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GCD 9: Sitges, Catalunya, Spain

Simplifying life

9-12 January 2014

Dialogue #9 – originally planned for Tulsa, Oklahoma in 2012, which was unfortunately cancelled – took us to Spain, and the province of Catalunya. And deep into the Parc National de Garraf, where we enjoyed the tranquil seclusion of a mas in the hills and forests of the national park. The secluded and intimate nature of the site facilitated an relaxed and introspective dialogue – and fostered the building of strong relation-ships through exciting team activities.


After an unexpected hiatus, our next dialogue took place with unfettered enthusiasm, as many alumni came to deepen relationships, expand on themes from dialogues gone by and to profit once again from the time and space to think. A similar number of new members to the dialogue explored interesting topics hitherto undiscovered, to make new friendships, and to get away from it all for a while.  In the cozy and private environment offered by the country estate “Casanova” in the hills of eastern Spain, only a stone’s throw from Barcelona in Catalunya. As home to great leaders and thinkers in many fields, including explorers, musicians, designers and architects, the environment was conducive to exploring new fields and answering far-reaching questions. And in the middle of the triangle formed by Sitges (renown both for its film festival and carnival and for being the center of revolutionary thinking under the regime of Ferdinand Franco) and Olivella (a small rural village originally inhabited in 992 A.D. and now home to the Sakya Tashi Ling buddhist monastery) lies Casanova Estate, a privately owned villa that provided exquisite facilities for meeting and retreating, joining and relaxing, cooking and dancing… 


The 9th GCD officially began at 6pm on Wednesday, January 8th 2014 and ran until Sunday, January 12th 2014 at 10am , although a few unlucky participants arrived late due to travel constraints as a result of unusually heavy snowfall and cold in the American northeast, and a few poor souls had to leave us early… thereby missing the “cleanup lunch” and distribution of leftover fare. Since a SIETAR conference took place on the Monday following the GCD, a few members of this group stayed another night in Barcelona to participate in this event as well.  With the generously proportioned kitchen of the Casanova, and the creative contributions of every member of the GCD, we catered most of our meals ourselves, including one 11 course bonanza of international dishes. Two dinners – one in Barcelona and one in Sitges provided opportunities to mingle in a different environment and to explore some of the local attractions and sights as well. 


The cozy private nature of the Casanova provided ample opportunity for intimate dialogues, one-on-one discussions, and late night slumber parties and wine-bottle-discussions. It also showed us that having enough space for dialogues so that they don’t interfere with one another, and some spaces to withdraw and meditate or reflect are as important as having a place where people can focus and be fully present for the duration of the Dialogue. 


Topics this year focused around individual challenges and reflections, leading learning, and far-reaching global topics, and included:

  • Debriefing debriefings

  • The impact and value of “intercultural” work

  • Spiritual discoveries

  • Simplifying Life

  • Desarraigo – The feeling of being unrooted

  • Sustainability

  • Non-negotiables in multicultural contexts

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