An open space for global conversation
Tom Atlee posted this as a reply in another Forum discussion, but I think it deserves it's own thread. I LOVE this idea, Tom!
AND... I have a vision that builds upon, but is slightly different from Tom's. Not only does this seem like a great set of conversations for each Occupation to have, it also seems like a great set of conversations for Occupy Cafe to host on an ongoing basis. I see it as a think tank (they already have a "think tank" at OWS--we might partner with them). It takes place at three levels and they all interconnect and feed back to one another: on the ground at Occupy Sites, on our Cafe Calls and in our online forums and groups.
There are over 400 amazing people here now. Thank you Tom, for suggesting this wonderful set of "conversations that matter" we can host and invite everyone into.
THE WEEKLY SPARK - An idea to make space within the Occupy movement for all the things people want to focus on - and to engage supporters who can't attend an occupy site - and to support the Occupy movement's capacity to turn the conversation from police raids to the important public issues.Every week the local Occupation "vision working group" - or whatever the local equivalent is - decides on one or more
* proposed vision, mission, value or goal for people to think about and discuss
* protest or demand for people to promote, lobby, or act on
* provocative/evocative question* or fact for people to explore, individually and together
* personal action that any person or group can do to make a difference or
* some other statement or challenge for people to explore or act on.
The vision working group takes their proposed Weekly Spark to their General Assembly for discussion and approval. Once approved, the Occupation announces it to everyone involved with their site, to their networks, to other Occupy encampments, and to the general public. It could be as simple as that: Once a week some significant, coherent message would come from each site, inviting their supporters (and others) to engage in specific conversations, reflections and/or actions. Some occupiers may want to take it further, creating online or face-to-face forums to help people act and interact on the Spark of the Week - or doing demonstrations, street theater pieces, and/or direct actions that promote it. Some occupiers might even want to organize a Spark of the Week Network, where people participate in weekly groups to talk or act on their local Occupation Sparks.
I think of it as "the Weekly Spark" because a spark pops out of a fire and can itself start another fire. A spark is also a single point of light among many, which fits the idea that Weekly Sparks would be created locally by many widespread Occupy sites. OWS can then mean both "Occupy Wall Street" and "Occupy the Weekly Spark" - meaning get into it, get into the question, get into the vision, get into the action, get into the transformational fire with everyone else. "OWS" becomes a burning invitation to all of us to participate, to contribute our heat to the spreading conflagration.
Wow, it's a great idea! I know that our GA's are still working out basic process-related issues. We are also trying to forge relationships between our work groups. Hopefully at some point our efforts can be orchestrated to the point that we can focus on more lofty ideas...but right now...well, let's say we're hopeful. :)
I don't see why we should wait for the GAs on this. Tom's implementation vision in the third graf of his post is interesting, but it's not the only way to create lots of powerful sparks. For example, OWS already has a "think tank." Someone got inspired and started it up and now it's on the official OWS calendar every day.
Not that it won't be vital for various sparks to get GA sanction of course. But we can begin the generating process on our own, both in the cloud and on the ground.
I say we encourage Occupy Cafe "Spark Generation" conversations to form spontaneously on the ground whenever three or more people want to have one. They can talk about ideas for one or more of the five categories for as long as they want (twenty mins is a good start). Then post what they come up with to the OC forum where we can have a special weekly spark area and discussions threads for each type of spark.
Meanwhile in Occupy Cafe "in the cloud," we're generating our own sparks via our forum and Cafe Calls as well as harvesting the ones from the Occupations.
This sounds good to me Ben. We can create a special section or spark area on the forum for the various types of sparks and then let the discussions begin. Initially we can keep this somewhat informal and try to harvest the best of what gets posted there, along with any that get generated from the Occupations. The most important part of this, from my way of thinking, is to try to harvest the best conversations and ideas so that we can then somehow present them - as Tom suggests. In time we may want to create a more formal approach for harvesting and approving the best ideas each week, but for now informal transparency and a somewhat open process is probably good enough.
While Occupy Cafe does not have or does not yet have a General Assembly, I think we can do that part informally using the Spark Forum area and I fully support everything else that Tom suggests:
"The vision working group takes their proposed Weekly Spark to their General Assembly for discussion and approval. Once approved, the Occupation announces it to everyone involved with their site, to their networks, to other Occupy encampments, and to the general public. It could be as simple as that: Once a week some significant, coherent message would come from each site, inviting their supporters (and others) to engage in specific conversations, reflections and/or actions."
Thanks for your comment and support Inga. I tend to agree that the movement is still working out processes for supporting more collaborative activities. However, if Occupy Cafe pays attention to what is happening within the movement and among the different occupy groups, we can probably do a good job of selecting appropriate spark of the weeks that Occupy Cafe can put forward for consideration and attention. And then other groups can either follow up on and join in what we are suggesting, can choose their own sparks on their own, or perhaps from time to time the national interoccupy group will be able to select Sparks that we can all unite around. In the meantime, let's all join you in being hopeful.
I also like this idea - and it seems related to my post about Occupying your Dining Room. As I've gathered people's input about what questions people could explore in their dining rooms (and here), I've increasingly had the sense that the conversations would be served by three things:
1. An anchoring concept. I'm most attracted to the concept of moving toward a life-affirming economic story. This anchoring concept helps guide my questions and my thinking. But others might be attracted to the concept of transitioning from dependency on oil, or to building the web of community. I think a plurality of concepts and conversations is probably healthy. But that plurality also prevents the Occupy movement from reaching concerted action. Could one powerful, overarching concept be found?
2. A team of hosts. In my experience, there's something of a talent (which can be developed) in crafting generative, engaging questions. And similarly, there's a talent in guiding a group of people through a conversation, designing the "container" of the conversation, keeping the energy going, keeping the conversation focused on the core question rather than splintering off into a battle of opinions. My sense is that the whole movement needs a hosting team, and then that each small conversation will need a host. How can the Art of Hosting global team be brought in to support this?
3. A harvest goal. People feel more energy within a conversation when there's a goal attached to it, especially one that is time-sensitive. In the Kitchen Table Talks I mentioned in my blog post, the talks took place over three weeks and then the insights were gathered into a report which was presented to governing bodies. It sounds far away, but what about 12.12.12 as the target date for presenting an internationally co-created vision? Or Rio+20?
With all three of these things, I wonder if an intentional learning journey might be planned. Could the movement's hosts craft a series of questions that people everywhere could explore each week (or month)? Or could the questions be crafted and laid out in advance, and people could be invited to jump into whichever question is alive for them in that moment?