A thread for Bea & Josh to share their updates on the Maastricht Congregation
Hello out there! This is a call to connect with a great facilitator.
My name is Joshua Glass. I am reaching out from Maastricht, The Netherlands on behalf of myself and co-host Beatriz Fonseca in hopes of connecting with lovely facilitators who would be available to hold space for our community.
What: We are co-creating a new mutual aid community of about 20 to 40 people in and around Maastricht, the Netherlands based on Richard Bartlett’s proposal of Microsolidarity.
When + Where: There are three very special moments when we’ll need your facilitation.
MARCH 8 [½ day in Maastricht] APRIL 12 [½ day in Maastricht]MAY 15–17 May OR 22–24 (!) [2-3 days → within 3hr radius of Maastricht]In between these moments we would like to remain in touch as we will be working closely with our group in a digital space (Whatsapp, Loomio, and/or Autopia) to co-create a program and set of topics for the May Gathering. The dates in May are the most crucial. If you are totally unable to join us during either of the first two meetings, we’ll do our best to find an additional person or facilitate ourselves.
The group: Our core is Bea and myself. We are a pair of co-hosts and organizers of this Congregation and Gathering. We are now having talks with 13 of our most trusted and motivated friends and colleagues in Western Europe to bring together the core of the Congregation. From there, the group should expand to about 30 people. We are between the ages of 23 and 40. Many of us are socially and/or environmentally engaged entrepreneurs or freelancers; some of us are finding our ways since recently graduating university. Overall, we are a group of people from many parts of the world who care about deep, genuine, emotional and playful connections with each other, ourselves and the planet.
What we need from you:
We are looking for someone who has experience in getting people to know themselves and each-other better. Someone who has a background in holding spaces for personal and interpersonal self-development.
We would highly appreciate it if you’re fun and playful in your approach (but if you feel like you aren’t, we’re willing to compromise ;)) .
You will definitely be able to join us during either of the proposed dates of our May Gathering, and you are also available to meet online –– especially between April and May –– in order to co-create the program of the Gathering.
You’ll put cherries on the cake if:
you already know about Microsolidarity and have experience facilitating gatherings in this context.
you can join us in Maastricht during the first one or two meetings as well.
How we can reciprocate: We have some budget for facilitation. Let’s connect and dialogue about both of our costs and needs. This should be a win-win!
This is what we think we need to become an awesomely supportive group of people who are strengthening our abilities to do good work! We want to listen to your thoughts. We are working out loud and hope to share the process. Please reach out if what we’ve written here resonates with you and you can work with us.
With warmth and gratitude,
Joshua and Bea
P.S. have a look at our hour long Zoom call with Rich on starting up a new group here! https://youtu.be/Jg0X6YfHKaw
Hi Joshua and Bea! The idea of something in Maastricht sounds great -- I am in the (slow) process of moving to a place half way between you and Brussels! And the people I know there are all into Art of Hosting, so there are loads of people who could help facilitate gatherings. Rich himself has visited Ria and me in Ransberg, so could fill you in a bit more from that perspective. Unfortunately I won't be in Belgium on 7th March as I've already booked my train back. I will be around in Ransberg from 21st Feb to 4th March, so maybe some opportunity to come and visit in the meantime?
All best wishes
I'm excited to see that there are some folks like you and Ria nearby ! Hopefully our communities can join forces. I'm reaching out to Ria to connect directly since she seems to be potentially available and nearby. Perhaps Bea and I end up coming out to Ransberg before 4 March. We'll be in touch !
Excellent! She is the best 😍
Hope to see you soon
Hey @Joshua Glass I shifted your comment here out into a separate thread.
I would love it if you could use this as a space to occasionally drop in with updates, like a kind of public diary for you and @Beatriz to let us know how you're getting on with your plans. <3
Hey there! Thanks @Richard D. Bartlett for creating this thread for us. It's good timing because our Notion page following the project for a public audience is now ready to view! For all who'd like follow our process, I'll be making the most detailed content updates and experiment documentations here.
