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A&E Conference 2011 Synopsis
The A&E 2011 conference was held in Prague from Wednesday, April 6 through Sunday, April 10, and was attended by people from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Brazil, Mexico, Australia, Greece, Italy, Germany, Norway, Finland, Hungary, Iceland, France, Switzerland, Japan, Russia, Czech Republic, Israel, Estonia, Spain, Crimea, and the Netherlands.
Here is a summing up of the Conference based on the input from the attendees at the final session of the Conference called the "Where Do We Go From Here" session.
The WDWGFH was held at 09:30 on the 10th of April in Prague and was chaired by Bonnie. As part of the introduction to this session she invited the participants to reflect on their experience at the conference and suggest what they may wish to change and improve upon. She informed the audience that the next conference will be held at Salt Lake City and invited suggestion for suitable venues for 2013 and beyond.
2. Scope and Mission of Conference
One theme that emerged in the discussion was the view that while the conference was unique with exceptionally attractive features such as its openness to all lineages and backgrounds, it has serious shortcomings in the limitations of its scope and ambition - leading to its stagnation. The view was expressed that it should be part of the mission of the Conference to reach out to a wider audience and it should actively seek to spread these teachings.
This view was countered by those of others that stated their firm preference for keeping the focus of the Conference on the study of Gurdjieff's book(s). The personal expectation of many for their engagement with the conference was an increase in personal understanding. Other goals and lines of work may be addressed through individuals' group memberships and through other channels. The Conference was compared to an annual gathering at a watering hole where different tribes meet and exchange and then separate enriched by their common experience to pursue their independent quests.
It was also suggested that the wider mission, suggested by some of the participants, does not need to be carried out by the A&E conference but can be handled by a setting up a new (international) organization that may be created by those who share the ethos of the A&E conference but wish to see its mission expanded.
However, the need for ensuring that the conference is put on an ascending octave was felt by many and suggestions were made to consider how this could be achieved. These included making more time available for the study and reading of The Tales and exploring alternative techniques for such a study including exploring music, movements, drama, and alternative forms of presentation as they relate to and inform such a study.
In particular the issue of including a study of movements within the scope the conference was discussed. It was suggested that this might not be contradictory to the focus of the conference on the texts but may also support and enhance it.
3. Decision Making
Another theme that emerged during discussions was the questioning of the process of decision-making that governs the Conference and the authority of the WDWGFH session to make decisions and recommendations. There was a call to vote to determine if the Session believe it has the right to set policy at the session.
This view was strongly contested as it was pointed out that, not withstanding the requirements of the Conference charter, many of the participants in the session do not have the necessary background and experience to be able to weigh the proposals adequately and in any case the present participants are not representatives of the whole constituency of the Conference.
It was suggested that the Conference should formally review its Charter and Bylaws to ensure they are still fit for purpose and address its mission. This view had wide support and although no vote was taken.
4. Communication and Community
In order to support collective deliberations and the evolution of consensus it was suggested an online forum should be set up for all the alumni of A&E conferences. Such a forum, working as an easy to use electronic mailing list, could help with keeping up the connections (creating a Virtual Watering Hole) between participants in between the yearly meetings and help promote discussions such as those that have begun during this session. Any proposals emerging from such an exchange could be considered by the Conference Committees for formal adoption.
This proposal had strong support and it was recommended that the PC should consider its adoption to set up a Friends Forum formally associated with the Conference. An alternative approach may be for an informal forum be set up by some of the participants without formal connection to the Conference but nevertheless for the purpose of discussions related to the conference by those who have participated and may wish to participate again.
5. Future Venues & Timing
The planning horizon has now been extended to two years ahead and therefore consideration should now be given to the conference venues for 2013 and 2014. Moscow and Istanbul were mentioned as two possible future venues for the Conference and members willing to prepare proposals for each venue were identified.
It was also suggested that extending the length of the conference should be considered - possibly to four or five days instead of 3 1/2.
The 17th A&E Conference in 2012, will take place at Peery Hotel, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, from Wednesday, 25th April to Sunday 29th April, 2012.
If you wish to attend, or present a paper or lead a Seminar, please register through our website at - http://www.aandeconference.org