Report from the Field

Don Ferretti dferrett at
Thu Feb 22 10:48:37 PST 2001

Yesterday I had the privilege of opening space for a 98 person gathering of people who will be involved in evaluating a statewide initiative know here in California as Proposition 10. The theme as you might imagine was: What are the issues and opportunities facing us as we attempt to evaluate the impact of Proposition 10 in our communities?  This group has had a lot of meetings and conferences. The conferences have been of the typical sort (workshops, lectures, planned break-outs, etc.)  The sponsor for this OS was the state office and a consortium of foundations. I found out later that the group, mostly evaluators, came to the meeting with trepidation with there not being a committee to plan the agenda.  As everyone on this list might guess, the group responded to Open Space. My opening was pretty much what Harrison says in his book but I was very brief. There were a few seconds that elapsed between the invitation to declare a topic and the first person to rise out of their seat, but then it flowed (All people took the sheets back to the chairs to write the topic, no one did it in the middle of the floor). The group was very patient and there was actually a moment of silence between the last posting and the opening of the market place. We used one hour sessions but I can see where 90 minutes would have worked too. We had several laptops/printer set up in our newsroom and people used them so for even this one day (10am to 4:00 pm) event there is a complete written record for the state and the group to work with later.  Open Space is such a wonderful way to involve the community in shaping public policy. By watching this list and learning from everyone, I felt very grounded in taking on this task of Opening Space when not everyone really trusted that it wold work. It worked and at the end of the day during the closing comments there were many references to the sense of community (one person called it the circle of life). One woman in particular admitted that she came with an agenda and a conviction on how the meet
was glad that her preconceived agenda did not prevail as it would not have been as productive as what she experienced in Open Space. So, with that, a little more intentional Open Space created........./Don

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