The Evolution of Salon 360˚
Our initial intent for Salon 360˚ was to mimic the Salons of Enlightenment that sprang up in 18th-century France. People came together in those salons to discuss topics ranging from science and literature to politics and religion without fear of persecution.
We also had in mind Chautauqua, a movement in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that was similar in some ways to the Salons of Enlightenment, named for Chautauqua Lake in New York State, at which the movement originated.
Robert Pirsig wrote this of the kind of inquiry he desired to conduct in his book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance:
“What is in mind is a sort of Chautauqua … like the traveling tent-show Chautauquas that used to move across America … an old-time series of popular talks intended to edify and entertain, improve the mind and bring culture and enlightenment to the ears and thoughts of the hearer … In this Chautauqua, I would like not to cut any new channels of consciousness but simply dig deeper into old ones that have become silted in with the debris of thoughts grown stale and platitudes too often repeated … “What is best?” [is] a question which cuts deeply rather than broadly, a question whose answers tend to move the silt downstream … Now the stream of our common consciousness seems to be obliterating its own banks, losing its central direction and purpose, flooding the lowlands, disconnecting and isolating the highlands, and to no particular purpose other than the wasteful fulfillment of its own internal momentum. Some channel deepening seems called for.”
In our initial attempt to deepen the channel, we now realize we attempted to run before we could walk. We took on a topic — racism — that is, in fact, symptomatic of a more fundamental topic — ineffective communication. We learned, especially through your feedback from the last Salon session, that we need to address causes before we can remedy effects.
We’re Listening & Learning
Here’s some of the more instructive and telling feedback:
- This subject was a struggle. I couldn’t figure out how to apply what we got out of learning more about each other to what we can/should do to address the challenges and the changes we want to make in the world.
- People in 360°/HumansFirst share values. What do we do outside of these safe circles?
- How do we approach people who may not share our values or think like us?
- How do we ask questions that don’t seem judgmental or offensive?
- When something that hits our core is expressed, what to do at that moment?
This is great feedback for five reasons:
- #1 indicates the problem we have with communication.
- #2 suggests we’ve created something of an echo chamber. It also suggests we need to break out of safe circles to make meaningful progress.
- #3 implies good news (a willingness to approach others) and bad news (assumptions about their values and/or a failure to recognize shared values).
- #4 indicates the need for mindfulness in both parties to a conversation: Questioners need to be mindful of refraining from judgmental or offensive language. And listeners need to be willing to consider what they find judgmental or offensive and why.
- #5 proves the truth of #4.
Shift Starts Here
With all of that under our belts, we’re going to shift our approach starting with our next Salon session. Rather than going into breakout rooms, we’ll remain in one room together. We’ll ask specific questions and give specific examples of situations that illustrate the points above. We’ll come to know each other better. And we’ll come to know ourselves better by our responses to what transpires.
Please register below to join us for our next Salon 360˚, where Shift Happens.