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Notes on a Telephone Conversation: OS World and Worldwide OSonOS October 29, 2007

Participants: Thomas Herrmann (Facilitator); Karen Davis; Gail West; Brian Bainbridge; Brendan McKeague?; Diane Gibeault; John Engle; Eva Svensson, Jo Toepfer; Peggy Holman; Gerard Muller; Mark Pixley, Lisa Heft Larry Peterson (Note-taker).

Summary: Thomas facilitated the session asking us to draw a circle and add names around the circle both to indicate who is involved and establish the circle for talking. We began with brief personal introductions and then proceeded with the key agenda items: Access Queen update, WOSonOS2008 2008 update, WOSonOS2008 beyond 2008 and the first French OSonOS.

Access Queen Update: Lisa Heft had prepared a description of the role and accountability of the Access Queen which was only e-mailed to participants as we were meeting. (It is included as an appendix to these notes.) She describes this as a personal initiative to support the development of Open Space and inspired by others who had pledged commitment to do similar things. She collects and distributes limited financial resources from “givers” to “askers” based on personal donations or funds raised through silent auctions at WOSonOS2008 events. She is not accountable to OSI USA for the funds or their distribution although they have supported her efforts and channeled funds to her. She also offers advice and encouragement to “askers” who are seeking assistance both in how to find their own resources and in how to get to events. “Askers” can be anyone who wants assistance; there are no economic or other criteria. The money she raises does not pay for transport or housing, but is usually for pocket money at events. She also offers services to the host teams that are developing WOSonOS2008 events and provides materials she has collected.

Peggy Holman clarified that the US OSI can receive charitable donations for the Access Queen. It also provides funds to support participation at OS events separately from its own resources. OSI Canada and OSI Australia-New Zealand do this as well as Michael Pannwitz from the surplus generated from the OS World Map site.

Peggy asked Lisa if she was looking for help with the Access Queen role. She replied that anyone who wanted to help her would be “great” but that she also saw advantages to a variety of ways to support participant at events blossoming throughout the OS community.

WOSonOS2008 2008: San Francisco

Lisa Heft is also coordinating the planning for the next WOSonOS2008 in San Francisco in July 2008. She reported that the locations have been determined, with one space for daytime activity and another for evenings. She is also offering one of her OS Learning Workshops for two days before the event. She is looking for financial sponsorship, so if people know of companies that might be interested then contact her. Harrison will be launching the 3rd Edition of the User’s Guide at an author evening on Tuesday night. Some comments from the discussion were as follows: • Visa applications to the US may be difficult, so it would be good to notify those coming who need visas of this possibility. Lisa has a visa invitation letter crafted -- the time frame to receive invitation letters and secure visa appointments far enough in advance has been a problem for some lately. • The WOSonOS2008 in Monterrey also had a pre-event OS Learning Workshop. Some chose not to come to that workshop, because of the extra cost and time, and then tried to get their “training” during the OSonOS. It was frustrating for some. Lisa charges people whatever they can pay for the workshop - plus she will also offer herself as a point-person for questions from new learners during the WOSonOS2008 and believes this will deal with that issue. • Given past experience, it is important for Lisa to be clear about the invitations to the two events so that local people do not get confused. The group agreed that the intention for the WOSonOS2008 is to invite people who have experienced OS, so that they can reflect together on their experience, beyond the “how to”.

Future OSonOS Events:

• Gayle stated that Taipei will have a good representation of participants in San Francisco to make their invitation to the 2009 event clear. • Karen Davis told the group of the 2010 OD Summit being planning for Hungary. The planning group wants to connect to the Worldwide Open Space community along with all other groups they see as being involved in OD. It was agreed that for WOSonOS2008 to go there at that time, then a local group of Hungarian OS practitioners would need to do the inviting. Gerard stated he would make sure the connection to OS facilitators in Hungary is made. • Jo made it clear that Berlin is still proposing that it be the site for the 2010 WOSonOS2008

French Open Space on Open Space

Diane reported on the successful OSonOS in French held in Quebec, Canada. Participants stated their great pleasure at expressing their experience with OS in their first language. She expressed the groups thanks to OSI USA, OSI Canada for financial support and to Michael and the World Map for offering travel support for people from Haiti. However, visa problems prevented their attendance. The initiative to support the French speaking OS community continues and further meetings are planned. It is currently clarifying its form within the context of OSI Canada.

The following were the contacts invited. Those with an * were able to join this call.

