

I'm a big fan of stories.  The conversation starters on our Cafe Calls are encouraged to focus on their story, for example.  these can connect us--celebrating both our diversity and our common humanity.

As fellow Occupy Cafe member Michelle Holliday discusses in her brilliant Humanity 4.0 slideshare, living, thriving systems need both diversity of (divergent) parts and a coherent (convergent) whole.

Ben & Craig,

I may have misplaced my comment in the thread but I did mean it to rpely to the exchange you guys were having.

It is so easy for the Occupy as voice of the 99% to slip into identity as an extreme left wing movement ..our generative strength is in the common frustrations, the common plight of the 99% and it is so important to stay on that..on the broad commonality of experience and reality that we share as the 99%.

For occupy Cafe to be a facilitator of the merging identity of the 99%, the emergent power of the 99% we have to be a place that can welcome and hold, invite and include the far right as well, including tea party folk.  We are all in the 99%.

I think we need to stay focused on finding and expressing those broad commonalities of expereience and condition where all of the 99% can see themselves, their concerns reflected.

I guess I am suggesting that the generative process is one of getting out of our pre-occupation with our own lives, our families, our own friends ( that commodification of ego phenomenon that keeps us locked in instead of looking out).. So I guess what I am suggesting is that we need to somehow point to the commonality of conditions confronting the 99%..get people through the Cafe, through Occupy itself to see and identify with that commonality, and from that to begin to see that we the 99% are 99% and really can change it and take it back.

Have you read Tom Atlee's piece on the Commodification of EGO ?

I hear you, Lindsay.  And I certainly welcome people from across the political spectrum, as do the various Occupy sites.  This is designated as a non-partisan movement.  That said, I have no illusions about the challenges of bringing in voices from the right.  It is likely that many will not feel they are in friendly territory despite our best efforts to be welcoming.  

Some of course are already here I imagine, as well as on the ground (although one major Tea Party" group has already denounced #Occupy).  I once spoke with a Tea Partier from Wasilla (!) who favored full public financing of ALL federal elections.  The "corporatocracy/plutocracy/plutomony" framing does indeed resonate across many lines.

And then there is George Lakoff's view about this, suggesting that we are fooling (and hurting) oursleves if we think that there is some happy middle ground.  Did you read his piece "A Framing Memo for Occupy Wall Street"?

Re Atlee, he's a mentor and a sponsor of OC.  I missed the Ego piece you refer to.  Can you post a link to it here please?

Here is Tom's essay ( from April 2011):


and a great quote from it

"Among the most important 21st century "personal is political" dynamics is the increasing personalization of commodities and the commodification of our personal lives. We are evolving from citizenship into a narcissistic hall of mirrors, increasingly alienated from what is other, what is different, what is real. This could be defended as wonderful, I guess, if it were sustainable. But it isn't.:"


I truly enjoyed Lakoff's Essay..that is more or less what I have been trying to  point to as well.and a winderful quote from it that is funadmental at the level I think it so important to stay on to be open and inclusive..the 99% does include at least half who are not way left, not progressives but we stand, van stand and can govern from the fundamental common ground.  Here is a great quote from Lakoff:

"OWS is a moral and patriotic movement. It sees Democracy as flowing from citizens caring about one another as well as themselves, and acting with both personal and social responsibility. Democratic governance is about The Public, and the liberty that The Public provides for a thriving Private Sphere. From such a democracy flows fairness, which is incompatible with a hugely disproportionate distribution of wealth."

He has some other great core premises in their we coud tease out and explore in core conversations.




Most common folks I know that lean to the right agree that the power of corporations need to be removed from government. It seems to me that if we kept the focus there we could create a level playing field to deal with the rest of the issues.

Also, if we could facilitate conversations that were more about listening to each others perspective, rather than right and wrong, we could more effectively move toward resolution.

Good addition, Ben. I've worked for 15 years in community conversations in the National Issues Forums (NIF) style...and we lead into all of our conversations by asking participants to share a very brief story about why the topic we're discussing is important to them on a personal basis. is highly effective in bringing an abstract issue into focus as a public problem to be solved.

Here's another way to look at it: a personal story about the importance of an issue communicates that everyone has an 'interest' in solving a shared problem. Having an 'interest' in a solution moves the conversation beyond opinions...everyone has an opinion on issues, whether they care about enough to be part of the solution or not.

So...perhaps the most helpful conversations would focus on the reality and trends in wealth disparity by asking participants to share a brief story about their 'interest' or 'stake' in reversing these trends.

How would you actually word the question, Craig?  How about a brief statement of fact about income disparity, followed by "please share a brief story about their 'interest' or 'stake' in reversing these trends."

