Six Conversations - November 2021- January 2022

Updated: Nov 12



The Possibility

Over the course of the October-November 2021 edition of the Now What?! gathering and gift economy, and beyond that into January of 2022, you are invited to participate in one or more of the Six Conversations based on the method developed by Peter Block. These conversations set the pattern for a "culture of restoration" to replace our colonized and patriarchal ways of being in community. When the full set of them is completed in earnest by a group, they will have modeled what it takes to do transformational work, i.e. to "bring forth a future distinct from the past." Indeed, each conversation is designed to BE an experience of that different future.


The heart of the conversation process happens in groups of three to five people. Each session is designed to offer value on its own. A collective harvesting process creates a wider field of learning and connection across all the various conversation groups. Here is a Jamboard with harvesting from sessions on November 2 and 5.


There is currently a schedule of Zoom calls through November 16th (see below) and that will be expanded soon. In addition, we have the capacity to facilitate additional sessions for groups of three or more that self-organize Zoom calls at other times, or that would like to meet in person with a facilitator supporting them via Zoom.


Current Call Schedule

  • Friday, Nov 5, 15:00 - 17:00 UTC (local times and RSVP here)

  • Friday, Nov 12, 16:00 - 18:00 UTC (local times and RSVP here)

  • Tuesday, Nov 16, 20:00-22:00 UTC (local times and RSVP here)


The Context and Method

At this moment in history, profound changes are happening all around us. In the midst of so much breakdown, communities are emerging everywhere to make this transformation more just, equitable, and regenerative, providing spaces where healing and thriving are possible. Many of these communities are place-based, while many others are gathered around possibilities that transcend a single location. As more and more of these communities emerge, they are learning how to support one another, extending the patterns of a Just Transition across the planet. The Six Conversations are a powerful tool for growing such communities, and the Now What?! community using them to develop its own culture of restoration and is interested in offering them as a gift to others.


In 2008, consultant and organizer Peter Block wrote Community: The Structure of Belonging to lay out six conversations that give communities to capacity to bring forth "a future distinct from the past" by cultivating "a culture of restoration." The conversations use fertile patterns of language that evoke possibility, gifts, shared ownership, authentic dissent, chosen accountability, and invitation as a way of being. These replace the all-too-familiar language patterns of patriarchy, control, bargaining and negotiating, blame, lip service, and a focus on deficiencies and on what's broken.


Here's one way that Block describes the purpose of the Six Conversations:

The transformation we seek occurs when these two conditions are created: when we produce deeper relatedness across boundaries, and when we create new conversations that focus on the gifts and capacities of others.
This allows us to focus on our connectedness rather than on our differences. We no longer need to take our identity from being right about “them” or from continuing to see “them” as individuals with needs or as people somehow less than us. It puts an end to our need to declare victory. The differences, instead of being problems to solve, become a source of vitality, a gift. In the language of community transformation, this is what it means to be accountable. At these moments, we become owners, with the free will capable of creating the world we want to inhabit. We become citizens.

Community: The Structure of Belonging, pp. 57-8



What Is Asked of You

In this method, something is always requested of those who say "yes" to the invitation and choose to show up. Rather than trying to sell people on the value of participating, we ask them to make a commitment. This means that the people who are in the room with us are there because they care about the outcome and are willing to share the responsibility for achieving it.


For these conversations during Now What?! we ask the following:

  • Show up with an open heart, mind, and will. While it is always fine to pass, expect to be asked questions that are personal, ambiguous, and evoke anxiety.

  • Show up on time and plan to stay for the full conversation in any given session. If you must leave early, let the group know so that your departure can be acknowledged.

  • Agree not to offer advice to others or to try to be "helpful." Give people the space to work things out for themselves. You can read more about why this is important here.

  • Follow these Communication Agreements for multicultural interactions (h/t the San Francisco Zen Center)



Questions?

Please email Ben Roberts if you have any questions or feedback. You can also connect with the Six Conversations Hosting Circle on the Now What?! Slack workspace via the #circles_six_conversations channel.

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