In Eugene, Oregon, the Co-Intelligence Institute is engineering a community-focused process to increase local capacity for healthy, creative group dialogue. By combining trainings and workshops with a series of dialogues around a substantive issue — in this case, the economy — we plan to demonstrate the generative power of group process even as we stimulate conversations that strengthen the Eugene community. We’re calling the project “Let’s Talk: Our New Economy,” and we’re holding the opening events early next month.
The people of Eugene are no strangers to economic experimentation. In good times and bad, they’ve come up with creative ways to interact with the greater economic system — interventions such as housing and business co-ops, community devolopment initiatives, and even an online gifting application. Clearly, there’s an abundance of fodder for good conversation. The Co-Intelligence Institute is partnering with some of these local innovators to present their ideas in a participatory, discussion-based format, using tools like World Cafe and Open Space Technology to ensure quality conversations and to encourage our attendees to self-organize around issues that they’re passionate about.
We’re adding a small twist, though — ordinarily, the process component of a well-facilitated dialogue is nearly invisible, since participants are (rightly!) caught up in the exciting, juicy content that they’re discussing. But since we’re increasing our community’s capability for dialogue, we’re trying to make the process as visible as possible. At the recent NCDD confab call, some of you heard about the Group Works pattern language deck (www.groupworksdeck.org). CII board president John Abbe and I had a hand in designing those cards, and we’ll be using them and other process awareness tools to help our participants learn the dynamics of healthy dialogue, even as that dialogue is happening all around them.
And finally, we’re also holding a series of workshops to directly build Eugene’s capacity for healthy dialogue and communication. Those workshops will cover Dynamic Facilitation (hosted by Rosa Zubizarreta), the Group Works deck, Nonviolent Communication, and more.
In keeping with the community-oriented nature of the project, Let’s Talk: Our New Economy is entirely crowd-funded. We’re online at www.indiegogo.com/LetsTalkOurNewEconomy — check it out!