It’s good not to talk

Ran a workshop today on “Is Climate Science irrelevant?” (and what motivates people to get and stay involved in groups/movements.)

I have lots of opinions on these questions. There was a time I would have felt the right/duty to fill up a goodly proportion of the hour slot with those opinions, and then have a Q and A at the end. That time is known as “the Bad Old Days.” Because, frankly, as the young people say, “fuck that noise.”

Instead we did intros (folks got name badges), then some spectrums (sic) to find out who thinks what about some of the issues (spectra are an on-your-feet opinion poll. “If you think climate science is the crucial thing a movement should have a grip on, stand at this wall. If you think it’s basically irrelevant, stand at that wall, and grade yourself in between as to your opinion. Form your place on the spectrum before moving there, and don’t be influenced by where other people stand.” “If you think nuclear power….”
Invited participants to come up with spectrum questions too.)

Then got people into pairs where they didn’t know the other person. They were to do intros and then feedback on a topic. Very brief points from me, then split into different pairs, feedback and a little yacking from me, then split into yet different pairs, followed by general feedback and chat.

Instead of it being about half an hour in toto of me flapping my jaws, with a few random interjections from other people and some people saying nothing and meeting no-one, everyone participated, spent time engaging and sharing ideas. My yacking was maybe 15 to 20% including the explaining of spectrums etc.

There is, of course, a place for ego-foddering and sage on the stage. And that place is no less than a thousand miles from wherever I am.

About dwighttowers

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4 Responses to It’s good not to talk

  1. leavergirl says:

    how did the peeps like it?

    • dwighttowers says:

      Short answer – I can’t say objectively because I forgot to hand around feedback forms, but everyone seemed to be pretty happy – smiling, engaged etc.

      Longer answer (for another time) – I had a chat with the organiser afterwards about the resistance we all have to change, and how “audiences” are often reluctant to become active, to become participants. There’s a certain percentage that goes to these things because they think it’s their duty, or they do it as recreation (!) and want to be able just to sit there, be seen to be there, and sleep with their eyes open. Or they don’t know what they think and are terrified at having to voice an opinion to even one or two other people….

      I will ask the organiser of the event to circulate a brief questionnaire to those who came, anyway.


  2. leavergirl says:

    Yeah… I think vast numbers of people are terrified of voicing opinions, for one reason or another. But if they show up, it’s only fair to expect them to try, huh?

    I recently read Soil and Soul, and it was striking to see these villagers on Eigg cowering before the laird… asking for permission to meet, practically for permission to speak to each other! Then, as the situation evolves… they get more practice and find out the water is lovely and they can swim after all. 🙂

    • dwighttowers says:

      And this is exactly the lesson that the lairds – be they Old Etonians or Bolsheviks or whatever – are desperate to suppress! Far better that people are cows and cowed… The techniques for creating space and opportunity for people to take the first steps (and then the bigger ones) are easy to learn and basically free. And also not in the interests of the mediators of dissent/opinion. And so not taught, because a populace too confident and too skilled to be bored into obedience is the worst nightmare of any commissar…

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