Collaborative Design

Laura Chasin

Director of the Public Conversations Project, Watertown, Massachusetts

Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003

This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).

But what we would do, you see, is we made them work.

We designed the first session, and then we called them up and asked, "How did it go, what was hard, what was important for you. What do you think the next step is?" And then we would take their ideas and turn them into a structured sequenced agenda. We've always called it a plan for our time and they would look at it. We would say something about it and they would ok it. Then they would launch into it and then we would call them up again, so it was a dance between them and us. It was a sharing of responsibility for what happened, because we really didn't know. This felt really like pioneering work, and going in with this sort of Zen. I mean one of my favorite mantras, when I get feeling too over-responsible was I think it was Thomas Crumb, who said that the correct attitude for the dispute resolver was the attitude for the Zen warrior going into battle. The battle has already happened and you've lost. It's all over, it's another way of getting into this mindset of being receptive to the things that the people you are serving, and facilitating are telling you what they need. And then being, because you're not trying and have a lot of pre-conceived ideas, you're able to access your spontaneity and creativity to build off their cues.