GA 2008: The re-found Open Space opportunity re-lost

I was very hopeful and encouraged that last year’s Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly (UUA GA) tried a version of an Unconference process within the main program, but was worried that its peculiar adaptations and schedule conflicts — plus its novelty to seasoned GA participants — would doom it.

Reviews from people on the ground were not glowing. (See the comments.)

And doomed it is. From the “Report to the Board on the September 2007 General Assembly and Mission of the
Association Partnership (GAMAP) and General Assembly Planning Committee (GAPC) Meetings” (PDF link) to the UUA Board of Trustees meeting later this month

Open Space at the 2007 GA received mixed reviews from both the GA feedback session and post-GA evaluations. Instead of repeating Open Space,  GA 2008 will include facilitated small group discussions among lay and professional congregation leaders to inform the Board of Trustees’ ends (goals) development for our Association of Congregations. These discussions are scheduled during a three-hour period on Thursday afternoon. Some programming scheduled for other times will be offered to those not attending the discussions.

From open-ended to facilitated  in one year. Of course, with the jam-packed schedule and alternate programming, I bet these sessions will be pretty lightly attended anyway. What a shame and a lost opportunity.

2 Replies to “GA 2008: The re-found Open Space opportunity re-lost”

  1. More intriguing is the comment that “Suggestions for doing GA
    differently are emerging from multiple sources” (who? when? how?) further down in the same document.

  2. I’m not sure you can mix UnConference into an existing conference with a very strong programmed conference bias. You can’t cram Open Space Technology into three or four hour-long slots in a programmed conference, because that undermines much of what Open Space is supposed to accomplish. Also, many (most?) of the people who go to GA go because they’ve already been or have heard a lot about it, and they like the existing heavyily-programmed model — while those of us who tend to be attracted to the UnConference model are more likely to go to, e.g., UU summer conferences.

    Having said all that, I’ll bet that a little more effort could ahve established some kind of UnConference model, over the course of two or three years. So yeah, it is a shame, and a lost opportunity, and a little depressing for those of us who like the UnConference model….

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