In any talk or discussion there will be what we say and what we leave unsaid. We often overlook all that we leave unsaid, which often includes insights more penetrating than anything we have said or can say. The retreat held space for us to venture into the unsaid, sometimes to say it and sometimes simply to acknowledge it.
The silent sessions were an opportunity to think without talking, without filtering what we could say from what we could not.
Wittgenstein once wrote, “What we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence.” It is essential to have time for silence.
We opened the retreat with 5 minutes of silence followed by 5 minutes of silent reflection on the following questions:
- What makes AID special to you?
- What makes you special to AID?
- What are your hopes from the retreat?
We then followed this with a round of introductions and a brainstorming session on the strengths and weaknesses of AID.
Some of the later sessions also started with a few minutes of silent reflection.
After lunch the topic of discussion was – what should be our aims and how should we get there?
A meta-discussion ensued on whether these should be short, medium or long term goals, whether their scope should be broad and visionary or narrow and operational, and if measurable, on what scale? Should goals guide the organization or strictly define the scope of its activities?
From the various long and short range goals listed, some were shortlisted for break-out discussion on day 2.
We then heard from Suri and Somu about the techniques that they had used to mobilize volunteers and supporters in campaigns in which they were involved.
Evening spread out against the sky and we moved outside to talk about the decision-making processes in AID.
Afterwards, in response to a global call for solidarity with the farmers facing crises in India, we held a candlelight vigil. Kiran and Suri talked about their visits with farming families affected by debt and suicide, and several volunteers shared thoughts about what we could do.
Maryland, 19 September 2015. Candlelight Vigil in solidarity with farmers facing crisis in India
After dinner people met in small groups to discuss Publications, Treasury, AID Audit, and other matters.
more details to follow