About 70 individuals, from about 30 different nationalities, turned up for our monthly social picnic. Today started as an unstable summer day, weather wise. The picnic required at least dry grass for the participants to sit. With the possibility of many no shows we decided to go ahead and take the risk. The enormous affluence was a warm surprise to us as organizers.
The potluck was richly filled again with food and drinks. People gathered in groups for talks. Some walked in a bit shy as newcomers, needing a bit of help to connect. By doing this through positive engagement we learned that some only arrived in town days ago and attended, with the desire to meet people.
For the first time we had decided to introduce some activities that would enhance further mingling and engagement. There is always a risk of over-organizing events when people are free to do their own thing. Finding a balance in organizing stuff for or with people, and allowing things to happen spontaneously, simply because we create the space and opportunity for it, is worth exploring. Our common goal is social inclusion and integration. Is it enough to organize the picnic and let people figure out their own inclusion process? Or do they still need some extra facilitation? When do we risk to patronize? And when do we facilitate or guide?
We observe the group of 70, relatively passive, sitting together, peacefully chatting, finding their way to the potluck table, engaging or not with some guitar music. It becomes hard as organiser to find the desire to disrupt this beauty with some workshop announcement. Eventually we did.
We announced a speed date encounter for new friendships. To our surprise about 40%, 25 persons stood up. We then understood that the passive attitude of the group was just a time filling behavior waiting for a little bit of leadership to get them on the move. We learned to “never underestimate the needs of a passive community”. The gratitude displayed during and after the workshop was overwhelming. A new milestone was achieved in our own awareness and techniques for a yet higher purpose, our participation society (Sustainocracy).
Suddenly we can ask ourselves the question of engaging the world of the commons in general? Is the seemingly passive attitude around global pollution, climate issues and social challenges, just a misjudged appearance? What if we find the right trigger for positive engagement, like we did today during the picnic? A challenging thought worth exploring further …..