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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GroupWorks Inspiration for this discussion:

For some, a process where the hosts pose questions for the whole group may seem constraining.  In order to achieve our primary goal of providing an experience for all participants that is alive, engaging and manageable, we have decided that this "world cafe" style approach is the one we are most comfortable with.  It is also something we have had great success with in our Cafe Calls to date.

lovely.  Do you have any text already written about what World Cafe Style means?  What can people expect when they call in?

Good questions.  I added this link to the main post above for The World Cafe.  And we need to write up something about the calls for sure.  Should be done by tonight at the latest.  Really appreciate your helping us communicate more clearly, Kelly!

Most of us do not have the time/money to make it to the Occupy National Gathering in Philly, but thanks to Occupy Cafe, you can participate in community building conversations and make connections with people on the ground via conference call.

All Conference Call Times below are PST (West Coast Time):
• Saturday June 30: 7am-10am
• Sunday July 1: 10:00am- 1pm
• Monday July 2: 6am- 9am
• Tuesday July 3: 6am- 9am
• Wednesday July 4: 6am- 9am

East Coast Times: 
Saturday June 30: 10am-1pm
Sunday July 1: 1-4pm
Monday July 2: 9am-12pm
Tuesday July 3: 9am-12pm
Wednesday July 4: 9am-12pm

The conversation has already started online! Go to Occupycafe.org to join in the online forum, find out more about proposed topics, and/or sign up for the conference calls! http://www.occupycafe.org/

Occupy Cafe
Conversations that matter are one of the highest forms of ACTION. Join us if you care about what #Occupy might mean for the world.


Here's some of the output from our Connect2012 Cafe Call last Tuesday (Google Doc here):

  • voices of people of color and other marginalized populations to the table.  how do we reflect and engage and represent the diversity?  How to center the margins
  • women/feminism/women and Occupy (feminist assembly)
  • how to rebuild relationships on the ground and across communities.  community of change agents--global mov't for social justice.  feel like a lone voice in the wilderness in your own small town, but can connect with others globally.
  • the “national gathering” itself as a topic
  • GMO foods
  • love
  • What matters to me is that OC model;s PROCESS in everything we do.  How we talk to each other is the key. Choose topics that allow people to experience that process modelling.
  • Scarcity and fear vs. abundance.  two kinds of scarcity: fear and resources, planning and thinking
  • The unsustainability of what we now do.   
  • The use of the Knowledge we have

  • We need to build resilient and self supportive communities.
  • We need to reduce our consumption in the developed world.
  • Issues of Poverty and Justice are critical.
  • In economics “Right Prices” are a critical issue. (Governance responsibility)
  • The use of appropriate Technology.
  • Quality Governance.
  • Understanding The Dream, and having a vision of a Thriving World.
  • The necessity to deal with the population issue.
  • The quality of our relationships.  
    • It’s not our differences that divide us, it’s our inability to respect that divides us.
  • Talking and listening, speaking compassionately,
  • power with vs. power over

If we are serious about improving communities, we must be aware of the local community context and the readiness of that context for change. Even the best strategies will not be successful unless the community environment has a culture of acceptance for new ideas. Conversely, if we have a context of readiness then anything we do will have a higher probability of success. The correlation between the probability of success and the readiness of the community cannot be over stressed.

In order to access the readiness of a community we must determine its ability to confront the conditions that inhibit growth and development. Are individuals open to the possibilities of change? What is the relational trust within the community between individuals and its institutions? Do people treat each other with dignity and respect? Where are the opportunities for open, safe and civil dialogue? Can we accept each other’s differences and build upon what we share in common? These answers begin to determine the readiness level of the community. Understanding the concept of readiness is the first step in increasing the collective capital of the community.

Before we start we must internalize the importance of why we are entering into this complex area of work? Why must we commit to working together differently? Are things really that much different than in the past? Why can’t we just go our separate ways and still be members of the same community? If can’t write on our hearts the answers to these why questions we will never succeed. Understanding the why is more important than figuring out the how. The need to commit to this effort is paramount to the future of the community.

If we want people and organizations behavior to change then we must change the context and the readiness level of the community. When the contextual culture of the community does not change then nothing really will change. Often we want to implement our ideas and we don’t recognize the level of readiness for the concept. When our ideas fail we are discouraged and lose energy. There was nothing wrong with idea; the community’s level of readiness was not strong enough to support the initiative. As we begin to work together differently we must recognize the present context and correlate or efforts to fit the degree of readiness. You don’t teach a child to run before they can walk. The same building principles apply as we start our collective journey in making our communities better places to live, learn, work, play and pray.


Here are some questions I posed in the "How Do WeTranslate Transformative Community" thread that I like a lot:

  • What is your personal story of transformation?  
  • What's important to you about Occupy and why do you care?  
  • Are you ready to get real with others--even strangers?  
    • Can you trust that it is safe to do so, and that the world is waiting to welcome you into the tribe of community builders?  
  • What could happen (or has already) that would enable you to feel fully engaged and energized with regards to participating in or collaborating with the Occupy movement?

