Using Open Spaces Model to Discuss Consensus Dialogue Methods

Posted by & filed under Past Proposals.

Proposal:

To hold Two Open Spaces on Tuesday, July 31st and Thursday, August 2nd at Liberty Plaza to discuss OWS decision-making structures and the General Assembly. These loosely facilitated community discussions would then report back to #NYCGA on Sat August 4th.

Consensus Dialogue Methods

There are many different ways for consensus to grow within a community, only one of which is via massive gatherings of all stakeholders in an assembly seeking formal consensus on an issue or proposal.  Formal models for decision-making can bring a group that already has a baseline of consensus being formed to formal consensus, however, consensus-building prior to formal consensus is not well-served by rigid frameworks when the group is nowhere near the same page as each other and need to have a conversation before consensus can even begin.

Models that allow for more normal dialogue and human interaction in the discourse exist and can be utilized; one such is Open Spaces, a loosely-facilitated discussion space in which individuals cluster around the topics of immediate interest to them and discuss or work on whatever they want to.  While the General Assembly can and does host discussions and dialogues in addition to proposals seeking consensus, it does not do so while keeping the attention of all involved, and the barriers of process on dialogue can be tedious.  Another discussion model exists – ‘just talking’ – which is far from ideal in large groups.

Rather than seek consensus on the use of this sort of open space for dialogue as part of our consensus-building practices, I would like to host two Open Spaces on the subject of the current OWS decision-making structures and the General Assembly, for the repair of our structures.  Ideally, the use of open spaces for dialogue could replace our current proposal-crafting procedures, making sure there are more perspectives involved in proposals by making them a direct work output of Open Spaces discussions.  I believe we will learn best by doing, and with community support will host discussions at Liberty Plaza at 7pm on Tuesday, July 31stand Thursday, August 2nd.  The products of these discussions can then return to the General Assembly on Saturday, August 4th as proposals for consideration crafted by the community as a whole working together.

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