Inviting Aspen Again

aspen daily news

We did a second round of Open Space, 10am to 3pm, on the Entrance to Aspen on Saturday. Another 50 people showed up, reviewed the posters summarizing Wednesday’s conversations, posting another dozen or so issues. The focus was more squarely on asking the questions and bringing ideas that might “change the conversation” in the direction of resolution.

Where Wednesday had seemed to be focused on establishing positions, among perhaps a dozen or more different possible solutions, Saturday’s conversations were more about connecting and cross-pollinating. Several people remarked that they had changed their positions as a result of Saturday’s conversations. Skeptics from Wednesday offered that they were grateful and heartened by the quality of this second round.

Going forward, the City of Aspen will help keep the newly-spirited conversations going with a kit they call a ‘meeting in a box’ which will offer informtion, discussion questions, and citizen comment forms to anyone in town who would like to host a conversation on this 37-year-old question of what to do with the highway coming into Aspen. Then on April 12th, they’ll host and evening of keypad voting on questions that will be shaped by all this community conversing.

Saturday’s conversations were perhaps “less focused”, but that seems to be just what was needed for folks to soften their positions and start to listen and connect with others’ ideas and interests. After 26 ballot initiatives, this year might yet deliver real resolution to this question.

I worked with Claudia Haack on this one and together we wrote a nice set of finishing questions. These might be my new default set for closing circles. We asked participants to reflect on these things and then offer one short comment, maybe just one line, what might be their response to a friend asking “So what happened at that meeting, anyway?”

  • What was your experience here?
  • What are you taking away?
  • What did you learn? Any a-ha’s?
  • What was strange or different here?
  • How might you/we keep this going?
  • What new or next questions might make a difference now?

Meanwhile, I can also report that I skied all afternoon at Snowmass on Friday. Great snow, freezing cold (zero degrees, before counting the wind) outside, toasty warm in old hacker gear, no wrecks, but totally wore myself out. Some serious motivation for making body stronger this year.