The Mystery of Open Space

Interesting conversation going on at on The Mystery of Open Space. From Christina Jordan, an Ashoka Fellow in Uganda:

So inspired am I by open space, actually, that I’m trying to develop it as a cultural ideal at Life in Africa. I’d like to see the physical WE Centers operate more or less in a permanent state of open space, where members reserve spaces to do their thing and invite others to learn or help.

The tricky part of developing the physical Life in Africa space so far has been to have a hook that effectively brings people to the space and keeps them coming back. In practice, offering part-time, temporary income generating activities in craft-making is the glue that’s worked best. Once they are there making jungle beads or solidarity bracelets (which are activities they can do while talking or listening) they decide where to do that work at the Center according to the other activities (english lessons, loan planning discussions, health presentations) that are scheduled throughout the day.

My hope is that members will eventually will feel able to use the LiA space to work freely with likeminded members to achieve whatever they want to achieve. Right now, they are learning alot from each other informally, but most are still waiting for instructions at every turn with regard to implementing activities. I think within another 6 months or so they will have had enough leadership experience as a community to start initiating more and more small project & group work ideas on their own.

Very interesting how people have to be taught self-organization, as if they don’t already know how to do it! Open space seems to do that teaching without even trying.