Forum (http://www.zegg-forum.org/index_en.phtml) was created at ZEGG, an intentional community in Germany, and its sister communities as a way of promoting transparency and mutual understanding among community members. ZEGG members found that decision-making meetings often got derailed because of emotional conflicts and undercurrents that were not known to or understood by all. In Forum, each individual’s experience could be seen and understood, leading to greater empathy and creativity in the community. Now, many residential and non-residential intentional communities have adopted Forum as a way to maintain ongoing connection, intimacy and understanding.
The goal of Forum is to reveal what is alive but not known to all. The community sits in a circle, forming a stage for one person at a time to stand and show what is true for them. Facilitators may assist the person (or “presenter”) to reveal themselves more deeply. Afterward, community members may offer reflections, or “mirrors,” on what they saw.
One of the gifts of ZEGG Forum is that it allows us a space to appreciate every perspective without taking it on as “truth.” Every voice has its own poignancy, its own wisdom, its own truth, that does not negate the wisdom and truth of other perspectives. Allowing all voices to surface and be known can lead to a profound and unexpected integration within a community. We tend to think that events leading to painful experiences and conflicts are bad, because they feel bad in the moment. However, when we open ourselves and compassionately witness what is happening for everyone, these experiences can be gateways to greater closeness, understanding, and love. When conflict emerges, whether or not we are in a formal Forum space, we can choose to listen in this way. This deep listening sustains and nurtures community life and relationships.