[OSList] Calais refugee camp/jungle - and the power of Open Space + a new veg principal

Chris Grady via OSList oslist at lists.openspacetech.org
Mon Jul 25 04:14:21 PDT 2016

May I share this blog as I realise that I have just been immersed in an
open space technology world whilst chopping veg to help feed the refugees
from all over Europe and beyond who are camped on the edge of the English


I would welcome any sharing or reflections which you might be able to
offer. There are two other blogs from the same visit if you want to learn
more about the amazing work of the Refugee Community Kitchen and the Jungle
Books library/learning centre.  Both should be completely unnecessary in
this day and age, but as long as governments create limbo-land for human
souls, charity is needed

In case it is more helpful, I offer the text only below.

"I have just spent 3 days in and around the Jungle in Calais, and there are
two preceding blogs circulating which look at the work of the Refugee
Community Kitchen
 and Jungle Books
These are just two parts of an intricate, fully functional, completely
unexpected operation or organised chaos to bring the maximum level of life
and hope to the 7000 people living in political and governmental limbo in

When not knee deep in carrots, I work quite a lot with the system developed
by Harrison Owen to help to run effective meetings and events called Open
Space Technology
<http://www.chrisgrady.org/open-space-facilitation-and-event-design/>. Over
20 years it has been used to help to ensure that each person is working
most effectively when they are present in a space where they are
collectively tackling an important issue about which they are passionate.

I realised that, with the addition of a quick principal about
veg/ingredients, the operation of the kitchen, and the whole interlocking
of services and support across the whole of the Jungle, observe the basic
four principals and one law which Harrison put forward. He will not be
surprised by this. I was delighted to muse over it whilst chopping

The camp is totally supported by volunteers who arrive in waves or trickles
and stay for days or months depending on their own external life
commitments. On any one day or shift the organisers have to get used to the
principal “*whoever comes are the right people*” – there is no time to wish
for a few more, or worry whether they will stay long enough – we just get
on with the job with whoever is there. The principal, once accepted, takes
so much of the pressure away from wishing it were different. It ain’t. The
challenge for us all, back here in Blighty, is to make sure the right
people, whoever they are, know there will always be work and a welcome for

Principal 2 states “*whatever happens is the only thing that could*” – and
as the Warehouse awakes to start work in the morning with preparations,
deliveries, support services and care, they need to be aware that overnight
the militaire may have closed a restaurant, or stopped 700 children being
fed in a safe area, or decided that no building/repair materials can get
through the gate. Whatever happens, outwith the immediate control of those
ready to start work, has to be accepted. There are contingency plans
between the organising volunteers for some eventualities, but in the main
they roll with the punches. Behind the scenes there will be political and
governmental negotiation, but on the ground the work continues relentlessly.

Open Space suggests that all topics or area of work should generate action
points, so that “we” get stuff done. No point wishing someone else would
sort the mess out, whoever is there at the moment needs to get on and
deliver whatever is possible.   “*When it starts it starts*” – and whilst
the stew should have been on the simmering gas jets by 11am, there is a
problem if the 30 bags of tomatoes are not chopped and ready, or even
available on site. Then it can’t start. [Editor’s note — times and
quantities are fictional…please don’t make stew with my timings or
quantities…these are for illustration purposes only !]

And now I would like to add a specific principal for the kitchen, a
variation on the 1st principal, “*whichever veg are in the fridge are the
right veg*” (or variations on that theme whether the department is
distributing food, or helping to clothe the 7000 people in the jungle). The
chefs have to be endlessly inventive. The donations have to keep flowing.
The deals with “just past their best” suppliers, and larger business
distributors have to be made, and without that it won’t start, and it won’t
arrive in time. By a miracle, god’s will, power of the universe, skill or
luck it just about keeps arriving. But that needs us to keep sharing the
news in a positive and empassioned way, and reaching out to all contacts we

The next and final principal which we use in facilitating an Open Space
event is the one which suggests “*when its over its over*”. This can be
very powerful. If a job takes ten minutes and we’d allowed 30 minutes, then
finish it, clean up, wash the knives and chopping boards, and get on with
the next task…there is always a next task. But similarly, this crisis of
human limbo-land is not over. It has been going on for too long, and will
continue until governments re-consider the waste of money and human life
that they are causing by their failure to act together. It is not over, and
so every day of the week, every week of the year, a hot meal is needed by
1700+ people in the jungle, and many more if the militaire keep up their
strategies instructed from on high. Tonight I have booked my Eurostar cheap
deal to get over again in October for a week because, I suspect, it will
not be over. And if it is then I will have time to sightsee in Calais, and
the North area of France. But I suspect I will be back in the kitchen with
new friends (whoever comes) and jumping in a van to get “the right veg”
from somewhere.

