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Sender: Jacob Hess
Subject: Re: Decreasing traffic on the Transpartisan list
Date: Thu, Aug 14, 2014
Msg: 101102

Thanks all, for such thoughtful responses this week. As Sandy, Michael and others pointed out, listserv (and vacation) traffic varies naturally for lots of reasons. Equally clear in the comments is the wide variation in expectations of a listserv (and transpartisan work itself).

Although I'm excited to explore these powerful action proposals David, Mark and Tom have each raised, I'm personally still a little preoccupied by the tension between "action" and "talk" itself (or between a "practice-focus" vs. "intellectual discussion/abstraction").

I understand how a connection to "action" is often crucial to drawing citizens into discussion - and appreciate the synergy Tom described, with "conversation shaping action and action informing the next wave of action-shaping conversation." What I'm struggling to understand is why dialogue itself is so often framed as somehow alternative to action or something other than action. Is it because we're sitting still as we talk?! (:

I recently started teaching mindfulness meditation to people with stress-related conditions. One of the barriers that sometimes comes up with students is that being still and silent can seem an awful lot like "doing nothing." To those who do it, of course, sitting with oneself in silence, as Jon Kabat-Zinn often points out, is just about "the hardest work in the world."

And that's often how transpartisan dialogue-for-understanding feels to me - the hardest of work - and, I would argue, the most important of actions. Without it (or without the investment of time and energy to do it right), it seems to me that so many (other) actions simply may not happen. Indeed, they may not even be "thinkable."

If that's true, then it might be helpful to make more explicit the various kinds of actions that constitute this transpartisan movement and relish the interplay between "collective action" and the "radical act" of dialogue itself.

My two and a half cents, Jacob

p.s. Rick, Michael, I didn't read Sandy as discouraging theoretical/intellectual exploration in our exchanges - only reminding us of our beginning intentions as a listserv to tie these kinds of discussions to the practice of transpartisan work itself. I appreciated hearing from her why some people have reported distancing themselves from the conversation. Why not take her feedback seriously and work together to make this listserv an (even more) welcoming and accessible "watering hole" for transpartisans of many stripes?...including theoretical/philosophically-inclined ones! In the spirit of Aristotle's "practical philosophy," surely thinking carefully together about various interpretations of practice will continue to be a helpful (and inescapable) part of high-quality deliberative work?

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