What topics/questions do YOU want us to discuss at #NatGat?

Our general theme for the Cafe's dialogue is "Co-Creating Transformational Community."  This is what Occupy Cafe stands for, and we plan to manifest an experience of that community weaving through all our conversations.  Dialogue about what matters most to each of us IS the process we offer for doing this. We believe it is possible that, by connecting via such conversations, we can grow communities that can transform the world.

Due to logistical and organizational challenges, we are not planning to offer a true "Open Space Technology" format where all participants are invited to declare topics on the spot.   Our process will be more like "Open Space meets World Cafe," where we pose questions to the entire group, with those questions emerging out of our prior conversations with one another, including this forum thread. We will discuss these questions together both here on the Forum, via our Cafe Calls, and in person at #NatGat (we are integrating all three of these together). 

We had a discussion on our Connect2012 Cafe Call on 6/26 where a number of topics were suggested by the participants. A summary will be posted in a reply below. OC Steward Ben Roberts has been talking with Philly organizers for input as well.

Please share your thoughts on what topics would be most compelling for you to discuss. 

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Possible questions for a dialogue with people from the Middle East (being planned for monday or tuesday from 9-11am EDT):

  • what is the common ground between us?
    • what are our differences, and how can we learn to value them as a source of strength and resilience?
  • what common challenges/dilemmas/opportunities do we all face together?
  • what collaborative/cooperative opportunities might exist between us?
  • what can we learn of value from one another?
  • what have these respective movements--Occupy and Arab Spring--given to you and to We the People?
  • What is awakening in us around our relationship to authority, both externally and within ourselves?
    • reclaiming our inner authority
  • What kind of community can help us to become authors of our own experience, and also to be part of one global experience?

What is our path to becoming completely INCLUSIVE of not only other protest groups but of each other? Surely this is a primary long & rocky road to a healed country and world.

www.ic.org   --> check it out, anyone speaking re developing these communities needs to know about this site, the book and connections they provide space for. These folks have done great work for years, encouraging & connecting many souls to the IC that works best for them.  Here's a bit from their website--its outdated but we want you to recognize that this communal living --generally through democratic principles---has been growing successfully for years. 

What's True About Intentional Communities: Dispelling the Myths Compiled  by the Fellowship for Intentional Communities, October 1996 Myth: There are no intentional communities anymore; they died out in the `60s &`70s. Fact: Not so. Many of those communities survived and thrived, and many new ones have formed since then. A significant new wave of interest in intentional communities has grown over the last several years. We listed 540 intentional communities in North America in the 1995 edition of our Communities Directory--up from 300 in our 1990/91 edition. Several hundred more communities (who declined to be listed) are in our database. We estimate there are several thousand altogether.

Myth: Intentional communities are all alike. Fact: There is enormous diversity among intentional communities. Most communities share land or housing, but more importantly, their members share a common vision and work actively to carry out their common purpose. However, their purposes vary widely. For example, communities have been formed to share resources, to create great family neighborhoods, to live ecologically sustainable lifestyles, or to live with others who hold similar values. Some communities are wholly secular; others are committed to a common spiritual practice; many are spiritually eclectic.  Some are focused on egalitarian values and voluntary simplicity, or mutual interpersonal growth work, or rural homesteading and self-reliance. Some communities provide services, for example helping war refugees, the urban homeless, or developmentally disabled children or adults. Some communities operate rural conference and retreat centers, health and healing centers, or sustainable-living education centers.

Myth: Intentional communities are "communes." Fact: Many people use these terms interchangeably, however, it is probably more useful to use the term "commune" to describe a particular kind of intentional community whose members live "communally" in an economic sense--operating with a common treasury and sharing ownership of their property. Most intentional communities are not communes, though some of the communities most active in the communities movement are.

Myth: Most community members are young--in their twenties. Fact: Most communities are multi-generational. In the hundreds of North American communities we know about, most members range in age from 30 to 60...

I would like us to discuss how to balance between working within the current political/economic system while creating a new, more equal, egalitarian, and sustainable political/economic system. I'd like to talk more about the Transistion Town idea as a way of bridging the current system to the new system.

I'd also like to discuss the value of learning and employing a more compassionate communication style with our friends and with those we consider our enemies. I think this discussion could include the hidden violence in our language; words and phrases that we don't always recognize as violent but have a disconnecting and stimulative impact on people.

