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City Group Lessons

Jon Russell

I spent two very interesting weeks at the Zegg Summer Camp in the Networking Village. This village was composed of many men and women from the different "City Groups" which are communities in the formation process. Some of these groups have been operating for several years now, and I was quite impressed by their depth of intention and commitment. They were using this time to help each other by sharing ideas and experiences as to what works well and what doesn't. This is a short summary of some of those ideas.

First, things must be kept interesting. Maintain a sense of whether what your group is doing is interesting or not. If it's not interesting for you and the others, then it will become work and you won't want to do it, also the people will lose interest.

You need a minimum of one man and one woman who are clear with themselves as to their desires and visions, who can work as a team, and have good communication skills, to create a viable City Group. Without that however, a single person can create a "Home Room," where friends can meet. A Home Room is someone's actual home, that is open on certain days and times. It is a place to bring up the spiritual themes, the bigger ideas, and to give parties and have fun. A Home Room is a relaxed place where intense issues are not the theme. Intense issues need a separate environment and distract from the safety and fun of a Home Room.

The vast majority of contacts to new people happen personally. People we meet in our daily lives. If they interest us, tell them what we are doing and invite them. It's necessary to formulate your thoughts clearly when you tell someone about what you are doing. Then people who don't like it can respond immediately, even be upset, but then they know it's not for them. Those who are interested will ask more questions. If you have the feeling you must do something for the people you meet, then you will find yourself inviting people who you aren't really interested in. You don't want to get into discussions with people you really aren't interested in. It's easy to get into debates with people about intimate issues and then try to convince them. It's a situation that no one really wants to experience, and it doesn't help you, your project or the world.

It is important to have a way for people to study and discuss the new ideas they are interested in. A study group can be done once a week. It can be simple and focus on one idea per evening. Then a discussion follows, best done with a facilitator.

Men's and women's groups are very important. There are many things that a man or a woman cannot talk about in great depth in a mixed group. Men and women will feel the support from the others in the group about their issues and can get ideas on how to experiment with new aproaches. They can also plan events to invite the other group to. We also can get good feedback in these groups.

We must be willing to take small steps with people, and not forget that many of these ideas were also new to us at one time. It's good to experiment with interesting ideas and create new experiences. This can be done in a way that is safe for people to go as slowly as they wish. Parties are a good way to have fun with friends, and to invite and introduce new people, but at these parties don't focus on the erotic component. Choose people from your group who are good communicators and interesting, to be hosts at the parties and to talk with new people. Don't just let new people wander around and feel out of place, but also don't get hung up with uninteresting people and debates. Help each other with that. Stop the party a couple times to read something short and interesting or say a few words about the higher purpose to let people know why you are gathering.

At parties that are more intimate but yet with newer people tell the people to keep in mind the question of "how far do I want to let myself go tonight?" It is not good to make a general announcement that there is a love room. That will attract men who only want sex and no deeper connection, and that is not what we want. That also repels the interesting people that we do want to know. People who are becoming connected to the larger vision can be told individually about the love room if there is one.

There needs to be a strong center in a group if you are to deal with difficult people. One men's group decided that they wanted to go furthur with those they felt really connected to, and so they told some men, the ones with difficult projections, that they would have to form their own separate group. The point was made that if there is a group that has specific things it wants to do, and only some people have a clear commitment to that, then it will make sense to others who aren't as committed or connected. Be clear. The point was made several times that there needs to be a strong center of people with good mutual understanding for a group to survive.

For those that feel clear enough to experiment on connecting with the public, one thing that works is to give slide shows and lectures or videos that deal with the spiritual and ecological aspects of creating a new culture. This will help find those people who are really interested. As you find interesting people, invite them to another talk that goes deeper. Then invite those you are most interested in to a weekend event. This way you can discuss the deeper and more intimate issues in a way that makes sense.

When love and sex get addressed we need to have the awareness that effectively dealing with these issues happens when we are able to get a distance from our own situations. This then allows us to see ourselves clearly and be open to new thoughts and ideas. This is a skill, and so must be addressed as such. This means that exercises to develop this ability to see ourselves from a distance are almost a necessity. It's a basic human skill, but most humans are not very good at it, and so it needs to be fully developed.

Remember that you cannot practice free love without a connection to larger spiritual ideas. This is the biggest stumbling block to a new level of consciousness, and to a culture where everyone grows.

These are just a few of the things that were suggested by members of the different City Groups. It is by no means gospel. It was aquired by trial and error just as anyone will go through who wants to create a group. But it's easy to imagine the many experiences that went into some of these suggestions and we can use the ones that make sense based on our own experiences.

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