Tuesday, February 21, 2006


(I think it's great we have an official rebel yell, don't you think? I wonder what they do at BarCamp? Ba-roooooooooo?)

By cracky, I'm back online. Gracious thanks to my Brother Chris Heurer for telling me to hold down our router's reset button for 30 seconds. That simple thing did the trick and now I'm back, feeling energized, frisky and optimistic about the whole dang world.

My dears, I learned so much in our Grand Hallway Conversation. I need to release all that buzzing in my head, so be warned, this post may go this way and that. Like the way we did at Camp. And that turned out to be okay, don't you think?

Now, this is what I envision for the next WoolfCamp. Kindly note that I did not write, "this is what I wished had happened at WoolfCamp." What happened at WoolfCamp is what should have happened and that, to me, was great. The weekend exceeded my expectations; but then again I set aside the expectations and just let the time and events evolve.

So, I'd like to throw some ideas out there about what could happen, how we could do it, stuff we could use, things I overheard, things I'm mulling over. Your comments or your own post on what could be done next time would, I'm certain, be gratefully received by the current and future WoolfCampers:

("future" WoolfCampers! Wheeeee!)
  • Define the Camp purpose. A writers camp exclusively? A camp for art? Or a three day camp with all elements?
  • Before Camp, be clear on the Wiki (or blog or whatever tool we want to use for Camp prep) about the schedule, the workshops, who will present. So, more pre-planning.
  • Or, add what they do at Mashup Camp (which was held over this past weekend and was a Way Cool Thing. Go on over to the link to find out what Mashup is about). Dig this:
We will begin at in the morning with everyone sitting in a circle. In the middle will be a stack of paper and pens. All those who want to lead a session will be invited into the middle to write the session title a breif description of the sesion and their name. They speak the name into the mike and then post it on the board in the time/space grid.
  • Another Way Cool Thing at Mashup were their operating principles based on "Open Space style":

There are several principles of open space

  • Whoever comes are the right people.
  • Whatever happens is the only thing that could have.
  • Whenever it starts is the right time.
  • When it is over.
  • Document your session on the wiki.

There is also the Law of Two Feet: If durring the course of the gathering, any person finds themselves in a situation where they are neither learning nor contributing, the must use their two feet and go to some more productive place.

And Be Prepared to Be Surprised.

  • Create guidelines for a safe space. I was talking about this with campers who noticed discord in converations. Though nobody pulled a switchblade on anyone, there were folks who had to deal with negativity. So, I rattled off my thoughts to WoolfCamper Chris H in an email:
(I want to introduce) concepts about creating a safe place for everyone in these settings. EVERYONE means everyone. My vision of a safe place will embrace all beings/gender/race/orientation/those allergic to dogs/those not allergic to dogs. The interior of my house, however, is not a place for tobacco cigarette smokers.

I suppose hearing 'safe place' will make folks who frown down upon political correctness smirk and snark. I don't think of this as such; rather, I envison a setting where integrity in discourse is encouraged. Any lapse in this will be handled with compassion. If there is no cooperation, then the compassionate thing would be to 1) have a cool off/time out 2) come back to the conversation after cool off and perhaps a glass of water 3) if the rancor continues, then the person not wanting to doncuct themselves with integrity will be compassionately asked to leave.

Further to the above, my hubs and un-host George added the following nugget on how to do life:

**If you want to say something that you think you shouldn't say, don't say it.**

He raised 5 kids on that credo. His kids are successful and peaceful world citizens.

Other tips on how to create a safe space:

  • Leave your assumptions at the door.
  • Leave your ego at the door. Ego keeps folks from learning, from being a joyful beginner. Ego demands that you must be the one to know everything, be the one to fix it, be the hero. We all know that being ego-driven is exhausting. Why be exhausted when you need energy for the good times?
  • Watch the ethnic/gender stereotyping and jokes. Maya Angelou has a a rule in her home - anyone who tells a racist joke under her roof is kicked out. Now, that rule may not fly at Chez Grace because there's nothing I like better than a good Filipino joke, but even a self deprecating joke can ruin a good vibe.
  • Watch how you conduct conversations - are you needing an audience and using up everyone's energy? Or are you having a good, healthy exchange? Are you doing more telling and not enough asking? Do you know when you are dominating a conversation and can you stop yourself?
  • Practice civility in disagreements. You can disagree with someone without turning them into a bad person in your head. If you happen to be dealing with a sincerely bad person, then you will likely not be able to 1) change their mind 2) reform them 3) have them understand you. So, why continue the discourse? And, if that person is truly a bad person, they can be asked to leave. With compassion, of course.
  • Of course, this whole "bad person" idea is relative and the criteria is different for everyone...or not?
  • Bring cut flowers/chocolate/whole roasted and salted cashews/port/sparkling water/good schwag for everyone. This may not promote safety, but it sure 'nuff will bring on smiles.
What else? What's been knocking around your heads, Campers?

