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  • Greetings, Ted.

  • Community still good to see you.

  • Welcome to the latest of our daily live conversations in these weird days of the virus.

  • Good to have you with us.

  • Whether you're getting ice later home, maybe with a loved one with family.

  • Maybe you're by yourself.

  • If you have symptoms, our hearts go out to you.

  • Maybe you've lost someone.

  • Maybe, you know, medical workers on the front line and you're worried for them.

  • Or maybe you think this whole thing is a setup pumped up panic by the media, Whoever you are, you're welcome here for for this next hour, I think it's gonna important conversation.

  • You know, every morning I that the first of news headline I look at is not a headline.

  • It's a it's a graph.

  • There's a sight world ometer, doctor info that has grass that I want to show you.

  • The graph for today is is that it looks like if you could did this.

  • I hope you like the super high tech production body stable the way um, that is not a pretty graph.

  • That is what exponential growth looks like.

  • More than 60,000 new cases outside China today and in the last two that, you know, in the whole time in China this was raging.

  • They notched up about 80,000 cases on the official numbers.

  • Um, the world outside China in the last two days, said one over 100,000 cases, and US is now number one.

  • The more the nation where this was supposed to go away pretty quickly now has more cases in anywhere else in the lots of 85,000 going fast on New York, where I'm sitting with the whole 10 team is based is the epicenter in the U.

  • S.

  • Um, that's a scary time to be here in New York.

  • There's, um a truly horrible story is coming out some of the hospitals that are in danger of getting overrun, huge efforts being made there.

  • But, of course, many other parts of the world we've We've heard some of the darker boys that are out.

  • There s oh, it's you know, it's It's an alarming time.

  • And anyone who looks at the numbers understands what exponential growth is.

  • It's an alarming time.

  • There will be days in the coming couple weeks where 60,000 new cases in today will seem wonderfully good news.

  • Um, and I was gonna go higher, and, um and so I suspect we're in this for a long time to go basically for many of us, just our lives completely different from what they normally are.

  • Many of us isolated in some form or other at home.

  • And in a way, we're the lucky ones.

  • There's others who can't afford to do that to her, having to go out.

  • The work somehow makes some kind of living, and in doing so may feel that they're putting themselves at at risk.

  • So, you know, these are hard our days and we're gonna have to get used to a bunch off new ways to be a new ways to connect with each other because we can't actually be isolated.

  • Where human beings were social species, we have to connect with other people.

  • We just have to on dhe.

  • Thankfully, there are many ways that it is still possible to do that many beautiful ways in ways that were discovering.

  • And we're gonna spend this hour devoted to that and thinking about that.

  • I would like to invite on my clothes Whitney Bennett garages.

  • That's current affairs Curator Whitney.

  • Hello, How are you?

  • I'm doing OK.

  • I'm doing ok.

  • And I'm really looking forward to hearing more about what you've shared.

  • Just how we can really stay connected, which I think is so important for us.

  • And so, you know, we're bringing you an interview today with Priya Parker.

  • She's the author of The Art of Gathering, and her work really focuses on how we can develop in and on really sustained those meaningful connections.

  • And she's sharing some insight on to how we can continue to have gatherings that are intentional and add great value to our lives during the pandemic.

  • Um, as Chris mentioned, you know, on the point of connection, we had some connectivity issues that would have made it really challenging for us to invite, create to do this interview live, though we pre recorded it on dhe.

  • You know, we really are looking forward to seeing what you all share about your own experiences with creating these connections.

  • And so we took a lot of value from this and look forward to hearing what your thoughts are and hope that this is, uh, something that you enjoy listening to.

  • Well, thank you.

  • Especially given the comp special accommodations you had to make.

  • Thank you so much for making the time for this.

  • And, you know, I think especially about having as we're having a conversation about connection.

  • This feels somehow really, really related and relevant.

  • It seems like it makes a lot of sense that, you know, we're talking about how we can have connections and thes trying times and create creative ways to do that.

  • I think before we jump into this conversation a little bit more, I'd love to just talk a little bit first about your own background.

  • So you are the author of a book called The Art of Gathering On.

  • Do you know?

  • You think a lot about how we can have meaningful connections, create meaningful gatherings, But you're not an event planner, So I'd love to hear a little bit more about the lens through which you approach gathering.

  • Sure.

  • Um, so I'm a group conflict resolution facilitator.

