Sat 11 Apr 2020

Virtual Meetup Impressions

Ronen Hirsch Public Seen by 104

A container for recalling, documenting, sharing, discussing, resonating following the virtual meetup.


Ronen Hirsch Sat 11 Apr 2020

The 1st virtual meetup took place on April 10th 2020 with the following participants: @Drew Hornbein , @Richard D. Bartlett , @Adam McKenty , @Patrick Campbell , @Josh Fairhead , @Markus Koller , @James Lewis , @Tom Schloegel , @Alex Rodriguez , @ Alex Mel , @Sven , @Rashid Owoyele , @Ronen Hirsch

Meeting notes can be found here

The meeting included:

  1. Introductions

  2. Reflection on what we notice about the group

  3. Discussion about what the group can be

  4. Laying the ground for the next meeting.

  5. Agreement on using this thread as a means to collect impressions from the meetup instead of placing a burden of documentation on one or more people.

Next Meetup

  • The next meeting will take place on May 8th, 2020.

  • It will be one hour earlier to better accomodate time zones needs.

  • It will be based on UTC timezone to avoid confusion.

  • Meeting time: 13:00 - 14:30 UTC + optional 14:30 - 15:00 UTC for documentation.

  • A host/facilitator is needed for this meeting.

  • Same location: https://meet.jit.si/microsolidarity-meetup

Meeting Impressions

This thread (as implied by its name: impressions) is an invitation to a living documentation process. You are welcome to add your impressions (expanding with personal touches that go beyond the notes taken during the meeting), to reply to other people's impressions, to add more impressions as they come to you in response to other people and to softly and naturally transform into a conversation that may lead to new places and that may feed into the next meetup.


Sven Sat 11 Apr 2020

I'm happy I got to know all of you and look forward to the next meeting. I think being able to share experiences and lessons learned among us is a great opportunity and will be a big help for everyone. As an example, and to get the ball rolling, I'm particularly interested if anybody has experiences in dealing with very strong-minded people, or people that tend to talk over others in meetings, that have a very hard time being patient and wait their turn. I consider my self rather on the sensitive side and thus, I've struggled with this kind of situations and would be glad to hear what others experienced and what kind of solutions have been found.

Stay happy and healthy everyone, talk soon!


Richard D. Bartlett Sat 11 Apr 2020

I could only join the first half. From that piece, the main "tactical" impression I had was that I wonder if it is useful to create distinct spaces for people at different stages of their journey. E.g. stages might be something like:

  1. curious, reading, thinking, feeling, exploring

  2. seeking my first crew

  3. crew is stable/learning/growing

  4. seeking to expand into a congregation

  5. congregation is stable/learning/growing

It might be useful to focus the conversation on one stage a time.


Joe Lightfoot Sun 12 Apr 2020

I like this idea.


Joe Lightfoot Sun 12 Apr 2020

I enjoyed encountering everyone. I got the sense that there was a wide range of motivations for people joining the call, a balance of those seeking mainly a 'being' experience and those seeking a mainly 'doing' experience.


Ronen Hirsch Sun 12 Apr 2020

What I Witnessed

I was impressed by and grateful for inherent qualities (too easy to take for granted) shared by the people in the group.

  • The ability to speak clearly and concisely.

  • The ability to listen without being on the needy edge of response.

  • The ability to relax into the space without worrying if you will be heard .... trusting the dynamic of the group will be attentive to and inclusive of you.

  • The ability to be lightly facilitated.

  • Knowing how to operate the mechanics of a video conference call.

The meeting felt clear, soft, flowing and contained.

Though the group was dominated by male-bodies:

  1. I felt that there was a healthy living mixture of masculine and feminine qualities.

  2. For most of my life I felt a need to apologize to women and to the universe at large on behalf of "men and toxic masculinity" ... this group presented a "masculinity" I can embrace, get behind and identify with.

  3. I do hope that in the future female-bodies will join :)

The Group

There is an interesting pattern of "definition" I've learned in my Yoga studies: definition based on qualities. Eg: a definition of asana (physical postures associated with Yoga) is "that which makes you feel light and steady."

I would like to tap into both that specific definition and its underlying pattern:

  1. Specifically: a group experience that leaves you feeling "light and steady" feels like something worthy and aspirational.

  2. Pattern: while we sort out and experiment with the contents and structures of these meetings, I would like to discover what can emerge when these meetings become a steady and habitual pattern. I would like to discover what commitment and continuity to a group can present. I would like to be able to look back in 2 years and notice the qualities that emerged and then say: that is what this group is :)


Whatever content we choose to explore (eg: the 5 stages described by Richard) ... I would like to suggest:

  1. That it be grounded in personal experience ... and to avoid theoretical speculations.

  2. To explore (maybe as part of the structure of the call?) a combination of examples of what works (celebration) and inquiry into failed attempts.

  3. That maybe we use this Loomio space to offer examples that can be brought to the group and then adopt a strategy to select what gets on the agenda.

Eg: if we choose to talk about "seeking a crew" I'd like to hear from people who are seeking a crew, have tried & failed at seeking a crew, have succeeded at seeking a crew ... make it real and vested :)


I would like to suggest experimentation with the 2-hour window potential that we've created. I (too) felt drained after the 90-minute call (but felt that the 90 minutes were needed!). So, I was wondering about taking a 5-minute break (cycling fluids and stretching legs) somewhere either around the 1st-hour mark or when a part of the meeting finds closure. Maybe that will be refreshing ... also an opportunity to step away from the established field and maybe see things from a new perspective (pee-ing reliably does that for me :)?

Possible structure to explore:

  1. Arriving and check-in round.

  2. "Celebration" case presentation/discussion.

  3. Pause

  4. "Failure" case presentation/discussion

  5. Closing and check-out round


Josh Fairhead Wed 22 Apr 2020

It was really great to meet everyone there during our previous meeting. My impressions were positive as it felt like people were attentive and present, undistracted and of a good intent. I'm currently feeling a bit overstretched and scatty but in the spirit of self organising I'm up for facilitating the next round if nobody puts their hand up in the meanwhile.

I'm happy with the suggested structures above and would add that it might be good to get certain topics on the table early - i.e. myself and Joe had a brief chat about cults after the last call and speaking about power early to raise awareness of the forms it takes might also be healthy and build resilience.


Markus Koller Wed 29 Apr 2020

I really enjoyed our first meeting too, and getting to know you all a bit! I think the group is an interesting combination of different backgrounds. I was a bit nervous in the beginning but quickly relaxed while listening to everyone's fascinating stories.

I was thinking about the question "What's the conversation only this group could have?" for a bit before the meeting and failed up to come with a good answer. After the meeting I wondered instead "What's the conversation this group couldn't have?" as it seems we could talk about pretty much anything, which feels very nice considering we've just met. 😄

Drew suggested a few people as facilitators for next time including me, I'd be happy to give it a try too but maybe not right now as I'm not very clear yet on what the format should be like. Maybe we can collect some more ideas in this thread?

I like @Richard D. Bartlett 's suggestion to look at stages, I also thought it would be interesting to do a little "show-and-tell" round where everybody gives some more detail on their current Microsolidarity project and what stage they're in. Not sure if it makes sense to actually split up the group already by stage (maybe later), but I think using stages as a frame could be helpful.

Also seconding @Ronen Hirsch's suggestion to do bio-breaks! 👍

After the meeting some of us kept chatting for a bit, and @Joe Lightfoot suggested doing a little survey to pin down everyone's ideologies/backgrounds. I think that would be really cool, maybe you want to expand on this idea a bit here Joe?


Joe Lightfoot Thu 30 Apr 2020

I might save that typing methodology I spoke of for another day Markus, I still wanna polish it up some before setting it free into the world, but one day soon it would be great for this group I agree :)


Markus Koller Thu 30 Apr 2020

@Joe Lightfoot ok awesome, no hurries 🙂


Ronen Hirsch Thu 30 Apr 2020

... thinking out loud ... this train of thought that was triggered by:

  1. Feeling the upcoming virtual meetup nearing.

  2. Ingesting the Maastricht congregation videos.

  3. Wondering where in the Microsolidarity language, the virtual meetup group fits.

Getting to Know People

I recognized a wish in myself to share with the group and hear from others about:

  1. Gifts and skills ... what do you know and like to do?

  2. Areas of interest ... what domains are you interested in exploring?

  3. Ongoing projects ... what things you are already doing/involved in that you may want help with and may become seeds for forming crews?

Before going into how/when to do this ... I'd like to reflect on two additional potential "scales" (and contexts?) within the Microsolidarity framework.

Planet & Discovery Group

I'll start with the larger of the two scales: Planet Microsolidarity. I feel like there is a field that is out there, alive and morphing and gaining body. It is the field of people who resonate with the ideas of and similar to Microsolidarity. It is the shared vibration that was present in the first virtual meetup. It is in the body of Enspiral. It is in the field of the Maastricht congregation ... and other places. It is a field that may be easier to define by what is absent from it (mechanistic hierarchical power structures, exploitative social structures, capital seeking capital, etc.) than what is in it. But it is there. It is larger than a congregation but smaller than "everyone". It is a kind of subset of humanity with whom I feel I have enough in common to have a meaningful, intimate conversation. It is ... ahum ... "The Hum" that resonates around Micrsolidarity :)

The other scale is the group of ~20 people: Discovery Group. It seems to be manifesting both in the current Maastricht field and in the virtual meetup - neither of which have crews or enough people to be a congregation. This seems like it may be a size and construct in which people can come together in order to venture into "Planet Microsolidarity" ... which is too large and vague to grasp directly.

Getting to Know People in Discovery

  • I am not convinced that the virtual meetup is a good space for getting acquainted (doesn't feel like the best use of our time together)

  • I am not convinced that a Loomio thread will work for this because it doesn't have the "fresh energy of a physical gathering" that fuels it.

  • I am imagining this as a continuous living process: a cross between LinkedIn & a dating site ... where an individual who resonates with Microsolidarity can begin to explore Planet Microsolidarity - people sharing the same vibration and the things they are interested in and working on.

Something feels awkward (and risky!) to me in trying to directly "create a congregation" or a "2nd Enspiral". The Microsolidarity constructs (diad, crew, congregation) feel like a retrospective description of a destination ... I'm not sure if they are supportive terms for the journey of getting there from our diffused state on Planet Microsolidarity.

Feeling inhibited to post this ... could just be me confused!?


Simon Grant Fri 1 May 2020

Note I wasn't there on 10/04... but what you write @Ronen Hirsch resonates with me strongly. I've found myself (more discovery than deliberation) speaking about the vital nature of the one-to-one getting to know each other processes, as forming the groundwork of any social thing. The messages I am hearing are that some people prefer pairs, some triads; and there seems to be enough good established practice around triads -- though I'd personally just go for pairs.

We need to know about each other -- and/or get to know each other (which have a slightly different feel). On the 'know about' side, as someone who has thought a lot about personal information (book) I ask: what information about each other would help towards microsolidarity? Obviously it's a question dating sites (and LinkedIn etc.) have been asking for many years, with mixed success. "Who would I enjoy conversation with" clearly has a lot of resonance with dating, except of course without the same expectations! But if we can help newcomers find those friendly conversations, two things can happen naturally: first, they can learn a lot, explicitly and implicitly, about the group they want to join; and second, they can learn as much as the conversation permits about another person with similar interests -- but as every person has their own history, their own perspective, etc., each conversation promises an opening in some way.

If you (or anyone) want to follow up and explore this path, I'd be happy to ... well ... have a one-to-one conversation about it, of course 😉 What can be harvested, and how, from these one-to-one explorations? Can we do something better and more generative than simply deepening our personal knowledge of one other person, and growing in the process? Can the growing, the opening, somehow be shared, and if so, what? I don't have answers to these, but would like to explore.

I am acquainted with the Maastricht setup (met and talked with Joshua and Bea, alongside Ria) but I might not fit in personally as a peer of that actual group, I'm not sure. What I do feel is the desire for a crew (ideally embedded in a congregation) where we can share conversation at similar depth, with maybe related purpose?


Ronen Hirsch Fri 8 May 2020

The 2nd Meetup took place on May 8, 2020 with @Richard D. Bartlett , @Josh Fairhead (facilitated) and sitting with him Roberto, @Markus Koller , @Simon Grant , @James Lewis , @Joe Lightfoot , @Sven , @Ronen Hirsch

Please add meeting reflections in response to this comment.


Ronen Hirsch Fri 8 May 2020

The meeting structure was:

  • Agreement on outline.

  • Round of "failure stories" ... I recognized "trust" as a recurring theme ... that brought us to the hour mark.

  • 5 minute bio-break

  • Round of "successes" ... felt cut short by the 90 minute limit.

  • Open "Real Talk" amongst the people who stayed beyond the 90 minute mark.

I left the meeting feeling dissonant. Writing these words I feel a tension to try to be coherent ... and am letting that go ... letting the dissonance be:

  1. I have a feeling that this group is in a fragile state ... if we were a pod/crew trying to form ... I feel it may be short-lived.

  2. If we are going to explore real-world cases (such as failures and successes) I would like to slow down. We defaulted to a round where everyone was invited to contribute. I would have preferred one person present a case and then allowing for spacious conversation around that. The path we took felt superficial to me. I felt that we shot past numerous opportunities to dig deeper. I heard questions about "trust" and felt a desire to dive into that ... possibly over more than one meeting.

  3. The part about successes felt cut-off due to lack of time ... similarly, I would have wanted to delve deeper into one ... and maybe to experience/feel celebration?

  4. The "real talk" was less structured and more raw ... it felt superficially good (a little "high" ... but it left me feeling confused/dissonant (crashed after the "high").

Elaborating on the confusion:

  1. I feel a need to preface and say that what I am feeling may be because of my lack of experience in how groups work ... maybe all is fine and my expectations are out of alignment.

  2. My underlying assumption coming into this group was that it would be dedicated to advancing/elaborating/deepening Microsolidarity.

  3. Yet the majority (unscientific impression) of the group seem to be seeking crews and congregations ... and that seems to be bubbling under the surface and pushing for the group to become a crew ... but that doesn't feel in alignment ... I get the feeling that those who are already crewed ... are not looking to form another crew ... so what are we doing?

  4. I am wondering why @Joshua Glass and @Beatriz who are NOW forming a congregation are not in this group? What does that say about the group?

  5. One of the things that emerged in the "real talk" part of the call was an invitation for us all to state our needs ... which feels inviting ... but I came with a wish to be of service ... to give ... not to burden Microsolidarity with my needs ... there is an edge there I can feel but not sure I can articulate well enough!

  6. Another thing in the "real talk" - I believe @James Lewis (please correct/adjust if I am misframing) asked something like "isn't microsolidarity about first getting to know each other well and then doing stuff together?" That led us to talking about the (complementary?) relationship between individual growth and development within a group. This touches on a yearning in me to experience the "group" aspect and I imagine is core in a crew ... but, again, this doesn't feel like the space for that = it felt to me not real / not whole / not authentic. We are not really committed to each other, we are not a crew (see point 3 above). It seems we share a wish to commit (to what??? I don't know) ... same edge ... same difficulty to articulate. I can say that I am NOT interested in a half-baked group experience. An invitation to explore my vulnerabilities without a real space to do so feels ... like an unhealthy trap ... I prefer to avoid.

  7. I feel this group lacks clear purpose ... and I believe that nature doesn't tolerate a "purpose void" ... so I felt as if the natural pressure for the group to have purpose drew my own (and others) personal (and emotional?) needs to the surface ... and I went along with that ... and I regret that. I feel like maybe next time I need to be more discerning / defensive / contained.

... posting this as it is still fresh in me ... hope to not regret it tomorrow morning ;)


Josh Fairhead Fri 8 May 2020

Just to add bullet points of some discussion around the things that worked and didn't work within crews/congregations from the call that emerged on 08/5/2020:

Formal space

  • What didnt work:

  • Dogmatisim

  • Communication

  • Onboarding

  • Misalignment of vaulues/purpose and over alignment talking. Structure seeking. Offboarding

  • People, ability to hold people and their shitness when they have been

  • Filtration: member vs contributor

  • Trust breaks

  • Unspoken hierarchy due to lack of initial cocreation

  • What worked:

  • Working through things through shared commitment to practice/ritual

  • Group work, sticking together as shared practice

  • Check in without responding

    Informal space

  • Shared Link

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YFfXX2JHMbY

  • Open questions

  • What are the collective needs?

  • Share what we need to stay involved!


Ulrich Schur Sat 9 May 2020

(Disclaimer: I wasn't in either of the meetings, I only followed the conversations here)

I am very touched by your honest and courageous description, Ronen. Emotionally this must a uncomfortable and tricky place to be in. I feel for you. Please don't judge yourself for having noticed and put it into words, these seem all valid points worth exploring and worth being aware of.

As I see it, from my distant point of view, this is all a huge experiment and mostly a learning experience. The group has to find itself, how to work, what to aim for. There are different interests, motiviations, strategies and personalities coming together. Of course, this cannot be easy. Maybe, in this initial phase, some want to quickly explore as many options as possible while others want to slow down and dig deeper. Both valid strategies.

I'll stop here, as I cannot contribute anything specific, not having been present at the meetings. I just wanted to send some encouraging words in your direction, Ronen. Keep going! ❤️


Simon Grant Sat 9 May 2020

To me it feels good that you @Ronen Hirsch have voiced dissonance and confusion. In the past I have found myself in the position of 'channeling' doubt, or something else that can come across as negative, and I believe these things are much better said than unsaid. In addition, my sense is that the person saying them is often voicing them on behalf of others.

In the Art of Hosting community, and certainly in the view of my partner Ria, clarity on the 'calling question' or purpose (of the gathering, not some high-flying abstract purpose) is pretty essential and it feels like we haven't reached clarity on that. In that same (recent) tradition, the natural responsibility for framing the gathering rests with the person or people calling it. Not that they have to do it all themselves -- they would normally first gather a 'hosting team' to clarify what the calling question is to be -- what feels like a resonant question for themselves and potentially for others.

Can we make that part a more conscious part of our practice, I wonder? Would that help, do you think, Ronen?

Just to compare, I can try to write a little about what this group means for me ... I have a great interest in the ideas and practices behind Microsolidarity, and the name seems to have taken hold as a flag, so that's OK for now. Yes, I am looking for an effective 'Congregation' to be part of, and I agree with Rich that this seems a natural way of doing the initial getting to know part of the 'dating' with low commitment. Can we have "Deliberately Developmental Congregations" (to adapt the Harvard term) which are also a learning organisations (and other good things, including terms that are a bit passé)? So this particular group seems to me to have the potential to be a little bit of an action research crew. I am interested in both participating and reflecting on / learning from the experience of participation. I want to learn more about what it takes to set up a congregation effectively, and that involves what it takes to provide the fertile ground for the emergence of crews. This is also why I am trying out participating in the nascent Maastricht congregation, which is just about close enough for me to attend in person when travel restrictions are lifted.

I also happen to agree quite strongly with the idea that the one-to-one relationship side would benefit from more attention. It was great that the question came up about couples as part of crews -- with the observation that it could be great or awful. To me, the potential is even more than that -- a couple 'held' by a crew seems to me to have a much better chance of a long, rich and generative life than a couple who have no one else co-participating, living the same level of life around them. Are people ready to go there yet, I wonder? For many people (not necessarily only 'straight') a couple can be a vital place to explore the interplay of masculine and feminine archetypes, and to me this is also a vital need within crews and congregations. If it weren't for the fact that the men there yesterday are much more aware of their feminine sides than average men are (as far as I could sense, anyway!) I would have been quite worried that it was an all male meeting. It is something that is never far from my mind.

In terms of your own psychological / emotional safety, Ronen, I can empathise with you feeling an "invitation to explore my vulnerabilities without a real space to do so" and we certainly need to take care that we don't (explicitly or implicitly) promise anything that we can't follow through on. Great that you have expressed your feelings. I wonder if you are able to express what would (positively) make it feel (and actually be) safer for you?


Ronen Hirsch Sat 9 May 2020

@Joe Lightfoot shared this video during the chat ... I just watched it and felt I wanted it documented here:

I'm guessing that is at least 50 or 60 years old. Watching it made me amused at the notion of later generations "inventing" circling or authentic relating.

Watching it also made me wonder why didn't this social technology latch on and propagate? Why have we forgotten about it and felt we need to re-invent it? Are our efforts going to suffer a similar fate? Was something missing? Is there something we can do differently to make sure that this time the chick succeeds in learning to fly?


Beatriz Sat 9 May 2020

Yello y'all!!!

This is my first post in this thread! Wo-oh, yay!

Before all, I would first like to acknowledge everyone's contribution to this thread. As I see it, Microsolidarity is a living response to bringing people together, and coming here and seeing that so many people are keeping it alive feels inspiring and rewarding. Let's keep rockin' 🙌

I must say I've skimmed through this space before, but only now I took the step to become active in it as @Ronen Hirsch kindly called for. I came to let you all know that the reason why I am not active in this group is because I could not find the mental and real-life time/space to engage in it. @Joshua Glass and I have been quite blessed in our Congregation experience, supported by our members and by (among others) @Richard D. Bartlett @Simon Grant and @Ria Baeck. Even if this thread seems super pertinent to me (with a lot of very juicy food for thought) I simply choose not to add more to my plate (rather not doing that to be one foot in and another out and then let you down?).

Hopefully I'll be able to join during the next meeting, and see what's rolling with my own eyes. I'll keep them open for dates and time.

Looking forward to meet y'all!



Simon Grant Sun 10 May 2020

These feel like valuable questions to me. I wonder two things. First, could the answer be something to do with designing the IT to fit so well with this social technology that it becomes a constant enabler and reminder? (Not sure to what extent that is feasible, but never mind, it's still a question!)

Second, I'm wondering if there are some people who are more able or willing to focus around these deeper questions (including the ones you raised earlier, @Ronen Hirsch ) perhaps (in my mind) to come up with a clearer focus / intention / "calling question" for next time? (along with someone volunteering to facilitate.) If the whole thread is up for that, fine, let's take it forward! but if not, let's volunteer.

Third thought that comes up on reflection. Would people prefer (rather than a smaller team volunteering) to leave this whole matter until the next call? I'd particularly like to respect the general feel here, or indeed feel free to tell me if I've missed the point somewhere!


Ronen Hirsch Sun 10 May 2020

Thank you @Simon Grant for the questions. I feel I want to give body and context to the idea of Purpose and through it to resonate with your questions.

Intro / Context

In a recent conversation with @Richard D. Bartlett he reflected back to me a framing of "paradox" and suggested writing about that. I was reluctant to do that ... but I do recognize that as I reflect on your questions ... paradox is all over my thoughts. So this may be that :)

I suspect this answer will be long and will have taken the better part of a day to write. Out of care and consideration for your (whoever may encounter and engage with this) time and attention I will do my best to keep it on point. It is embedded in my story not to draw attention to myself but to give my experience of purpose a real and tangible flavor.

This brings me to a first paradox. I sense a deep hesitation to write this because I don't want to waste your time. I am not comfortable thinking of myself as unique ... I prefer to think there are many others like me. Yet, in practice, I have not yet encountered (in group situations I've experienced) another person living in prolonged retreat and isolation while yearning to be with others. If it IS just me then I feel this may be a waste of your time. I feel there are more important things that deserve the attention of people and groups like you. Tending to my sense of inclusion and belonging feels like a risky (if not poor) investment (I realize I'm saying this in the context of Microsolidarity!). If there are others like me ... this may be a worthwhile exploration.

Maybe this puts us, at least temporarily, on a common ground of risk: I risk the effort of writing this and you risk the time and attention and possible side-effects of ingesting it!

How Purpose Came to Me & Moved Me to Romania

Two weeks before THE 9/11 I met Andreea. She was a Romanian foreign worker living and working legally in Israel. I usually don't remember dates but I remember this one because when we got out of bed together for the first time on 9/11the towers in NY had collapsed (It was good, but not THAT good!)

Over the next few months, our relationship deepened and we hit a serious problem: her visa expired and she became an illegal resident in Israel. This set us on a struggle with the state of Israel that lasted 7 years (it is hard to comprehend the depth of this crisis without learning more about citizenship in Israel).

I am not the "struggling type" ... I prefer to find my way around a problem than to tackle it head-on. Now I found myself in an almost impossible struggle ... and I had to ask myself "why am I doing this?" I didn't have a good answer. I am not a romantic at heart ... so "love" didn't work for me. I couldn't find an answer so I ended up living a life of inquiry around that question.

During this time I was starting to feel the itch of meaning and purpose ... mostly from a feeling of their absence in my life. I, therefore, insisted that Andreea not take some kind of job just for the sake of making money (I had that covered, it seemed pointless to waste her life too). I wanted her to be free to take a shot at following her heart ... finding purpose. She gravitated organically, naturally, and beautifully towards specializing in femininity - a cycle that encompasses women's health, fertility, pregnancy, birth and mothering.

Watching her made me both jealous and gave me courage ... I also wanted some meaning and purpose of my own (still not fully comprehending what I was seeking). That led me to end my professional career and, in a magical twist of events, immersed as a photographer among improvisation dancers. My heart sang (maybe for the first time in my life!) ... until I couldn't afford to do it anymore and my heart broke ... AND ... we started running out of money.

During all this time Andreea swore she would NEVER go back to Romania. I created for her a website in Hebrew ... and it (and her work) didn't take off. Then I created a site in Romanian ... and it blew up. She was CLEARLY being called back.

And so, 2 years after we "won" the right to continue living together in Israel we left to Romania. I liquidated my retirement funds (paid quite a heavy penalty) and we jumped off a cliff. We decided to move to a village close to a major city. This was both to avoid dumping money down the rent-drain and to be accessible to people. Andreea became one of the founders of home-birthing in Romania.

3 years later Andreea left. I was hurt, scared, alone in a village in a foreign country. Yet in the midst of all that emotional pain, there was something subtle hiding. I remembered the purpose I had attributed to our relationship. During all our years together I wanted her to be independent, to be able to make her own way in the world, to do what she cared most deeply about. That was what she was leaving to do - SUCCESS ... just not with me! We are still in a loving and caring relationship and I feel that I had something to do with every child she helped bring into the world. Her finding purpose gave me "access to purpose". The purpose lived (and literally lives) on.

A few years later Andreea gave up home-birthing too. It became too dangerous for her. About a year ago we finally took down her (by then anonymous) website ... millions of page views of (apparently) precious information that was, until then, not available in the Romanian language ... she wanted it gone from her life ... to be completely disassociated.

so you are seeking purpose eh? ... deep sigh ... pause ...

This experience has not turned me off from seeking purpose, however, it has made me more of a "purpose pragmatist".

Purpose in CSA (Food Boxes)

The "Peasant Box" project I mentioned in the call was created together with Andreea when she was still around. Given my "nothing to do with people" attitude it felt deeply ironic that THAT became a thing.

The "idea" came to me when we attended a peasant association meeting and what I understood was that there was plenty of good food being grown in villages that was having an increasingly hard time finding its way to consumers. For over a year I spoke out about this ... but no one showed any interest. The "idea" gained body after we bought the farm and moved to the village. there we met the first producer (who, as I mentioned in our call, had just decided to leave the project). Purpose came knocking on my door again.

What started as a simple site with a contact form and a spreadsheet has grown to be a technical platform. I dislike coding, but purpose motivated me to code. I was fueled by the moving stories (all primarily about RELATIONSHIPS ... food and money somehow always seemed secondary). And even now, as this founding producer has walked away, betraying my trust (and destabilizing my sense of basic income) ... I find myself going back to the purpose ... and again ... despite human beings stumbling about incoherently ... purpose lives on. The daughter who had a mother in winter, and her own room in a renovated warm house, moved to a better high school and now supported in university ... that, I believe, will resonate way beyond my comprehension and lifetime (regardless of anyone else valuing or appreciating it).

... but it feels fragile ... not as resilient as I would like it to be. After eight years, I am finding it increasingly difficult to care on my own for the technology that makes it tick. My attempts, so far, to mature from a one-person-team to a crew have failed (can say more about that) ... and THAT, I feel, poses the greatest risk to this project.

Seeking Purpose from Retreat

... now you know how I arrived at living in retreat :)

When I arrived in Romania I had been so let down, hurt by and tired of people (the cost of struggling?) that I wanted nothing to do with people. I wanted to grow my own food, cut down my own trees for fire-wood ... to disconnect from the poisonous experience of people. I bought into the "self-sustainability" narrative ... and quickly discovered that it was bullshit. I can't make a nail, or a hammer or a single cutting blade in the workshop "on my own."

After the first few years of endless work (a lot of it on my own) making the house livable, I arrived at a space where I had much more free time ... and a deeply embodied realization that if WE are going to have a future (worth living) it has to be in community (and that is all I feel confident saying about the word "community").

Over these years I have tried to reach out and connect with others/groups working on things that feel meaningful and good to me. If the outcome of these efforts is to be measured by "being involved in groups" I have failed.

My practice has brought me to a place of internal fine-tuning and well-being. I am looking to bring my well-being to a crew, but I am not willing to sacrifice it for a crew. In fact, I aspire to experience my well-being deepening and taking on new dimensions within the context of a crew.

I feel myself teetering on the edge of surrendering to complete retreat from the world ... but I have not (yet?) been able to shake off the (damned?) urge to crew (I am enjoying the transformation of that word into a verb).

Purpose & Microsolidarity

In my (limited) experience with groups over the last 10 years I've felt that there can be confusion of motivations. I felt that many (if not most?) people valued (defacto!) the socializing itself (being seen and heard) over the purpose around which the group convened (what we supposedly came to talk about). That felt out of tune for me.

I too am aware of the desire to be heard and seen and held in a group ... but I didn't come in expecting that to be satisfied. I came to be of service to the purpose that convened us. I was available both/either to do the work and if necessary to work on how-we-work ... I do find satisfaction in THAT ... in doing good work AND learning to be better at it as a group.

Looking back at this realization from the present moment it sinks even deeper. I DO NOT expect to find satisfying social-emotional support in a group. I LOVE the idea that this is possible and I YEARN to experience it ... but given where I am and my past experience ... I cannot IMAGINE this is a real possibility. Maybe this is more likely to happen where there is continuous physical proximity ... but not from MY physically distant place of retreat = NOT ON ZOOM!

This is where purpose comes in (perhaps a fancy defense mechanism?) I can find lasting satisfaction from being in service of a purpose. But if there isn't a clear purpose ... then that void is filled by personal purposes = emotional needs. And the people here are GOOD at listening and expressing ... so initially, it feels promising (<--- key word popped up: PROMISE) ... but then it fizzles out ... because 90 minutes once a month is ... well ... not much. And then the emotional promise vaporizes AND ... I find myself in emptiness again. When I get off the call ... if there isn't something lasting (beyond fleeting emotional satisfaction) ... I land back in yearning. I feel like I am looking for meaningful relationship, not a sequence of one-night-stands.

So ... again ... maybe IT IS JUST ME and shouldn't concern you? Then again, I don't know if "physical proximity" has ever been or will in the foreseeable future be a good qualifier for the forming of congregations and crews. Biological infection do spread well in physical proximity. Ideas like Microsolidarity ... I don't see that. If that is the case ... then maybe figuring out remote congregation is vital? that is something I may be able to represent :)

Me, Now

I've taken this section out. I intended it to give context to where I am personally, emotionally ... it came from trying to relate to Simon's question about "what would make me feel safe" but when I read it I didn't feel good about posting it here. I am happy to share it with anyone who wants to read it. Just ask.

I don't expect to feel safe ... I feel comfortable expressing myself even if I don't feel safe. I feel I am equipped to inhabit my insecurities. I desire to feel inspired, a part of, useful, in resonance ...

Purpose of the "Virtual Meetup" Group!?

Yes Simon, I welcome the question and line of inquiry around a "calling question" ... but I am not sure if that is sufficient (at least in this case). I am curious to see that play out and see where it goes.

I have a desire for there to be a call to action ... I would like to experience impact ... I don't want to talk about hammers ... I want to swing one ... to feel its weight, the texture of the handle, the energy it holds as gravity starts pulling on it, the impact when it makes contact. Pretending or simulating has never worked for me ... if it isn't real it isn't alive ... if it isn't alive there isn't real feedback to inform my learning. For example: I experienced satisfaction when I was able to help the group schedule the recurring meeting schedule.

Maybe in the context of Microsolidarity that impact can be (for example) supporting just one person in the group who is facing a challenging situation ... and if that if the case then let's DO that ... I prefer to dedicate an entire call or even numerous calls to one person or one question or one idea or one word (in the last call I heard the word trust beckoning for attention) in depth, over shallow rounds where everyone expresses something but no time is left for deeper exploration.

I don't enjoy and distrust ideation that is not applied. I want to experience you and your skills in practice. I want you to meet me and my skills in practice. If we try to get to know each other by talking about ideas (knowing what I know about myself) we'll likely get into some theoretically pointless dead ends. You will FEEL me and my ideas much better if we actually do together. I am not available for ideas that I cannot apply (so as an example I even limit my intake of ideas about Microsolidarity) and not interested in offering ideas that are not applicable to you.

Simon you wrote:

... learn more about what it takes to set up a congregation effectively, and that involves what it takes to provide the fertile ground for the emergence of crews.

and I ask: is it possible to learn what it takes to set up a congregation effectively without actually DOING it?

I can elaborately describe an asana (physical posture in Yoga) to you, but you would not be able to learn it from my description. You could even watch me do it and you still would not be able to learn it. It can only be learned in a mutual relationship ... I need to first learn about you in order to get a sense of how to best introduce it to you within your needs and capabilities, I need to teach you to breath in it, I need to teach you where to place your attention, we need to revisit the teaching over time as you respond and adapt to the posture. It has to be LIVED to be LEARNED.

In my mind the virtual meetup group is a liminal space ... an orbit around planet microsolidarity:

  • Some of us are floating around in orbit looking for a place to land, connect, make a home.

  • Maybe some of the "floaters" may bump into each other, connect, crew and gain enough collective mass for gravity to pull us down to the planet.

  • Others are already inhabitants of the planet and they come up from the surface to visit the "floaters" and hold a connection between the liminal orbit and the planet ... to share with those in orbit about what is happening on the ground and with those on the ground about what new potentials have been attracted to the planet and are awaiting in orbit.

Reflecting on this I sense a subtle fear in me: if we pursue that line of inquiry the group may dissolve (maybe only for some?). What will "floating in orbit" be like without this group? Will the gravity hold me close to the planet or will I float back out into empty space?


Joe Lightfoot Mon 11 May 2020

Hi Ronen, your story and sharing here touched me deeply. Thank for you being so brave and generous in your enquiry. There is a lot here I feel to respond to more deeply, but the major thought I felt to share was that I believe fully virtual/remote congregations will definitely have a part to play in the wider movement of Microsolidarity and community weaving. There are after all sorts of people that for whatever reason (geographic isolation, being on retreat, physical limitations around mobility etc) cannot physically connect in with people they would wish to commune with , and really perhaps these are the folks that need such structures the most. My own Collective has been spread to the four corners of the earth due to Covid and so has essentially been in remote mode these past few months, and we've grown closer than ever though intensive online interaction in different formats.

Perhaps exploring the formation of a fully remote crew and then congregation is one way to start swinging the hammer?


Patrick Campbell Sat 9 May 2020

I just wanted to leave a quick note to express my regret at having missed the second meeting. I must have mixed up my time zones or something because I had us down to meet at 5 pm EDT. I appreciate the recaps and conversations on this thread to fill in the gaps.

Having participated in the first discussion, maybe it will be helpful to add some of my initial impressions. First of all, I have to acknowledge that it was a bit trickier for me than I expected to meet what I felt were the group's expectations regarding intimacy and "presentness." I chalk a lot of that up to the (virtual) format of the conversation and the fact that I'm meeting all of you for the first time. Some of you seemed a bit more practiced / polished in relating through this medium than others, and I wonder if that disparity may have led to a divergence in how different participants experienced the meeting, both then as well as moving forward. It might be worth tracking (via temperature checks, or whatever) that dynamic as the group continues to meet.

All that being said, I was pleasantly surprised at the depth of conversation that was had and how much understanding I feel I was able to glean about each of you even with these impediments. Just makes me wish more that we were able to meet in person...

Another factor I'm certain was at play was that my wife informed me mid-call that my dog - whom we had to leave with her parents in her Peru and had been sick for several days - had just died. She was only 7 years old and had been an important part of our shared "story" together, so it was hard news for us to hear. Whatever the case, I felt that I was not able after that point to do justice to the spirit of the meeting and I regret what I may have missed as a consequence.

Finally, as several others have mentioned above, I also noticed a pretty wide diversity of motivations among the group for participating in these meetings and wonder if our purposes might be better met in the long-term by either splitting into smaller groups or perhaps providing some resource to help participants better gauge where they may fit in, even outside this group altogether.

Personally, I'm at a place in my life where shared purpose is much more important to me than shared community, and I recognize that that balance of priorities may put me at odds with those in the group for whom that person-to-person connection is the foremost goal. Perhaps a better way to say it is that I would be disappointed if the person-to-person connections I was making here didn't eventually translate into some sort of outward action down the line, and the main reason I'm here is because I see those trustful relationships as an essential condition of the sort of productive, meaningful work I want to fill my life.

Look forward to reading everyone's impressions from meeting 2!


Ronen Hirsch Sun 10 May 2020

Next Meetup: June 12, 2020

  • The next meeting will take place on Friday June 12th, 2020.

  • Please note UTC TIMEZONE to avoid confusion.

  • Meeting time: 13:00 - 14:30 UTC + optional 14:30 - 15:00 UTC.

  • A host/facilitator is needed for this meeting.

  • Location: https://meet.jit.si/microsolidarity-meetup

This comment can be used as a thread for conversation in preparation for the meetup and for impressions following the meetup.


Ronen Hirsch Sat 6 Jun 2020

reminder bump: the next meetup is on June 12 (details above) and @Toni Blanco has offered to host this time.


Toni Blanco Wed 10 Jun 2020

I will suggest a concrete agenda at the beginning of the meeting when I know how many attendants we are. If nothing new comes out, we can share and talk about our particular "dogmas" or at least "strong hypothesis" on microsolidarity and crews and congregations formation we are testing with our experimentations. I hope that it will spark interesting conversations. I leave here a wise agenda link, just in case. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1AQgjvfaRPuuWcChjtO4czKmguRkCDlNETyfYZFkeOKI/edit?usp=sharing


Markus Koller Fri 12 Jun 2020

Can't make this one unfortunately, am a bit too distracted with other things at the moment. Hopefully I'll join the next meeting again!


Richard D. Bartlett Fri 12 Jun 2020

I also need to send my apologies. Was looking forward to Toni's hosting but I am exhausted so don't have anything to contribute today besides a nap :)


Toni Blanco Fri 12 Jun 2020

I am exhausted myself. Anyone willing to experiment with exhaustion and the vulnerability carried with it is welcome :-)
Also we can make it shorter. Or less participatory. I can tell you about my research and then Q&A
Let us decide after the check-in. Maybe a check-in as a fell-good-touch-base is enough.


Simon Grant Fri 12 Jun 2020

Exhaustion -- we so much need to recognise this. To me this runs hand in hand with recognising diversity in terms of what is often called 'neurotypicality'. Some people really appreciate asynchronous, sometimes! Long-form, sometimes. Personally, I love both sides!


Ronen Hirsch Mon 15 Jun 2020

I don't expect much documentation to emerge from this meeting. It was intimate (four of us) and surprising and potentially productive. This came from it.


Simon Grant Mon 15 Jun 2020

Hi Ronen I don't seem to have permission to view "this". Would be interested, if possible.




Ronen Hirsch Mon 15 Jun 2020

I've corrected the link Simon, you should be able to access it now.


Simon Grant Mon 15 Jun 2020

Perfect, thanks Ronen! Your plans come across to me as high quality well thought out. Probably not me this time, but that's the kind of basis I would appreciate for a crew.


Toni Blanco Mon 15 Jun 2020

The 3rd virtual meetup took place on June 12th 2020 with the following participants: @Ronen Hirsch @James Lewis, @Alex Rodriguez, @Toni Blanco (Facilitated)

Some meeting notes can be found here (It was hard for me taking notes, participate, and facilitate at the same time, so in some point I stopped)

The meeting included:

  1. Introductions

  2. Chek-In

  3. What do you need to be involved in the microsolidarity space?

  4. Challenging the "proximity" assumption for forming Crews and Congregations

  5. On the opportunity of an invitation to crew around this subject, and how to craft it

  6. Check-out

An outcome of this session is this invitation to crew.


Josh Fairhead Sun 21 Jun 2020

Ouch, sorry guys I woulda attended had I known about this but missed the invite! Glad it all went well though - I wonder if we can signal more effectively or share a calendar?

In that regard I made this empty cal we could use/share with the following deets - but of course depends on buy in and uptake (if it sticks, we can post it in the notice board) - but heres some leg work so I'm not just moaning about missing out:

Calendar ID:

This gives you write access (I believe):

Public URL to this cal:


Toni Blanco Fri 15 May 2020

I will be glad to co-host or host the next session.

After reading the notes of the first meetup, I think that it would be interesting to devote this session to talk about our assumptions on microsolidarity, and how our current experiments will test/challenge those assumptions (if that is the case). In that sense, it will help to unveil what are our hypotheses. By sharing assumptions/hypotheses we can check how "evident" they are for the rest of the group, how diverse our experiments on microsolidarity are, and the potential learning from them. By assumptions, I mean "a fact or statement (such as a proposition, axiom, or notion) taken for granted". Of course, this is just a proposal, and I am open to any other one that feels right to the group.


Alex Rodriguez Fri 15 May 2020

Hi all, after our last meeting I offered to open a space on Loomio for us to ask for what we need.

This is arising from where we seem to be after two meetings, where there's seems to be a consensus that, for now, we are committed to continuing to meet monthly and let our collective sense of what to do emerge from there. @Joe Lightfoot mentioned, however, that he was feeling ambivalent about staying involved with that process given the other things vying for attention in his life. (Joe, please clarify if I misrepresented that at all!) It occurred to me that many of us may have similar thoughts or impulses and so it would be good to know what unmet thresholds for staying involved exist among group members. Hence: asking for what we need!

Simply leave a reply to this comment if there is anything you're needing to stay active with the current process. We can then orient our group conversation around how to meet those needs, possibly on our next call or in another thread. Thank you!


Simon Grant Fri 15 May 2020

Thanks, @Alex Rodriguez that makes sense to me. As I have an established interest in #microsolidarity I'm happy to continue participating as is, and I don't have any specific needs to add. I would hope that others feel free to come and go in response to each one's sense of what is fruitful and meaningful for them. Of course we can't all participate in everything, but I sometimes suffer from FOMO so sympathise with anyone else who may do too. I'll be glad to read of people's more specific needs, and hope we can collectively sense whether this is a good place to meet those needs or not. On the other side, we can't meet all of everyone's needs here! 🙂


Richard D. Bartlett Fri 15 May 2020

Great question Alex.

I'm currently co-hosting the Microsolidarity Practice Week and it feels like a very clear container for me: people have committed some time and money, and I've committed to sharing some concepts and practices that I trust will be useful in many contexts. I understand my role in this context.

This is in stark contrast with the Virtual Meetup calls, where I don't understand my role, I don't really know who is calling me in or what they're hoping to achieve with our time together. So eventually I would like to get to some clarity, but I don't need to know that answer immediately.

I think I would be much more engaged if the Virtual Meetup were hosted on a videoconferencing platform that allowed for small group breakouts. I seldom enjoy a conversation with more than 5 participants, unless there is some sophisticated process design involved.


Toni Blanco Fri 15 May 2020

Hi Richard, regarding the lack of breakout rooms on Jitsi, I think that we could try to find a workaround. Zoom control of breakout groups is not a needed feature for a group as ours. My partner Sergio and I just installed a Jitsi instance in our server and I have been playing with it.

I can create a Main room and then Group1 Group2 Group3.... We all join first the Main room. I can share the links to the other rooms in the chat, and they can easily be remembered because they will look that:


When it is time for the break out, everyone can go to her room.

True: I won't be able to send the same message to all the rooms or tell them time is up and ask them to come back to the main room; I have to join each of them to write it in the chat. Honestly, cost/benefit, I think this is a minor issue. A work around: to open, for instance, a telegram group as the main chat and message everyone through it during all the session.

Wanna try next meeting? Also a brave group of volunteers could try it with me before the meeting. I do not know about performance, but we are not a huge group.


Richard D. Bartlett Fri 15 May 2020

Looks great thanks Toni!


Joe Lightfoot Sat 16 May 2020

Thank you @Alex Rodriguez this seems like a sensible next step to me. I'm keen to see how it keeps evolving based on my passion for the subject matter and the lovely and inspiring group of humans that keep showing up. For it to become a regular and ongoing thing for me, I'd need to experience an ongoing sense of learning around how to keep getting better at weaving community. Essentially I'm keen to compare lessons and insights with others who are also forming and running congregations and crews.


Josh Fairhead Sat 16 May 2020

Yeah we had the same issue with Jitsi so created a switcher back in November, since then its done a bunch of virtual conferences we weren't involved in with success.

We use the original flavour located here as a community space, but I'm increasingly gravitating to Discord for breakout rooms as well. If you wanna make your own flavour of interspace the repo is here: https://github.com/interspacechat/interspace.chat/


Josh Fairhead Sat 16 May 2020

In response to the thread topic, yeah I feel theres a bit of a purpose void here as well tbh. @Joe Lightfoot to steal Rich's analogy; I've been blowing on a congregation spark myself so can empathise with being exceptionally time poor and spread thinly - but since self organisation is a gradual and emergent process I really don't expect things to just work off the bat. If you wanna talk congregations and build trust I'm totally down, but really practice is where its at for me.

Perhaps we should all just start crewing a little bit and see if it works? I've put a loose call in the practice week thread but to share in this space too I'd really love to intentionally create a practice of mutual support for eachothers projects... as mentioned over there I'm pretty time poor due to systemic projects with dependencies on dependencies all the way down, so in my ideal world I'd love to play 2nd, 3rd, 4th, nth fiddle on the organisational side of things. i.e. I'd like to be the 9% rather than the 1% or 90% - I'll share my attention to other peoples projects with an expectation of reciprocal exchange - kinda like time banking I guess :)


Toni Blanco Thu 4 Jun 2020

Please correct me, but I think the purpose is quite clear: we are here because we want to experiment, share learnings, and practice microsolidarity on our way to prefigurate different forms of production and consumption that make obsolete the current ones that are destroying our planet and societies. (A tried to define it very inclusively; (i.e. "subverting capitalism" is way shorter but less friendly). What we are feeling IMHO is the result of a lack of concrete objectives, which I do not see as a problem at this point. We are in this Loomio thread because there is no entry cost, no exit cost, and an almost unexisting requirement of commitment. We are learning from sharing and getting feedback as our experiences evolve. Taking into account all that, I think we are fine.


Ronen Hirsch Sat 6 Jun 2020

@Toni Blanco I would like to:

  1. Re-iterate that this Loomio thread is a ripple of a virtual meetup (video face-time).

  2. Connect your comment (above) to another comment you just made in another thread.

In the other comment you mentioned creating a livelihood pot, a workshop and a small team (crew?) that carried the workshop out to the world. That felt like a concrete and grounding purpose (that may lead you to other potential purposes and pursuits).

I have a feeling that "experiment, share learnings, and practice microsolidarity" may not crystalize unless it is similarly applied to a real and grounded purpose. I have this image of trying to learn to swim outside of water. Yes, you can simulate the motions a few times ... but learning won't really begin until you actually get in the water.

My impression is that the people here are mostly beyond the point of "simulating outside the water".

I've also heard @Richard D. Bartlett mention a "Weavers Guild" congregation he is a part of which I imagine may be what some people (at least those in and facilitating active congregations) here are looking for in the virtual meetup.

Also, while I appreciate the potential of "no entry cost, no exit cost, and an almost unexisting requirement of commitment" I feel this may also be related to the limited traction this group is currently experiencing. An amoeba without a membrane is just ... goo :)


Toni Blanco Wed 10 Jun 2020

It is my understanding that, for now, this is mostly a space for an exchange of knowledge on microsolidarity practiced elsewhere, which is a very basic practice of microsolidarity itself. Of course, it is in our hands to change that to move to incubate/foster crews and congregations between its members, but I do not see the energy flowing in that direction.


Alex Rodriguez Wed 10 Jun 2020

I'm sensing that this may be a tension worth spending some time on in our meeting this week


Ronen Hirsch Tue 30 Jun 2020

Next Meetup: July 10, 2020

  • The next meeting will take place on Friday July 10th, 2020.

  • Please note UTC TIMEZONE to avoid confusion.

  • Meeting time: 13:00 - 14:30 UTC + optional 14:30 - 15:00 UTC.

  • A host/facilitator is needed for this meeting.

  • Location: https://meet.jit.si/microsolidarity-meetup

This comment can be used as a thread for conversation in preparation for the meetup and for impressions following the meetup.