Hosting Conversations about Questions that Matter
I really am enjoying this conversation, and these are very important questions for us no matter where we are when we are engaging conversations.
Two short examples of why this line of questioning is important from my work in community transformation with communities in poverty worldwide:
1) my first lesson in choosing the right question: I asked a group of women in El Salvador in the mid 80's to name their dreams for the future, what were their hopes? Lesson: when people are concerned about what they will feed their children today, or IF they will eat today...there is no thinking of "tomorrow" much LESS hope for some undefined future...future? who has time for that. I think that speaks to Amy's reminder of context.
2) In Niger, working with communities (again) to define their future, it took a colleague 4 months to find the RIGHT word in the local language to communicate the concept of community engagement. So, yes, the importance of context AND the nuances of language (I think someone here had a post related to this in a mental health setting).
Then lastly, just a plug for a fascinating is somewhat provocative book: The Tyranny of Participation (I think I have that title right) which also speaks to Chris's concern: just because you have people together doesn't mean that others have been left out, and thus asks the question, what does participation really mean?
What I really appreciate about Chris's concern is just that: his attention and concern that all of us be careful to ask ourselves, who's missing from our tables?
Those are appropriate and helpful examples, Susan. I suppose my concern is more interested in hearing from those who may very well be present but not truly included. Sometimes merely asking those who have not spoken up can be incredibly educating. Those in the back row, over in the shadows, off to the side, standing in the doorway. . .may have the wisdom everyone really needs, whether we admit it or not.
I think this attentiveness and awareness are a good way to constantly check just how "real" and "present" (and even relevant) the gathering really is.
Thanks everyone for the comments. I raise my mug of Darjeeling to you.