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Samyuktha PC

Chai Kadai

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How to create a welcoming and free space for dialogue?

David Bohm, J. Krishnamurti, and several other pioneers on creating forums for dialogue and exploring dialogue as an attitude and process, did not do it easily. Dialogue, is in fact, one of the hardest things for human beings of the 21st century to be a part of, because we are already the sons and daughters of cults, opinions, political parties, ideologies and so on. We are mostly 'dollys' (clones) walking around propagating the same old wine without an internal process of dialogue and without a willingness to be part of a larger dialogue.

Since, dialogue expects the participants to leave all their wants for a specific goal it doesn't seem so inviting or glamorous. When I started this small collective in South India called 'Chai Kadai' (which literally means tea shop) my idea was to develop a space where people can explore and experiment with creating these spaces through art, design, literature, etc.

As any questioning journey, the depressing days are uncountable. But, the wonderful days when we watch something get created stands apart in memory. TED for me is such a space. Where ideas flow freely, get picked up on their way and flow freely again. However, TED being primarily in English, makes it extremely difficult for me to take it to many in my city.

Having thought about creating a TED event, there is a certain intimidation of class that sets in when we gather ten people in front of a mike and thousands to listen. It is a good sharing platform, but where is the space for dialogue, for all those "not-so enterprising ideas".

Anyway, I have personally been exploring how to create a physically, intellectually, socially, and emotionally free and safe space for dialogue. I would like to speak to architects, designers, academicians, artists, or just anyone to understand the process of dialogue better for myself and our collective. I hope creating such a space is not merely a utopian dream, but a possibility in small scale in many numbers. This is our dream.

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    Aug 28 2011: Hi Samyuktha,

    Good question. I only have a moment so this will be brief.

    Effective dialogue, like many things, requires skills. Skills can be learned and taught.

    One excellent source of a particular set of skills is the book: Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life by Marshall B. Rosenberg.

    Another skill, as you mention, is creating the right kind of environment. In our company, we literally celebrate mistakes. When one of us makes an honest mistake, everyone else applauds.

    Focussing on "creating" also helps.
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      Aug 28 2011: Dear Mr. Thomas,

      I will definitely check Rosenberg's book. What we try do with Chai Kadai is to create a space for dialogue for contemporaries from various backgrounds, class and political differences. As far as working in a organisation or office, what you suggest should definitely be there. I don't see it anywhere.
      Focusing on creating like you say, I agree a lot. Probably, that is why I trust theatre a lot as a process, something that creates, and something that offers that space.

      Thank you

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