How Open Space works

We chose Open Space because it works in a truly democratic way. There is no agenda, no keynote speech, and each member of the group is equally important. Topics for discussion come from the floor and people can choose which group they want to join or leave. At the end of the day people come together to vote on the points they want to turn into actions.

The Open Space process began with Harrison Owen, an American consultant who has specialised in mediation work with large and diverse groups. His work in Africa taught him that people communicate most freely when they sit in a circle where everyone has an equal chance to talk and listen. His work with big corporations taught him that the most productive part of any seminar or conference tends to be during the lunchbreak. Open Space events are now held across the world.

Leith Open Space Group pays tribute to the late Kerry Napuk, co-founder of Open Futures in Edinburgh whose work with Glasgow men’s health groups was the inspiration for the first Leith Open Space event for ethnic minority communities in 2005. Kerry gave us encouragement, moral support and guidance us through the first stages of the Open Space process. We are also indebted to his colleague, Maggie Havergal, who has freely given her skill and time to facilitate many Leith Open Space events.

We are sad to report that Kerry died 28 August, 2014, aged 73.  Leith Open Space is one of many ventures that are testament to his vision and generosity of spirit.

4 thoughts on “How Open Space works”

  1. I’ve just discovered the Leith Open Space site, it’s great! I’m really interested in linking Shakti with the site so we can link more to other groups and let folk know about our forthcoming events.

    for example, I am currently working on a proposed project with NHS Lothian on Young people’s attitudes and opinions about violence; this project will be specifically for young people about school age from BME communities in Leith and North Edinburgh. I would be keen to forward any future information about this to your site members.

    Yours sincerely,

    Lisa Paton
    Information & Education worker (CYP)
    Shakti Women’s Aid

  2. Really pleased you have found us Lisa. It would be great to hear more about the work of Shakti and your new project.

    best wishes


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