The Power of the Pan

so now the story of our kitchen takeover at the festival. well, okay, so we didn’t exactly take the place over, we barged in 20 mins before the small cook staff was to serve 600 hot meals and they were kind enough to help us.

it was tuesday afternoon, three days into the festival, and we hadn’t met as a whole community since the opening saturday night. with so many concurrent activities, concerts, workshops, dances, and the like, the energy just kept getting higher and higher. there was no apparent way to ground it, and apply it in practical ways for ongoing connection, projects and everyday living. but how to rebel against a dominant culture and structure that might best be described as freedom and love?

we decided to take over the kitchen, even if quite peacefully and only for a few minutes. with the chef’s support, when she rang the dinner gong, we threw ourselves in front of small stampede of hungry people with empty bowls. we explained that soon we would ring a medium-sized roasting pan with a large wooden spoon and that would be their invitation to bring out their news – important stories and announcements that everyone should hear.

the purpose of the open space “track” of the festival was to connect the people and energy of the event with the rest of the world, to make some positive differences, to share the love in practical ways. so we went around the lawn explaining what we were about to do:

…if we want to change ourselves as individuals, we must concentrate our attention. and if we want the “bigger body” that is this festival community to change the world, we must concentrate our attention. in a few minutes we will ring the roasting pan and invite your attention in the center of the lawn. please join us for stories and news announcements…

if it sounds a bit dramatic, i suppose it was. changing the world can be like that. but it worked. when we rang the pan, people came in to listen. we used a small loudspeaker. a number of people announced projects and meetings and invitations, to cheers and applause. for a moment we were one, big, community circle, settling down and paying attention.

the next day, festival organizers discussed plans for including such all-community meetings into next year’s festival. we also discussed larger shifts toward much more open space, after what might fairly be called a rather timid first-run at it this year. we covered more ground this morning, in a workshop about leading in open space.

even it a much abbreviated form, the 40 or so breakout sessions that were posted did seem to result in some remarkable conversations. small groups that really dug into a wide range of issues and left many participants amazed and delighted at what showed up for them. but of course, this last bit is what we’ve come to expect in open space, timid first-run or not.

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