Inviting the Great Turning

Weekend of September 30th, David C. Korten, author, veteran, engaged citizen, speaks at various local places and times.

David Korten’s, When Corporations Rule the World, was one of the first books to articulate the destructive and oppressive nature of the global corporate economy. Now, ten years later, Korten shows that the problem runs deeper than corporate domination—with far greater consequences.

In The Great Turning, Korten argues that corporate consolidation of power is merely a contemporary manifestation of what he calls “Empire” — the organization of society by hierarchies of domination grounded in violent chauvinisms of race, gender, religion, nationality, language, and class. The result has been the same for 5,000 years, fortune for the few and misery for the many. Increasingly destructive of children, family, community, and nature, the way of Empire is leading to environmental and social collapse.

The Great Turning
makes the case that we humans are a choice-making species that at this defining moment faces both the opportunity and the imperative to choose our future as a conscious collective act.

via Nurul Eusufzai

Inviting Individual Actions to Meet

Some of us are talking now about the invitation to a Chicago Summer 2007 conference that would be the extension of our Giving Conference in 2004 and Omidyar Member conferences in 2005 and 2006.

In writing the invitation, I suggested we focus on what it is we’re interested in, and who we *would* invite, rather than the groups of people that we think *should* be there. Too often, *should* begins as a fantasy and ends up as the excuse for NOT acting, not inviting. Better to focus on what we already care about and the people we already know or really want to meet and connect with.

Here is my interest and what/who I’d like to invite in Chicago:

…i’ve just finished the city’s conservation corps training. i’m giving a lot of attention to food, transportation and water practices. i’m also thinking about the nature of practices and habits. i’m still interested in a less visceral way in philanthropy and education.

i’m most interested in spending time with a group that would be willing to identify, share, expand and strengthen the body of things they are doing that seem to be part of the ‘solution.’ everything from turning off lights and faucets to conserve, buying organic, recycling, to organizing new foundations or community projects — or growing old ones, blogging and connecting other ideas, homeschooling, housing coop. whatever. i’m just into hearing more and more about what others are doing NOW that seems like it must be part of “the world we want.”

when i first went to outward bound, winter mountaineering in colorado, the told us it wasn’t about ‘survival’ skills… but about learning to be comfortable and easy in strange, quite often harsh, conditions and surroundings. that’s what i’d like now… to be with a bunch of folks who are good at a bunch of things that SUPPORT LIFE. i’m interested in things that help us feel more alive, as individuals and communities. how can we unfold more life and power out of the things we already have, already know, and already are doing? what are the simple things we can do now or next, to cultivate more LIFE — to be more comfortable and easy in the world we want?

i’d be most interested in spreading an invitation around chicago networks that i’m connected/ing with and at the same time having our central question or theme (different from design or outcomes) be something that is universal enough that many might choose to come from afar. giving, more good things happen, personal power and action, community connections… the sorts of broad themes we’ve had in the past work for me because i could be working on growing and inviting a chicago group of people and still invite and include friends and colleagues from afar. to the extent that any local group(s) would grow and prosper, it could be a easily replicated elsewhere.

My own proposal for theme: ALL AT ONCE.

more and more, we are being asked to do many things at once — not just multi-tasking, but be aware of many different views and realities at once, to function in conflicting roles, to accept conflicting realities, and change many habits… ALL AT ONCE

what are the issues and opportunities for practicing all of the things that we need to do personally and socially to cultivate and support more and more LIFE in ourselves and the world, working and living together to create the world we want. all at once is for all the things we do… and all the groups and networks in which we do it. what if we could do and gather all of those… ALL AT ONCE?

Would you join ALL AT ONCE? …or propose something else? You can join the planning conversation here. The bit about interests and theme comes up later in the thread, about here.

Inviting Consciousness

Join us Wednesday, September 20th at 7pm at the Transitions Café 1000 W. North Ave, Chicago for a presentation by my friend Therese Rowley:

A Different Way of Seeing; A Different Way of Being

A Mystic’s Ride to New Realities… When you have a different way of seeing, you have access to a different way of being. And when you have access to a different way of being, you can create new and different realities in your life. Understand your life’s stories in new ways, unravel unhelpful patterns, and open the door to new realities. If your current reality has frustrating, stuck, or confusing aspects, even though you consider yourself a conscious person, tonight’s presentation will help you better understand:

  • The territory on the map called “your life”
  • “Maps” or unconscious assumptions you have been bequeathed or ones you have unknowingly created
  • The “organizing principles” that form the core of your current reality

Therese Rowley, Ph.D. is a strategic business consultant, educator, and intuitive who teaches and facilitates accelerated change for leaders, organizations, and conscious individuals. Join us for a lively and inspiring evening. Bring a friend! Admission is free!

