Peace Un-conference Continued…

 

Old Missoula Peace Sign on Waterworks Hill

Old Missoula Peace Sign on Waterworks Hill

Since my last post was so long and I didn’t cover a few things I wanted to I thought I’d do a second post about the peace un-conference I attended.  So if you’re interested in reading in detail more about the un-conference and what that entailed please read the previous post.

During the opening and lightning keynote speakers in the morning someone said the following statement, which I then wrote down after it was reiterated by one of the participants in the closing circle: Where there is conflict people care deeply, which then creates an opportunity for peace.  I thought this was an interesting insight into the nature of polarizing issues and beliefs.  On both sides of the fence, no matter what the difficulties are, people are filled with care and concern about something.  One side might be particularly drawn towards concern about the environment while the other side may be concerned about the security of jobs and economic prosperity.  To see the areas of similarity and overlap is incredibly important when it comes to the transformation of the us-verses-them mentality.  It’s difficult to make lasting, effective change when we only see the differences and set our perspective in the direction of separation and division.

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Peace Un-conference

Flyer from the Jeannette Rankin Peace center for the Peace Un-conference

Flyer picture for the Peace Un-conference                                           Presented by the Jeannette Rankin Peace Center

Yesterday my husband and I attended an all day event entitled Rising from the Ashes: How Do We Create Peace from Chaos, Confusion, and Conflict.  It was an un-conference sponsored by our local Jeannette Rankin Peace Center (JRPC).  Designing it as an un-conference is a reference to something called Open Space.  From their website:

Open Space Technology, or Open Space, is a meeting format discovered by Harrison Owen. There is much written about Open Space available in books and on the internet, and yet often the format defies description or explanation. It is much more easily experienced that written about.

The basic process of Open Space helps those participating in the event co-create an experience based on responsibility and passion. It is a very welcoming and very frequently fun process, and also one that can be challenging in the same way a good game is challenging. Open Space invites the participants to engage to a high degree.

 

Never having attended an Open Space setting before I could only imagine what to expect in terms of format and set-up.  I was, like many others, a little nervous.  The Five Principles of Open Space set me a little more at ease:

1. Whoever comes are the right people

2. Whenever it starts is the right time

3. Wherever it is, is the right place

4. Whatever happens is the only thing that could have, be prepared to be surprised! 

5. When it’s over, it’s over

And the one law of Open Space is called the Law of Two Feet:

If at any time during our time together you find yourself in any situation where you are neither learning nor contributing, use your two feet, go someplace else.

In this way, all participants are given both the right and the responsibility to maximize their own learning and contribution, which the Law assumes only they, themselves, can ultimately judge and control. When participants lose interest and get bored in a breakout session, or accomplish and share all that they can, the charge is to move on, the “polite” thing to do is going off to do something else. In practical terms, Owen explains, the Law of Two Feet says: “Don’t waste time!”

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