[OSList] The 5th Principle / Sardinia

Harrison Owen hhowen at verizon.net
Mon May 23 14:31:26 PDT 2011

The recent gathering in Sardinia was a treasure. But then again, every such
gathering is unique and rich. A special gift for me was a series of extended
conversations with Claudia, whose last name has disappeared in my senile
brain. She had been in Egypt with the Facebook crowd in the square - and how
she came to Sardinia is a story in itself. Seems like the young Egyptians
were opening space right and left as they negotiated their way through their
version of The Arab Spring. Somewhere along the line they went online in
search of more information - connected with my youngest son (of the same
name) who passed them along to me. We exchanged several emails, and I
suggested that were it possible to come to Sardinia they would have the
opportunity to connect with many marvelous new colleagues whose collective
wisdom vastly exceed my own. Only Claudia could come but she carried the
tale. Marvelous! 


So we talked. And as she described the happenings of those interesting days
it gradually dawned on me that the Open Space of major significance was not
so much the several gatherings convened under that title - but rather the
ebb and flow of Tahrir Square. That indeed was a convening of those who
cared. In palpable ways they brought their passion and responsibility into
that present moment. And while it is true that they never sat in a circle or
created a bulletin board, they surely opened a market place of ideas, hopes,
and dreams - which in turn created new circles of caring. Claudia said it
was a dance, a massive, multiple circle dance as those who cared shared
their passion(s) with responsibility. The circles formed and broke, only to
form again in new, richer and more complex patterns. Who can say what the
precise results are or will be. (The Proceedings have yet to be printed J) -
but the typical behaviors of every good Open Space were manifest in
abundance. "High Learning" - in which previously impossible ideas and
aspirations came alive. "High Play" - in which strangers and sometime
enemies ate and laughed together. Serious moments for sure but leavened with
a lightness that comes when the flood gates of renewal are wide open.
"Appropriate Structure and Control" - God knows how many people were there,
and for sure nobody was in charge. But that did not mean that violent and
bloody chaos was the order of the day - although doubtless nobody would have
been surprised had they appeared. But there was structure as the dance
circled on. And the control was emergent from the people, born of their
passion and responsibility. "Genuine Community?" - Total strangers coming
home, wrapped in the care and concern of their fellows. And "Authentic
Leadership?" You bet! - Not the sort of Leadership that supposedly resides
in the appointed leaders - by way of  the divine right of kings. Indeed, the
King had been sent out of town!  But Leadership was there in abundance,
blossoming (what else in the Arab Spring?) where and as needed. It appeared
at the nexus points of passion and responsibility and passed from person to
person as the dance rolled on. 


And that is the story, at least as I heard it told. 


Sounded like Open Space to me! And nobody had a plan, intention, or design.
For sure - there wasn't a facilitator in sight! - So MAYBE - we need to
understand that Open Space is a naturally occurring phenomenon? To be sure
we can give it a boost or assist - But the opening of space seems to happen
all by itself!! 


So here is a challenge. If Open Space is a naturally occurring phenomenon
(and what else would It be?) then we have the opportunity to assist. And how
would we do that? I suspicion that our 25 year collective experience will
give us some clues. We know that a single facilitator can be very effective
in initiating the process - not by doing a lot, but by really BEING THERE.
And that can happen very quickly - let's say instantaneously. To be sure we
can make many plans and arrangements: conferences with clients, selections
of the "optimal" site, providing the "right" paper and magic markers, etc,
etc. It is also true that even when none of that can happen - everything
just works. That is a little hard on the old Facilitator's Ego, but it could
just be that an awful lot of what we take to be essential is nice, but not
necessary. After all Tahrir Square just "happened." Talk about "Extreme Open
Space" or the Next Step!!


All of which lead me to see what I am sure has been there all the time: The
Fifth Principle. We know the others.


Whoever Comes is the right People.

Whatever happens is the only thing that could have.


NOW - the new one. "Wherever it is, is the right place."


Whenever it starts is the right time.

When it is over, it is over.


I think we could have a lot of fun with this - and for sure it will take us
to some places we have never been. I'm ready.


And if Claudia will reveal her last name, I would be deeply appreciative.
Not to say thankful, for she gave me a great gift.




Harrison Owen

7808 River Falls Dr.

Potomac, MD 20854


Phone 301-365-2093


www.ho-image.com (Personal Website)

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