Opening Space for No Mind

No Mind Festival, that is. Last week we put together a nice little design for a series of Spaces to be opened as part of the No Mind Festival in Angsbacka, Sweden next month, for 600-1000 participants. Registration is open to all!

The first week of the Festival, July 7-13, is the tenth annual, with a theme of “Celebrating Life”. This year they’ve asked me to run the second week mostly in Open Space, July 15-21. The theme for the week is “Living Our Gifts.”

The (rough draft) design is rather unique and runs like this…

On the evening of the first full day of the conference, we’ll do the first of four openings, setting the agenda for each of three breakout sessions the following day. The first three rounds of this will be on three sub-themes that are still being crafted, each articulated along the lines of “Inviting _____ “.

The last of the four sessions, will be a sort of Open Space on Open Space, the theme of which will be “Inviting Leadership”. This theme will let us do some brief teaching and noticing about what Open Space is, how it works, and invite people to consider the implications and possibilities for using it elsewhere, after the Festival. The nature of Inviting Leadership also generalizes away from Open Space, so to include all the other methods and views and approaches that will percolate around the Open Space sessions all week.

In making the distinction between the Open Space sessions and the pre-determined sessions, we thought about it in terms of viscosity. The pre-planned sessions are a little bit thicker, more viscous. The OS sessions, a bit more fluid. This helped us find the edges of each, with the pre-planned structures ultimately containing the OS sessions, like oil caps the water underneath it in a bottle.

Because the whole of the Festival runs on the contributions of 150 volunteers, willing invitees, we articulated the edge between the OS and other sessions in terms of time: the Invited festival is everything already invited and established, the Inviting festval is the OS part, the fresh, growing, edge of the invitation, where the structure is still taking shape.

The Power of Compassion

This kind of makes me want to move to Kalamazoo, with a name like that and people like this in town…

International Conference on
Engaging the Other: The Power of Compassion

October 26-29, 2006 in Kalamazoo, Michigan USA

An international, multi-cultural, multi-disciplinary conference examining concepts of “The OTHER” from a universal, cross-cultural perspective to promote wider public dialogue about concepts of “Us and Them”

Sponsored by Common Bond Institute, HARMONY Institute, the International Humanistic Psychology Association, the Fetzer Institute, and Western Michigan University. Supported by a growing international list of universities and organizations.

Hoping to be doing my own compassion practice that week in sunny Kathmandu, Nepal, otherwise I’d have to think about getting over there… and ask them about Opening a little Space, too.

Transformative Mediation

The Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation’s 2nd International Conference is coming up in September, in St. Paul, MN. The theme is Purpose Drives Practice: An International Conference on Transformative Mediation.

I’ll be presenting a workshop on Open Space Technology on the first day and will be a featured panelist in the closing plenary. I’m looking forward to a fascinating couple of days of connecting the Tranformative Framework and Open Space.

The transformative framework was first articulated by Robert A. Baruch Bush and Joseph P. Folger in The Promise of Mediation in 1994. Since then, transformative theory and practice has grown and is used in mediation, facilitation, and conflict management training all over the world.In the transformative view, conflict is primarily about human interaction rather than “violations of rights” or “conflicts of interest”. Conflict is part of the basic dynamic of human interaction in which people struggle to balance concern for self with connections to others. When this balance is upset, human interaction becomes alienated and destructive, simply put there is a crisis in human interaction.

Specifically, the occurrence of conflict tends to destabilize the parties’ experience of both self and other, so that each party feels both more vulnerable and more self-absorbed than they did before the conflict. Further, these negative attitudes often feed into each other on all sides as parties interact, in a vicious circle that intensifies each party’s sense of weakness and self-absorption. As a result, the interaction between the parties quickly degenerates and assumes a mutually destructive, alienating, and dehumanizing character.

For most people, according to the transformative theory, being caught in this kind of destructive interaction is the most significant negative impact of conflict. However, the transformative framework posits that, despite conflict’s natural destabilizing impacts on interaction, people have the capacity to regain their footing and shift back to a restored sense of strength or confidence in self (the empowerment shift) and openness or responsiveness to the other (the recognition shift). Moreover, these positive moves also feed into each other on all sides, and the interaction can therefore regenerate and assume a constructive, connecting, and humanizing character. The model assumes that this transformation of the interaction itself is what matters most to parties in conflict — even more than resolution on favorable terms.