I'll be adding more detail as we continue to bring this project to life as best as possible for all of you viewing through the interwebz. I'll have to get consent from the group before sharing anything like photos of humans or our Kumu map. More to come!
Yay transparency! Yay consent!
honestly I am so so happy to see this documentation, thank you for sharing your work in progress 🙏
An update from our 2nd congregation meeting aimed to orient the newly invited. We were 14 plus Ria and Simon who facilitated and did technical hosting : https://www.notion.so/microsolidaritymaastricht/Meeting-II-What-happened-in-April-fb0faf6355264e3fa3b782799293e46f
future anthropologists and historians are going to be so happy with this pristine documentation 😂
We had another conversation today, @Beatriz and @Joshua Glass sharing their latest updates and upcoming plans, and me and @Nati Lombardo sharing our impressions and advice.
We recorded the conversation so you can catch up on video or audio
1: Wider/deeper reverberation?
As I was listening to this conversation I was wondering what it would be like to have one or two more people in the call. One person from the next circle of 3-4 people who are more active in the group. One person from the long-tail of the participation curve.
I imagine that there may have been reverberations both into the call and from the call out to the group.
I wonder about this as a pattern ... I sense a presence of power structures, leadership, ownership ... and I feel an urge to want to "mix things up" a bit.
2: Physical proximity as bias.
I have a deep respect for physical proximity and experience (still!) a yearning for it myself.
However, for me, personally, the Coronavirus has had a positive "flattening the field" effect. Because I live in retreat and am disinclined to travel, the online space is the primary participation space. When groups are founded on physical proximity (whether people live close together or share nomadic tendencies making it natural & appealing for them to travel in order to meet) I experience this as a systemic bias that draws in certain qualities of people and keeps out other qualities.
Beyond experiencing personal alienation (which I consider to be a valid outcome if that is, consciously or unconsciously, a group's choice) I believe that it seeds additional social and cultural biases that limit a kind of "genetic makeup" of the group (eg: a leaning towards fast-moving do-ocracy cultures that leave little space for qualities of presence & well-being).
If memory serves me correctly, it is Matt Mullenweg (project lead for WordPress), whose company is distributed all around the world, who suggested something along the lines that face-to-face meetings should be had as if they were continents apart - that things like documentation and decision making be respectful of the distributed nature of the shared space (if distributed is what you aspire to be).
Listening to this call I was left with questions ... I'm not asking for answers ... merely pointing out some lack of clarity:
am I invited / would I be welcome to partake in this congregation or is this a Maastricht-only?
I heard mention of people from other places but feel unclear about their standing in the group?
which evokes in me question: what does characterize a congregation?
3: @Nati Lombardo 's drink :)
... what was that cup-ish container (small with two handles) and what was in it that is best consumed through a small straw?
I feel more brewing in me and will try to followup in the context of the "virtual meetup group" thread.
Thank you for having and sharing this conversation.
The drink is Mate from South America (I'm from Argentina) :)
Hey Ronen, I haven't listened to the latest Maastricht call myself yet, but just read your comment here and felt to share that I appreciated your lines of enquiry and enjoy how your brain works. In our own Collective in Chiang Mai we've just noticed how recently we've become more much globally inclusive as many key members have moved overseas but stayed engaged in a meaningful way online. I thought this might somehow dilute the core bonds of the community but it has actually added a beautiful new element, and also dispelled fears for others that if they choose to leave Chiang Mai they won't lose their connection to the group they have come to love so dearly. With increasing us of AR and VR tools on the horizon for community building, I think the trend will continue in that direction, as well as lead us to form closer bonds in our closer proximities.@Ronen Hirsch
Hey all, during our call Rich mentioned that there are some sparks around the US relating to Microsolidarity / mutual aid community. As a US citizen, I'm curious to learn more about this sphere. I also have some disheartened US friends and family who currently believe that "this kind of stuff" (Microsolidarity-esque care) is only happening outside of the country. @Richard D. Bartlett , can you share a bit more on this?
