Uncomfortable Transparency

“If i am telling the truth, the reason the Mockupy workshop is not happening is i have a fight with my lover.  So instead of preparing the workshop together we were struggling”  I told the assembled 40 participants at this mornings Communities Conference.

“And if guilt and blame are important to you, the struggle was all my fault.”

Anja and Lux (ex-conf intern)

And thus began the mini-open space technology session we did today.  Since Mockupy was cancelled, i made three other offerings.

1) Funology

2) Modesty is Dangerous

3) Transparency Tools

I described each of these possible workshops to this enthusiastic crowd and said they could vote 2 times for one option and the 1 time for their next choice and i would count all the votes.  It appears all the participants are from Florida for the number of votes exceed the number of participants.

I was surprised the group choose transparency tools, until we stated doing them.  We did a couple of go rounds of “If you really knew me ….” And people offered very deep stuff and i am a number of people got very emotional in just a couple of minutes.

And it proves the these of the transparency techniques, which is that people want to be sharing this deep personal information, even if the environment is not completely safe (as this large heterogeneous workshop certainly was not safe).  Sexual assault traumas and recoveries, lives in crisis or flux or quinks stories, fears of parenthood and joys of prospective parenthood all came out.   We experimented with Withholds, “If you really knew me …” and the EBT tools which we have been using in my Twin Oaks transparency groups.  People got emotional, said daring things to each other and i got choked up several times.  Several participants said that this was the most important material of the event, which was flattering and affirming.

We had 188 registrations for this years communities conference – more than any year in the last decade.

Cover Girl pic of Janel – The conference principal organizer

Sadly, Janel fell ill on the last day of the event which she organized and had to be rushed to the urgent care room this morning missing the last day of the event.

She did an amazing job of making this event happen, and was very graceful letting me off the hook for a myriad of room assigning and workshop logistics mistakes that i made.

i hope she is okay.  [Update: she says she is better – see the comments]

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About paxus

a funologist, memeticist and revolutionary. Can be found in the vanity bin of Wikipedia and in locations of imminent calamity. buckle up, there is going to be some rough sledding.

10 responses to “Uncomfortable Transparency”

  1. Vermin F. Cockwolf says :

    Healing thoughts to Janell and love to you.

  2. Janel Healy says :

    Wow, Pax-

    It sounds like today went amazingly. I’m sorry I missed it (I am feeling better now). I love that someone told you it was the most powerful and important material of the event. I doubt anyone would have said that about Mockupy. So it all worked out. Monday seems like a good day to have transparency space in the future because there are less people around slash everyone’s gotten used to hanging around each other all weekend.

    It’s been such a pleasure working with you, calling communities and personally inviting them to the 2012 Conference with you, feeling your excitement about including the Occupy movement in the Conference discussions this year, and scheming up ways to increase the dollar-per-hour for this year. Watching you chatting it up this weekend made me think, “He is just SO in his element right now.” Your energy is palpable. I appreciate your big-picture perspective, even if little things sometimes fall through the cracks. You always manage to make it work in the end.



  3. paxus says :

    Dearest Janel:

    Thanks so much, great to hear.

    Paxus at Twin Oaks
    4 Animals in Heat 2012

  4. Seby (aka Twigsy on facebook) says :

    I’m sorry that I was only able to participate in the first part of the workshop, it was already important and deeply touching for me, personally, at the point where I had to leave to go do my childcare shift (of course, that allowed for moments of personal and mutual growth and sharing as well). I did want to thank you for offering the very stimulating workshop subjects. They all sounded interesting and although I didn’t vote on any of them, I think the final choice was truly what was most valuable to those present at that point in time.

    One big thing I re-learned this weekend was that Community IS therapy-in-action (if you allow it to be, and even if you don’t your very presence is therapy-in-action for those around you). It’s a conscious decision to be present and constantly re-evaluate who you are allowing yourself to be with the opportunity to make spontaneous ‘tweaks’ to your person and your life, your very place in the universe as a whole… hopefully in an effort to steadily improve yourself and everything around you (and by YOU I mean ME). 😉

    Thank you for the opportunities you presented and thank you to everyone who was present. I hope to find ways, either large or small, to incorporate community, INTENTIONALLY, in my life from now on.

  5. paxus says :

    @Seby: It is actually (in my experience) more than therapy, it is what ever the opposite of therapy – madness inducing. You can certainly evaluate your own state and make improvements, but the politics and small mindedness at least of this place can induce insanity. Community is not a magic bullet, in fact your comment is inspiring me to write a long delayed post called “What ever your buttons are we will push them.”

    Paxus at Twin Oaks
    4 Animals in Heat 2012

  6. moonraven222 says :

    Again, thank you Paxus, Janel, etc. I thought that the Transparency workshop was incredibly useful–tools that I can use and some deep sharing. The whole workshop was wonderful.

  7. Seby (aka Twigsy on facebook) says :

    @Paxus – That may well be true, you certainly have more experience with the circumstance than I do, however I suspect that it really boils down to how each person allows the environment to affect them. It MAY actually magnify and compound whatever state the person is already dealing with.

    ‘Pushing Buttons’ can be a process that really just tends to bring the hidden parts of a person out. If they are in a trend toward madness, it will shove them into madness. If they are in a trend toward healing and sanity, it may act as a breakthrough for them and help them on their way toward a more sane mentality.

    I don’t mind the challenge of having my buttons pushed, god knows I’ve been through hell in my life and now look at it as (mostly) a growing experience. I do, in fact, tend to push other people’s buttons and challenge them when it seems it might help them to do so (causing them to examine their motives, for instance). I have a lot to learn though, about myself and relationships with other people… so I enjoy every opportunity to learn.

    I look forward to reading your article. 🙂

  8. Lauren M.F-E says :

    Thank you Paxus and Janel (and all the other organizers) for an absolutely amazing, life changing weekend. From the workshops to community tours to delicious food to brainstorming and dreaming about Chubby Squirrels, the conference was more than I could have imagined when I decided a month ago that I just had to attend. The transparency circles exercise and learning at the end was perfect, and I look forward to creating one ASAP back here in Minneapolis. Haven (the friend and housemate I came to the conference with) and I spent many of the 20 hours driving back talking about racism, gender, community, and the general state of the world- there’s just so much to process! I very much look forward to whenever in the hopefully not too distant future I am able to return to Twin Oaks, likely for a three week visitor period to learn more and really think through what I want my life to look like.

    Paxus, I look forward to reading ‘whatever your buttons are we will push them’ in the very near future.

  9. Denise says :

    I’m as well want to thank you Paxus and Janel (and everyone else involved) for an increadable experience. So much to think about and still so much to learn. Your workshop really showed me how hard it is to come out of ones nutshell and how mind and heart opening it can be when your fellow members around you do….making it so much easier for most of us. All workshops I attend where really helpful and the meals where delicious (big thanks to all cooks and donars). I’m greatful that I had a chance to meet so many warm, open, interesting, and smart people this weekend and hope to be back soon.

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