[OSList] Whistleblower and Transparency Conference… How Open Space could not be broken.

Artur Silva arturfsilva at yahoo.com
Mon Feb 27 09:35:56 PST 2012

Very interesting report and podcast, Kas. Thanks for sharing.


 From: Kas Neteler <kasneteler at gmail.com>
To: oslist at lists.openspacetech.org 
Sent: Monday, February 27, 2012 4:19 PM
Subject: [OSList] Whistleblower and Transparency Conference… How Open Space could not be broken.

Hi OS Listers,

Recently I had the opportunity to facilitate an
Open Space on whistleblowers and government transparency – a benefit for
Bradley Manning – at University of California at Berkeley. 

The event began with a Friday night panel discussion followed by a sermon by Rev. Billy Talen (performance artist Rev./Church of Stop 
Shopping). The Open Space took place all day Saturday and Sunday. It was a mixed crowd of about 200 participants including many long-time 
activists & prominent whistleblowers like Daniel Elsberg (1971 
Pentagon Papers), Ray McGovern (ex-CIA), Ann Wright (retired Army 
Colonel) ...and a whole bunch of young Occupy folks from the university. My favorite was a young man with a gas mask attached to his belt who 
wore an Anonymous mask throughout the day. 

At one point on Saturday the conference was 
threatened to be shut-down by the police. Apparently the Occupy Cal 
folks wanted to set up their tents on the front steps of the building in
 support of the conference -- not realizing this would impact and 
possibly shut down the conference. Long story short, the Open Space was 
"occupied" and a (Occupy-style) General 
Assembly broke out to discuss and find consensus. Yes as the facilitator I was breathing and holding space (without a paper bag -- thank you 
:-)... eventually everyone came to a consensus that the tents would be 
set up on the building's front lawn and not in front of the doors. We 
missed Session 3 of the day... but we were able to reconfigure the final time slots to accommodate all the topics. 

In addition to being "Occupied" there were O.S. Space Invaders -- luckily
 they invaded the session right before lunch, so I did nothing and let 
them go all the way through the lunch break. Half of the conference was 
meeting in this circle and from my perspective they just needed to keep 
going. They came to a natural conclusion and went onto the next 

For me it was an exhausting Day 1 and I went to bed 
that night at 8pm. I needed to rest, dream and reflect on facilitating 
Day 2. Sunday  I woke up to my radio alarm clock (tuned to my local public radio 
station) announcing that "Last night Occupy Oakland marched to UC 
Berkeley to join Occupy Cal in support of a conference happening on the 
campus." ...yep, that would be "my" conference. I thought to myself (in 
the words of Harrison): What is one less thing I can do today to make 
this better?
And that is what I practiced throughout the day -- in my humble opinion Sunday was one of the best OS days I have experienced. 

Here's the thing, no matter how whacky things got, I kept seeing Open Space working... participants were connecting, telling 
their stories, supporting each other and so on and so forth. Individuals were constantly coming up to me and confiding that they were getting a 
lot out of the conference. In the opening circle we share the 
principle of "Whatever happens is the only thing that could" -- on this 
occasion I would amend it to "Whatever happens needs to happen." 

If you would like to hear more about the conference, my client
 included me on a group interview about the event. You can listen to the
 podcast here: http://occupodcast.squarespace.com/episodes/2012/2/22/a-conversation-with-occupy-the-truth-un-conference-hosts-fro.html At some point in this podcast I go into Open Space and try to do it justice :-)

Well, that is the story for now. I look forward to what continues to come my way via OS. Next stop facilitating the OS on OS 
(San Fransisco) in March -- join us if you can. 

--> Kas

Kas Neteler
MBA, Sustainable Enterprise
kasneteler at gmail.com

I'm cycling from SF to LA June 3 - 9, 2012 to help end AIDS. Click to donate and learn more about my journey. 

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