OPEN FORUM. Refugees. Possibilities and Limitations of the Swiss Society

Please watch the documentary about the so-called “open forum”, or a town hall, which was moderated by psychologist-facilitators Reini Hauser, Elke Schlehuber. In this Open Forum citizens of the swiss town Locremis, are discussing their differences with regard to the question of opening up the city for migrants.

Filming this open forum, we hoped to support such discussions, which are all too few in our everyday life. We wanted to acquaint the viewer with the idea of facilitation in both – psychology and social work. Keeping in mind that many cities around the world suffer from similar tension between the migrants and the locals, we hope that the forum’s theme will resonate with the international audience.
The project was filmed in the Swiss town of Locremis, June 9, 2016, by a Russian team for the Russian TV channel «Psychology 21».

«…the Open Forum is to the city as innerwork is to an individual. To understand yourself you need to explore your inner experiences.Likewise, if multi-leveled organizations want to know themselves, they need to explore open forums to understand their various parts. Open Forums in my definition are structured, person-to-person, or cyber-space, democratic meetings, in which everyone feels represented. Furthermore, they are facilitated in a deeply democratic manner, which means the deepest feelings and dreams can also be expressed». Arnold Mindell, The Deep Democracy of Open Forums.

Reini Hauser

Facilitation (from Eng. facilitate -. To assist, facilitate, promote). It can be used as psycological instrument for community building, conflict resolurion, decision making and other group tasks. Facilitator makes a process easier by helping group members become aware of the feelings they hold for one another, assisting a group in thinking deeply about its assumptions, beliefs, and values and about its systemic processes. He or she can also form a group of people into a collaborative team supporting consensus and uses a range of processes to enable the group to accomplish their tasks.

Worldwork is a group facilitation method developed by Dr. Arnold Mindell and colleagues. It helps to resolve problems and enrich community experience. Worldwork facilitators listen to the land, do inner work, practice communication skills involving role consciousness, signal and rank awareness. Worldwork has been successfully applied to the analysis of, and work with multicultural and multileveled groups, Aboriginal communities, universities, small and large international organizations, city hot spots, in corporations and world conflict zones.

Open forums are public gatherings, aimed at the development of social dialogue, an attempt to answer polarizing questions, an aim to unite different people and viewpoints. This space is meant for people to listen, agree or disagree, to support direct non-violent interaction. Open forums direct our attention to the necessity of establishing relationships between people, who belong to opposing sides of a problem; this can be done through understanding the experience of the other and thus – to decrease mutual hostilities. The methodology of open forums was developed in detail by the American PhD Arnold Mindell. The facilitator’s main focus is to help the world know itself better, not to seek change.

Open forums are some of the most potent and ancient forms of dialogue. It is a free platform between “truth” and “untruth”, the “right” and “wrong”, the “bad” and “the good”, “us” and “the enemy”, a platform where everyone involved can share his or her thoughts, emotions, pain, aggression, suppression, joy, anger, gratitude. All of this will naturally allow the group to express diverse opinions and voices, to find points of tension and polarization, go through the conflicts to become closer to one another and move on in life. Open forums allow the groups to undertake effective inner work. And of course, moderating an open forum requires special mastery from the facilitator.

To find out more about conducting open forums, we advise you read A. Mindell’s book THE DEEP DEMOCRACY OF OPEN FORUMS.

Shooting location:
Switzerland, Locremis


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