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Open Space Technology, Domain Convergence #2

General Assembly 2007 Event 4026

A dozen people gathered to join the second Open Space Technology Domain Convergence. The facilitators asked the participants to "consider seven words." These seven words had been developed by an earlier Open Space Technology session, as a way of encapsulating the mission and purpose of the Unitarian Universalist Association. The seven words participants were asked to consider were "transform," "humility," "anti-racist," "honor," justice," "peace," and "equality."

The facilitators asked participants to spend two or three minutes silently reflecting on these seven words, to think about which of the seven words they would like to work on. Participants then chose to work on one of the words to create a "mission that you find compelling for our faith community." The mission statements would be limited to one sentence, consisting of no more than fifteen words.

After the time for silent reflection, participants broke into small groups. Initially, small groups formed around the words "transform," "humility," "honor," and "justice." One person decided to work from the word "courage," which was a word not on the original list.

The facilitators reminded participants that individuals could stay in one group for the full fifteen minutes allotted for developing the sentences, or they could choose to "flit" from group to group, to provide cross-pollination between groups.

The groups began working together. The group that began with the word "transform" referred to a ten-page collection of reports from earlier Open Space Technology sessions. A man from Montana pointed out a recommendation from an earlier small group session that read, "Transform lives to transform the world -- The mission of our faith community is to transform lives by increasing rational, emotional, and spiritual wholeness and thereby transform our community and our world."

Working from that earlier report, the group added the word "sustainable" before the word "world," dropped some extraneous words, and otherwise revised the sentence. A reporter discovered that there are no spectators, and everyone present in a group was required to contribute, even if only to point out grammatical inconsistencies. In the end, the group came up with mission statement that said, "Transform our lives by increasing our wholeness, and transform our communities to create a sustainable world."

Each group wrote their proposed mission statement on a large sheet of paper, and at the end of fifteen minutes the facilitators posted all the mission statements on a wall in the meeting room. "Have we earned chocolate yet?" asked one participant. One of the facilitators laughed, and brought out a small bag of chocolates. "Yes," she said. "Who wants a piece of chocolate?"

Then all participants were given three stick-on dots and asked to vote for the mission statements that they thought should be presented to the entire General Assembly. The facilitators said that participants could stick all three dots on one mission statement, thus giving that statement three votes, if they felt strongly about that mission statement; or they could place one dot on three different mission statements.

One by one, participants got up and voted for the mission statements. In the end, the three mission statements that got the most votes were, in rank order:

"Create a culture of peace and justice to support and sustain the web of life."

"Transforming the world through courageous love, cooperative action, and humble power."

"Empowering us to act courageously, transforming the world into a just, peaceful, non-violent, non-oppressive community."

Those were the three statements chosen by this Open Space Domain Convergence to be presented to the entire General Assembly for consideration as new mission statements for Unitarian Universalism.

Reported by Dan Harper; edited by Pat Emery.

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

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Last updated on Thursday, September 8, 2011.

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