  • I'm trained in the methodology of group dialogue.

  • So, basically, how do you bring together a group of people three or more?

  • Though I'm often doing it with 12 people or 40 people or 300 people in a room and have meaningful conversation, meaningful dialogue that actually creates a different outcome for that community based on how you structure the conversation.

  • And I wrote this book the Art of Gathering, in part because I was frustrated by, um, kind of what popular culture tells us about what creates magic between people, which, if you kind of boil it down very simply, it's like if you get the things right, if you get the fish knives right, If you get the food right or if you get the tablecloth right, everything else will take care of itself that that magic will happen through people because of the look of their chemistry.

  • And I know as a trained facilitator that that's just not true, Um, and going to gathering after gathering in all types of context at schools in the public square, um, conferences, birthday parties, I would get really frustrated.

  • Um, seeing hosts take a lot of time and a lot of care and a lot of love, pouring their time and energy into broadly stuff that doesn't really matter or at least doesn't actually make connection and intimacy and meaning and transformation among people.

  • It creates beauty, but it doesn't necessarily create connection.

  • And I wanted to bring the facilitators lens to how anybody, regardless of where you are, you don't need a fancy house.

  • You don't need the right fish knives.

  • You don't need a specific computer program.

  • Um, how anybody can create meaning with the people in their lives any and, you know, at work, at home, in their community or in the public square.

  • That's great.

  • And it seems like, you know, that's something that now, more than ever, we need to be really thoughtful about that.

  • And I'm curious.

  • You know, you started to talk about this a little bit about people really focusing more on visually what these gatherings look like.

  • I mean, do you feel like collectively we really struggled with how to create meaningful gatherings even before we got to this moment with the Corona virus?

  • I think that many of our gatherings aren't up to snuff in terms of being memorable and transformative to the people in them, and I think this is for a lot of different reasons.

  • I think one of the things that I studied worse were rituals that actually create transformation and people and and powerful rituals tend to be specific, and space specificity tends to come from sub communities.

  • So, for example, like, um, two million brah mini in red thread tying ceremonies was a very specific ceremony, from with it for a very specific community or Javanese like tooth filing ceremonies, where where there's a specific act and the people part of that gathering or part of that community understands, like the symbolic act of each thing, they worship the same God.

  • They eat the same things.

  • They dress in the same way, and as we've become globalized and diverse and modern in in a lot of different ways, I would argue all good things, many of our gatherings, in part to try to not offend one another or assume that we share.

  • The same beliefs have become vague and diluted.

  • And so part of what we're struggling with even well before this with this pandemic is when people are coming together to mark a specific occasion or to meet in a specific way.

  • Um, we tend to under structure and under give less context and under host our gatherings in a way that actually creates meaning among people who don't all share the same beliefs That's great.

  • I mean, and I think that it's now that we are in this moment on, we're spending so much more time apart from one another.

  • Physically, it seems like, you know, thinking about how we can stay in touch and how we can stay connected in a meaningful way.

  • That that creates, of course, a new challenge.

  • But it sounds like it's much more than just staying in touch with each other.

  • S O.

  • I mean, how should we change the lens of Of how we think about gatherings now that we are in this in this moment with this pandemic, So we don't know how long this will last, and, um, and the biggest mistake we make whether you're gathering online or off is we tend to assume that the purpose is obvious.

  • We tend to assume that if having a work meeting, it's to discuss work, or if you're having a birthday party, it's to mark a birthday.

  • And in this time, specifically, the biggest way to actually create a meaningful gathering for your community is to first ask what is the need like, what is the need for this specific community at this specific moment?

  • in time.

  • And one of the things I've been watching is, as is gathering after gathering, is getting postponed or cancelled.

  • Um, the ones that are trying to figure out how to make their off on offline gathering online, um, need thio pause and actually ask, given this new reality, what is the need my community now needs and not assume that the gathering online should look exactly the same way as it did offline.

  • Just sticking a video camera in front of one another.

  • Um, a new You know, if you're a teacher and you're trying to figure out how to teach a course, that is, you know, you have always taught with people physically your students physically in the room toe actually pause and not say is my purpose to teach math.

  • Perhaps you're the purpose.

  • Now for the next multiple weeks is to give confidence to your Children to your students, to keep trying through the mechanism of math.