1. Australia OSI: Brian S Bainbridge*

   Brendan McKeague?*  
2. Canada OSI: Diane Gibeault, *
                           Larry Peterson *
3. USA OSI: Peggy Holman *,
                          Karen Davis *
4. Germany: Michael M Pannwitz
                        Jo Toepfer *
5. Haiti: Fremy Cesar,
                        John Engle *
6. Sweden: Thomas Herrmann, *
                        Eva P Svensso*n  
7. Denmark: Gerard Mueller* 8. Israel: Tova Averbuch 9. Estonia: Mikk Sarv 10. UK: Kerry Napuk
                       Lin Grist  
11. Russia: Galina Tsarkova 12. Taiwan: Gail West*
                      Laura Hsu 
13. Ukraine:
                     Yana Demenko   
                     Bohdan Maslych 
14. Access Queen: Lisa Heft * 15. China: Mark Pixley* 16. France: Philippe Slioussarenko

A Description of the Access Queen Project – from Lisa Heft

Access Queen is a little project I have that has been happening since 2001. It was inspired by our own Michael Pannwitz, the late and lovely Laurel Doersam and others who pledged personal commitment – and resources – at the 2000 WOSonOS2008 (Berlin) to help individuals with lesser resources and from faraway countries get to a future year’s WOSonOS2008. At the 2001 WOSonOS2008 (Vancouver) Access Queen was born. This was my commitment to help “Askers” be brave enough to ask our community to share what they have, and to help “Givers” know about opportunities to be generous. Like someone who walks across a village calling out the evening’s news - I share the news of who has and who needs to help raise awareness of how we can help each other. This is *not* a bank of money – rather it is a resource pool, if you will, of many kinds of resources – including time, investigation, sharing of housing and transport, offering friendship in a new land to new travelers, and more. And it is a sort of coaching and support effort to help people remember that they are incredible and worthy and important to our community. The Access Queen project includes some visible and invisible (to the greater community) activities.

A point of clarification – though I am currently on the Board of Directors of the Open Space Institute of the US (OSI-US) – Access Queen is not a project of that Institute. They do not make the decisions where Access Queen resources go (I make the decisions and disbursements) and they do not influence my decisions in any way. Separately, the OSI-US annually invites people on the OSLIST to write requests for funding for some part of their needs to get to WOSonOS2008 each year – OSI-US receives these requests and decides about selection and disbursement of those particular funds in a way that is separate from me.

It is an important element in my own efforts (and for OSI-US and perhaps your own Institutes) to be sure the Askers are raising resources on their own –and- are applying to multiple sources to cover different parts of their resource needs, rather than seeking one single source to provide total funding or support.

As a service to “Askers” -

o I send messages to the OSLIST raising excitement about the upcoming WOSonOS2008 and raising awareness about some people needing resources and some people offering resources.

o I correspond with ‘Askers’ from the moment they contact me to the moment we meet at the WOSonOS2008 (if I am there) - and throughout the WOSonOS2008 I offer answers to their questions about the process (if they are new to learning about OS), connection and a welcoming to the community for those Askers who are new to OS or visiting a new land.

o I help Askers identify their needs (housing? help on the registration fee? visa invitation letter? help writing text for their request for funding to some organization or institution?) and support them in having the courage to ask (being brave and believing in themselves and how much we welcome them, to ask OSLIST for a little (specific) help).

o I share on the OSLIST how Givers might think about what their resources are and how to share them; I also share a list of ways that Askers and Givers can raise little funds throughout the year from their communities and friends or from creative projects in their workplaces.

o At each year’s WOSonOS2008 (whether I am there or not) I set up (or send materials for) a Global Village Marketplace and, if appropriate, a Silent Auction. Global Village Marketplace: some tables where participants bring art, food or other great things from their countries and communities to sell these to each other during the WOSonOS2008 event – either to raise money for their own travel expenses or to donate to the Access Queen project for *next* year’s Askers. The Silent Auction: a table where items contributed by participants raise money (to the highest bidder at the end of the WOSonOS2008) for the next year’s Access Queen project.

o Askers do not have to be people defined as lower income by us (for example this is not restricted to only helping people in developing and emergent nations, or only youth, or only people new to the OS community) - Askers can come from ‘fat’ countries as well as countries with less strong currencies. There is no judgment or criteria for screening or offering - it is simply any individual who needs just a little help to make it to the WOSonOS2008 - who has the passion and responsibility to come to a WOSonOS2008 and who can believe in themselves and this community - that is the criteria.

As a service for each year’s Host Team (and therefore to Askers):

o As soon as each next year’s Host city is announced, I congratulate the Host Team and correspond with them, first sending them a document which I began in 2002 – tips, lessons learned and an overview of things to know from past years’ Host Teams (after each WOSonOS2008 I contact and collect the newest team’s tips and reflections and add them to this growing document – message from past hosts to next hosts). This letter talks about lessons learned for registration, outreach, design, accommodation, Access Queen and more.

o There have been some years where I have acted as a member of the Host Team – sort of a silent partner – to help them with feedback, ideas about helping Askers, sharing about traditions and more. This is very much initiated and driven by each Host Team – I offer this but it is not something that all Host Teams identify as their need so it depends each year what this level of interaction and task happens. For example for the 2002 WOSonOS2008 (Goa, India) I was the Registrar for all international delegates, in addition to doing Access Queen general tasks. For this and some other WOSonOSs? I have shared templates for visa invitation letters, notes-taker forms, translations of principles and law from the international glossary, and more. For most WOSonOSs? I receive emails from the Host team connecting me to Askers so together we can help in some way if possible.