Pre-Conference Workshops and Trainings will be held Sept. 15-16, 2006, and Main Conference Sept. 17-18. I’ll be presenting a workshop on the 17th and will be a featured panelist on the 18th. Conference Brochure or Online Registration

Chicago Conservation Corps

I went to the orientation meeting for the new Chicago Conservation Corps volunteer leadership program last night. Very exciting stuff from a big city government — actively inviting individuals and offering direct and open support for community projects.

Applications for the 4-week program are due May 15th, and attendance at the orientation — to understand the commitment — is required:

You care. Do something. We’ll help.
Rain gardens. Recycling. Alternative transportation. Energy efficient homes. Get trained with the Chicago Conservation Corps and develop an environmental improvement project for your community. To learn more, attend an orientation May 6, 9, 11 or 13 at locations throughout the city. Visit the website or call (312) 743-9283 to register.

When the city initiated the green rooftop at City Hall five years ago, there was only one contractor in the country who could do the required work. Now there are twenty in the City and more than 69 acres of green roof. Looking forward to learning and contributing to the next waves of work on transportation, water, energy, food and other essential community issues here. Join us?

Make Your Net Work

Last call to register for next week’s MeshForum in San Francisco. It’s all about working together. Join us if you can! Sunday and Monday are packed with speakers from technology, community, business and academic views of networks. On Tuesday, I’ll facilitate a day of Open Space to make more of the connections that make our nets work.

BrainJam in New Orleans

Been talking with Chris Heuer about the Open Space dimension of this…

BrainJams New Orleans – Big Announcement!

On Thursday May 4th we are going to bring the best of Web 2.0 to the New Orleans small business community in what could be one of the biggest Unconferences of the year. This will be a day of conversation, peer to peer learning, and developing a better understanding of how the technology community can serve the needs of this vitally important city as it comes back from the trajedy that was Katrina. Our goal is to help small businesses understand how they can make the most of blogs, social networks, tagging, wikis and other collaboration tools – but I have a feeling that much more will come of this. More…

I’m impressed with the work Chris is doing on the ground, but also the depth or background of his work, as he’s just back from an Art of Hosting workshop, working on these sorts of questions

  • When have I truly lived my passion and what in particular was powerful about this?
  • What do I now sense is the next level of my passion and practice?
  • If this is the next level of my passion and practice, what could stop or come in the way of this?
  • What is the burning question that will help me step more fully into the fire of my hosting?

This marriage of depth and action, internal and external, personal and social, seems essential now, in all of our work.

Chicago Conservation Corps

Clare Butterfield at Faith in Place sent this today. Exciting, indeed.

We are excited to announce our partnership with the City of Chicago Department of Environment’s new volunteer program, the Chicago Conservation Corps (C3). The Corps is made up of Chicagoans engaged in grassroots environmental action in their communities and throughout the city. Learn from the experts during a five-week training workshop and discover the latest about the air we breathe, the water we drink and play in, the limited energy resources we depend on and the land that supports us. Then, develop and lead an environmental service project in your neighborhood. Projects based in neighborhood congregations certainly qualify.

Interested? Attend a training preview May 4, 6, 9, 11 or 13. Call (312) 743-9283 for more information, or call Clare at Faith in Place with questions, (773)-235-4640

Walkout Challenge

Walkout Challenge Day coincides with the day that Gandhi reached the sea and made his own salt (April 6). It is a chance for us to look at what we have been able to walk out of and walk on to, and where we feel like taking the next plunge. It’s an opportunity to honor the risks we are taking in our own lives and the exciting adventures we are embarking upon. And it’s a day to get together with friends, new and old, and remember that we have companions in our life’s journey.

On this second day of Spring, with wintry winds still howling here in Chicago, I’m hoping that it will yet be warm enough to start my (mostly) annual fasting routine to coincide with this day. For me, the walkout day is about cleaning up one’s act, taking responsibility for that which we can and must do for ourselves, like body, food and health. Changing ourselves is the most important kind of SmallChangeNews.

Thanks to my friend Shilpa Jain at Shikshantar – The Peoples’ Institute for Rethinking Education and Development, in Udaipur, India, for this.

Open Space Technology: Practice Retreat
April 18-20, 2006

I’ve been sharing the story of the essential practices of Open Space Technology with a variety of people in recent months, from facilitators and managers, to physicsts and software technologists. I’m pleased to say that the response has been surprisingly positive.

In April, Chris Corrigan and I will be leading a Practice Retreat to share our learning about the essence of Open Space leadership. The program is experience-based and serves all levels of Open Space, facilitation and leadership experience equally well. The practices are taught in the context of Open Space Technology, but will be immediately applied to all kinds of other work in organizations and communities.

