The New Open Space Symposium
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Research Forum - Dialogue of Cultures - Open Space Symposium

"Female and Male Strength in a Community of Generations"

from 1. - 5. June 2006
in "Bildungshaus St. Hippolyt" in St. Pölten

· A intercultural dialogue of women and men about gender, spirituality and community.
· Space for research and experience about a community of generations.

Many Indigenous Peoples - as our own ancestors have been too thousands of years ago- are aware of the great value of a well working communities. Their expierience shows that a community of all generations, from children to the elders, is needed, for individuals to contribute their female and male strength so as to let their unique gifts and relationships blossom.
If there is a lack of functioning communities, people have no place to go where they can contribute something and also there will not be enough support to find out about their purpose in life.
In search for the "real and intensive life" they may fall into a whirl of egocentric life and will easily be caught by different addictions or the addictive use of work, sex, consumption, possession, celebrity or power. Others may give up, avoid liveliness or may be addicted to being involved with other people (co-dependency).
This state of endless search and addiction has become normal in the western culture. It is the breeding ground for capitalism, militarism and fundamentalism, which destroys the respect for life and causes a state of violence and war. This is destructive for the social and spiritual capacity of human community and at the same time for the ressources that will heal the pain and injuries caused by violence and war. Without a perspective for healing, drugs will be used to cope with a difficult life, which again leads to the destruction of communities and relationships.
In this negative dynamic a "cult of the strongest" serves as a drug. This cult creates chauvinism, racism and sexism. It attacks human relationships and bondings at their inner core thus promoting a vitious circle.
How can we break through this circle?
In reconnecting to a community of generations, which is based on spirituality, and on our female and male strength as mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, sisters, brothers, men, women, partners and friends.

This Open Space Conference will again take place, to encourage meetings and the forming of communities and offer a platform for varied research on actual projects and experiences of a new culture of community.

For a deeper understanding of the topic of addiction and its defeat with the help of community, self-help communities like Alcoholics Anonymous and others are going to be invited for information events.

There will be opportunities to meet in Womens and Mens groups, in a Circle of Elders, a Circle of Youth and Young Grownups or in a Circle of Couples.

In the morning of the last day of the symposium there is going to be a Summary Presentation to politicians and journalists for sharing the experiences and discoveries of the past days with people from outside.

Impulse-Givers *) who have already agreed to come (as at 14.04.06):

*) Impulse-Givers are participants of the symposium who are specially invited and introduced by the organizer because of their special work or experiences and knowledge. The Impulse-Givers will contribute some impulses to the event but can also just participate as they like to as everyone else can in an Open Space Platform.

Genevieve Vaughan, a remarkable person who is known worldwide as a feminist culture philosopher and a sound culture-critic of the commercializing of human life. She is authoress of the book "For-Giving - a Feminist Critisism of Exchange" where she gives a remotely new understanding of money, economy and language. She rehabilitates the motherly and giving way of economy as an alternative to a multiplying exchange economy ("What do I get at what costs?" [od. to/for/of which price?]) and shows how this way of economizing is connected to a hybrid, already disfunctional "male-cult".

Galsan Tschinag, Mongolia, chief, shaman and (after studying in the former DDR) german-speaking author of numerous books about culture and (hi-) stories of his folk the Tuwa, which have been translated into various other languages. Among them: "Liebes- und andere Steppengeschichten" (Love- and other steppestories), and the poetry books: "Alle Pfade um deine Jurte"( All paths around my jurt), "Nimmer werde ich dich zähmen können" (Never I´ll be able to tame you) and others. 10 years ago he has collected the people of his folk in a caravan over 2000 km and brought back to their original pastures and hunting-grounds (documented in the films " Die Karawane" (The Caravan) and ""Die Geister kehren zurück" (The Spirits Come Back).

Jo Berry, England, daughter of Tory-member of parliament Sir Anthony Berry MP, who was killed at the attack of the IRA on Thatcher and the party congress of the Tories in 1984. Jo later contacted Pat Magee, who had been sent to jail for a lifelong imprisonment because of this happening. After his amnesty in 1999, emphasizing "listening to the story of the enemy" they have given lectures together within the framework of their new peace project "Building Bridges for Peace" (

Pat Magee, former IRA-activist, did the bombing attack on Margret Thatcher in Brighton, England in 1984. After the meeting with Jo Berry, daughter of one of his victims, he participates together with her in the public events of their new peace project "Building Bridges for Peace". His story makes terrorism more understandable (by meaning to listen and understand not to approve and accept it). He says, terrorism stems from weakness and helplessness and the focus on a strategy to which all values and feelings are sacrificed.

Felina Angel Santiago Valdivieso, a muxe from Juchitan/Mexico. Muxes are the so-called "3rd gender" who live in the old matriarchal culture of Juchitan in Mexico, with the body of a man and a female identity. Muxes have a social and professional status and are respected in this culture. Felina will tell about a life with a variety of gender identities seen as natural.

Rosa Martha Toledo Martínez, representative for the matriachal indigenous culture of Juchitan/ Mexico, photographer and singer. With her singing, her pictures, her stories and the way she is, she gives a good impression how women live in this matriarchal culture.

Bernadette Rocher, worked as a streetworker and director of a hostel for prostitutes in Marseille/ France for over 30 years.

Veronika Bennholdt-Thomsen, lecturer (university teacher), director of the Institute for Theory and Practice of Subsistence e.V., Bielefeld. She experienced and documented in her works the economy of subsistence as a non-patriarchal form of economy in the south and also in peripheral regions of the north. She concludes that we should learn from women of different regions in the "3rd World" rather than the other way around. Their ability of subsistence reveals a female vitality that secretly fascinates many people of the industrialized countries, no matter of what gender, because of it´s beauty and sovereignity. Published: "A Cow for Hillary - the Subsistence Perspective", together with Maria Mies, "Verlag Frauenoffensive", Munich 1997, "The Subsistence Handbook" and "Subsistence and Resistance", both as co-editor and published in "Promedia Verlag" and "Juchitan- City of Women".

