Round-Table outcomes –  a  Side-Event at:  

Orthodox Academy of Crete (OAC), Chania- Kolympari, June 3, 2008

as part of the 1001 Actions -  1001 Nights side-events


I enjoyed the experience, thanks you very much.
Felt a little like a trial run – would be very good to have another couple of goes so that people started to maximise Agoras potential.
People being too polite in giving stones to people who wanted to talk.  Christine

Stimulating, hopeful !
Time  -  but will people take the time it takes ?  Linda



ΤΙΣ ΑΓΟΡΕΥΕΙΝ ΒΟΥΛΕΤΑΙ  -  Τις αγορεύειν βούλεται

Magic round table method

Who is wishing to take the speech?


The idea of an open discussion round table, where everyone could freely express his/her ideas on a time dependent manner is excellent.

The limitation of time provides the opportunity to put forth only what is worthy on saying.

Sharing time between one another after an introductory discussion is a useful idea. It provides the opportunity to the attending audience to hear things they consider worthy. It also gives the opportunity everyone to be expressed and puts forth a vivid discussion.

The schedule of exchanging speaking time on the basis a discussion progresses is an educational means that should be applied to interactive classrooms.

A further developed practical form capable of being applied to the Elementary or level possibly to Secondary School level would be to the benefit of youngsters. It would provide means to develop their skills and personalities and will enable them to become better audience and speakers.

Congratulations.  Keep the good way on.  Demetrios





1.       effective

2.       enticing

3.       introducing

1.       It needs to be timed better in the context of a long day

2.       Interruptions  and/or participants come in after the start.


Concern: Some fear self disclosure.  Constantine                                                              


Interesting to hear from the spiritual backgrounds of the others. Maybe it could have been longer and more focussed on a special issue.  Anders



  • Excellent Forum for communication, although group was slow to warm up initially, but eventually got going.
  • Some members of group not comfortable /confident with their own talents. In general, those with more confidence dominate discourse.  
  • With more time, unevenness may minimize, but perhaps not the goal.  
  • Those who actively seek Agora are likely different from those which may be curious but not activly seeking an alternative form of communication 


I enjoyed the more personal and spontaneous nature of the encounter --  the smallness of the group and the relaxed setting.  Annette



A wonderful model of conversational dialogue.

A diffuse group of people hear their differences — and find some/many similarities.

I loved the use of “stones” - is different than that I have done before.

Interesting implications (this model) for interfaith dialogue.  Gord



Very intersting way of regulating talking time. Appears to be a fairly democratic or populist way of allowing for the topics/speakers that are most intersting / helpful to the group. My concern was slow time it took for a topic / speaker to begin once one conservation was over.

And at times it felt a bit unnatural for conversation I that short (less than one minute) comments seemed to be discouraged in the method.  Daniel



It was strange: we came together to communicate. Not about a special topic of particular or general interest, not because there might have been a problem in any way which we had to solve. We were just asked to come together for the communication itself.

Anyway, everybody is communicating somehow, even if he/she isn’t speaking…then by mimics, gestics, probably a strange behaviour saying: “don’t talk with me”. People are speaking with each other, chatting at dinner, even – and probably especially – in a group of whole-day-long-talking academics.

So, it might not be a big difference doing that just by coming together in a different room for some (given) time, sitting around that “magic table”.

I thought.

What I haven’t considered at this time was that this “coming together in a different room for some (given) time, sitting around that ´magic table`” already made each person expecting something. Each was willing to participate. And this alone makes a big difference: Participating people are “open” from the beginning which has a great obvious advantage of this method: those who don’t want to communicate are left outside, which excludes also that ones which may for any reason interrupt or disturb the communication (of a given topic).

Our topics in that round then had been very diverse: everybody was able to speak about whatever he/she wanted and the introduction round and the following movement of the “time” made each topic clear for everybody. Even it was hard for me to remember the topics of each of the ten participating persons – it seemed that in some cases also the speaker didn’t remember his initial topic.

Here advantages of the method became obvious:

1)      the speaker who moved away from his topic could easily be disciplined by not given more speaking time. In contrary, a speaker who opens a new topic (e.g. in the case that the former one was heavily discussed to an end) can be rewarded. The courage to open a new topic is rewarded!