o I also correspond with Host Teams early on about the ways to include and provide for Askers (invite registrants to offer a room share for an Asker, find local home stays and so on). In some years if the Host Team and I have a particular agreement to share information about Askers in the registration and support process, we identify a ‘secret Askers’ discount’ which is an at-cost registration price – then I coach each Asker to find out how much they can contribute. Often they can contribute the full price of that secret lower amount, and through previous arrangement with the Registrar they register as an ‘Asker’ paying that ‘Access Queen Discount’ themselves. Other times they pay what they can and if I have money in the Access Queen project that year I can sometimes pay the difference to make up that special low Access Queen registration discount for them. Several of you connected to other Institutes and the World Map also have in past directly and separately contacted the Host Teams to offer bits of financial support to help Askers with money towards registration, for example. Some Institutes give me a bit of funding for doing this as well.

o This year, as I am the coordinator of the Host Team for the 2008 WOSonOS2008 in San Francisco, I am also creating as I go a worksheet that can help each next Host Team see the specific elements of what is involved in hosting (invitation, registration, design, access, food, documentation – everything I can think of).

When I receive money, I get it in several ways:

Individuals send me money, some OS Institutes send me money or inform me that they will bring a certain amount to the WOSonOS2008 for me to use for Askers, money is raised each year through the Global Village Marketplace and Silent Auction mentioned above. I do not have legal status as an NGO - this is just money I put in my own account with very detailed records to track it. Point of clarification: It is not a huge amount of money – remember: Access Queen project is about resources of many kinds. The total amount for any year may be a few hundred dollars US up to (some years) about $1,000 US. The bulk of the resources are the actions I take and the time I spend plus the actions and time of others who are also helping. Plus registered participants’ extra efforts such as buying a room for two and offering to share with an Asker.

Some people wishing to donate money who a) need a tax write-off [‘official’ receipt of their donation to a charitable institution -- mostly for US folks] -- have been able to do so during the last several years because OSI-US has generously offered to administrate collection of these few particular donations through their organization and website. Again, Access Queen is separate from OSI-US – it is happily and simply benefiting from the use of this service (10% of any donations sent through OSI-US to Access Queen go to OSI-US - to pay for administration of this service). Other funds come in through cash, check or PayPal? directly to me.

With the money I raise:

I try to use it in little tiny ways for the most people possible. For example – I do not pay for transport or housing. As described above, a lot of my work is about coaching and encouraging and helping people and host teams also identify resources to share. So what typically will happen is that – though I may have some money - I will use all the other options for resource-creating and sharing for a WOSonOS2008. Then for the actual event I may take the several hundred dollars I may have and divide it up equally among several Askers who are of lower income levels - so they will have pocket money during the event (for going out to eat with the others in a social dinner, for buying a book as others may). I find that pocket money is a hidden need not covered by other sources. So: each year it is typical for me to empty out the ‘fund’ to zero in this way. Each year after the WOSonOS2008 the fund starts again with whatever money was raised at that WOSonOS2008 through Global Village Marketplace, Silent Auction and whatever money the Host Team wishes to send to me after they pay their bills post-event.

Other Access Queen efforts, and...the future?

There have been other Access Queen efforts made by individual Institutes, for example as they raise money at their events to donate to the project -or- to send one of their countrypersons to a WOSonOS2008.

If this project expanded, what would it look like? My interest is that it maintain the values of person-to-person connection, welcoming and invitation, inviting everyone to play the part they can up to their individual abilities (little contributions of time, rooms or small amounts of money add up to great, tangible assistance for people), and awareness-raising for what really is invitation, what really is access, and what makes it possible for anyone with passion and responsibility to be able to join us - if they do not have our (people who can get to some of these events periodically) resources, mobility or abilities. This is, I feel, what invites true diversity to our face-to-face events - working really hard to help those not like us come and enrich us with their presence, wisdom and experience. I would also - even if it expands - like the Access Queen Project to maintain the focus on little ways to help the most possible people each time (for example this pocket money idea) - though there may in its expansion be larger ways as well. So both are possible together but I do not want to erase this ‘little bits’ element in the expansion.

I am only one person and this is only one project. It is possible that a parallel process might be started by some who can seek out funding from diverse sources, raise funding, hold a place for these moneys. Right now the money is in my personal account and that is not ideal (when the tax collectors come I will have detailed notes to show but again, I am not an NGO with tax-free status). I would not like to create a huge infrastructure for decision-making, ideally. It works and is sustainable because it is so very simple. Although it does depend (in its current state) mostly on me and my energies and efforts. The behind-the-scenes Access Queen efforts take many of my person hours. Sometimes I feel well and up to this, sometimes I wish there were others to take on these tasks and roles.

I am open to possibilities, support, and the expansion of Access Queen into an Access Queen team. And I am open to things or ways of doing this that are very different than I might imagine. Thanks to all of you who have supported this project and my efforts over the years...