Sam Merlotte only has 2 rules at his bar:
- NO dancing
- NO religion
We have a couple more here at The Pierced Pomegranate Tavern...
Our intention is for this space to organically emerge and self-organize as a safe, respectful, egalitarian, & FUN interactive forum that sticks to the purpose of this blog - which is to discuss the human condition and social issues and critique our larger culture and society through the medium of True Blood - where dissent and differences of opinion are OK but hate speech, verbal attacks, silencing tactics, trafficking in "isms" and the like aren't.
As your salonnières we would be remiss if we didn't outline some RULES FOR COMMENTING which flow from our FEMINIST VALUES that can be used as guidelines for ensuring a comfortable and generative community for all, so here goes...
...oh, and by the way, if you choose not to comply with our framework for being a responsible patron, we reserve the right to delete your comments and/or REVOKE YOUR INVITATION...
(that last part is a little tongue in cheek because of the obvious True Blood reference but we're also kinda serious on that score too, just so you know...)
OK, so rather than listing the do's and don'ts of this space (other than the above...i.e. have fun, be respectful, refrain from combative behavior, hate speech, silencing, "isms", etc.) we thought it might be a little more helpful to outline the approaches to listening and sharing - which we will strive to model in this space - that we think would lead to ideal conditions for empowering and transformative discourse around True Blood here at The Pierced Pomegranate Tavern:
- emphasis is placed on active listening
- domination is absent
- reciprocity and cooperation are prominent
- judgment is withheld until one emphatically understands another’s point of view
- there is a capacity to attend to another person and to feel related to that person in spite of what may be enormous differences (Mezirow, 2000)
“Connected Knowing” is an approach that would be helpful in this space since it provides a radically different set of procedures for developing and testing ideas. People who take this approach look for strengths, not weaknesses, in another’s argument. If a weakness is perceived, they struggle with how one might come to think that way. The more Connected Knowers disagree with another person the harder they will try to understand how that person could imagine such a thing using the tools of empathy, imagination, and storytelling to enter another’s frame of mind (Belenky & Stanton, 2000).
Most American reality TV shows illustrate how our culture conspires against collaborative thinking and the development of social competence by conditioning us to think in adversarial terms of winning or losing; to see only two sides to every issue and to set out to win an argument rather than to understand different ways of thinking and different frames of reference, and to search for common ground, to resolve differences, and to get things done (Mezirow, 2000).
Discourse need not be a confrontation; ideally it is just the opposite: a conscious, collective effort to find agreement, to search for common ground, and to build new understanding (Schugurensky, 2002). Rather than capitulating to "argument culture" a major challenge that we've set for ourselves as well for all patrons and passersby is to replace oppositional with collaborative dialogue, transforming self-serving debates to careful listening and informed constructive discourse.
Loosening ego attachment is needed to do this; we know that's a pretty tall order, but we'd like to try it here.
Becoming more critically reflective of the assumptions we ourselves and others hold is an essential element of open and meaningful discourse - that's something we'd like to practice here.
The Pierced Pomegranate Tavern is a place for mindful learning: the continuous creation of new categories, openness to new information, and an implicit awareness of more than one perspective, which lends itself to transformative learning: “the process by which we transform our taken-for-granted frames of reference (meaning perspectives, habits of mind, mind-sets) to make them inclusive, discriminating, open, and emotionally capable of change, and reflective so that they may generate beliefs and opinions that will prove more true or justified to guide action” (Mezirow, 2000, pp. 7-8).
Mindlessness in contrast is defined as “an entrapment in old categories; by automatic behavior that precludes attending to new signals, and by action that operates from a single perspective” (Langer, 1997, p. 4). We hope the conversations in this space can help facilitate expansion outside old categories, attention to new signals, multilateral perspective, and capacity for innovation in all who read and contribute to them.
The Pierced Pomegranate Tavern is a place for engaging in autonomous thinking–what Mezirow (2000) sees as one's ability to negotiate his or her own purposes, values, feelings, and meanings rather than simply act on those of others.
We think these approaches to fruitful communication will not only be useful for getting the most of the dialogue that we hope to foster here, but that they can also can serve as a foundation for transformative thinking and action in the world. We intend to use this forum as a space for expanding our capacities for the kind of generative discourse we have outlined on this page and it would very much please us if others were to use it in that way too!
BelenkyMezirow (Ed.) Learning as transformation: Critical perspectives on a theory in progress (pp. 71-102). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass
Langer, E. J. (1997). The power of mindful learning. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Books.
Mezirow, J. (2000). Learning to think like an adult: Core concepts of transformation theory. In J. Mezirow (Ed.), Learning as transformation: Critical perspectives on a theory in progress (pp. 3-34). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Schugurensky, D. (2002). Transformative learning and transformative politics: The pedagogical dimension of participatory democracy and social action. In E. V. O’Sullivan, A. Morrell, & M. O’Connor (Eds.), Expanding the boundaries of transformative learning: Essays on theory and praxis (pp. 59-76) New York, NY: Palgrave.