Very interesting ideas, Suzanne. I think it could be extremely difficult to try to discuss ways to bring about a new, more equal egalitarian system when more equal egalitarian language is violently disconnecting to some people.

For example, I think most people would find it offensive if we were to try to introduce new pronouns that distinguished between people on the basis of skin color as Douglas R. Hofstadter hypothesized in "A Person Paper on Purity in Language," http://www.cs.virginia.edu/~evans/cs655/readings/purity.html

Pronouns that distinguished between people on the basis of sex, however, were introduced in patriarchal societies thousands of years ago, so to some people, eliminating them to establish a more equal egalitarian language would be offensive and violently disconnecting.

Is separate and different now considered equal?

Certainly, to the 1%, any suggestions of an equal, egalitarian society would be considered violently offensive, as their political/economic status depends on social inequality. Where the 99% (or at least the 89%) might see nothing to lose and much to gain, the 1% (or 11%) would see much to lose and nothing to gain.

Hi Mark,

What comes up for me whhen I read your comments is, first, that I agree that talk about egalitarian status and equal distribution of resources may indeed bring up violent reactions in some people. The strategy I know (and love) is to feedback to them empathically until they feel heard enough to be willing to hear me out. In many people that are calling themselves the 99%, the thought of my strategy might bring up violent reactions.

We're all frightened and angry. We're all struggling with enemy images. Stimulation happens. Conflict happens. It's how we come to the table that will make the diference. I believe that we need to start thinking of ourselves as the 100% and make a committment to come to the table with compassion and a willingness to listen, no matter how frightened we are of hearing what the other person has to say.

I won't be able to respond often because I'm putting lots of time in on the phone aspect of OC's efforts at the national gathering. Also, and Ben can let me know if this is an inaccurate statement, but I think this thread is mainly for peoople wanting to suggest discussion topics for OC online and at the Interactive Cafe in Philly. This is an interesting topic, though. Would you be willing to start a discussion thread on this topic? I'd love to hear what others also have to say about this. 

Hi Suzanne,

I think you're right about this topic being primarily for suggestions. However I'm not willing to start topics at this time due to my own personal prior commitments. I'll be happy to start topics when my schedule permits.

I don't think feedback on suggestions is prohibited in this topic, and some feedback might be useful in considering topics and questions for discussion and/or ways in which they could be discussed..

Personally, I think it would be a mistake to think of ourselves as the 100%. I think it is magical thinking in that it ignores the reality of the 1% who will not come to the table, lack compassion, are not open to discussion or willing to listen, and who meet all nonviolent suggestions with police violence.

I don't think the 1% refuse to come to the table because they are frightened of what the 99% have to say, I think they are making billions of dollars from defense contracts by drone-bombing innocent children and consider any suggestions that they stop to be a form of anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist "terrorism" that could interfere with and diminish the corporate profits they derive from killing innocent children. In other words, to the 1%, drone-bombing innocent children isn't terrorism, it's just business and the children are merely collateral damage, while suggestions that they stop killing innocent children are a form of "terrorism" that could diminish their billions in profits from defense contracts.

Imagine a small village in a remote part of the word that is beset by a large pack of wolves whose natural sources of food have disappeared due to human progress and development, and who, in desperation, have developed a taste for human flesh. Whenever children are playing outside, the wolves will attempt to attack, carry off, kill, and eat a child. If the villagers are empathic and compassionate, they will try to restore alternate sources of food for the wolves so that the wolves don't have to resort to eating children. But thinking that the wolves would be willing to enter a dialogue and merely need to be heard out, is irrational. 

Unlike the 1%, wolves will only kill what they need for food--they don't kill for status or wealth, to buy a fourth mansion or a bigger yacht. If the survival needs for food of the wolves are met, they are likely to stop killing children. The 1% already have everything they need and a lot more, and if they are given everything they want, they'll only want more and they will not stop killing children. Their greed has no limits. Empathic, compassionate nonviolent communications has a much better chance of being effective with wolves than with the 1%.

I don't think your strategy would bring up violent reactions from the 99%, but some, like myself, might wish to nonviolently, empathically, and compassionately point out that there are situations when it isn't an effective strategy.