    • What would enable me & many other females to feel fully engaged and energized ---would be to simply not refer to us as ‘Guys”
    • Even some feminists defend this usage, but that is a dangerous path they are on.  We are women,  [or gals] & its been degrading, dismissive, disheartening & just plain hard to be a woman in this society [& I would love it less in most of the other countries]. I have paid in full and deserve that recognition. 
    • Its taking a long time to gain a tipping point into general conversational elements by using Y'all,  or You Folk,  or Audience, or The Room or whatever is not gender related to a room of mixed gender.  This frustrates me because it is not balanced.  When men refer to a room full of 'ladies' it is usually a  locker room and those guys are being put down, as in--”they play like a lady”...  
    • some of them should be so dedicated!  
    • in OccupyAsheville the gals I am in working groups with are getting it; sometimes they slip into the accepted norm--an actual use of-- this insult, referring to this woman as ' a GUY".   Hey, how about if at every NatGat group meeting all the group references are changed to "You Gals"---perhaps that would cause awareness seepage into the language we toss out thoughtlessly...don’t tell me to ‘have a good day’ either.  

Thank you, Kasha. I'm guilty of using iboth inclusive and non-gender-related terms, and I apologize to those who prefer exclusive, gender-related terms. I'll try to remember to refer to separate and different categories, for those who prefer it, but I can't promise, as I've spent the past 30 years trying to use inclusive language.

Should this just apply to females? It has been "degrading, dismissive, disheartening, and just plain hard" to be Native American, Black, Muslim, or other categories in this country, although it may indeed be worse in other places. In his book, Metamagical Themas, Douglas R. Hofstadter included an essay entitled, "A Person Paper on Purity in Language," http://www.cs.virginia.edu/~evans/cs655/readings/purity.html where he suggested that Blacks be recognized for their skin color the way that many feminist females wish to be for their genital status, even including separate pronouns to indicate whether a person is Black or white.

There has also been a distressing (to some) tendency to refer to female actresses as actors, female aviatrixes as pilots, and female surgical doctorettes as surgeons. I can see where omitting diminutive suffixes fails to acknowledge all that females have have to contend with to enter male professions and can be considered a sign of disrespect.

It isn't always possible to tell from a person's name, avatar, and writing, what their genital status is. Recently, we had one feminist here who complained about being the only female in a discussion because another female in that discussion hadn't advertised their genital status. Obviously, many people are so proud of their private parts that they don't like it when others wish to keep their private parts private. Do you feel that everyone has an obligation to advertise something which only some people may be selling? There are also some non-feminist females who, in order to avoid unnecessary sexual harassment and discrimination, do wish to keep their private parts private, and therefore use their initials rather than their names in phone book listings, and use nonsexual names and avatars in social media. Can we honor their wishes without making feminists feel resentful?

This is a complex issue, but I appreciate you bringing it up, I apologize for anything I may have written previously that offended anyone, but it would really make me uncomfortable to be forced to use ad feminem rhetoric rather than to simply discuss issues.

Oh, and as one person who had wished me, "Now y'all have a good day, y'hear!" every day for several years in a row a few decades back, said with sincere feeling and verbal emphasis (which cracked me up so much that I still laugh whenever I think about it), on an occasion when that person was for the first time I'd known them not in a cheerful mood, "Now y'all have a lousy day, y'hear!"

I am talking with some comrades/colleagues in Greece about the possibility of their joining our #NatGat dialogue.  Here is an excerpt from an email I received today:

In the Greek civilization/culture politics is part of citizenship as it is the necessary and self-evident responsibility of every citizen to "engage with the commons" as of the respective expression. The few citizens that did not engage with the commons were called "ιδιωτες" which in a literal translation means "person engaged with its own self"/"private", however the word per se passed also in the latin vocabulary with its secondary (metaphorical) meaning, 'idiot'.

This leads me a possible question for us to explore together: “what could happen that would enable us to feel fully engaged, energized and empowered to reclaim the commons?”

There is something called co-intelligence that we seek to foster in our dialogues here in the Cafe.  As this quote above shows, there is also something called "co-idiocy."  And it involves selfishness and a lack of respect for the Commons.

I love that quote from Greece, Ben:

In the Greek civilization/culture politics is part of citizenship as it is the necessary and self-evident responsibility of every citizen to "engage with the commons" as of the respective expression. The few citizens that did not engage with the commons were called "ιδιωτες" which in a literal translation means "person engaged with its own self"/"private", however the word per se passed also in the latin vocabulary with its secondary (metaphorical) meaning, 'idiot'.

People engaged with their own self-identity or a group identity rather than being engaged with the commons and our common humanity, make co-intelligence difficult, if not impossible. People should be able to engage with this topic without having to state whether they are Greek, USAmerican, or another nationality unless they wish to, and people should not be granted leadership roles on the basis of self-identities or group identities, but on the basis of their leadership. Full appreciation of everyone without regard to their self-identity or group identity puts the focus on our commonalities rather than on our differences.


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.

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8-10a PDT | 11a-1p EDT | 3-5p GMT 

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

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