Convener: Phelim McDermott
Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:
Report Context: So first off my notes got thrown away in the clear up. I have decided to not interpret that as any kind of indication regarding the session question! What this means is it would be great if people contributed to the report by adding comments of what they said and also say who else was there!
So this report is a very incomplete, subjective recalling of a few of the areas the conversation went and covered and a few of my own conclusions and thoughts as someone whose been running DandD with Improbable over the years.
I called the session for a number of reasons the first was some pub feedback. This was a few people telling me that compared to previous years the event had seemed to them a little frustrating. This was because it was being treated by some as a more superficial networking event and the conversations were not getting the opportunity to go deeper or as deep as they would have liked.
Another reason was that despite “Whoever comes are the right people” I felt the room to not have as much age diversity as previously and missed the people who had both the wisdom of "eldership" and also the grit and forthrightness of experience. Those people who were not afraid to say the unsayable and stir things up a bit. I'd spoken with Alan Cox and he'd communicated that he almost didn't come and it was only when he was nudged by me tweeting something personal to him did it tip it into him deciding to come. Because of the potential feeling of "I've had those conversations' means that one wonders whats the reason for coming might still be. We recognised that if you keep coming back to DandD that this changed your role from someone who comes “to get stuff” or even “to give stuff” but into an elder whose presence does change the atmosphere of the space and can teach people how to use OS to create a real community. The presence of these people was something we missed but we also recognised that we are also becoming those people ourselves a movement away from coming to the event to get something but into an Eldership role. Which looks after all the voices. This role is also less of an "active" presence and more of a "being" role. A role whose presence makes certain things possible. That's how I kicked the session off. We then covered a number of areas. People reported that one good thing was that they had enjoyed communicating with people not with their labels and designated badges. There had been a lack of people “shoulder surfing” compared to SOTA and other events. However some were well pissed off about how they hadn't managed to get to speak and that the facilitation of groups had been “poor” or selfish by some. That the groups hadn't worked on what they wanted to and they felt they couldn't control that. This was particularly difficult for those who weren't confident about speaking in large groups. There was a request for guidance and a different facilitation methodology to support those who can't speak up or who can't be heard. Couldn't that be provided at the start?
I said that OS wasn't a methodology itself but that any methodology could be used within it and all could be called as a session. I thought that the group should be allowed to evolve that in an emergent way. I Feel strongly that adding stuff from the top down was not the way and that the great thing about OS was it was a process that teaches itself. If it was needed you could call a session for it. So "a group where those who don't get to speak get to speak" and are supported. We then attempted to do it in the moment and used a talking stick and pen. Different people in the group took responsibility to make sure people who wanted to speak got heard. We were sometimes not so good at it (ESpecially me) but we enjoyed working on it in the moment and it was relieving. We enjoyed learning from each other and I enjoyed the shared leadership of the session. Whilst noticing my own tendency to hog the talking pen.
One thing mentioned was that some people just asking forthrightly for their needs was important and that clarity of intention in calling sessions was good then if you knew it WAS a session about networking then you didn't have to go if you didn't want to. There is nothing wrong with the trade fair aspect if clarity of intention and session means you don't have to go there if you don't want to.
I also mentioned being awake about when a group has separated it's intention and knowing those who want to talk about one thing can break off and do that whilst others can go a divergent way. All these are possible but it takes people being courageous about stepping up for that and making it happen.
I talked about one of the aspects of community is the balancing of the impulse to look after one's own needs and individual growth and journey whilst also looking after the whole group. A concentration on too much of either one of these aspects feels like it can dissipate the group. Or the possibilty to be either too selfish or subsumed. This spectrum is important for the group to be aware of.
We talked about calling sessions where people were silent. Movement sessions and the possibility of using different methodologies which could help this community to learn from each other. It was noted that in the "women on top" session a small number of women were able to dominate the conversation in a large group.
We talked about different methodologies that can help useful communication like Marshall Rosenberg's non violent communication. Nancy Kline's great book “time to think” and her work of the creation intelligent thinking.
There was a desire and a call to have conversations that really matter that aren't just information exchange but we're real connection.
I made a decision to make one of the d and d satellites about real community and learning and sharing effective communication skills. This was an agreed action.
I also talked about what brought the valuable community people that we had missed might be not trying to push them to come back, but telling them why they were valued because often they didn't even know. I told Jenn in the moment why I enjoyed her continued presence at d and d and we agreed telling people why we valued them there was a good thing. We fantasised about telling people why we missed them to bring them back now soon after the event rather than trying to persuade them before the next d and d. We talked about small actions that we could do to let people know why they were missed at DandD7 not to guilt trip them but to let them know of their value in the community.
What is community? In the closing circle lot of the people talked of having had their Loneliness and isolation taken care of by this weekend. This was definitely an aspect of DandD which is important and part of it's community value and responsibility to artists. Other's of course could disagree and I find myself returning to Peter Block's work on community and his definition of it. This is that an authentic community can hold the space for dissent. IE the measure of whether DandD can be considered if it is an authentic community is whether it can still look after the people who don't consider it to be one! Inauthentic communities expel people who disagree with them.
Cults don't let people leave.
The law of two feet means we constantly have the possibility to be awake to the groups needs and our own. We can leave or make the active choice to step up or back into the conversation. whilst looking after both our own needs for safety and attending to an awareness of the needs of others. Open space is an art of invitation.. which means its OK not to come and not to turn up. That means ever, or come, and then don't come for a few years and then come back and be still be valued as an important part of the DandD community. For me community isn't a frozen entity it's an ongoing process of mindfulness around where I sit with my own authentic needs and the groups needs. We cant sit back and just ask is it a community or not? Then answer the question and relax. It is a conversation. We have to keep asking that question as a practice because it might be one moment and the next moment not. Then we consider "Having said all that what do we do now?" A lot of the people at our session seemed to be deeply interested in the community aspect of DandD and there was an agreed commitment to work on that and our literacy and effectiveness around that. We were very pleased to be having this conversation.
Keep the space open and keep the invitation alive!