Anne Stadler • Radical Open Space

Hello! I’m Anne Stadler, inviting you into conversations and consultation about Radical Open Space.

How does this term Radical Open Space resonate in you? What does it mean to you? And what’s its relationship to the phase shift we are living in as a species now? These are a few of the questions I’d like to explore.

It might be helpful for you to know something about how my evolution as a spiritual seeker has led me to radical open space as well as to learn a bit about how I’ve applied my learning professionally. So, here goes…

I was born in 1931 and grew up in Rochester, New York during the depression. My dad died when I was 11, leaving my mom, my sister, and me. As a small child, I lived near two Christian churches. Spirit awed and fascinated me.

When I was 18, I began a spiritual practice that I largely made up as Spirit guided me. It grew out of my intimacy with Nature and sky and water. Summer nights in Maine, I’d lie in the bottom of a canoe, rocking in the Universe. I couldn’t see anything but the vast starry sky. I felt I was part of the cosmos… deeply held by that. I discovered Rabindranath Tagore, the Bhagavad Gita, Rumi. Gandhi became my teacher. “Become what thou Art” was my school motto. Over many years, I’ve learned and practiced the inner-work tools for doing that as Spirit guided me to what I needed. I’ve been consistently attracted to probing the unknown: opening to the space beyond “ideas of right doing and wrong doing” as Rumi says.

I cannot remember a time when I felt I was “in charge”, although I feel I can choose what resonates and act with intention.

I discovered Open Space Technology in 1989, when it came into public life as a professional tool. I found not only a format for people to self-organize what was ready to happen, but also a profoundly simple and deeply sourced way of living. The one law – “take responsibility for what you love” – guides your action. And the four principles remind you of what happens when you do that.

I learned to open space consciously by following love, the life force, or as the Quakers call it “the light within.” If I were given an opportunity, and it matched something that resonated within me, I did it with all my heart. In my professional life, that’s what I encouraged as I opened space for people in groups. I’ve been burnished by Love in my relations with my husband, my four children, my grandchildren and my great grandchildren, and in all my relations. I’ve been led to the professional work I’ve done. That’s how I’ve met people around the world who have enriched my life. In my heart of hearts, I feel as if I am living as a fractal of a universal field (as we all are).

In my professional life, I open space for personal and collective vision, expressed in practical community-building outcomes. I have 54 years of service in peace building, cross-cultural high-performance team work and community organizing, and inspired leadership. Here’s a brief summary:

  • 1991 to present: Community activist; consultant and coach to communities, foundations, corporations, academic institutions (including primary and secondary schools and universities), and individuals in USA, India, Europe, and Australia.
  • 1973-1990: Award-winning producer at KING-TV5 (flagship of the KING Broadcasting Co.) in Seattle, WA. Worked with People Power, a very diverse coalition of community organizations that guided the subject matter and programming that gave rise to a number of practical changes and initiatives.
  • 1960-1971: Co-Founder, director, and board member of local, national, and international peace building organizations focused on non-violent action to end war.