Monday, February 27, 2006

world cafe as fresh start (Nancy M)

Nancy Marguilies (apparently) - 10:57am Feb 27, 2006 PST
via email

Hello friends:

IN RESPONSE TO JUANITA'S LETTER I have been thinking a lot lately about the power of TWC to engage people who are accustomed to "doing battle" in meetings. I plan to invite them to see each other and themselves in a new light.

My next Café will be with a group of elected officials who have a history of fighting among themselves that is so engrained that they don't want to spend time together in the same room. They will be running against each other in up-coming elections. Yet, they need a day together if they are to develop goals and plans. Their staff feels strongly that an outside facilitator is critical to keep them from "killing each other".

My plan, if the group will accept any outside facilitation, is to use Café in order to offer a clear break in business as usual. The first round will be one where each person introduces himself by stating one of his personal assets (competencies) and identifies one asset of each person at the table of four. If someone can't think of an asset for themselves or another, the table group is asked to help out.

The assumptions the group will operate with that day include: everyone here shares some of the same strongly held values and concerns such as wanting more for our community, wanting our ideas to be heard and considered by others, feeling deep concern for the future of our community, wanting to make a positive contribution, etc. My hope is that the group as a whole can generate examples such as these. Also we will review beliefs such as we have all the wisdom we need, we will learn more if we honor diverse points of view, listen with the intention to learn, etc. I am going to suggest that this day together can not only be productive but fun. One of my goals is to introduce "Asset Based Thinking" where which, much like appreciative inquiry, keeps the focus on what gives one hope. More on Asset Based Thinking:

With approaches such as these I believe we can come to the table to meet in the place Rumi called "Beyond ideas of right-doing and wrong-doing". This is not to deny the real and present danger posed by some of our present policies and industries. Rather, this approach is an invitation to move beyond our usual stances on one side or the other to stand in the middle. Thich Nhat Hahn, went confronted in the 1960's with the question, "Are from North Viet Nam or South Viet Nam?" replied:"Neither. I am from the center."

Café tables might be just the place to occupy when looking as issues from the "center".

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