Opening up business meetings to other topics for discussion
From: Rob Sandelin (
Date: Thu, 3 May 2007 22:20:22 -0700 (PDT)
 I highly recommend using an open space process for allowing conversations
to happen around topics of interest. If you give this process about half an
hour it works best.  Simple to do, here is one way, modify to meet your

Materials needed, paper, markers, tape

1. Cut 8 1/2 paper into half sheets ahead of the process.
2. Call for topics. Anybody can propose any topic they want to talk about.
They get a half sheet and write the topic in big letters so people can read
3. After the topics have been fleshed out, have the topic initiators stand
up and give a brief description of what they want to cover.
4. After the introductions you might want to merge similar topics together.
5. Assign each topic a space in the room, for example the dog run
conversation will meet in the corner by the bathroom, the guns and tattoos
conversation will happen in the basement utility room, etc.   Have the
initatitor tape the half sheet somewhere visible near where the group is
meeting so wanderers can know which group it is without having to interrupt
and ask.
6. Turn them loose with these guidelines:

1. Whoever shows up at your conversation are the right people.
2. You are free to move from topic to topic, if the conversation does not
suit you, move on to a different one or take a break.
3. If nobody shows up at your topic at this time, you can join another

This process can work wonders to bring out conversations that need to
happen. It also gives ownership to the meeting participants. Your interest
in having a conversation about intergenerational integration would attract
those who are interested, and from there you can move into whatever action
items, further follow-up, or whatever your group does.

Rob Sandelin
Sharingwood Cohousing
Snohomish County, WA

-----Original Message-----
From: Tree Bressen [mailto:tree [at]] 
Sent: Thursday, May 03, 2007 6:00 PM
To: Becky [at]; Cohousing-L
Subject: Re: [C-L]_ Inter-generational Integration efforts

Hi Becky,

>We need to communicate.  We are having a hard time finding a good way 
>to do that.  Our meetings have a distinctly businesslike feel, so we 
>are having difficulty figuring out how a discussion such as this could 
>fit into our typical meeting structure.

Sounds like this issue is pointing to a need in your community to have some
group conversations with a less businessy tone.  If you can't integrate that
need into your regular meetings, then i suggest you consider holding other
sessions, variously known as "distilleries," "sharing circles," and so on at
many communities.




Tree Bressen
1680 Walnut St.
Eugene, OR 97403
(541) 484-1156
tree [at]

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