  • Um, I mean, I'm kind of making this up here, but part of what the the key of all of these gatherings were coming together to make them meaningful is tau actually pause and to not assume we know what the need is or we know what the purposes and to begin by asking first for the specific community, for my family or for my friends or for my cousins, or for my group of activists arm for my board members or for my neighbors this week.

  • This day.

  • What is it that we most need And how might we gather around that?

  • Or for some people who are getting zoomed out?

  • You know, Zoom colorism call after some call, the need might actually be to cancel gathering.

  • So I'm not saying gather Maura.

  • I'm saying Gather better.

  • And it seems that doing that also would be different for those people who, maybe where, uh, living with our, you know, our isolating with on and those who were not actually physically spending time with.

  • So I guess how How should we think about those connections differently?

  • It's a great question.

  • So you know, most many of us are are isolating with family members or roommates or partners.

  • Um, some of us are alone, and most of us are also finding ways to be connected with those were not with So all Serbs First start with the communities that we're your if you're isolating within, um, which is a couple of things, you know, in conflict resolution.

  • One of the first one of the first things you do as as a facilitator is is create ground rules.

  • You know, I think of as a CZ every gathering as an opportunity for an interruption.

  • And we right now are in the greatest moment of global interruption we faced in a long time.

  • And one of the opportunities for an interruption that this allows is when for those that you're, you know, quarantining with whether they're the people you normally live with regularly live with or whether that you have You're an adult and you've gone home to your you know, your adult parents.

  • Um, and you're renegotiating what it actually looks like.

  • Toe live together during this period when you weren't expecting it is to actually first pause and create some ground rules.

  • You don't have to call it that, um, butts for some ground rules and say, How do we want to live together?

  • How do we want to be together?

  • Do we wanna have specific evenings a week where we come together and we have dinner and the rest of the week.

  • We're on our own.

  • How do we want to actually share food and to not assume that you kind of have to be together the whole time all the time, but to actually have clear, honest conversations, um, to navigate both physical and psychological and interconnected space together.

  • Um And then And then once you've done that, I think the second thing around those who are isolating and creating meaningful gatherings together at home is to really think about, um, you know, there there's this in my book, I talk about the Passover principle, which is the first question I'm not Jewish, but, um studied many different types of gatherings in my research and one of the questions that, um, that the Jews ask during Passover Seder.

  • The first question is roughly translated as How is this night different than all other nights?

  • And I think that that is a question that is so powerful and is is applicable to every gathering you've ever hosted.

  • So as your home with your family, with your friends, or with your partner to begin to ask, how do you begin to mark the days so that they don't all blend into with each other.

  • You know what is Tuesday evening?

  • How do you want to come together?

  • Could you You set up a list of questions?

  • Um, uh, of of questions you would never, you know, typically ask one another in a normal evening.

  • Um, but how do you actually come together and answer the, you know, 34 questions to fall in love with anybody?

  • Questions, questions, um, or find a way to have conversations with your parents or with your grand parents that normal times don't allow for and then to your second point around, how do we create meaning or connection with those who with whom we're not with, um there are, You know, it's some level.

  • It's sort of the same question which is map out your communities and ask what is what do they need And what do you need?

  • And in some cases, it might be just a simple kind of passive experiencing something together through connecting and kind of sink, watching something.

  • So, like the Metropolitan Opera, every night is doing a live streams of their operas around, you know, online.

  • Um, there's many types of cultural and art institutions that are actually making free a lot of their content and so at kind of a low participation, right, but just kind of wanting to do something together the equivalent of going to watch the movies you can actually sync.

  • Watch these things together.

  • Um, at a higher level of engagement.

  • One of the forms of meaning making is to actually think about what are the conversations, or how do you want to engage with one another through either a shared activity, um, or or or sharing activity over this course of time?

  • Um, I When, in 2012 Bruce Springsteen gave this amazing talk at South by Southwest, where he basically kind of gave his a musical autobiography.

  • So, like the songs that most shaped him as a seven year old is a 13 year old is a 19 year old, is a 23 year old.

  • It's one of the most amazing speeches you could never read, and you can you can look it online, have actually just like it was like what a nerd I am.

  • I, like, read through the speech and then just played the song on each song on Spotify to kind of like have the experience, and I was telling this to a friend and he said, Why don't we do that as a circle of friends?

  • Um, over a series of dinners?

