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The Occupy Movement invites us all into a stance of ownership in the future of our society.  We are being called to exercise our rights as citizens to determine our collective destiny, rather than passively handing off responsibility to a group of elected officials.

Occupy Cafe also invites you to come in as the owner of your experience in our conversations and of our collective ability to learn together and to be in relationship.

This is our third conversation based on the model developed by Peter Block in Community: The Structure of Belonging, building on the "Possibility" conversation we hosted last month and the "Dissent" Conversation in May.  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.

As always, we also invite you to begin the conversation right now on this forum, and to continue it here once our call is complete.  We are starting with what Block calls the "the essential question upon which accountability hinges:"

What have I done to contribute to the very thing I complain about or want to change?

Image courtesy of Human Values First and Better Balance

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From Iwanka Kultschyckyj:

I am letting go of the cost benefit analysis and moving forward with hugs of care and friendship to all of you. Thank you for letting come in and out of the conversation due to time constraints and time limitations. I need to run off to class towards oneness..One Lab awaits! better days to come, iwanka p.s. Ben as always you are amazing. Say hello to jitendra, ron and pia! 

Thank you, Iwanka.  I love hearing that!  Great to have you with us again.

Inspiration from the GroupWorks deck, drawn at random (really!):

I've come late to this page - as one of the co-conveners of the call, I apologize for not showing up sooner but July was an exceedingly busy month for me.

Ben and Jitendra - I appreciate how you have provided context for the intention of that Possibilities Conversation.  And Ben, thanks for sharing the reflections from Judy Frankel and Iwanka Kultschyckyj after the call. It is always good to hear how others experience the calls.

After reading through all the comments, I want to add this context for this call and future calls we co-convene on Occupy Cafe.  We are using the A Small Group (ASG) conversation technique for these calls. It is Peter Block's methodology. I can appreciate others who have commented about this topic approaching it from the standard conversation think of ownership as a tangible thing as opposed to an attitude, an approach, a lens to see the world differently. 

Instead, we are inviting you to shift the usual conversations to see the alternative universe, so to speak. To butcher what Einstein has said, we can't use the same thinking that created these problems to solve these problems.  Using Peter's methodology allows us to flip/shift the conversation to give us another perspective and a new approach.

Here is a shorthand version of the 6 conversations we use in ASG:

Invitation vs. Mandate - invitation says something shifts in how I show up when I choose to be present. Likewise something shifts in me - generally in a negative way - when I am mandated to be there.

Possibilities vs. Problem Solving - possibilities is about creating the future, problem solving keeps us hostage to the past and solving the problems of the past. Problem solving can be interesting but lacks the power to create a future distinct from our past.

Ownership vs. Blame - what is the social contract?  "Ownership is the decision  to become the author of our own experience." Blaming and complaining is a way to avoid responsibility for ourselves.  One way I have approached this is to invite people to consider - have you shown up with expectations or intentions?  Expectations puts the burden for my experience on someone else - giving my power away.  Intention says I am the author of my own experience and am choosing how much risk and how engaged I will be.  When I am the convener, I like to tell people if they have shown up with expectations for me to fulfill, I have failed them already.

Dissent vs. Lipservice, resignation, denial - the dissent opens up space for expressing your doubts and reservations without losing your place at the table. When it is not safe to express your differences, then they manifest in unhealthy ways. Let your yes be yes and your no be no.  If you are not safe to express your no, then your "yes" has no meaning.

Commitment vs. Barter  - barter says I'll do this for you if you'll do this for me. Commitment answers the question - what are you willing to do without expectation of recognition or reward for the well being of the whole? Commitment is about ownership and accountability.

Gifts vs. Deficiencies - deficiencies focuses on weaknesses. We have learned that you strengthen what you focus on. We have only succeeded in strengthening our weaknesses - giving our power and energy to them. What the world needs is our gifts. I am not what I am not able to do. Instead, I am my gifts. Naming our gifts calls them into the world.

I so like the phrase, "the future we desire is already here. It is just not widely distributed." These conversations help make the future more visible for me.


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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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