Using OS for Neighborhood organizing with the Community Gathering, eventually spreading OS world wide. Feedback requested

Harrison Owen hhowen at
Tue Sep 4 12:05:48 PDT 2007

Patricia - Looks like you have your work cut out for you! And a good work it
will be!! I can't think of anything to offer by way of suggestions or
feedback, so I guess you will just have to try it and let us know how it all
turns out. I particularly like the Popcorn!





From: OSLIST [mailto:OSLIST at LISTSERV.BOISESTATE.EDU] On Behalf Of Patricia
Sent: Sunday, September 02, 2007 7:08 PM
Subject: Using OS for Neighborhood organizing with the Community Gathering,
eventually spreading OS world wide. Feedback requested


The following flyer is a description of a gathering that I have designed
which incorporates Open Space Technology. I would like feedback on the

1. The invitation itself, including the title of the event
2. The way of using OS and structuring the Community Gathering which I will
describe in more detail after the flyer.
3. The concept 
4. The over all strategy of helping OS to be commonly practiced in every
neighborhood in the world.

I experienced OS 8 years ago at an Intentional Communities gathering at Twin
Oaks and a Permaculture Gathering at Celo Community. I have been excited
about the concept ever since then. I have studied it extensively, tried it
only once, and finally took a facilitators workshop recently with Lisa Heft
in San Francisco (Fantastic!). I love the piece that Chris Corrigen wrote
comparing OS to the Tao, because I see this as a spiritual concept that
helps us to live life better. 

The work I present to you is really the culmination of 32 years of
researching, practicing, talking about--how to build healthy communities
everywhere. Tears come to my eyes because I feel like I am close to being
able to wholeheartedly do the work that I have been called to do in this
life.  I present this to the OS community with confidence that I will get
encouragement and feedback that will help me move forward with presenting
this to people who will want to have Community Gatherings to empower civic
engagement by people of all backgrounds, including  the under-heard and
under-served people  in their communities.

I have a vision for engaging millions of people in the job of "civilization
building" using OS with the Community Gathering concept, and I would sure
love to have your help.  So here is the flyer:

The Community Gathering

An excellent, effective, unique way to help neighbors work together to
create thriving, self-reliant communities

The Community Gathering combines time tested, effective ingredients such as
fun, food, music, open space technology and childcare which makes it easy
for neighbors and friends to:

* Find meaningful ways to serve using their unique talents
*  Play music. Dance. Play games. Do Art.  and do other fun things with
friends of all ages
* Take and teach classes. Get coaching and mentoring. Give and receive
empathic listening. Get support for your projects and solving your problems.
* Meet regularly (usually weekly) to keep the momentum going
* Find other people who share common goals. Build friendships and trust.
* Be engaged in "civilization building" with the whole family and your
* Network with a large variety of people and find ways to get everyone's
needs met including finding meaningful work, electing political candidates,
learning, safety and caring for the environment

A Community Gathering can be sponsored by anyone who wants to better his or
her community. With the help of a handbook and DVD that is in the process of
being developed, just about anyone with passion and integrity plus
leadership and organizing abilities can do the following:

* Find and work with a planning team 
* Use Open Space Technology, an effective, economical, fast, and easily
repeatable strategy for organizing meetings of between 5 and 1,000
* Use a simple meeting facilitation technique that encourages liberty.
People can effectively and easily divide into small groups to converse,
learn, plan, and/or give and receive support 
* Find an appropriate space to meet
* Raise the necessary funds and find volunteers 
* Keep the Community Gathering environment clean, ecological, family
friendly and safe
* Use communication methods to help people connect in between meetings.
* Make sure that such topics that are important to your neighbors are
covered, including emergency preparedness, safety, and food production are

Do you want to make a huge difference in your neighborhood and world? Start
a Community Gathering in your neighborhood.

For more information, to offer feedback, or get involved in a local
Community Gathering   
Call Patricia Mikkelson 479-225-0047  community_gathering at

Here is the way I see facilitating this meeting:

1. Schedule of the meeting:
 6:00 Food is served 
6:20 rousing sing along songs that everyone knows
6:30 Everyone is sitting down and eating: Introduction to meeting begins--an
adapted version of OS. People will probably be sitting at tables to eat, so
a circle is difficult for me to see happening
7:15-8:15 first session
8:15-9:15 second session
9:20-9:30 Closure with popcorn, quick comments--and a song
9:30-11:00 Open mic and dance in main room--and networking and informal
discussions can take place in smaller rooms. (this part makes it more like a
party and draws people who might not otherwise come)

Convening the open space goes something like this: 

"Everyone here has something valuable to contribute to our neighborhood.
Whether you are here to have fun and socialize, or to work on a project that
is important to you, or to find ways to get involved in bettering our
neighborhood--your contribution is valuable."

"There are two ways you can participate. One is by joining a group that will
soon be listed on this wall here. The other way is to convene an activity. "

"Here are some examples of activities you might want to sponsor:
1. A conversation about something that is important to you-like how can we
have a safer neighborhood
2. A planning session around a project you are working on, including getting
a political candidate elected; sponsoring a block party; getting a community
garden started.
3. Information sharing--perhaps you want to teach some skill, share some
knowledge about something that is important to you."

"As you can see on the wall, there are already activities which are going to
take place--including success teams where you can get support on your
personal goals; a dance jam; an open mic and jam session; child care,
classes; exercise; various support groups" (including 12 step programs)

(at this point, explain the one law, the four principles in a classic style)

"So if you want to get your idea on the wall, please write down the topic on
the paper provided (there will be paper and markers available near the empty
wall). And remember, even if someone does not attend your activity, you can
choose to take that precious time to work by yourself--or you can feel free
to take the topic off the wall and join others. Take a sticky note off the
wall which will state where the meeting will be held, and which session."
(The tables will ideally be scattered all around, with numbers on each
table--also groups of chairs--all will be numbered for easy identification)
After the agenda is created, facilitator continues:

"If you wish, please write down what happened during the meeting. You can
appoint a recorder--paper and pen are at each location. You can even type up
the results (if we have computers). We will be posting these on the local
community gathering website so people can get involved if they wish. Also,
we will adding this to the notebook which is available for perusal at all
the community gatherings."

Then, after the meal is over, and tables are cleared, facilitator announces:

"Okay, you can go to the activities you decide to go to--have fun, and
remember the main guideline "treat each other with respect""

Closing would be:

"Let's all get in a closing circle. Let's sing: some universally appealing

We just have a few minutes to end--so please be very brief using just a few
words or a phrase that describes the experience you had tonight"

Additional notes: More feedback requests about the following

1. A church, non-profit, or even business could have a gathering like this
to build their own sense of community.
2. I intend to create a user manual and dvd to teach people about every
detail--what to do to create this activity--(any ideas on already existing
3. When momentum gathers in a neighborhood, a 2 or 3 day Open space
gathering to help the neighborhood create a shared vision and strategy for
carrying it out will be planned.
4. As more and more neighborhoods in one city get on board, then a larger
gathering for the whole city for shared vision and strategy can be sponsored
by numerous neighborhoods. Eventually the whole city will be familiar with
5. Once one city has achieved success using the community gathering concept,
this can easily spread to other cities, and my hope is that this will spread
like wild fire and every city in the us, and eventually world, and rural
areas also--will use os to self organize and make a better world.

Again, thanks for your feedback

Patricia Mikkelson
About Livable Future Project and <>  me

Eco-village and Learning Center




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