Translating Open Space

Raffi Aftandelian and friends are translating on of my recent articles into Russian, for a collection. Not surprisingly, translating what we’ve called the “four practices of open space” and “inviting leadership” has been rather challenging. This from a proposed translator’s note seemed to have some merit on its own…

…there is a certain poetry in open space, a poetry that i have practiced capturing for almost ten years now in how i write. it means that words are often chosen for the specific reason that they mean many things at once. and like poetry, sometimes they are even chosen for the way they sound. so this makes translation very challenging, because these different meanings are intended to be read and heard and considered simultaneously, together. there is meaning in each interpretation and also some implication of having them both be true at the same time.

it is this holding of two states at once, distinct and together, that gives open space it’s texture and power. people are aware of themselves as individuals, and of the group as a whole. they are aware learning (taking in) and contributing (giving out), at the same time. open space is a dance of opposites, spirit and productivity. this is difficult to capture once in any language, and more challenging still to translate into another. in the end, we might say that open space is its own langauge, a language of movement, and the best way to really understand it is to do it. and be it. together.

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