I was very inspired by Margaret Wheatley’s quote on the website you sent: There is no power for change greater than a community discovering ‘what it cares about.’  I found that quote not only appropriate for your situation but appropriate for mine as well and for this reason I just want to share a few thoughts that may help you.

I am presently working with a community in Haïti in helping them identify their true needs including the need of governance.  I have made the decision to deliberately help them focus on what they care for instead of the problems they see and have been looking at for many generations.  My conviction is that as we focus on problems we give them more attention and end up creating more of these problems sometimes as side effects to even the best solutions.  With generations of looking at problems it is not surprising that the thought of what is cared for does not come instinctively.  It is a phenomenon I have often observed and you may have also.  The tendency is to the problem, almost always.  It takes a shift to rebalance the mind in seeing things differently to bring real change.

At first I wanted to use the Open Space Forum and then with the above in mind I decided to precede the session with an Appreciative Inquiry (AI) session.  So far I have completed the AI portion of my consultations and have noticed the shift in energy.  When I asked them what they cared for, I had to ask three times for them to shift their energy to something constructive.  My next step is an Open Space.

As communities are like individuals, they too are so used to problem solving and identifying their weaknesses that they have forgotten to shift their mind to what they care for.  I believe that AI can certainly help.  I have noticed again and again that questions on what they care for always has a mind-shifting effect, this effect is needed to open the space to a balanced discussion.

Food for thought