Chris and i have been offering practice workshops together since 2002, but this is the first time we have offered a full three-day retreat together. It will take place on Bowen Island, near Vancouver BC. See the invitation and registration for complete details.

We would love any of you to join us, and of course, please feel free to share the invitation with folks in your network who might be interested.


Celebrate the health and diversity of the internet. The mission of OneWebDay is to create, maintain, advance, and promote a global day to celebrate online life: September 22, 2006. One big day and web of parties, projects, people.

MeshForum 2006 – Chicago, May 7-9

MeshForum is a conference on Networks – bringing together an interdisciplinary mix of academics, artists, business leaders and government experts for three days of learning and collaboration. Our mission is to foster the overall study of networks – across fields of industry and academia.

Confirmed speakers at MeshForum 2006 include Robert Scoble and Shel Israel, authors of Naked Conversations, and Manuel Lima of, as well as a mix of academics and business people. We also hope to once again have experts from the Pentagon (Office of Force Transformation) and FEMA. On the third and final day, the format changes and yours truly leads an Open Space for speakers and audience members to break into small groups and work together on the discussions which have arisen out of the previous two days.

The goal is that MeshForum provides more than just a chance to present and hear great content, that it also provides a forum for interaction and collaboration, especially between people in different fields and industries. Register Now

Gathering of Friends

can you join us on bainbridge island, off seattle, on thursday, february 9th? the theme of the day is practice. so far, we are expecting about 15 people for a full day of learning and connecting.

i’ve been thinking lately about open space practice in terms of opening heart, inviting attention, supporting connection, and grounding the energy. i offer that as some slim subtext. anything that falls into one or all of those buckets is fair game and the rest of the plan is all open space.

email if you’d like to join us. we’re doing a simple, potluck and pizzas sort of lunch.

Recent Changes Camp in Portland, OR

We’re making final preparations and packing bags this week for RecentChangesCamp in Portland at the end of this week. The conference, with a sub-theme of Building Communities Worth Having, seeks to connect tech tools like wiki and community organizing activists/activities. We’re running it in Open Space and posting our proceedings here. There’s still time to register (it’s a free, community event!) if you’d like to join us.

I’ll be running up to Seattle to visit with a number of friends and colleagues there, next week. Might be light blogging for the next couple weeks.

Inviting Goal-Free Community

In January 2006, John Wiley & Sons published Stephen Shapiro’s counter-cultural book, Goal-Free Living: How to Have the Life You Want NOW! Response to this controversial work has been phenomenal, including a cover story in the November 2005 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine and a feature on

Maybe you’re already living a goal-free life — in larger or smaller ways. That doesn’t mean you don’t have any goals or dreams or desires… it means you aren’t held captive by them!

We are bringing people together to explore the issues and opportunities for living a goal-free life — personally, professionally, and culturally. I’ll be facilitating this in Open Space, March 18-19, 2006, in Oak Park (Chicago).

Are you looking to collaborate with and learn from others who share a goal-free mindset? Maybe you still feel a bit trapped by your goals, but are finally ready to break free of that pushing? Would you like to meet, support, and be supported by other people who are succeeding in goal-free ways? Please join us in creating a goal-free community of new friends and colleagues!

Building Communities Worth Having

You are invited to Building Communities Worth Having, and Open Space Conference, February 3-5 in Portland Oregon. Friends and colleagues Ted Ernst and Brandon Saunders are co-convening this event, and have asked me to facilitate. I’m glad to be along for the ride with them. If you’re anywhere involved in “The Movement” (place-based, cyber-space and/or face-to-face) for building a better world, we’d be glad to have you join us!

It’s being co-sponsored by IBESI, OSDL, ICANNWiki, SocialText

UPDATE: new sponsor… ATLASSIAN

Chautauqua: Leader’s Guide to Storytelling

Former World Bank executive and master storyteller Stephen Denning joins Chautauqua in November to discuss his book, The Leader’s Guide to Storytelling.

In his hands-on guide, Denning explains how you can learn to tell the right story at the right time. Whoever you are in the organization CEO, middle management, or someone on the front lines you can lead by using stories to effect change. Filled with myriad examples, The Leader’s Guide to Storytelling shows how storytelling is one of the few available ways to handle the principal and most difficult challenges of leadership: sparking action, getting people to work together, and leading people into the future.

In the Group Jazz virtual chautauqua session, he will converse (tell stories?) with us about the book for the next two weeks. I’ll be tuning in to hear what he has to say about Invitation, the practice of telling visionary stories that bring people together.

Registration is free.

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