Monday, November 21, 2005

Book Club Guidelines

Here are some guidelines for our club from the founder of the Northern Virginia progressive book club:

Action-Oriented Political Book Club Guidelines

The methodology is purposively simple so it can easily be duplicated. The main elements are as follows:

A. Membership is open to new members and each member is encouraged to bring a guest and new clubs are encouraged.
B. Members select a book for discussion.
C. A portion of each meeting is reserved to discuss an action item for each member. For example, after reading Cornell West's Democracy Matters each member is going to have a purposeful conversation where they LISTEN to someone with an opposing viewpoint.
D. Report back at the beginning of the next meeting about their action assignment. In order to articulate our values and form bridges we need support. One goal is informed discussion within the democratic process.

The format of a meeting is as follows.

1) INTRODUCTIONS of each person attending. With a sentence or two about what would make this group worthwhile to you?

2) REPORT BACK actions/sharing of experiences – 15 min.

3) OVERVIEW of current book.

4) DISCUSSION FOLLOWING DIALOGUE QUIDELINES of Respect and Confidentiality so that all have a chance to talk safely, i.e. Time your comments to allow everyone the opportunity to speak before you make another point. The leader for each month is the person who has chosen the book for that month. They will want to choose a book they have some enthusiasm and energy about.

5) Take something from each book into the community/choose a special assignment: action examples:

Start you own book club
Write a letter to your local newspaper.
Discuss issues with someone who may have a different viewpoint
Other special projects as suggested in the monthly meeting.

First Meeting of DC Progressive Book Club

Our first meeting will be on Tuesday, January 24. We will meet at Cleveland Park Library at 7:00pm. We will discuss "When Corporations Rule the World" by David Korten. We will focus on Chapters 1-12, 18, and 22. The meeting is open to all.

Below is the feedback system that Korten describes as fundamental to the corporate regime. Its pernicious effects are found not only in physical environmental degradation, but more importantly in the degradation of our mental/cultural environment.

The feedback system:
1) ADVERTISING: assures us that products will make us whole, which leads to =>
2) BUYING THE PRODUCT: which requires more money, which leads to =>
3) QUEST FOR MONEY: which widens the gaps between ourselves, family, and community, which leads to =>
4) DEEPENING ALIENATION: which creates inner sense of social and spiritual emptiness, which leads to =>
5) ADVERTISING: back to 1) again where advertising assures us that products will make us whole. This starts the downward spiral over again.

Is Korten correct in his assessment of the corporate system? If so, how do we break this feeback loop? Or is Korten incorrect? If so, what can be proposed as a more accurate picture of the corporate system? These are some questions to contemplate as we read the book.