Then they gave us the rules.
Then, they asked the first question again and had us sit and reflect. Then the fun started!
Basically, anyone who had an idea for a topic, went to the center tables, picked up a piece of paper that had a symbol and number (representing one of the circles) and a session time (either 2 or 3 p.m.) and wrote their topic name on the paper.
Then this happened: people sat together and discussed the topics. Some groups were big, some groups were small. Each group appointed a note taker and these notebooks will be transcribed and put into a Wiki so that the group can look at them and add to them and have future conversations about them.
Honestly, I was more fascinated by the process of Open Space (this is why I was the crazy picture lady) than I was about the actual topics being discussed–although those were awesome. I spent about 15 minutes talking to the Open Space coordinator, Lisa, who took my information and plans to send me more stuff about Open Space. I circled the room a couple of times, overhearing conversations.
The theory behind Open Space is that the collective wisdom of the group is greater than the wisdom of the individual. There is no leader. There is no facilitator (except to get it started). There is no wrong topic. There is no one intervening in conversations or stopping discussions and arguments. There is only discussion that can later lead to solid plans.
To me, it just felt very right. Like something churches need to do. I was surprised by how much I liked the concept and I’m excited to learn more about it and think more about how I can use it.