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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Dialogue Group Changing Style

The San Rafael group is in the act of changing their style.

We've been a David Bohm group without control of who talks, how long they talk and whatever they want to talk about. Subjects have previously been improvised, and have changed at the whim of the talker.

It has come to the attention of the group that when there is no facility for providing for people to talk who aren't competitive or who are willing to "butt in" to have their say, those more retiring people and the valuable things they have to contribute are circumstantially excluded.

The owners of the Open Secret Bookstore in San Rafael have been the hosts of the time and place for about a decade now, and they have provided this wonderful space for free and advertised it on their newsletter of events. At this time, nobody who works at the bookstore attends Dialogue. So, this group does not have an expressed leader or a particular facilitator who is responsible for its existence, but a person does sends out an email reminder of the meeting once the group began to meet monthly.

Voting with your feet has always been an option in this group, because anyone may join or leave at any time. When new members have joined in the past, they have talked quite a bit at first. Evidently it's an usual experience in our culture to be listened to by a group. Newbies usually get much quieter after they have had the time to say what they want. It's always been a completely open group, and has dwindled to ten dedicated members or so from a group of thirty many years ago.

A number of speculations for why new people who attend do not come back has been put forth. Perhaps people who do not have a clue what the implied customs or rules hang back for some social reason. Or perhaps those people who attend who do not return are not competitive, have a different timing of what feels comfortable jumping in and talking, or are unfamiliar with public speaking skills or are intimidated in some way.

This newest experiment was supposedly designed for how to get the people who talk most of the time to allow the other people who don't speak up to do so. Exactly how to bring about this objective is what is in question right now for this group.

Our concensus rules so far are no hitting and no pissing on the floor. ;D

Many people in the group feel they have done the "no agenda, no leader" thing, and now they want to experiment with having a topic from the beginning that they stick to and explore. Wanting to have a topic doesn't seem to be in question and has been working pretty well.

There is no alternative Dialogue group in the area that we know about. We meet once a month. Our attempts to have people meet every two weeks at another location was successful for a short time, but then petered out from lack of interest.

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