Another brainstorm / questioning on what the San Diego Ishmael group could become.
Many questions and some daydreams about the future of our small meetings.
[ from a list of questions ]:
- VISION: I've got into my grand daydream mode again about what this group could become. But I appreciate Laura's approach where in 5 minutes at the end of the last meeting she/ (& we) came up with something more feasible than I had imagined. So, for what it's worth:
Things to think about:
- What could or should our vision for growth of the group be? This may affect our planning now. If we grow do we see ourselves having one massive meeting or emphasizing smaller, local meetings. Or frequent local and less frequent regional meetings?
- Do you/we think the general openspace philosophy (meeting structure comes from what is suggested at the day of the meeting) should be a clear part of what we tell people we are?
- What should our group's relationship with the Ishmael and other Quinn books be? Can we have both a critical and appreciative view?
- I think the power of our group comes from its potential to foster the creation of new "patterns for living" or a new culture. To that end we could consider:
- What does US Culture do well that we do not want to compete with in what we provide as a group?
- Where does it fail, and how can we fill that gap?
- How much can our group provide services that a church provides?
- Why might someone who is also a member of a church community be interested in an Ishmael community?
- What benefits do we most want?
In a real way, culture in the US is corporate because corporations and large organizations can provide income and a place where people spend much of their time. Organizations that enable culturally different behavior are those that provide for their members (the 12 tribes, Hasidic Jewish Communities, the Surf Industry, or to use a Quinn example: The Circus or Le Cirque du Soleil).
For example, the lot of us who have not achieved financial success might be able to learn a lot from Brad, who alone among us seems able to fund Earthfair activities. Can we as a group carve out an economic niche and help our members fill it?
If not a business-type entity, could we become a cultural entity like a church or a school?
I imagine a vast network of openspace ishmael inspired meetings. . . which brings us to:
If we were to grow, what techniques might we need to teach others about leading organizing and facilitating meetings that people will value?
I ask you to consider yourself as Mothers and Fathers of a culture. . . what patterns in your current way of life do you want to change? What do you want to keep? If you were training the next generation how would you do it? What would the content of the training be?
And again, what is valuable about the way things are now?
[ To help you think as Mothers and Fathers of culture, and to see the impact visions can have, and to better understand some of the references I have made in past meetings, I encourage you to look at the following:
- My paper on Dickinson, Whitman, and Possibility, and Within that paper:
- Stephen Covey on growth toward Godhood
- Whitman on the poet
- Keroac on the hippies
- Dickinson on possibility ]
To the extent we are successful at creating a meaningful, valuable, helpful culture in our small group, that should give us an idea if we can be successful in a larger way.
If we do address some basic cultural services our group can provide (a foundation for love, for food, for inquiry, for sustenance), what barriers are there to success in these areas?
In my last vision document, I commented on the numbers in this group who are out there looking for love. The traditional approach is to seek individual success and a mate/lover who fits you well.
The approach I suggest here is that we focus on creating the kind of community that will draw and raise and teach and nurture the kind of people we will want to love. And that will help us to be those kind of people.
Perhaps We are different from the church communities (including the Unitarian Universalists and the Humanists) in that we offer inquiry, not lectures.
But maybe we're not that different?
To what extent can we base what we do on this one particular network that came from this one particular book?
What will this look like in 100 years?
What has happened in other cities with the Ishmael groups there?
What would happen if we were in Portland, Oregon or on an Ecovillage, where the Eco-mindset is all around us. Would what we're doing here still have relevance and value?
What do you want to get out of this? Is it enough having a small group where you meet and talk for a while, for perhaps 5 meetings out of a year, before you move on to the next stage in your life in another city (or farm), and perhaps another Ishmael group?
What if there never was an Ishmael book? Could what we're doing form around other things that are happening or have happened?
Finally, when people walk up to us at earthfair after seeing a sign that says something like, "Wanted: people with an earnest desire to save the world," what will we say to them? What will we tell them we do? Will we say we can help them? How? Can we agree on one thing that unifies us, in spite of other apparent differences? Dissatisfaction?
And, because this is coming up for me right now: how can we become active culture creators, not just receptors and repeators, in the other important relationships in our lives?
Can we adopt a vision of constant change and improvement and of methods that facilitate evolution and adaptation?
Is now the age where humans, if not bombed by fundamentalism, create their culture more actively, consciously, and carefully than ever before?
If so, we need a certain freedom from fear and base survival concerns. Can our group help provide that--or do we rely on the support structure of the US Civilization? What proportion defense/offense?
Why are there at least two (three?) anthro majors in our group? Can they tell us anything? Does their focus have to do with Quinn?