2)      An oratory/rhetoric speaker with no topic of common interest is not accepted and will therefore be punished by not given more time (stones, whatever). In contrast, a “non-speaker” with probable new ideas can be rewarded.

Anyhow, the whole conversation –communication- started more as a game then a “must” to speak. It was indeed that, communication as a game, and – like in every parlour game -  everybody has the same rights, needs and – above all – time.

What surprised me was that the negative effects of an “usual” communication behaviour was eliminated automatically: e.g. one doesn’t have to be polite or has to “play” attention like happening particularly in dialogues Ž if I don’t listen any more then it’s the “fault” of your missing time (stones, whatever).

All in all, I’m really surprised about the dynamics which took place in a group of people who didn’t even know more than the names from each other.

I belief that this is surely a great method especially in a one-topic-round table in which the arguments then can even be much more dynamical (e.g. the whole group decides if talking about the pro’s or contra’s – without loosing time about a specific order; new ideas to solve a special problem are rewarded; a person, who can share insider-knowledge – and shares it – is rewarded probably Ž information/knowledge can probably be available for a whole group instead of being the advantage of a single person!).

Last, but not least: I think especially non-speakers profit from the direct response of the whole group to the manner of speaking. I for myself was pretty fast aware by the fact that my topic wasn’t really well accepted. But instead of hearing that from somebody else (which surely would have piqued my ego) I just had the possibility to intervene by myself and could give away my stones so others had to talk J

However, there are so many options, possibilities and varieties offered by a simple to use method so that I hardly can believe that man haven’t thought about this earlier.  Stephan



Ι attended a couple of such magic round tables over the years. This circle meeting late at night and till the early morning doing virtual conferencing (as we can not all meet at one time in one place) was exceptional as this EcoTHEE conference is and was an extraordinary event with very special people participating.


Partipants were attentive, sensitive, deep, compassionate, and yes we should get used of the rules of the dialogue game, as you can not expect optimum results when it needs time to warm up for a new dialogue and decision culture - harnessing the wisdom of all people. The crisises of our times are so complex and dynamic that we can not afford any more to just perplexed put our head in the sand.

We looked long ago into a DaZiBao conference participant messaging – this Conference is a basic, robust first step towards including the views and experience of the people and the traditions ! and including the odd or the “others”.  

Please consider the need for New and Old Agora to emerge. This is an invitation to be part of an effort which might be based on or can possibly start in Alexandria and what we did here in Chania.   

Here is the opening outline of a proposal to the Anna Lindh Foundation: Transcultural Dialog and Peace-Making

Roundtable learning from experience during the last 40 years and new ideas


Stumbling blocks preventing true dialog, peace-making, and reconciliation:

1) we fight over words but do not check the meaning,

2) we do not question and compare the values attached to statements and attitudes,

3) we do not contextualize and embody concepts and meaning, do not check the sectors, regions, scales, proportions and consequences of alternative actions,

4) we do not give voice, empower, listen, cherish and cultivate difference or variety in dialog and decision making,

5) Disorientation and dumbing-down in Cyberculture and a mis-administered and misunderstood, intangible “Globalisation / Glocalisation”: Where we get overloaded by communication noise (sign/symbol melange) and media demagogy which means: no trust and fidelity in the statements and no ways and means to check the credibility and impact/relevance, and get lost between the scales, brackets, and sectors.

6) The above incompatibility and incomparability opens the door for over-claims and oversimplifications. Leaders use intangible jargon (plastic-words), neglect impacts and avoid instead of exploring differences and alternatives.

Please enjoy, subsume and resonnate, and come back !  Heiner    


Rules are made for the guidance of the wise and the obediance of the foolish.  Robin


Impressions from the Facilitator of the Agora (see: Open-Forum Round-Tables or a collection of Dialogue Papers)

It is not about rules, but about self-organization and collective wisdom as David Bohm pointed out:”Dialogue is the glue of society and the only possibility to face the challenges of the world through changing consicousness to make a difference! 

But “beginnings are gentle…no gongs for certainty, but flute sounds.” (Judy Brown) Farah