“Everything is Moving, Everything is moving.”

My friend Ralph Copleman died a few nights ago.

The world will be a different place for many people without Ralph being around to interject his provocative and insightful comments . . . and Poetry.

I know Ralph as being a lover of life and a lover of people. While i have really only had the good fortune of spending a few short days with Ralph at a few conferences . . . and exchanging emails . . . and reading his occasional whimsical (and DEEP) posts on the listserve he frequented) . . . Ralph has been a consistent mentor for me. He’s always been there for me (and so many others) when it was time to see through all of the noise and find true authentic meaning in the NOW.

I love Ralph and considered him to be “My favorite Uncle” . . . Never fearful of saying the wrong things . . . Passionate follower of his own heart . . . Always willing to step in and DO when others cower from the daunting tasks at hand.

I believe that the best way I can honor Ralph is to share 3 of my favorite quotes from him. You’ll find those below the following very appropo “eulogy” for one of his friends and colleagues.

“He was diagnosed with lymphoma in the spring but it was treated and under control. All was well until he got an unexplained fever this week. He went into distress and his organs failed.

Ralph was 65. He had celebrated his 60th birthday with a memorable coast-to-coast bicycle ride during which he included many of us vicariously by sending email stories of his adventures from the Rockies, across the Great Plains, and all the way home.

He was for many years an OD (Organizational Development) consultant and large group practitioner. He organized FS (Future search) Network pro bono training in New Jersey and helped do the same in Seattle and D.C. In Berrien County, MI, he co-facilitated a critical business sector FS that contributed to the turn-around of that community.

Some years ago he gave up general consulting to become a sustainability advocate, organizing Future Searches to that end, founding an ongoing organization, Sustainable Lawrence (NJ), in his home town and helping other communities do likewise . . . 

It is hard to comprehend that we have lost Ralph’s advice and support. Ralph’s was a voice for all things humane, just, daring and loving, for people and our planet. He was usually among the first responders to strategic questions on the listserve, He was full of encouragement, practical advice, and provocative questions. He was quick to share his broad experience and systems knowledge. He was one of the early integrators of Future Search and Open Space. He saw that each had a place in an ongoing change strategy and understood how each reinforced the other.

We have lost a loving friend and a good person who cared about this world.”

Sandra Janoff

“Everything is Moving, Everything is moving”

 . . . That’s all Ralph said in a recent post . . . and it rocked many people’s worlds.

It is SO true that it literally has defined much of my thought since . . . So many authors have written entire books to say what Ralph was able to say in 6 words.

Poetry was something that Ralph wrote everywhere I saw him. I attended an Open Space on Open Space event in Monterey, CA 1998 with Ralph and found the proceedings from that event here http://www.openspaceworld.org/tmnfiles/OSonOSVIproceedings(Monterey).htm

Following are 2 of Ralph’s poems written during that event:


Some of us treat the practice of open space as if it were a religion.  They’re devoted and sometimes have dreamy eyes when they talk about it.

Some of us treat open space as if it were a simple tool.  They’re convinced and sometimes speak with real conviction when they talk about it.

Some see it as both.  Or neither.  Or some combination of things.

Everybody’s right.  It’s okay. 

Ralph Copleman

1998 – Monterey California – Open Space on Open Space VI – (OSONOS VI)

From November 14 to 16, about 70 people gathered to participate in the sixth annual Open Space on Open Space.  People came from Australia, Canada, Colombia, England, France, Germany and the United States.  Our theme was “Growing the Space for Open Space.”  The space was opened and held by Brian Bainbridge, Peggy Holman and Linda Olson.

What is my name?

I am open space

I am one, I am all in one

I am no one

At all

Do you come to me in dream time

Will you walk with me in waking

May we be together all ways

Have you seen me lately

Safety is my container

Danger is the order of my day

I wrap my paradox in a blanket of simplicity

I compose a quilt of ambiguity with a single thread

I chicken-scratch and penstroke and wave run

I compress a fevered brow, and I pressure blood

I am a weapons cache and an eagle’s aerie and a siren’s song and a jalapeno pepper

I am so much fun I frighten people

I am open space

Have you seen my friends

Do you know my lovers and keepers

And takers and hard drivers, my embryo dreams and prodigal children

Can you travel in my circles, please, and mutter in my ranks

I am open space

Can you run the fingers of your mind along my boundaries

Can you penetrate my emptiness

Can you fill my corners with cares or woes, or fourfold ways

Can you move me

Can you get me open

I am open space

Can you fill me up

I am open space

Can you shut me down

I am open space

Can you empty me out

I am open space

Can you answer me

I am open space

Can you question me

I am open space

Who am I

I am open space

I am everything

I am open space

I am nothing

I am open space

I am anything

I am open space

I am old

I am open space

I am new

I am open space

I am the same

I am open space

I am different

I am open space

I am I am I am I am

–        Ralph Copelman

I love you RALPH, and we will ALL miss you.

Thank you for being fully present while being here with us,


Published by Barry Owen

Residential Real Estate sales Strategist Search - Analysis - Negotiation - CLOSED Inviter-Facilitator-Practicer of Open Space Technology Opening safe space for people & organizations to self-organize around issues & opportunities BarryOwen.co Invite-Listen-Love

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1 Comment

  1. About Ralph Copelman
    Hello– Quite a few years ago ( I think maybe 2002) I copied down a poem by Ralph Copelman from US 1 Newspaper titled “Telling Jokes to My Mother.” I am now attending an Alzheimer’s caregivers support group and wanted to share this wonderful poem with them. I Googled his name and found your eulogy. I am sorry I never met him! He sounds like an amazing person.

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