Aliou Dieme, choreograph and dancer of the indigenous tribe of the Diola, Senegal, living and teaching since 19 years both in Austria and Senegal. He will share about the rich social experience and traditions of how women and men and their relationships are supported by the community of his tribe and how children are cared for and elders are respected.

O. Fred Donaldson, USA / Sweden, founder of "Original Play". He says in his own words: "For over 30 years I have traveled around the world playing with children and wild animals to learn their lessons of trust, love and belonging. I practice original play as a gift from Creation of a universal process for feeling and consecrating the essential kindness within all life." He discovered that every person, no matter how old he or she is, has the potential for this kind of play. No matter what their abilities are, no matter their social or gender role, even between men and animals trust, a sense of security and belonging can develop through practicing Original Play. Among his more than 3000 playmates worldwide there are also disabled people, cancer patients, members of street gangs and prisoners. He plays as well with wild animals such as wolves, delphins, grizzly bears and lions. For almost 20 years he has been teaching Original Play worldwide in nursery schools, schools, hospitals, prisons, social facilities and at trainings of non-violent demonstrations. His experiences open new and until now unknown perspectives of a non-violent and fearless encounter when confronted with competitive, agressive and violent behaviour. He published the book: "Playing by heart - The Vision and Practice of Belonging" 1993 (available by the author e-mail:
His colleague Jolanta Graczykowska, Warsaw, will come with him to our symposium. She is a teacher and a therapist and the Director of Original Play in Poland.
More information you can find at

Wengji Wang, member of the matriarchal tribe of the Mosuo in South-western China. The Mosuo are one of the best known matriarchal cultures in Asia. They live in extended families of only matrilinear familiy members which are led mostly by elder women. Many of the young Mosuo live the custom of the "visiting marriage" which is based on the free decision of the loving couple. The couple will not set up a new family and do not share property. Any children resulting from the union of the couple are the woman´s children and the man helps to raise the children of his sisters. As a result, a separating of the couple is not going to influence the children at all. The Mosuo culture is characterized as a very harmonious and peaceful one and there are some changings because of the influences of the modern mainstream Chinese society. Wengji Wang will report about the kind of living in this culture and the feeling to be part of it.

The list of possible inpulse givers remains open.
The Symposium should develop personally, organizationally and financially like a growing tree: It needs water and food for its roots, and light and warmth for its leaves to enable them to grow. Everyone is invited to nourish the new roots and branches and to blossom by taking part in the 7th Generation Forum on the website ( or by attending meetings of the 7th Generation core group, by initiating a workshop at the symposium, by helping to invite impulse givers, by informing others or giving money. With the fruits of this symposium, the seeds of a new open space forum may emerge.


The working community 7 Generations -
Mediator Dr. Markus Distelberger and partners GesbR organizes this symposium together with a pluralistic platform of co-organizers out of the civil-society, science, unions, management and media, with the help of a great number of supporting individuals from different circles and walks of life in our society. This symposium is a project of the "7 Generations Network" - an international and intercultural network of Research, Education and Developing for structures of community, wisdom of live and mediation.

Co-Organizer Platform:
(still to be done)

Arge 7Generationen, Am Hainerberg-Dörflein 10, A-3130 Herzogenburg, Tel.:02782/83278 E-Mail: Internet: (with Forum for exchanging thoughts and ideas about the theme of the symposium)

German, English, Spanish, French will be translated.

Seminar cost and registration:
Seminar cost: € 150,00
For members who helped organize € 135,00
for couples together € 200,00
for youth, students, and jobless € 50,00

Free participation or free choosing of entry fee for children and youth under the age of 18 and for elders over the age of 70.

Members of the Talent Exchange Circle of Lower Austria, and of associated exchange circles can pay one third of the seminar costs in exchange currency.
The seminar cost should be cost-covering. As far as it is possible, we ask you to transfer the appropriate money as soon as possible so that we can give discounts to those who need them. Those who need a discount price, please write a letter.

Registration is confirmed by transferring money to the account of the organizer of the seminar, Dr. Markus Distelberger:

After registering for this seminar, refunds are only possible as tickets for a future event or if a replacement can be found.

Registration Ends:
May 15, 2006
Maximum participants: 180

Please register for room and board at the Bildungshaus St. Hippolyt separately : Eybner Straße 5, 3100 St. Pölten, Tel.Nr. 02742/352104 Fax Nr. 02742/313352 E-Mail:

The prices are the following:
4 days full pension (more than 2 beds or lower standard): € 124,00
4 days full pension (Double room): € 148,00
4 days full pension (Single room): € 172,00
4 days lunch, and dinner with no accommodations € 58,00

Registration for room and board also ends on May 15, 2006

Private accomodations: Elfriede Vass, 02742/22648 or 0664/582 01 83 (also with basis of exchange circle);

What else is happening at the symposium:

There are going to be playgrounds for children
We will have concerts of Rosa Martha Toledo (one afternoon or evening) and of Sathya Bartko (in the morning of Whitsun)
A party on the last evening

Places available for the special care of spiritual needs:

A quiet room for prayer and meditation,

an in-house chapel as a place for (inter-) religious meditation and prayer and eventually an ecumenical mass on Sunday morning,

a playground for Original Play after O. Fred Donaldson

a room to do his/her inner deep process work

a park for walking under beautiful trees,

a library to read and write in peace,

a cafeteria (clubroom) to relax and chat in small groups,