  • We, you know, in my case, is a group of friends who know each other pretty well, and we can kind of get into the same rut when we hangout.

  • It's great, but it was a sort of this idea of an interruption in the way that how do we actually have a different kind of conversation?

  • And so we made up the rules and we called it seven songs and Thean vitae Shin.

  • Was that each friend, uh, each person gets one evening, one dinner, one salon, um, where they come.

  • And they bring the seven songs that most shaped them over the course of their life, their their full life.

  • And the rest of us would agree to kind of listen to them and also to the songs.

  • And there's no reason you couldn't do that virtually, Um, And so when I say create meaning together, you know, meaning is created through specificity and structure, um, and around a specific purpose.

  • And so, in this moment of time, when we're not sure how long will be social distancing or at least physically distancing to find really interesting forms of interruptions among friends and families to say, How do we actually want to use this time together and tow have, perhaps conversations that we typically wouldn't have in this kind of different moment?

  • Well, I love that.

  • I love how it seems like there's so many ways that we could take the events that we already have.

  • There are the ways that we've already been connecting and really just modify them and adapt them to this situation that we're living in.

  • So what I'm curious about, you sort of mention this at the beginning of your response and thinking about the ground rules.

  • I'd love to talk a little bit, too about you know, what might some of those ground rules look like when we're thinking about how we're connecting and gathering with folks, you know, as you mentioned in some cases where maybe you're isolating together?

  • But maybe that whole living experience is different.

  • That if you're maybe an adult child moving home, you know what is what does that look like?

  • How do you have create those ground rules so that you can connect meaningfully, gather meaningful e in a space that maybe is very different from what you're living.

  • Situation was like before ground rules help us create a common social contract to be able to enjoy each other.

  • So the first thing is, people often think like little rules.

  • But actually there are implicit norms that were sort of navigating implicitly around each other.

  • And often fights come up because our norms clash or expectations clash.

  • And so before you've been having a conversation around sort of ground rules to answer questions together, like, how do we want to think about who uses what space went?

  • And depending on the physical infrastructure of your house that might be rotating through There might be one room when one office, um, then six different people wanting to use it, it might be who gets to use the kitchen at different times.

  • Um, so so norms around physical space.

  • Um, asking questions around, uh, are there times where we would like to actually like, how much together time do each want or need and how much like a part time to each want or need?

  • Um, I know that in some families and extended families.

  • There's sort of this normal when you come together, whether it's Thanksgiving or whether it's, you know, Easter or Passover, there's a sense that, well, we're never actually together.

  • So you kind of do everything together all day long.

  • What you eat, every meal together you can.

  • And it's easy to kind of get fall back into the routine of what it's like when you suddenly go home.

  • But this time is very different than that.

  • And so part of this is sort of zooming back, and particularly with adult Children with their parents.

  • Um, t begin to ask, What are all of our individual connect collective needs?

  • And then how do we begin to navigate, navigate and orient around this around this?

  • This moment, um, other types of conversations ask to have potentially is financially, um, are we sharing costs around certain things?

  • How do we think about if somebody wants to spend money on something that's shared and somebody else's wanna have it?

  • Like, How do you want to think about that?

  • Um, what are you know, rules around quarantining.

  • You know, this is also this is an inherently relational disease, right?

  • that's what a pandemic is.

  • And so what are the rules around which, um, we agreed to enter or exit or or procure food and to basically, you know, relationships.

  • Um, many of us are being put into a situation that we weren't expecting and one of the best ways again, too, begin to navigate that and not just have it be a defensive time, but a generative time or creative time with those with whom you're sharing space is to talk about it early and often and begin to hear about what, our again, what are individual needs, what our collective needs.

  • And you can also make it fun.

  • Um, but this is, you know, living together, um creates a context in which it's better to talk about, um, how you want to navigate it first, and not just kind of the hygiene of it, but also then how do we want to actually come together during this time and use it differently?

  • I love that.

  • I mean, I guess also in thinking about it from the work perspective you talked about, you know, not getting zoomed out.

  • But maybe it's the reverse.

  • It sounds like where you might come from a space where you're constantly seeing your co workers in person, day to day.

  • For those people who are working remotely now on the dynamic of how you gather in those situations also seem like they might change and benefit from some rules around what those Gavin's look like.

  • You know, I guess What are some unique things that you think people might face in their work lives as a result of social distancing when it comes to gathering?