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"With an Open Mind" Discussion Group Pages

As the name implies, the "With An Open Mind" Discussion Group is intended as a forum in which people can share their views in a non-dogmatic, non-confrontational manner. We hope to accomplish this by adhering to the following:

Procedures and Restrictions

Meetings will begin with a pre-discussion, informal, get-acquainted period. Members and guests can "wander in", at any time, during this period.

The formal discussion period will begin, PROMPTLY, at the designated time. All participants should be in their seats and ready to begin at that time (if possible, given the meeting location, participants will sit in a circle, facing each .other, with the moderator, clearly visible, at the "head" of the circle).

The moderator will call the meeting to order, PROMPTLY, at the designated time, welcome members and guests, and provide a quick recap of the restrictions to be applied to facilitate a healthy discussion. Then, the moderator will introduce the meeting topic ... providing an initial focus for the discussion. Finally, the moderator will pose a leading question and solicit responses from those present.

In order to provide EVERYONE an equivalent opportunity to contribute to the discussion ... in order to make certain that ALL contributions are respectfully heard ... in order to prevent the "monopolization" of the discussion by any single point of view ... the following restrictions will be applied:

  • No one is to speak unless and until "recognized" by the moderator. There are to be NO "interruptions" and NO "side conversations".

  • All contributions must be of "reasonable" length (the moderator will exercise his or her discretion to "cut off" any contribution that seems in violation of this restriction).

  • All contributions MUST be directed to the moderator or group at large ... NEVER "at" one of the other participants.

  • All contributions should be understood to be the sharing of an individual perspective, NEVER as the communication of "ultimate truth" (it's perfectly acceptable to cite "objective evidence" in support of one's conclusions, but it should never be assumed that EVERYONE will see that "objective evidence" from the same perspective).

While it is the moderator's responsibility to "enforce" the above restrictions, it is the responsibility of ALL participants to support the moderator in this effort.

Once initiated, the formal discussion period will continue as a series of leading questions (typically, though not always posed by the moderator) and participant responses. This formal discussion period will last for an hour to an hour and a half (as determined by the moderator's judgment of the progress of the discussion).

At the conclusion of the formal discussion period, there will be a brief (typically 10 to 15 minutes) "interlude". Participants will have an opportunity to take a bathroom break, perhaps enjoy some refreshments, and welcome newcomers to the group. Those who, for whatever reason, feel they must leave early, will have the opportunity to do so at this time without interrupting the discussion itself.

At the conclusion of this brief "interlude", and at the discretion of the moderator (based on an evaluation of the remaining interest of the group in the evening's topic), those participants still present will be asked to reconvene. A less formal discussion will then ensue, during which the restrictions described above will be somewhat relaxed. Participants MAY (as dictated by the size of the remaining group and the rules of common courtesy) more freely offer their contributions to the discussion, without first being "recognized" by the moderator, and with fewer restrictions on frequency and length of contribution. Further, the moderator, he or herself, may now become "just another participant", with the freedom to offer a personal contribution (rather than artificially adopting a perspective designed to elicit contributions during the earlier, formal discussion period).

The informal discussion period will end no later than the pre-announced ending time, as mandated by the agreement with (or requirements of) the designated meeting location.

Table of Contents

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About "With an Open Mind" Discussion Group October 27, 2014 5:20 PM Vernon

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