Monday, June 12, 2000
Responsible for preparation and organization were
Klaus Meyersen ( www.meyersen.de ; email@example.com )
and Heijo Feuerstein ( www.focusing.de ; firstname.lastname@example.org )
At the 12IFC the organizers made room for a new kind of conference work, called Open Space. Open Space is really what it says: A workshop which is an open space for the participants to fill with their ideas/ thoughts/ issues/ topics/ aspects. It allowed a new quality of working together and was creating new topics during the conference. The basic idea was, that there were a lot of people from different countries coming together bringing in a variety of experiences, viewpoints, ideas. So there was time and space to co-operate during the conference to carry forward mutually interesting issues. "Future" was used as a keyword and direction for the "New Millennium" Conference, and everybody was free to use it in any way.
Open Space mini-workshops, 2 h each, 12 altogether, were headed by the participants themselves. The Open Space started at the first conference morning with a whole group session, and ended at the last morning presenting and celebrating in a real Sunday morning mood the "harvest".
Who ever wanted to initiate such a brief workshop, who ever had an issue near and dear to the heart, a future oriented aspect, that she/he wanted to share and discuss with others, had a chance to do so.
Whoever took the initiative had only four rather simple obligations to fulfill: To open the mini workshop, to create a visualization poster during the workshop, to make sure that a brief summary report will be created after the workshop and to present the essence of this work in 2 minutes at the closing session.
The creation of the mini-workshop topics followed a simple Open Space procedure: On the floor were exactly as many DinA4 sheet as there were Open Spaces for 2h mini workshops. They were available on a first come/ first served basis, to be picked up, name and topic to be written in large readable letters onto the A4 paper and hang into prepared sheets of brown Kraft paper along the walls. Workshop numbers referred to certain locations where the individual workshops were held.
When all open spaces were filled (altogether 18 topics) the "market place" was opened, that means, it was time for the remaining participants to sign up with their name for the mini workshop they would like to attend.
An introduction into the Open Space was given by Klaus Meyersen; the written version is attached (see Guidelines/ Introduction OPEN SPACE WORKSHOP); for those of you, who want to know more about Open Space, there is the wonderful book "Open Space" by Harrison Owen, who developed it (see www.mindspring.com; www.openspaceworld.org ).
12 workshops resulted out of the 18 initiatives; some were grouped together, some did not draw enough attention, although at least two initiators used the opportunity to start just by themselves - and had cooperators later in the process. Several groups extended their work well over the original 2 hour, meeting at agreed places in their spare time during the following days, even with growing participation.
Open Space Mini-Workshops were held about the following topics, none predetermined or suggested, all created out of the given situation by someone, who felt this would be worth pursuing with other people (the workshops are not numbered through, those missing did not get off or for some reason no report was received):
"Learning from the past and moving forward
in training FOCUSING teachers"
"Children (Us!) and Spirituality in Relation to FOCUSING"
"FOCUSING & METAPHOR"
"Thinking at the Edge (TAE in German)"
"How to keep in touch with your inspiration"
"FOCUSING & CocaCola"
"Making Friends with Time"
"Philosophica Ground of Gendlins "FOCUSING""
"Nurturing the Present (our inner space)
to feel a future away from fear"
The mini workshops followed the four Principles and the one Law of Open Space:
- "Whoever comes is the right people."
- "Whatever happens is the only thing that could have."
- "Whenever it starts it is the right time."
- "When it is over, it is over."
- "The Law of Two Feet",
which means each one is fully responsible for her/his own well being.
The Group Work
Since in a classical way it is not always easy to start a workshop so limited in time the participants were given the recommendation, that small groups get much better results when they do not (!) start talking about things right away, but give their fellow members an opportunity first to clear their minds individually and to focus their own thoughts and feelings. A written structured guideline for the first 30 minutes was made available (see Start of Open Space 2h-Mini-Workshop).
The reports about the mini workshops exhibited here, were written in conference breaks on notebooks made available in the conference hall. This was sometimes a lively exercise in itself, especially when all participants of a given mini-workshop came together to write their report jointly.
At the end of the conference all participants were supplied with diskette copies of all the reports submitted.
One purpose of this publication of the brief Open Space workshop reports is to arouse a wider interest on these topics then just amongst the participants of the 12 IFC. The names of the initiators and the participants of each workshop are given. You can take it for granted that each single one would welcome and appreciate your inquiry to carry the issue forward.
This entire experiment was well taken, full of energy and will carry itself forward in many ways. It goes without saying that written reports can only document the essence of the group work. Yet, we are trying to experiment a bit further on communication: The mini workshop charts as well as certain parts of the group work and the final presentations were documented with digital video. I do plan to edit these tapes and put a documentation of texts and photos together on CD, hoping to capture and bring over a bit of the experiencing of this intensive work and the touching moments it created amongst the participants at the 12IFC. However, this production will take some time. Announcements when it will be available will be channeled through the same pattern these reports are published.
Of course, I would be pleased to answer any question concerning this Open Space experience (email@example.com).