As for accommodating diversity of viewpoints here, my "opinion" is that when it comes to encountering people with opposing views, we have to be a little more specific about what "listening" means. To me it means inquiring, and doing so ever more deeply into the personal story. I am convinced that the personal story, or at least somewhere in the territory of how a personal story encounters the family/cultural story is at the root of beliefs.

Yes, we can spend alot of time spinning our wheels talking about abstrations. And when it gets down to bedrock beliefs--like whether or not humans are wired for competition of cooperation-- there may be an impasse. Appealing to economic interests, or even exploring their true depth, may be fruitful. But where there's faith involved, well....I'd like to witness that sort of encounter....because faith is basically unshakeable.

And then there's the theory that 1/3 of the world is awake and engaged in bringing about a systemic/evolutionary "Shift," 1/3 sees that we're on the wrong track but is stuck in resignation/cynicism (or maybe just survival mode) and 1/3 will fight like hell to preserve the status quo (or to revert to some imaginary past) rather than supporting the emergence of a new paradigm.  

The suggestion is that it's productive to focus energies on engaging the first two groups and a waste of time to try to "reason" with the third.

Not saying I totally buy this, but it's worth contemplating.

(Ben Roberts)

This side discussion is in its own way "core" to the Occupy movement and its possibilities for transformation.

During this important decade I have been living on a remote island off the coast of maine..I came here in part exhausted from decades of advocacy and a realization that all we had worked for, all we had put in place was about to be totally undone and in the meantime was just being ignored, avoided and worked around

 When I took up my work again via TED Conversations, which is trying to be a global conversation and a transformative engagement of collaborative energy to build a future together, I was amazed to see how deeply inward the world had moved.  Tom's essay on the Commodicifaction of narcissism really resonated deeply with me.  It's truth  rang out. The kind of  connection the internet has so far been about  is rank opinion rather than conversation, about allowing us to form larger and networks of same minded people, about allowing us to deeply indulge our own needs and desires free of scritiny or accountability..  What had really happened it seemed to me during my decade out of the main stream was that we had reverted back to a sort of mythic camp fire tribal pre-rational mode of culture.  We've collected a lot of bad habits over this decade in which we have become aware of how out of the picture the 99% is in almost everything. 

We need new habits to fully realize what it means that we are the 99% and it is only in that realization that the full generative transformational energy of the 99% can be engaged to reclaim our nations and our planet.  

Looking at the truth is hard work..risky's hard to see in the ruins where the pieces are which we can use to rebuild.

When I go deeply into any of it, for example in a recent TED Conversation on the impact of pure speculation in commodities on global hunger or the truth about Libya and Egypt I feel overwhelmed by the pervasive total control of the 1% who own all governments and are accountable to none.  In this past decade we have become truly a global community but the globe is in the hands of a few private interests who are in effect the global government.

That happened on our watch.  We are responsble for that.  Our habits and choices made that possible.  As the 99% it has always been ours to stop  that , chnage that, prevent the encroachment of that on our lives..

2/3 isn't enough. the 2/3 where half are pre occupied with their own survival and half are hanging on to what they have won  or still believe is right is not a a majority for change.

we have to find a way to be a community of the 99% .what we build together must have thrivability for 100% of us..the time share folk and the money market folk will sit together in grange halls or at kitchen tables working toward securing that but we are not quite there yet..not quite able to think of ourselves truly as the 99%, not quite able or ready to talk in our local communities as the 99%   

Tom and others have done a lot of work in how we can find common ground when we come together as "the 99%" ..we need to somehow bring the experience of that to Occupy every effort we make to have a global act as a global community on behalf of the 99%.



I agree with much of what you say, however I also have to say Stop - wait a minute. Yes, much of the world's institutions are significantly controlled by the wealthy elite; but it is not like this just happened on our watch. This has been going on for centuries - even millennia - though it is true that they have perhaps managed to further use their ownership and control over wealth and resources to further consolidate their wealth, ownership and control. Still there are people throughout every field and discipline that are becoming aware of this, that want to do things in a different way, and efforts are being made everywhere to change things for the better. So, there is no reason to blame ourselves or to despair. 

Also there is a young fellow named David Wilcocks, seemingly a reincarnation of Edgar Cayce, who says some amazing stuff about what is going on and about the world that we are creating and entering into and how when we claim our personal power and feelings of love, there is no way the 1% will be able to stop us. We each have the ability to determine our own life and situation based on how we think and feel about it. 

So, let's join together and create the life and reality that we want and then no one will be able to stop us.

Rob Wheeler


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