Our Connect 2012 conversations focus on ways to build and weave the Occupy Cafe community.  We use this forum thread to capture key aspects of our Cafe Call conversations (Tuesdays 1-3p Pacific/4-6pm Eastern--register here for the ongoing series) and to continue the dialogue in between our calls.  

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A propos this possibility, I learned about The Intelligent Optimist magazine (formerly Ode) on today's call.  Here's an excerpt from their website on optimism as a way of life:

All of us are born intelligent optimists. All of us!

You don’t believe me? Let me ask you this: Have you ever met a pessimistic 5-year-old? Did you ever see a child who fell to the ground, bloodied his knees and, after drying his tears, said he wasn’t going to run anymore?

Such children don’t exist. They get up, try again and keep smiling—even if sometimes through their tears. Each kid instinctively has the intelligence that getting past failure and continuing to try is a good, fulfilling and natural state.

So are you with me? Aren’t we all born intelligent optimists?

Intelligent optimism is a way of life. In fact, it is the way of life until we lose it. Many of us do. Somewhere, at some particular point in time, our disappointments and failures become too overwhelming, and we give up. Fear and insecurity arise, and we start surrendering to pessimism. Some will argue that it is wise to be realistic, and they see the optimist as unrealistic.

I argue that optimism—intelligent, not mindless, optimism—is the only realistic strategy for life. It is not going to prevent bad things from happening. On most days, more will go right than wrong; still, nobody can escape problems and setbacks. But the intelligent optimist accepts reality without immediately coming to a negative conclusion. From many incidents that initially seemed terrible, beautiful seeds have sprouted. We’ve all experienced times when something negative ultimately and unexpectedly led to something positive. Benjamin Zander, the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, quotes his father, who said, “There is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.”

I am saddened to read this, Jerry.  This may have seemed like “goofing off” to you, but your regular presence in the Café has been valuable to us and to the community and you will most certainly be missed.  I'm in the process of rewriting the opening for our Cafe Calls and appreciating the help you gave us in framing our mission and the benefits of participation in the Cafe.  Thank you so much for taking the time to have those conversations with us.

I can’t help but think that there might be a missed opportunity for collaboration here, but you need to go where your heart leads you and I do sense that there is some divergence in our respective paths, as you say.  Also perhaps a difference in the speed with which you would like to operate versus our more deliberate and emergent approach.  Of course, collaborating when the fit doesn't feel "perfect" is the great challenge we face on this planet, it seems to me.  Best of luck on your journey—hope to see again from time to time in the Cafe

Dear Ben... et al.

Jerry just quit... and he gave notice.   In another group of five, my friend Bill just quit... and he gave notice. 

What an opportunity for all of us to look at where... and how... each of us quit.  

Let me tell you of a startling dream a decade ago.   A sudden urgent voice leaped into an otherwise ordinary dream.  It announced, “LIFE IS ABOUT DEATH ALLOCATION!”  It was so loud it woke me up.  I wrote it down, sculpted it and meditated on it. The dream speaks to me of allocating ―  the providing of time and space  ― for  endings 

Here’s the connection to group.  Groups die.   Why?

It looks to me that, just as there is the default rule of gravity ― Things Fall ― so too there is a default rule of relationship. RELATIONSHIPS DISAPPEAR.   Moreover, Group, whose very cornerstone is relationship, seems to also follow that default rule ― GROUPS DISBAND.

We don’t ordinarily notice default rules because they are so in the background.  For example, we don’t notice that Things Fall, because we automatically correct by creating flat surfaces... shelves, tables, floors, etc.   We do this so well that we don’t often ‘drop stuff’.

I believe we have a similar automatic understanding about relationships.  We know at a deep level that the rule is Relationships Disappear...unless we correct that default with the same kind of action, similar to placing a table or shelf.

In the case of relationship this correction is called ‘a phone call, a letter, a meeting, a request,  a gift’.   These are the often-automatic corrections that keeps relationship alive.  Yet, if I do not put this in or if you do not put this in ― in a timely manner ― the relationship between us disappears.  Then we wonder what happened and often conclude, ‘Well... we just drifted apart.’  Yes, indeed.  We drifted out of relationship; out of group.  The drift.

So... these questions arise:

  1.    Is there a basic default rule of both Group and Relationship ― Relationships Devolve?
  2. How has that affected my behavior in relationship and group? Subset questions,   “How do I allocate deaths?   How do I leave?
  3. What are the corrections that Group demands to  keep  from Devolving?  And who is to put these in?



Ben, do you remember 6-year old quoted in your scribing the harvest of collaboration call:

[Six year-old son is an amazing teacher for me... He says] "Occupy is about talking louder than everybody else and not listening to others!"  [Where did he get this Notion?  Maybe our rage and urgency--a desperate need for change-- is what  is causing the rest of the world to see us in this way.

How do I communicate with the world from deep within, so that I am not seen as shouting, but is received in a loving and peaceful manner?]

Question for 10/30 Call: How do people feel about the Cafe evolving beyond the "Occupy" brand?

  • Seems appropriate, given that much of what Occupy is doing these days isn't under the Occupy brand anyway, but in conjunction with other groups anyway.
  • Occupy Cafe feels like "a simulation" of the movement, not the thing on the ground.  What is our mission? Need clarity.

Reminded of our conversation from July 10:

What might the job of this Cafe be?

  • A place where people get to know one another and share what they are up to
    • ... and not worry about what others might think of us.  No judgment.
    • humor, lightness, not taking ourselves too seriously
  • A place where we experience being part of one collective/community without sacrificing our individuality
  • NOT...
    • doing things in the old paradigm way--hierarchy, power over.
  • A place where I can act in the way I want things to be and connect with others who share this desire:
    • kindness
    • non-judgment
    • just being that way as the main "job" and out of that our external work can flow (e.g. politics, economics, etc.).
    • A space that is ALIVE!
    • A space that supports emergence
    • A generosity of spirit towards all participants
  • Conversations that have coherence, where ideas are built upon (piggy-backing)
  • Creativity (Pigasus for President!)

More thoughts from the group on today's call:

  • Being is fine... and let's make sure we're not just being nice (and thus phony).
  • Re the idea of the Cafe having partners, these kinds of conversations can help groups that are engaged in direct action.
  • Like the idea of more in-person blended with virtual, like at NatGat
  • Love the idea of "Oasis" and don't want to lose that.  Nurturing space that energizes for the work "outside"  where this kind of dialogue is not valued and the focus is all on planning.


  • Ways for people to make requests within the space to find people who share a specific concern or impulse or inspiration
  • A lot more days and times!
  • "Occupy the Tea Party!"
  • Staying as an Oasis of connection and then letting things "spin off" into more concrete action.
    • create other spaces within the Cafe where people inspired around action pieces can connect
  • Building relationships as a key element of value.

Question for future consideration:

  • How do we share the work of stewarding the conversation on the forum so that it is not a burden to any one or two people?
    • Context: the forum is working well, and it also requires work to have that occur.


Weekly Cafe Calls

Regular Calls are no longer being held.  Below is the schedule that was maintained from the Fall of 2011 through Jan 10, 2013.

"Vital Conversations" 

8-10a PDT | 11a-1p EDT | 3-5p GMT 

Tuesdays (except 10/16)
"Connect 2012"

1-3p PDT | 4-6p EDT | 8-10p GMT

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3-5p PDT | 6-8p EDT | 10p-12a GMT

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