The difference between "freedom" (to be a dick) and justice that extends to all. Ultimately, freedom needs to encompass justice or it will remain the smoke and mirrors needed to continue violence for profit. 

I'm not a libertarian and I don't advocate "freedom" to accumulate as many materialist things as a wealthy individual wants at the expense of doing violence to other people and the planet.

I've written extensively on the difference between a justice system like Venezuela has, and a legal system like the United States has. The Venezuelan Constitution says that courts may and must ignore the laws in cases where doing so is necessary to bring about justice. The US legal system mandates that the courts uphold the law, even at the expense of justice, as when the Supreme Court refuses to stay the execution of someone who has been proven to be factually innocent, if they were convicted in accordance with law.

Considering the 1%, that is, those who are in and derive huge fortunes from the genocide-for-profit industry, to be the same as the 99%, is smoke and mirrors that can only continue violence for profit by the 1%.

there is also the often forgotten U.S. concept of "nullification by jury." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jury_nullification 

"Juries have also refused to convict due to the perceived injustice of a law in general,[3] or the perceived injustice of the way the law is applied in particular cases.[4]"

The thing that binds the 1% with the 99% is that they are both participants in the same hierarchical pyramid structure, with the 1% in a better position of course, but both highly engaged in systemic functions. Both are conditioned by its self-propagating and reinforcing propaganda, though arguably the poor have less of a stake in maintaining its existence as the rich thrive--materially, if not spiritually. 

Paulo Freire writes about this:

"As the oppressors dehumanize others and violate their rights, they themselves also become dehamanized. As the oppressed, fighting to be human, take away the oppressors power to dominate and suppress, they restore to the oppressors the humanity they had lost in the exercise of oppression." 38 POTO

The point I think is that unless there is a revolution in social relations, the 99%, if they seize power, may fall into the same trap and continue the pattern of exploitation, just with different people in power. On the other hand, systemic change can ensure justice is protected along with freedom, so that both can function as principles of a free society as long as mechanisms are put in place to deal with the ongoing tension arising between them.

Thank you everyone for your thoughts thus far!  As we head into Day 2 of #NatGat, I have a wonderful experience of this time and place (in both the physical and energetic senses) being a fractal of everything that we wish to work with in the wider world.  the opportunities for building transformational community are all around us.  Individual "imaginal cells" are clustering, and clusters are linking together.  Meanwhile the immune system of the status quo is attacking these cells, both in an external form of constraint from "the authorities," and in our own inner reactions to claiming personal authority and showing/accepting leadership in dynamic new ways based on "power with" versus "power over."  

As Peter Block says in Community: the Strucrture of Belonging (a book that has inspired me and provided many of the core insights that led to the creation of Occupy Cafe) "leadership" in this new paradigm "is convening."  In the World Cafe, this is called "hosting."  It's a huge responsibility and an honor to be in this position, and I am grateful for your trust thus far.  I would note that "facilitation," as opposed to "hosting," is a term with patriarchal overtones for many, as it suggests a role of guidance and thus subtle control.

One of the roles of this new kind of leader is to frame the conversation so that it opens us to new possibilities and collective intelligence, as opposed to keeping us within the context of the old paradigm.  Many questions/conversations are "interesting," especially when they are about our "problems."  Conversations that are not just interesting, but also "powerful," focus on possibility and invite shared ownership by asking us to look at our part in things.  Peter Block's suggestion is to frame them around questions that are personal, ambiguous, and evoking of anxiety.

I hope that the questions we are choosing for our conversations can provide openings for transformational energy.  Your thinking here is extremely valuable in supporting our ability to do so.  Here are our questions for Sunday (which can be discussed on our forum thread for this day's #NatGat dialogue here):

  • Hour 1: What are the challenges and opportunities you see in the quality of the personal relationships relationships we are developing in the Occupy context and beyond? 
  • Hour 2: What assumptions do we need to test or challenge in thinking about tension between "reformers" and "revolutionaries" that has emerged via the Occupy movement? 
  • Hour 3: What did we learn from the experience of the encampments that can inform a new iteration of community building that has the power to transform our world?

relationships/respect for elders & realization that there is wisdom at all ages, but it is different

as one gains experience & has much to offer even though in a slower quieter style..please take that as reasoned

choice of words.  We don't just say whatever comes out of our loins..  we can b consistent--appreciate that.

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