Be a leader for nonviolence and start a hope tank in your corner of this world!
Some ten years ago Metta’s Michael Nagler proudly announced to a young adult friend that he was planning to inaugurate a new think tank on peace and nonviolence. “We don’t need another think tank,” she replied. “We need a hope tank.” And so Hope Tank came into being. After some experimentation, we currently work with a very simple format:
- once a week (of late we’ve been so busy we’ve thinned it to the first Saturday of the month) we gather at 8:30 am for half an hour’s silent meditation. (Most Metta people follow passage meditation, but others use other methods.)
- at 9 or so – after introductions if there are new members – we have a vegetarian potluck breakfast;
- as breakfast winds down we begin the conversation, going on ‘till we reach a natural stopping place, which is usually between around 10:30 and 11:30.
Friends sometimes come with a specific concern; for example, some of our friends from San Jose are very passionate about their involvement with immigration issues and they want the group’s wisdom on ideas to improve their work. Other topics come up spontaneously.
The guidelines for our discussion are, again, very simple: we want to be open but focused. ‘Focused’ means that we are only interested in very real social or cultural problems; ‘open’ means we take a brainstorming attitude in which nothing is ruled out a priori: we’re looking for anything that can work. Threads have ranged from the meaning of life to the new organizational formats to specifics of nonviolence (what about property damage, etc.). Occasionally we’ve used talking sticks.
The benefits of the hope tank are many, including but not limited to getting to practice listening in a small group; building nonviolence community; deeper processing of nonviolence principles (actually talking about how nonviolence works makes us more prepared to use it); general inspiration (that’s no small thing!); and thinking strategically and realistically–without losing hope–about solutions to today’s toughest challenges.
One of Metta’s biggest projects, Roadmap, largely emerged from hope tank conversations with many participants over many months.
Needless to say, we have no patent on hope tanks! Several have begun elsewhere and we offer the model freely for your own experiments. We have found it a vibrant, community-building way to collect wisdom on important topics; we hope you will, too.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO JOIN HOPE TANK IN PETALUMA, PLEASE CALL OUR OFFICE AT 707 774 6299 OR WRITE TO INFO@METTACENTER.ORG.
We will be posting audio from our hope tanks soon on this page! Stay tuned.