ASP’s Great Wisdom Gathering in Henley-on-Thames was attended by people from Sussex to Dorset. The rules of Open Space state very clearly that ‘whoever comes are the right people’, and so it was. Of the 17 due to attend, 12 made it, so there was more great wisdom than great numbers. Certainly the quality of the conversations was very good, and the topics covered wide-ranging. There was a theme around joining things up, system models and collaboration, another about personal support, and a third about our relationships with nature.

The AGM turned out to be a great demonstration about the way ASP works as a learning organisation modeled as far as possible on ‘the way nature works‘. The form is self-evidently an association of people concerned about practical and applied sustainability. The clearly stated activities are all about supporting, challenging and connecting people on that journey in learning. The directors went on to explain how they seek to keep everything ASP does as simple, as low cost, and as high impact as possible, and that as in nature, they remain constantly open, adaptive and emergent.

Someone proposed imposing a conceptual model on ASP as a way of showing it’s great power as a ‘the solution’ for change. What happened next was a joy to be part of. There was a swiftly held, but deeply reflective debate in which everybody took part, surprising those who expected the directors to simply make a ruling. The group noted the shortfalls of a ‘yes/no’ voting system, explored more appropriate options, and ultimately rejected the proposal with supportive advice about other ways to achieve similar ends. As a test of ASP’s modus operandi, it was highly effective. The proposer felt heard, valued, supported and understood – the organisation maintained its integrity in the face of a challenge to its principle of continuing openness.

We reminded everyone there’s an open invitation from ASP for associates to become Directors. Two people expressed an interest which the current Directors will explore with them in the coming months.

All in, it was a good day with about 1/3 of those present experiencing an Open Space meeting for the first time. If you were considering coming, but couldn’t make it, here’s what they had to say about it:

“I loved the discussions with interesting people going any direction”,

“It was a very easy flowing day with no agenda or objective – very refreshing for a lawyer!”;

“I loved the increasing openness, awareness, connection and change/options of the event”;

“The human discursiveness and feeling [was good]”, and

“I loved the openness and Oneness“.

We hope to see you next time!

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