First Open Space held by mainland Chinese organization

Thanks (and congrats!) to Joern Geisselmann, Adviser for Public Participation & Capacity Building at Shining Stone Community Action, for this report from mainland China:

On May 15th Shining Stone Community Action (SSCA), a Beijing-based NGO promoting participatory urban governance, conducted what was perhaps the first Open Space event organized and facilitated by a mainland Chinese organization entirely on its own. SSCA decided to include a one-day Open Space into one of its training courses on participatory community development following a training on the Open Space methodology in April 2007 by Stiftung Mitarbeit, a German foundation dedicated to the promotion of public participation, and CANGO (China Association for NGO Cooperation).

The theme of the event was “Public Participation in Community Development”. Participants included community workers, NGO representatives, and residents. Since Open Space is so different from typical Chinese meetings that tend to be very formal and hampered by hierarchies we were worried at first how participants would respond to the unusual latitude given to them. However, this concern vanished quickly as participants began taking the initiative proposing topics they wanted to discuss. The enthusiasm and resourcefulness of participants continued to astonish us throughout the event and Open Space turned out to be the highlight of the 3-day training. In fact, about a week later a participant informed us that they had enjoyed Open Space so much that they had already conducted a community meeting using some of the Open Space elements.

For more information, please contact Ms. Song Qinghua, Director of Shining Stone Community Action.