Fw: Tri-Lingual Open Space Facilitation

Jeff Aitken jeffa at tmn.com
Wed Sep 9 12:51:40 PDT 1998

Reminds me of a story... the 9th annual European symposium on
organizational transformation took place in a small village in southwest
Hungary in August, 1991. There were 80 people from 17 countries and we had
five days in open space. A group of twelve Russians arrived the first day
(after 36 hours on the train) and we all soon heard (through the spouse of
a participant, who called him from England) about the coup attempt in

We organized ourselves in the open space to help the Russians figure out
what to do... stay out, go back, what kind of communication network might
we establish, etc. On the third day we heard the news that Yeltsin was
standing on top of the tank and the coup had been rejected. That night the
Russians opened one of their trunks and produced 80 vodka glasses and
nearly as many bottles... we began with toasts from our countries, moved to
songs, and on to dances. We five Americans came up with Old MacDonald Had a
Farm and other great American songs... The conference continued with
wonderful sharing about spiritual practices, organizational research, and
everything in between.

The "official" language was English, and most people seemed to have good
English skills. But during the entire event people organized themselves
into simultaneous translation. The circumstances may have been unusual, but
I want to share this experience about the willingness of people to
self-organize to take care of their needs in open space.

I like Birgitt's ideas very much. Best wishes!
Jeff Aitken

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