Some conversations are challenging to have. Particularly about social topics such as inequality, discrimination, climate change, gun control and many others affect everybody yet the debates around them are highly polarized politically. In today’s digital society it can even be hard to connect about small things, let alone such deeply impactful subjects. There are sad and frightening news stories on a regular basis and most of us feel relatively powerless to determine what to do either to influence debate or make any kind of positive change. Talking about these things are challenging personally (thinking about frightening events is hugely taxing) and we often feel out of our depth.
This is not a political, left versus right, republican versus democrat concern. Each of us has societal issues which we deeply care about and opinions on issues of the day with a perspective from our unique experience. Unfortunately, in daily life, we rarely get the opportunity to talk through these issues, much less formulate actions (large or small) which might help. The fear of a polarizing political/religious conversation may also make us less willing to engage.
In many cases though, even if we know peripherally that there are others who might be concerned about the same problems, it can be hard to strike up a conversation while at work, while meeting or socially. You never know when such topics can devolve into awkward political or even religious standoffs. Further, while we might be concerned about some of these big-picture social issues, it’s rare we get the time to focus on actually trying to solve them.
Starting the conversation
In the fall of 2017, a few of us with professional connections were talking about this challenge (thank you Kin, Lorinda and Steve!). We decided that we’d try a small experiment in creating a safe, productive environment for a few people we knew with social concerns to talk about their biggest worries and ideas for how to address them.
We picked beautiful New Mexico in June for this first event (thank you Lorinda!) and ended up with 12 willing attendees who quickly said yes.
We set the bar for success very low: spending some focused time at least understanding the types of concerns some of our colleagues and friends shared and sketching out what solutions looked like. The objective was not necessarily to solve any of the problems, or create a group for action, or determine which were the most important problems even. The objective was:
To have the conversation.
Talk out concerns, understand the concerns of others, connect dots we had not connected before and perhaps discover some seeds of solutions to try.
What resulted was a genuinely deep and meaningful few days of conversation. For all of us attending the workshops, there were moments of recognition that we weren’t alone in concern for something, genuine new insights and a excitement about what actually could be done. Topics were 100% up to the individual attendees and we had a broad range.
This site provides a few things:
- A write up the first workshop we organized.
- Some shared principles and suggestions for how to run your own similar event.
- Links to follow up writing on topics which came up at the workshop (in the event summary above).
We wish you fruitful conversations!
Infinity and Drivers
Why is this site called “Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers”? Good question. The quote comes from Douglas Adams novel “The Restaurant at the End of the Universe”. Infinity also requires a few reckless drivers – that’s cool with us too – but we’re hoping that reading this a few of us might take time to step back and think carefully about where were are headed!
The is also a book by the same name. If you’re looking for that here you go!
Thank you to the original attendees at the first workshop – the “Alburqurque 12”:
- Mike Amundsen
- Tony Blank
- Lorinda Brandon
- Don Rossmore
- Kim Kantola
- Kin Lane
- Jeremiah Lee
- Mehdi Medjaoui
- Trisha Ristagno
- Shelby Switzer
- Audrey Watters
- Steven Willmott
and to Charles Ashley and Matt Reinbold who were stealth supporters!
Site Photo Credits