[OSList] A possible first for me - at least on the inspiring OS side - if not facilitating as well

Daniel Mezick dan at newtechusa.net
Sun Mar 23 11:06:03 PDT 2014

Welcome Andrea!

Your story is poignant, and for me, affirming. I'm so glad you attended 
the agile-CULTURE-Conference on 2012 in Philly, and that the Open Space 
segment of that event is still memorable for you. There are many 
believable people here (like Lisa) who have deep experience and can 
explain it, and so:

Welcome. This is your tribe.

"Ask for help" -Michele & Jim

On 3/23/14 1:29 PM, Lisa Heft - wrote:
> Andrea -
> My heart goes out to you and your community.
> Some first thoughts:
> - anything involving grief and loss is best served by an overnight in 
> a facilitated gathering - as people often tell their story on Day 1 
> and seek witness to that story, with Day 2 offering a slightly 
> different bit of 'breathing room' opened up by overnight reflection, 
> 'percolation', integration of the day's experiences. So a 2-day 
> gathering may allow for people to feel space, story, expansion, grief, 
> connection and more.
> - remember that if you are the facilitator you are holding space for 
> others, and you hold a certain role (in your own eyes and in others' 
> eyes) - so decide whether you best serve by finding someone else to 
> facilitate so that you can be a participant
> - think about documentation design - dialogue is more than the time 
> one was in a conversation - it is also reflection afterwards, reading 
> about others' conversations, sharing knowledge across the system / 
> community, looking back over multiple conversations to see patterns or 
> ideas... Open Space events easily include people sharing 
> responsibility for documenting their conversations and pooling those 
> into a co-created Book of Proceedings that can be used post-event by 
> each individual in their own way as well as any group that wishes to 
> pore over it for ideas for future conversations or next steps
> - pre-work for any face-to-face gathering is so important - take the 
> time to find the best site you can (at least double the size of the 
> expected number of participants), remember how food fuels community 
> and thinking, share ideas for invitation and be sure to explore what 
> (resources, relationships, choice of time or place) helps others 
> actually access or feel included in an open invitation
> - remember this is not the only action and that one gathering is not a 
> solution - think about how this fits into the context and chain of 
> actions, gatherings, imaginings
> - don't forget to invite young people rather than talk about them
> - don't feel you need to do this event so quickly you do not have 
> enough time and support for making it a useful, inclusive, supported event
> - (this should be up at the top): Take very good care of yourself, and 
> know that we have you and your community in our thoughts
> Lisa
> *Lisa Heft*
> Consultant, Facilitator, Educator
> President Emerita, Open Space Institute US
> Fellow, Columbia University Center for International Conflict Resolution
> *Opening Space*
> **
> On Mar 23, 2014, at 9:59 AM, Andrea Chiou 
> <andrea.chiou at ascconsultinginc.com 
> <mailto:andrea.chiou at ascconsultinginc.com>> wrote:
>> Hi all - first time posting here, though I've been reading from this 
>> list for probably 1/2 year or more.
>> I'm happy that I can have confidence with the support of this group - 
>> as I have seen, as recently as today, all the support that is so 
>> freely and lovingly given - especially to slightly jittery new 
>> facilitators...
>> The context for this email is:
>> My son's high school here in Fairfax County VA, has been experiencing 
>> a high number of suicides - six in the past 2 years, two in one week 
>> alone in February. There have also been others at nearby schools. 
>>  Recently, the school sponsored a large gathering of administrators 
>> and specialists inviting the parents to come listen.  IT was a 
>> one-way information feed. I described it in a blog post here. 
>>  hhttp://adaptivecollaboration.com/2014/03/06/prevention-and-build-quality-in-how-can-we-help-stem-teen-suicide/
>> As I mention in the post, my only suggestion that I wrote on the 
>> 'card' they provided to parents for ideas was: conduct an open space...
>> I also suggested this later on a community Facebook group that was 
>> established by parents to further the discussion and collaboration 
>> around the issues of mental health and stemming suicide at our high 
>> school..
>> And today: I received THIS:
>> Dear Mrs. Chiou,
>> I am on the committee planning the upcoming FCPS Summit on Mental 
>> Health. I noticed on the community of solutions Facebook page that 
>> you posted information about the use of an Open Spaces format for 
>> encouraging discussions and free exchange of information at a 
>> conference. I followed your suggestion and googled it, listened to 
>> the presentation and read the information.
>> I'd love to talk to you for a few minutes about the logistics of this 
>> approach. Do you have a number where I could reach you?
>> Mary Ann Panarelli
>> Director, Intervention and Prevention Services
>> Fairfax County Public Schools
>> 571-423-4020
>> I am floored!! Amazed. Humbled!
>> I have not responded yet ... :-)
>> My experience with Open Space is through Agile Coach camp and Culture 
>> Conference in Philly 2 years ago. And reading this list and following 
>> a few especially agile folks who are passionate about OS (Dan is one)
>> My passion comes from knowing there are voices which aren't heard and 
>> need to speak. I care about listening, giving people space to talk.
>> My extreme passion in this particular case, comes about from the 
>> urgency of this particular social problem. My own son is still a 
>> student there, and has grappled himself with depression/lows and 
>> occasional suicidal thoughts.
>> So, the question becomes, what do I do next?.  Of course, I will 
>> respond to her with my phone number and a suggested time to speak 
>> with her. And I will read the whole OST guide (I've seen that advice 
>> numerous times, but now I need to get going on it).
>> What else do you suggest?
>> Perhaps I can be more specific with my questions to you after I 
>> finish reading the guide.
>> Mean time, I am checking in with you:
>> I am glad; this is wonderful/scary.
>> I am afraid; first time.
>> I am sad; the trend of suicides in our community affecting our youth 
>> isn't turning around.
>> I am glad; I have resources, people and ideas; even though I am not a 
>> mental health specialist, I can do small things to make a big difference.
>> I'm IN!
>> Thank you for listening!
>> Andrea
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Daniel Mezick, President

New Technology Solutions Inc.

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