Assessing the amount of life in a room:

If we are gathered in a room, milling about, there is little life there. Even if it is a marketplace, there is only slightly more life there. In between these two is a seminar with a stage, a Power Point, a speaker, and hundreds of audience members seated at tables: although they are working on a common purpose (the subject at hand) one is doing most of the work and the others are not contributing to the work at hand—they are merely receiving what the one is sending. They might be processing it, but the whole setting is weak.

On the other end of the scale Open Space is much stronger: people are all contributing to the work. Each person’s ideas, thoughts, expressions, interjections, laughs, groans and banter get thrown into the stew, and all work to make it as nourishing to the whole. Each contributes to the common work. Each person’s liveliness feeds each other’s. And if it does not feed a particular person’s life, then that person is encouraged to get up and move elsewhere, to a place where this mutual feeding can take place.

The feeding of the person comes in the very act of that person feeding the whole. This is not what I expected. It is not that you get a warm fuzzy feeling from having helped: you are directly helped by the fact that you are part of things, and that you are accepted as integral to that larger whole. Even beyond this, you are fed by the very act of feeding: you are essential, you matter.

This life which touches and helps each other is the hallmark of open space. It is getting to work. The work though is the training wheels of not just dead and dying “relationship,” but of the essence of life itself: life giving life.

:- Doug.

Published in: Conversations | on June 10th, 2009 | No Comments »

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