Although I have written two blogs in quick succession about just three days
in Calais, this third blog is hoping to reach a different group of “right
people”. People who might google Open Space or things like that, or read
business networks. By reaching out with Calais Jungle as the heart, I am
hoping to reach some new people.

There is one Law offered by Harrison Owen to encourage the best use of Open
Space, and it also applies to the Jungle. It is called the Law of Mobility
or the Law of Two Feet.

Even as I type this I realise the awful impotence which the word mobility
rises in my gut around this situation. We can use our two feet and we are
mobile. Those that we serve and support have had their mobility removed by
the limbo-madness that they are in. They cannot go back to their homes
which we and our governments have helped to destroy, and they cannot reach
their destination because of an unhealthy distrust of “foreigners” coming
to swamp Great Britain.

But we the privileged free citizens of the UK and other nations can use the
law of mobility and go where we are most needed. That’s the point – we all
have a part to play, and something we can do. But we may need to make a
move to be most effective.   I am afraid I don’t have “treasure”, but I do
have “time” which as a freelancer I can offer. So my feet took me to Calais
to help…and I didn’t need much talent to drive a van or chop carrots.
Others may be time-poor but a bit more cash-rich, and there a short move to
your bank account, or one of the online donation portals can have an
immense good effect – such as http://refugeecommunitykitchen.com/

Within the Warehouse working area the law of two feet works seamlessly – if
there are too many people around the carrots, and not enough people at the
washing up, then the flow of volunteers move with just the tiniest prompt
to down knives and pick up dish cloth.   There is endless washing and
cleaning, to ensure the best possible hygiene in the kitchen. One of the
smallest jobs of the day is washing up the 150 plates and forks from the
volunteer lunch – everything is like home, but scaled up to enormous

So dear colleagues who use Open Space, friends who have been to D&D over
the years, and those who know me from many other lives and ways. I hope you
will have a think about how you can use your time talent and treasure, and
your own mobility, to help those who are stuck in limbo so close to
re-starting productive and UK tax paying lives here in this country A
country that they all believe to be the most welcoming and supportive for a
multi-cultural workforce and community.

My final blog (which will be the 4th of 3 – with homage to Douglas Adams)
will follow when Anna is ready for me to shout about a plan/event she is
thinking about.

Thank you for reading and sharing these blogs"
Thank you so much Harrison, Phelim, and all those who have led me to
understand Open Space.


Chris Grady FRSA
Chris Grady.Org

Gothic House, High Road, Great Finborough, Suffolk IP14 3AQ
07713 643971  chris at chrisgrady.org  skype: chris_grady

Chris Grady.Org Limited Company No 8827507
Directors: Chris Grady and Kath Burlinson <http://www.kathburlinson.co.uk/>,
Associates 2016: Kate Taylor (Edinburgh) Tania Azevedo (London) Kate Reed
(New York)
*CGO - Making Connections & Creative Life Support*

*Creativity and Business Life Coach*
"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious
life?"  Mary
Oliver, poet
New e-book offering creative life support

Event Dates
CGO Surgeries:  *Edinburgh* Sat 13th Aug, *London *23rd Sug & 20th Sept
Producers' Pool: *London* 26th July & 27th Sept
Creative Workshops: *Edinburgh* Sun 14th Aug
Creative Business 1/2 Day with Nicky Raby & Chris Grady: *London* Tue 4th
Oct - Book <http://bit.ly/1UtEtbV>
Clothing Optional Theatre - 2nd conference: *London* Sun 13th Nov
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.openspacetech.org/pipermail/oslist-openspacetech.org/attachments/20160725/e51741bc/attachment.htm>

More information about the OSList mailing list