October 23, 2008

Why Conversations Matter and My Conversations that Matters

Last month I was invited to participate in the Art of Hosting on Bowen Island. There can be a lot to say and even trying to write about it felt overwhelming (that's my explanation for why I haven't done it on here yet. haha). One harvest I took from the four day week on Bowen Island is a question I now carry around with me in my bag, in my books, in my mind. It's a question I pose to discover more knowledge or information. To become wiser in the matter.

After answering four questions (Chris, what were those questions again?), I came up with the following question:

What are the conversations that need to happen in my nation?

One of the observations I stumbled upon a few years ago was the extend the "want for change" within my nation went to. People will talk about the injustices, failures, or mishaps that exist either in their jobs as SN employees or community members. We also discussed change at the Art of Hosting on Bowen Island realizing that "change" is something that people only really want when there is a crisis for it, when the need comes face to face with us and we then demand change immediately. What about the change we didn't see coming, the change we each didn't decide on, the change that came and went and we didn't even realize things changed but they really did. It’s just that that kind of change packed with nuanced emotional charges is one kind that seems to stay at what I call the "Water-cooler chat" stage.

It remains in a place of with people on a somewhat informal level but very little rarely happens. I partly think it's because people don't care "enough" to do anything. I partly think it's fear based attitudes that keep us in situation, and that means both direct fear based attitudes from those afraid to lose power and fear based attitudes from those afraid to trailblazer and be a leader.

My understanding of this is because there is no dialogue. The idea of the oppressed dialoguing really came from reading Pedagogy of the Oppressed (which I'm thinking needs another read soon!) about the relationship between the revolutionary and the oppressed. If we dialogue with each other about these issues that are important to us, we can gather important pieces to create action and good work. There are some of the things we can gather from having important conversations and dialogue about important issues:

  • We can find connection to others who feel or think similarly as us. We then don't feel like the freak in the crowd for going against the grain and that our idea's and tasks don't feel so overwhelming gigantic. We can connect with others and garner hope that something can change.
  • We gain a better understanding of the other factors or information that play in some issues. Sometimes some people have limited understanding of all the things happening around some issues, for what ever reason, which tends to lead to no action or action one part that deeply upsets the other, and for what I believe is a just reason.

    One example I think of is SN General Meetings. It needs 100 people (When I think about, I believe it’s 10% of the voting membership which would be closer to 200 people) to be an official band meeting and get enough to pass motions and such. Either way, it still turns into a shouting match between the pissed off angry band members and a handful of elected politicians. Two sides with a line drawn down in between. For the past 3 or 4 years barely anyone comes to the general meetings and as a result have not been able to make quorum in that time. Thus, there has not been a general meeting in years. (What they are supposed to accomplish, I have no idea. Then again, barely anyone knows what our governance is supposed to accomplish.)

    One sentiment that has been coming out lately is the core group of members who continue to attend the general meetings and blame the rest of our society (the silent majority) for not attending. Strange they don't hold the system responsible, but that's another story I guess. What's revealing about this is that there is no dialogue between these core group of members who attend the general meeting, and the rest of our society who feel the general meeting accomplish nothing, even when we do get quorum.
  • No important action planning or just plain old action can happen with out the important dialogue first. If there is no awareness of an issue, and community change on that issue is either not likely to happen or be met with resistance. The Band Council knows this quite well which is why they don't let the people know about ANYTHING it does. Important conversations opens the group to gain a better understanding and awareness of where everyone else is coming from and become more aware of the issue at hand. From that place, we become more educated about the situations, issue, idea, proposal, or whatever, and can then make adequate or wise decisions about how to continue.

Important conversations matter and conversations take all kinds of forms. I enjoy acting and improv and always found forum theater and theater of the oppressed an excellent dialogue form between a community and the issue at hand. Media has always been a way to produce mass dialogue on a grand scale, and alternative media developed out of the need because corporate media became so ridden with not having the dialogue. Perhaps society has forgotten how to have conversations that matter.

This is where my thought came for my question, "What are the conversations that need to happen in my nation?". I keep this question like a scientist keeps a theory and just follow where it can go. Look for information to gather in my note book, contemplate on the thoughts that surround the question, and look inquisitively into what can happen when this question is answered.

I will share my findings with you soon, but I'm interesting to hear from you.

What conversations do you think need to happen in your nation?


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