update – STRUCTURE for december 13th

so. there’s a meeting coming up. soonish (i’ve waited forever for this). where i for the first time ever will be able to participate myself, when the issue of me being banned from political activity in the social centre project, is being discussed. so. i got some structure together this evening. i think it should be enough to be an opening. seeing the different opinions. it’s still not super finished. but enough.

like people wanted to have some time at the meeting for speaking in private. so i guess i should include some time for this (i don’t know in what form though. if it should be according to affinity. or only: banned /not banned.)

this is totally and absolutely based on Tree Bresson’s Facilitation Primer. (T h A n k Yo U)


to bring




– HAND SIGNALS on paper for the wall

– A mobile phone with TIMER.

&&& &&


— explain the structure for the meeting. (are people okay with having me as facilitator? okay with the structure?)

— intro for the meeting: Why we are here. My story (my concerns).

— consensus culture. consensus decision making.

— hand signs.

{ #1 } — ground rules. other agreements?

— honesty. not rushing to get consensus.

&& &&


— express how you feel with a body expression, and say it. (other game?) (in smaller groups if many, say names)

kinetic mapping(? i don’t know the word for it…) (standing on a line. “yes” – one end. “no” – the other.):

— is it fun being here? yes/no (why?)

— do you feel comfortable speaking in front of a large group?

— do you feel involved in the conflict? yes/no (why?)

— do you feel you get listened to in the social center project? yes/no (why?)

— do you think something positive could come out of this meeting? yes/no (why?)

— do you believe in change at all stages of life / only from when you’re little.


— including Milla in the social centre project

— excluding Milla from the social centre project

— (“don’t know / other” group, can position themselves in the center)

{ #2 } fishbowl. the three groups get time to discuss.

— collect questions from the outer circle. answers from the inner circle.

&& &&& &


{ #3 }Brainstorming. (everybody gets paper and pen, tape)

— state concerns (what is/are the problem/s?)

Put the concerns on the wall. Move them around. Group them.

In smaller groups. 2 – 3 persons.

— list/talk about possibilities (possible solutions?)

& & & & &&


— (consensus?) decision about: Is it worth having another meeting, where a decision can be made about lifting the bans?

if yes. decide another date / time / place.






{ #1 } If ground rules are needed, the group is probably quite capable of brainstorming its own. However, if you want ideas, here is one possible “starter set”:

1. All focus on one conversation. Stacking: If there are multiple people wanting to speak at the same time, then raise hands and wait to be called on. If you need to have a side conversation, first step out of the room.

2. Fairness: No one will be called on twice on a particular topic until all those who want to have spoken once. Step up, then step back—share the available time with others.

3. Be constructive. Create a positive context and supportive framework. Acknowledge the past fully, yet focus on the future. Make good-faith efforts.

4. Test assumptions and inferences. Ask for more information.

5. Be specific. Use examples if needed so people know what you’re talking about.

6. Take responsibility for your own feelings and experiences. Use “I” statements (for example, “I felt so angry when I saw that,” instead of “You made me so angry when you did that”).

7. Keep it real, keep it relevant. Be honest. Be direct, yet kind. Discuss undiscussable issues. Center on what most needs to be talked about. Once the group adopts a set of ground rules, then one of the responsibilities of the facilitator is to hold members accountable to them.

— Other group members should help with this as well, and not expect the facilitator to do all the heavy lifting, especially if the facilitator is a novice.

{ #2 } Fishbowl – A smaller group gets together in one place (usually in the middle of the room) to discuss a topic while the rest of the group witnesses silently from the outer circle. While fishbowls are most often used to bring together representatives of the main divergent points of view on a topic in order to engage in deeper exploration (a heterogeneous fishbowl), they are also sometimes used to explore categorical differences in the group, for example having all the wimmin sitting in the middle talking about what it’s like to be a womyn, followed by all the men sitting in the middle talking about what it’s like being a man, in order to improve everyone’s education on gender issues (homogeneous fishbowl). When doing a homogeneous fishbowl, including at least two rounds by each group will help deepen the conversation.

I normally invite comments by the outer circle at the end of the session, if not before. It’s important to honor the role of the outer ring in witnessing and holding space for the conversation to happen in the middle.

{ #3 }Brainstorming – The basic rule of brainstorming is that no evaluative comments are allowed; that is, no one can say of another idea that it’s good or bad. The point is to open up to the fullest possible creativity. … an alternate technique is to have people write ideas down anonymously onto half-sheets of paper, which are collected by the facilitator and posted at the front. An added advantage of that approach is that the ideas can then be moved around and grouped into categories.





** Engage the people with concerns in helping solve the problem.

Part of making healthy group is creating an expectation that people with concerns will be actively engaged in helping solve the problem, rather than just announcing their upset and stopping there.

[Some groups invent ways to formalize such expectations. For instance, N Street Cohousing in Davis, California insists that anyone blocking a proposal must attend meetings every two weeks for three months with a rotating committee including people who support the proposal, in an effort to work out a common solution.]

As facilitator, once you understand the concerns that someone is bringing, you can ask them directly what would work for them that they think would also meet the needs others are expressing.

** If someone is in a blocking position, they may need time to cool down, a conversation with a supportive friend, or a private reminder of the group’s purpose that doesn’t cause them to lose face.

** If a conflict emerges during a session that is more about unresolved interpersonal issues than about the group’s business, both parties may need to be checked in with afterward to offer support, and perhaps help in arranging mediation.

** If conflict emerges, listen for where the conflicted parties have shared territory. What parts do they agree on? What goals do they have in common? Don’t gloss over differences, name them clearly—and then focus on how to build up from whatever common ground exists. If you tune your ears to the frequency of common ground and good intent, you will find it in the group.

** Point out positive progress: Typical small mile markers include listing out subtopics, resolving a subtopic, registering concerns on a proposal, brainstorming a list of solutions to a problem, and most commonly, learning new information on an issue or how people relate with that issue.

** When more than one person has something to say, “stacking” is the term facilitators use

for the speaking order. Long stacks or queues are problematic, because they usually contain multiple threads, and speaker #8 will be replying to what speaker #3 said, and meanwhile speaker #5’s question hasn’t been answered yet, and so on. So i recommend using short stacks of no more than 3-4 people, and telling everyone that’s what to expect during your opening facilitator’s rap. If 6 hands go up, choose folks that have spoken least, and get permission beforehand to break stack for direct answers to questions. And remember to insert frequent, short summaries in order to maintain group focus.

** If your group is suffering from repeated patterns of unequal participation, you may want

to create a feedback loop to help everyone notice what’s happening. For instance, you could have one member record how many times each person speaks in a meeting, and then post it on a chart at the end of that meeting or the beginning of the next one. Or give everyone eight beans at the start of the meeting, and require the deposit of one bean every time someone speaks; when someone has run out of beans, they’ve run out of speaking turns for that meeting. These kinds of artificial structures would feel too heavy-handed to use at every meeting, but can be a useful consciousness raising exercise

** Consider questions such as:

• How do you see this idea?

• What are you afraid might happen?

• Have you had previous experiences where that happened? (And if so, how is

this current situation similar to and different from those times?)

• What values of yours does this relate to?

• What group values and purposes is this about for you?

• Is there a way we could monitor that problem?

• What parts of the proposal do you support?

• If you were czar, what would you do?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: