Case study WildlifeDirect 

When used well, Open Space Technology offers a powerful means of bringing together large numbers of people to share experiences and insights and find common ground that they can build on. However, it does need to be used well, with a deep commitment to the simplicity of its self-organising principles. Over-facilitation can leave participants in so-called Open Space events puzzled, frustrated and disappointed. 

 

PublicServiceWorks partner, Roma Iskander was one of the early practitioners of Open Space in the UK, having trained with the founder of the method, Harrison Owen, in the early 1990s. She is in demand as a specialist practitioner and, along with fellow PublicServiceWorks partner Sheila Marsh, also runs highly rated training in the method for people to lead and commission Open Space events.

 

Kenya-based NGO WildlifeDirect is committed to ‘changing hearts, minds and laws to ensure Africa’s critical species endure forever’. Their campaigns have generated unprecedented local support for conservation. Working with WildlifeDirect, PublicServiceWorks has led major Open Space events to build on and develop this local support further.

In 2016, an event explored a national issue – the challenges of infrastructure development within a national park – in a gathering of 250 people. This video produced by WildlifeDirect gives a vivid sense of how clarity can emerge from complexity.

The event report can be accessed here >>

As shown in the video, this Open Space attracted around 750 people, both adults and school students, spanning a wide range of individuals and organisations. All wanted to have their say about matters of great importance to them. Naturally, the issues and perspectives varied widely; but the structure and positive ambience of the event encouraged participants to listen carefully to different viewpoints, looking where possible for common ground. Priorities for action were then identified, and decisions taken on what local people wanted to do themselves and how other partners could contribute.

 

The video shows how immediate priorities for food and water meshed with aspirations for longer term excellence in education, technology and sustainable living.

 

The event report can be accessed here >>

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