Managing Conflict, Learning through Games, Transient Transitioners & awakening the Sleeping Giants...
I'm grabbing a quick few minutes before the evenings entertainment of cabaret to update you on what I've been up to on this first day of the Conference.
After our introduction to the day and touching base with our sharing circles, sharing what we wanted to get from the weekend and what we had to offer, I headed off to the first workshop.
It was a cracker to start with around the topic of Managing Conflict, an area I have been interested in exploring for ages. It was an interesting group and our initial go around revealed the massively broad range of reasons for being drawn to this workshop. It was also noted with interest that all but one of us was female, a few suggestions were offered but I will leave it to you to consider. After a fascinating introduction by Sue and Iona, our hosts, they set us off using a thought process to explore a conflict situation. It involved concentrating, exploring and really deepening your position in the conflict and then putting yourself in the opposing position and really empathising with it, taking care not to judge and taking that position to its extreme. You then move between the two positions exploring their relationship. It sounds really simple, but I found it a really powerful exercise in changing my framing and understanding of the conflict I was thinking of. It was interesting that the conflict needs to be taken to its extremes in order to become creative rather than destructive and doing this through the exercise has much less collateral damage than letting it escalate in reality! It was also discussed that conflicts do not necessarily need to be resolved, the aim is more to facilitate them to be creative and positive rather than rigid and destructive. All very interesting and I thing everyone took away some valuable nuggets of information with them. I doubt I have conveyed much of the essence of the process in those few sentences, but if you want to know more then leave a comment and I can put up some of the resources.
I had an interesting discussion with a few others, including fellow social reporter Mark, in the epic queue for lunch where we realised how many parallels and synergies there were between the different workshops we had been to - from taking it to extremes to creating through action rather than thought. It really is the conversations on the peripheries that make the Transition Conferences interesting. So many interesting people to talk to and learn from!
There was a great opportunity for this after lunch in the open space sessions. I was starting to feel a bit overwhelmed with all the thinking and all of the blood had gone to my stomach so I decided to opt for the 'Games' discussion. It was great to awaken the rest of my mind and body and play some games and really interesting discussions were had around what the games could be used to explain and demonstrate. Something that I would like to develop more as I think actions are often a lot more engaging than words.
I had proposed a topic for the second round of open space and a handful of lovely people came and joined me for a discussion about 'How to be in Transition without being permanently settled in one place'. It was a very interesting discussion and I think we all appreciated finding some kindred spirits who were in the same situation as this is not a topic that is ever addressed by the conventional transition model. Our discussion was fairly wide ranging, but we did agree that how you personally view your situation makes a big difference. Community doesn't have to be place based, it can be spiritual and global. We also decided that however long you were staying somewhere it was worth getting involved with local initiatives, because there could be so much mutual benefit. Joining permaculture and Transition initiatives when you moved to a new place gives you an instant community and you can be in high demand as someone with experience. Cross-fertilising transition initiatives is a very important role. We did think that some groups were pretty difficult to find and get involved in, but others were brilliant. One of the participants shared her wonderful idea of visiting the local initiatives wherever you go - not visiting somewhere specifically, but if you happen to be there anyway, making the point to make connections. Finally we decided that there was a space for a Transient Transitioners Support group, so we are going to start one up. If you want to be involved then let me know.
The final session I attended was around Waking the Sleeping Giants in our economy. Shane, from the REconomy project, proposed that there are certain things that have potential to create huge shifts in our economy, such as The Co-operatives movement, the more-than-profit and end of economic growth paradigm and DIY and reskilling. It was a very interesting and thought-provoking talk, but I'm missing the cabaret so I'll tell you more about it tomorrow.
Photo: Shane talking about the Sleeping Giants (Laura Whitehead)