NDN conversation in Olympia, WA


John Spady joined the conversation on Wealth and Poverty in downtown Olympia this Saturday, October 26. Hosted by Faith Trimble, CEO of The Athena Group and co-facilitated by Galen Radtke, creator of the game of conversation, Wamerjam. The small group of 11 spent 2 hours discussing questions related to the disparity of wealth in America.

The evening started out with two video clips: Wealth and Inequality in America:

What Wasn’t Said in Wealth and Inequality in America:

The group then split into two, and played a round of Wamerjam – a card game that teaches the art of conversation. The topic of conversation was “What Is the Meaning/Purpose of Wealth?” There was a general sense from the group that wealth means something much more than financial wealth. Social wealth would include things like community networks, family, happiness, spirituality, sense of belonging, civic infrastructure, access to education, etc.

Conversations also led to the question of “how much wealth is enough?” and “Who is responsible for distribution of wealth?”

Next the group split up into 3 groups. Participants selected their own roles. They could either be a table host (stay at the same table), participant (contribute fully to a 10 minute conversation at each table), or a bumble bee (bounce around from one table to the next). Each table hosted one question.

The questions were:

  1. How can we transition to wealth being a tool for innovation;
  2. What should our society aspire to for future generations?
  3. What are the patterns of generating wealth?

The conversations were open with no decision points or points of consensus. But many ideas were postulated and several themes emerged:

  • Positive Deviance: Let’s look at who is doing it differently and doing it right – like Scandinavia.
  • We need a mindshift around basic income; basic needs must be met.
  • Need equal access and free education.
  • Free birth control or stop having kids.
  • A need for collective currency/complementary resource sharing.
  • Need a culture shift that values community and human life, creativity and critical thinking, connectedness to the land, gratitude and contentment.
  • Change mentality of conquest and competition.
  • Transition from a fear-based culture to a life-based culture. What do we want to achieve in life, not what do we want to avoid and protect against.
  • Sustainable Thurston is on the right track.
  • Money is a substitute for human energy.
  • Society should aspire to have grandchildren who grow up happy, contribute to society, and forgive us and appreciate us for trying.
  • The bigger we are, the more disconnected we become. Are we too big for social responsibility? Can it just happen at the community level?
  • Past patterns of generating wealth seem negative; are there more positive patterns of alternative wealth that we can achieve in the future? Like community capital, care of basic needs, connection to the earth, spirituality, a new form of currency, everyone being a functioning component of society.

The original meeting was scheduled from 1.5 hours. The group decided to meet for 2 hours, and some stayed past that time frame. There seemed to be a sincere interest in have an ongoing forum for community conversations like this. The Athena Group will consider hosting additional conversation on other topics of a more local or regional nature. The group also agreed that the card game Wamerjam was a fun and useful way to host a conversation.

Thanks to all that attended!