Fw: Opening nutrient spaces

Peggy Holman pholman at msn.com
Mon Feb 26 17:07:27 PST 2001

Re: Opening nutrient spaces
>From Anne Stadler

----- Original Message ----- 
From: anne stadler 
To: Peggy Holman ; Open Space Listserv ; Vivienne Hull ; fritz at whidbey.com 
Cc: Peter Donaldson ; Gabriel Shirley ; cheftom at tableau.inc 
Sent: Friday, February 23, 2001 6:21 PM
Subject: Re: Opening nutrient spaces

I am convinced that the care taken in preparing the space by the OS convenors is crucial!  For initiating Spirited Work, we four Convenors meditated together.  We asked what is the highest purpose we are serving in bringing SW into the world?  We shared those insights in an atmosphere of appreciation for what each of us is bringing.  "On behalf of", "guided" and "upholding" were words which came to us.  THEN, we did our practical planning.  

TO do this, for our first time meeting as the four SW Convenors, we sat in the middle of the space we were to meet in.  And we truly understood that we were only the present-day humans in a place which was rich with ancestors, animals, history, nature.  We have acknowledged this as we open our space for each yearly cycle, and for each face to face season. 

If I remember, for our first few planning meetings, we also asked what is my greatest fear? so that was in the room as well.  We have always totally respected and been comfortable with whatever each of us is able to offer. And we have asked that we each only do what each one truly loves and wants to take responsibility for.  
  I remember, our first session in 1999, Fritz did a lot of housekeeping, cause he'd never done OS before.  I kept sseeing him sweepng the floor and picking things up.  And Vivienne was really sick with the flu, so she did her logistics work of getting people organized for beds and housing, then, modeled her "warrior" energy by staying home in bed!!!  That was a GREAT message for all of us!  

I have loved my own and my fellow Copnvenors' growth in this environment!  WE have grown hugely!  
  AND the Collective has grown in wisdom, maturity, and livliness--even though there are different people coming together face to face each session and each year.  (People sign up for the whole year, but each session some can't come, there are new people, people bring their kids or family members, so the cast of characters is different--even though there is a core of same people which has NOT become any kind of elite.  A number of our "stewards" are new people this year who came as Peggy did for the first time in January.)

Before each seasonal gathering, the Convenors always meet ahead of time, sit together and do our attunement, then do our practical work together.   When the weekend is over, before we leave for home, we reflect on what we've learned; and at the next seasonal gathering we do the same meditation and attunement to begin with, then do our practical planning.  We also try to do that each time with the people who have stepped up to "steward" SW with us--so our practical meetings start with an attunement around what is the highest purpose we are serving?--or someone reads a piece of poetry or an inspirational piece that's at hand.
If we have conflicts, or confusion, someone usually says "We are doing this for the highest good.  Let's stop a minute and ask what needs to happen now?"  Or someone suggests we meditate.

DO we always attune face to face?  
  We even do that by e-mail when a project is initiated in e-mail space:  For our SW on Iona Womens gathering, we four Convenors (Vivienne, Liz Campbell, Susan Brayton and I) did a meditation at home on the question:  what is the highest purpose our Iona gathering is serving?  And then we shared our meditation on line BEFORE we did any specific practical planning.

I am also very clear that I must do this personally when I open space for anyone.  So, I take the time for such a personal practice as part of my "usual" preparation.   And I do it consistenly during the open space. 

And I am clear I must, even in the most mundane circumstances, begin peoples' work together by asking people to reflect on what is our highest aspiration for what we are doing together asking each person to speak it aloud so that we can appreciate the rich nutrient environment we collectively are bringing into being.

I think our four Convenors have truly been clear and humble about being learners, and about not-knowing.   And we've been diligent about applying Open Space Law and principles to all our efforts to create a permeable, welcoming community of practice.  We walk our talk.  Period. 
  And we have welcomed the gifts of others.  In fact, we really have created a "gift-exchange". Part of the reason it IS that is that we share costs--nobody makes a profit.  And we notice and welcome "The Stranger" and/or whoever steps up to offer leadership (whoever comes is the right people, etc.)
  We now have six Convenors:  Gabriel Shirley of BigMindMedia (our on-line environment) and Tom French (our Chef and food person extraordinaire) have joined us.  And we have an increasing number of Stewards (18 I think?), taking on responsibility for the material well-being of our learning community.
  We have continually conducted a meta-conversation on line and together to learn from what we are experiencing.  This is archived, as well as live today on BigMindMedia.

So there are my reflections on what we've done to create a nutrient-rich environment.

Thanks for asking dear Peg-o-rooney!!  I have had a lovely experience reflecting on this.  