This is a good question for the hivemind so I started a Twitter thread about it :)
Hi hi hi there!!
Thank you so much @Ronen Hirsch for your comments and insights! So refreshing and eye-opening to have you voicing what you experienced from our conversation with Nati and Rich. Super cool, thank you so much for dedicating your time to listen to the call and to share your comments 🙏
I will keep in short, but briefly reply to your observations.
Co-creation of the Congregation
@Joshua Glass and I (at the very start also with another friend of ours) co-started the entire Congregating process. We are aware that this may lead to a not-so-healthy dependency bias - people being too reliant on us.
Our commitment is to take this role of 'Congregation Hosts' until our first Gathering (that should happen in June). Members are constantly reminded of our 'glue' role and encouraged to step in. Your suggestion of inviting people to participate in our meetings in Rich and Nati is super cool! We will def keep it in mind!!
I see Microsolidarity as a living response to bringing people together. I see this response as being fluid and adaptable to the needs of the people. Even though @Joshua Glass and I are the Congregation Hosts atm, this means not that we are leading the pathway. There is a consensus in the group that this closer form of collaborating brings more value to what we are collectively aiming to achieve.
We are now looking for a more local and easily physically reachable community, hence most people in Maastricht. We reckon we have a lot of common friends and friends of friends who are out of town, and who would make super valuable contributions. We choose to start Congregating with a small local group and see how this all worked. We decided to keep local and small, and as it starts to succeed, we will start to grow and expand - with a stronger collaborative culture that can invite people to jump in :)
(It's not being too easy for me to explain this, as I think Im as well tired, but I can come back to you and explore this further if you would like 🙂)
To your questions in particular...
For someone to be invited into the Congregation, this person has to be invited by a Congregation member. Our main criteria is trust and like-minds. Living in Maastricht is a a bonus, but not a must. At the time being we are focused in Maastricht people, experimenting locally first, and seeing how the Congregation runs. If it runs well, we expand!
There are some members that are not from Maastricht, about 3 or 4 in total 25. They stand in the group as everyone else does (all being online atm). They are invited and committed to the Gathering. If they cannot make we will trust in Gathering documentation (you mentioned it yourself!) and on calls to catch up.
What does characterize a Congregation? I guess each of its own kind. Common traits? Big enough to inspire, small enough to connect - this is fundamental to me. Another one that to me is very important is the 'intention' of being such.
I hope I bring you some clarity with regards to our moves in Maastricht.
Super open to talk more and also @Joshua Glass is soon hosting an event about all this. Come and join!
Hello, @Beatriz and @Joshua Glass - I happened to get paired up with @Nati Lombardo today for conversational practices, and she mentioned you were also part of the training cohort this week. I had just been listening to the part 2 Maastricht podcast, and feeling empathy for your role as the group's initial 'hosts.' Having worked on bringing together a group of like-minded activists for nine months, inclusively broadening the responsibilities was the most challenging aspect. We've now fallen apart due to the pandemic, but through March even the 3-8 core volunteers struggled to maintain motivation when confronting the volume of work. 50 or so individuals would appear at our actions and meetings, yet the small core did the vast majority of planning and execution. My reaction (mid-pandemic) is to start over with the core - the equivalent of a pod or crew - who commit to shared goals and activities. Hopefully such a crew will be more flexible and adaptable, able to prioritize organizing ourselves and building deeper interpersonal relationships rather than worrying over how to engage a larger group. Who knows if this will work...but perhaps we can then help inspire satellite pods and grow into a collective organism/movement. Here's to shared learning, and THANK YOU for sharing your experience and methodology thus far.
thank YOU Tom for sharing your experience!
Hey folks! @Beatriz and I just answered a bunch of questions relating to our congregation. Check em out: https://www.loomio.org/d/6CIsxngc/making-microsolidarity-presentation-30-05-2020