Finally, I'm writing this in my living room and I want to know - where did you all go? I miss having you draped around the couch and sprawled on the floor! Come back! How about sometime in the Spring?


Blogger Debbie said...

Grace, I'm nuts about those mashup rules. They fit very closely with the "process work" which Alan is learning professionally and I study less formally. I think the "vote with your feet" is a really crucial part of it, too.

On the other hand, George's rule doesn't work for me. I think we (progressives, women, everyone) need to learn more about saying the things we "shouldn't" say, while learning how to say them clearly and kindly.

Similarly, while I might want to leave my assumptions and my ego at the door, they're part of who I am. I'm never successful when I pretend to leave them behind, and I find I do better (again, this is pure process work) when I acknowledge them, welcome them as part of me, and then give myself some choices about what to do with them.

Thanks so much for this glorious post, as well as for the whole weekend.

12:26 PM  
Blogger GraceD said...

Deb, warm greetings to you.

George's rule is based on that little voice that says, "whoaaaaa". Now, that little voice within can be your very own oppressor, but it can also be that part of you that realizes what you want to say may be unkind and thus not at all productive. And that's what we want - productive and healthy discourse. So sure, he would agree with you that the thing one thinks shouldn't be said can indeed be said with skill and an openheart.

If I didn't have that voice in me that kept me from blasting off the nutso things I want to say, I swear I would have that disconcerting version of Tourette's Syndrome that's all about constant cussing and off color insults.

For me, my ego and assumptions are not who I am, at the core, at my center, in my true self. What I mean by ego is that part that demands, dictates and does not accept what is in front of me. My assumption are wrapped up in my ego, in fact, it's a very well worn cloak around my ego. It keeps me from exploring the truth, it keeps me from being open minded.

My old Zen training is talking here. Zen training was very, very hard for me because I couldn't understand the business about self vs ego. And then, I was totally freaked that I had to lose my self. The fuck! But then my excellent teacher (Cheri Huber, who Chris Heurer knows, as well) told me with loving kindness that I couldn't lose the self unless I had a self. And so, I've been busy creating my self, rather than feeding my ego. One day I may lose the self and join the bigger universe. But that rarely happens to humans, and that's why they call Zen a practice.

Now I got off on a Zen tract. I'll write about it later.

And we could very well be in (non)violent agreement.

Deb, please know that your presence in my home was a rare honor and a privilege.

12:53 PM  
Blogger elswhere said...

Grace, those rules sound great, and fill me with simultaneous regret at missing Woooooooolfcamp and hope that maybe I'll make it to the next one.

I hope this isn't too much of a tangent, but I've been thinking about **If you want to say something that you think you shouldn't say, don't say it** and agree with Debbie that that is an impulse that sometimes has to be fought, especially for those of us of the female and/or shy pursuasion.

It's a tricky thing: sometimes, as soon as whatever-it-is is out of my mouth, I know that the little voice telling me not to say it was right. And sometimes, it's equally clear that that voice was wrong, that saying it was absolutely what I needed to do. I think hearing that voice correctly, identifying its subtle variations (Is it, "no! That's hurtful and unnecessary!" or, "No! Someone might think you're Not a Nice Girl!"? Or something else?) is one of the big tasks of life. For me, anyway.

The other hard and important part is learning how to patch it up with kindness and grace when you've said the hurtful thing. Or when you've *not* said the important thing.

6:33 PM  
Blogger Debbie said...

Grace, I love that distinction between the voice that says "no" as inner oppressor and the voice that says "no" as smart advisor. If I only knew which was which ... Part of what I'm trying to say here is that one way we learn how to say things kindly and with an open heart is by fucking up and paying attention to the fuck-ups. Badger does this really well.

Elswhere, thanks for that point about patching up; it's an extremely big piece of the puzzle.

7:53 AM  
Blogger Chris Heuer said...

This is truly awesome - thank you for the great contribution to the unconference community! I hope it will be ok for us to cross post this to the new BrainJams community under your name...

12:11 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

hello, i'm a longtime "open space" facilitator near san francisco, and was excited that the mashup introduced lots of people to this coolest of processes (which has been around for over 15 years now and spreading round the planet.) was sad to miss the mashup and my friends. i'm glad for the appreciations of the "principles" and the "law of two feet" - good ways to live life, cuz it's all open space, after all.

8:32 PM  
Blogger GraceD said...

Jeff! How excellent of you to drop by. I, for one, am thrilled that folks like you are out there, spreading the good word of 'open space'. We need to share the wealth of information and set it all free!

This, of course, flies in the face of all the proprietary work I've done in biotech/medical device/pharmaceutical R&D. However, sharing scientific data is evolving, as well, to an open source model.

Jeff, most kind of you to drop by.

11:24 AM  

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