Love, anne

One more thought:

In my view, what one does in opening space is create the template for a pattern to emerge.  OPENing space (inner or outer) is exactly that.  Then one notices what pattern is emerging, and amplifies what has heart and meaning/juice-- to grow the healthiest plant.  (what has heart and meaning is not "positive"--it simply is juicy and irrepresible!!)  that's my take on it.  That's why the learniing is so rich--because it is based on experience--not on theorising or "thinking about" something.  That's WHY it is so important to do the pre-work...and not to forget to do it, or to omit it because one did it "last year", etc.

(I was just reviewing my jottings from 1993 on--and I am totally amazed to see the theoretical framework I posited for growing human self-organizing collectives, and how it has played out in practice.  And for me it has been all these years of exploring in real life, how my hypotheses plays out.  Maybe I am actually ready to write something!!)

MORE IMPORTANT:  why couldn't your "most experienced OS practicioner" meeting be held as part of Spirited Work, at Whidbey Institute, with SW participants and a few others such as Frances McCue and the Hugo House gang invited?  SW practicioners, Hugo House, and Antioch GMP (at least Don Comstock and Mark Hower) have been practicing opening space in organizations, and growing open space organizations, for at least three years.  We have learned a lot.  So the cross pollination could be hugely fruitful!!! 

And as I may have suggested earlier-- maybe you would want to open a site on our SW website for THIS conversation (with ALL your folks) just as Charlie Kouns has opened a site for an exploration about "Conscious Executive"????  Wouldn't that be possible, Gabriel??

  From: "Peggy Holman" <pholman at msn.com>
  Date: Fri, 23 Feb 2001 17:32:32 -0800
  To: "Open Space Listserv" <oslist at listserv.boisestate.edu>
  Cc: "Anne Stadler" <annestad at home.com>, "Peter Donaldson" <pdonaldson at qwest.net>
  Subject: Opening nutrient spaces

  Thank you for the great reflections on illusions and leading change.  Having
  read such wonderful thinking about that subject, thought I'd bring up a
  completely different issue I've been mulling lately.

  It has to do with the ways in which the pre-work for opening a space affects
  what takes place during and after.  I have a specific situation that raised
  a general question for me.  I'll offer both.

  The general question is what affects the nature of the space that is opened?

  A little background
  Preparing for an OS runs the spectrum for me.  I've had great OS's that
  began with a short conversation with one person in which the theme was
  formed in minutes:  "the issues and opportunities for x".  At the other end
  of the spectrum, the theme is developed by a group that is a microcosm of
  the people involved and weeks of deep reflection are used to frame the theme
  and the aspirations for what is possible.

  Harrison has said that a space opens the moment the conversation about it
  begins.  He also says OS always works.  I believe both of these to be true.
  What may vary is the quality of the space.  I think perhaps the quality of a
  space may be a bit like tasting a wine.  For most of us, it's tough to tell
  the quality because our palettes simply aren't trained enough.  The more I
  do OS, the more I do notice there are big differences in the spirit of the

  So what makes the difference?  And what role does the preparation for
  opening the space play in this difference?

  The specific situation that prompts the question
  I am involved in convening a group of experienced OS practitioners with the
  idea of creating an ongoing learning community.  (You'll hear more on this
  very soon.)  There are two different approaches that have been suggested for
  getting started.  One is simple: pick a date and place and issue the
  invitation.  No  convener or a co-convenor.  Or rather, everyone is a
  convenor.  If there is energy for more, it will happen.

  The other end of the spectrum is based on observing what is happening with
  something called Spirited Work.  In essence, it's a
  learning community that gathers 4 times a year -- once a season -- to
  examine "Spirited Work".  The group meets in Open Space and uses the 4
  archetypes (Warrior, Healer, Visionary, Teacher) from Angeles Arrien's The
  Fourfold Way as it's framework.  This was originally convened by 4 people
  who gave quite a bit of thought to what they were doing, what it meant to
  them and what their aspirations for it were.  They've begun their third year
  and this is the finest space I've ever been part of!  The group is a mix of
  folks who have been involved since the beginning and some who are just
  experiencing OS for the first time.  The questions are rich, the
  conversations deep, the energy of the space quite profoundly rich in spirit.
  It is also a permeable space as this group has really come to understand
  that we live in OS all the time.  This quarterly gathering is simply part of
  a larger flow.

  My instinct is part of what has shaped the quality of this space is the care
  that was taken in creating it by the 4 original holders of the space.  They
  went into it hoping to create something nutrient and infused that quality
  from the beginning.  I think there is also something about having 4
  co-convenors made a difference.  The space started multi-faceted and

  So, as I contemplate beginning something that has the potential for ongoing
  life, these two approaches might lead to very different spaces.  Or not.
  What do you think?


  P.S.  I've copied Anne Stadler and Peter Donaldson since they are among the
  4 co-convenors of Spirited Work, so wanted them in this question.

  Peggy Holman
  The Open Circle Company
  15347 SE 49th Place
  Bellevue, WA  98006
  425.865.8168 (fax)

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