Archive | November, 2011

creating a Commons?

26 Nov

Like a lot of us, I continue to follow (and share with others) what is happening with the Occupy Process with great interest and continue to remain a supporter, in some ways an opponent, and in other ways wildly agnostic about this phenomenon.

I’d like to share some of the thinking and action on #OWS that I’ve found most inspiring.

First off, the Occupy Cafe dialogue initiative is encouraging. OC aims to be a place for respectful conversation for  everything connected with the movement. My hope is that wiser and more compassionate action might emerge as a consequence of this space.

There are online conversations,  highly engaging teleconference conversations weekly, and as of today the first in-person/on-the-ground Occupy Cafe event taking place (in Portland)! The conversation on what Occupy 2.0 could be gives a taste of what’s happening over there.

One of the  most inspiring pieces I’ve read thus far is a post by an occupier at Occupy Philly, framing their occupation (if it is still ongoing) as a  “commons.” I think of re-creating the commons as a form of hyperlocal placemaking, essential to recreating the village we lost. And I’ve wondered if reclaiming and rebuilding the commons is one of those absolutely essential actions to take ourselves (in the West, at least) forward. This inspiring video, Transforming Space into Place, says more about placemaking.

Also, author and consultant Sharif Abdullah has written a number of provocative and constructive blog posts outlining what needs to happen for Occupy to go forward. He writes these out of many years experience– including internationally- of doing transformative peace work. In a conversation, recently, he offered five essential elements for a social movement to be successful:

1. Directly address the issues of the current paradigm

2. Offer a compelling, positive paradigm-busting vision.

3. a focused, disciplined core of activists

4. actions, campaigns that are positive in tone.

5. attuned to the transcendent (spiritual, but not religious)

What do you make of this list? How many of those elements are present in Occupy today?


leadership and the Occupy Process

10 Nov

I’ve been in email conversation with my primary process arts mentor/teacher  Birgitt Williams and others about the Occupy Process.  Birgitt has written two blog posts that might be of interest to those who wish to think more deeply about the relationship between personal leadership grounded in wise, compassionate action and the Occupy Process.

To get a sense of the perspective she is operating from, I recommend reading a few pages from her e-book, Genuine Contact Way that tell you about her journey:

see pp. 23-27 of this book– for the excerpt.

The two blog posts (excerpt below):

Sustainable Change in Division Situations

In thinking about this current Occupy movement and the pockets of social unrest, I think back to a time when I was still living in Canada, a country that I love very much. The history of the country is that it was first colonized by the French and by the English, a war between France and England had a profound negative effect on the colonies, and there are still strong feelings of upset. Although Canada claims to be a bilingual country, French and English, this doesn’t hold true. Yes, products must be labeled in both official languages, schoolchildren in the dominant English speaking Canada attend classes in French, and yet historically the French-speaking province of Quebec has had to take some strong measures to preserve the French language and culture in their Province and in parts of the Country. I have looked up my notes from that time and share a summary with you of what happened in early 1996. I wish that someone would organize something similar now. I feel it would be more sustainable than this Occupy movement. We cannot create a line between what we did to assist in a divisive situation to the results that the country did not break up. However, to this day, I believe that the work we did then was what resulted in a country remaining whole…still with problems, but with the opportunity as a country to solve them instead of having divided.

The Occupy Movement: Using Our skills for real empowerment

…This takes me to the most important point of my note. The most dangerous point comes when the protests are done if there is nothing sufficient in place to create the new world that is desired. The most important thing that I can think of doing at this time aside from spending more and more of my day in compassion and unconditional love, is to teach others how to lead participatory meetings that use circles such as Open Space Technology, Whole Person Process Facilitation, and Circle Work…

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