January 10th, 2020 18:59

How do you run community assemblies? - tips, tricks, sensitivities

Vishal Public Seen by 325

XR has training on facilitating people's assemblies...but these are often for a sheltered bunch of XR rebels.

As we move toward running assemblies for any punter in our local communities What are the particular sensitivities, nuances and focuses you think someone running a community assembly should pay attention to?

We are compiling a resource on this so any ideas would be greatly appreciated!!!

Also please link any external resources you know about.

Rick Cross

Rick Cross January 10th, 2020 19:28

Hi VishalFirstly it's about strengthening a sense of inclusion and safety.
Explicit information about how and who is holding the space and how individuals can contribute .
Some folk see hierarchy and control where none is intended and some just want strong leadership.
After a few decades of experementation the model I have had most success with is using the 8 Shields process developed by Jon Young.
There is an active network applying this in the UK known as the Nature Culture Network .
Best Wishes
Rick Cross
Danaway Permaculture Homestead

Rick Cross

Rick Cross January 10th, 2020 19:29

For larger groups I would use Open Space the model developed by Harrison Owen .

Tom Atlee

Tom Atlee January 11th, 2020 02:52

This response reaches beyond any specific “community assembly” process.

Different processes and contexts (e.g., an environment of process buy-in vs contentiousness, or informal dialogue vs a more formal/official deliberation) require different styles of facilitation and facilitator competence. A high-stakes Citizen Council, for example, uses Dynamic Facilitation, which is extremely powerful at transforming conflict into collaborative breakthroughs, but requires a competent dynamic facilitator to do its magic. In contrast, a community World Cafe is great for helping participants both (a) feel heard in a quasi-intimate small group (cafe-like) setting and (b) to have access to the evolving collective intelligence of the whole larger group they are part of. And - although skilled World Cafe "hosts" are to be treasured (notably for their capacity to craft powerful questions!) - practically anyone can quickly learn to facilitate the basic process - especially once they've participated in a few cafes as a participant.

I often envision a community group/coalition investing in thoroughly training a few skilled facilitators for a large or extremely visible central citizen deliberation, while doing a mass "each one teach one" kind of facilitator training for more primal processes like circle, World Cafe, Open Space, etc., which demand less skill to facilitate quite well (since the process "container" and participants do more of the conversational guidance work than the facilitator does). When those capacities exist, one can organize dozens of the relatively self-organizing conversations prior to and surrounding the more visibly central deliberative event, conversations from which participants can feed insights, possibilities and questions into the main event via online platforms like Polis (which can also capture feedback and further evolutionary ideas after the main event, from people who have been exposed to its recommendations, with or without being part of post-event satellite conversations).

There's also the factor of processes

(a) used to generate a "voice of the whole community" (which often involves random selection to be legitimate, like Citizen Assemblies and Citizen Councils),

(b) which provide open opportunities for anyone interested to say their piece and hear other people (like World Cafe or public hearings, with or without coming to agreements or exposing public officials to bits of public opinion), and

(c) which enable various people in the community to self-organize dialogues and/or actions around issues and projects of common interest (like Open Space).

This (a)-(c) list is, of course, not comprehensive list, but it exemplifies the kind of different roles that various processes can fill and has implications for facilitator training, depending on which services you want the conversations to provide in the community. Here's another way to explore this realm.

Stefan Haselwimmer

Stefan Haselwimmer January 11th, 2020 09:18

Can i mention the elephant in the room?

Some people may not want to engage with anything that has the XR brand on it. For this reason we set up Cambridgeshire Climate Emergency

Can i propose XR stepping back a bit and supporting collaborative initiatives in communities, rather than constantly stamping its logo on everything?

Personally i find the XR logo a bit cultist, like something youd get in an authoritarian mass rally, and it really turns me off

Why not work with groups like ours in parnership rather than trying to be dominant? The future of XR is to build bridges through deep listening not dominate.

Rick Cross

Rick Cross January 11th, 2020 10:24

I think Stephan has a valid point about where XR is powerful in leading and where supporting and enabling others could be more effective.The logo is powerful when the rebellion is in challenge mode but doesn't work when in support mode.

Stefan Haselwimmer

Stefan Haselwimmer January 11th, 2020 12:21

I think the key is to foster a diversity of approaches but all united by a common thread. So for example we have taken the theme of "urgency" and wrapped it as "emergency" (XR doesn't 'own' the sense of urgency).

Think of it a bit like the software concept of "open source". There are loads of open source programs with different purposes, logos, etc. But they all share a common principle (and there are even a number of different open source licenses).

Better to be and foster "open source" than Apache Software Foundation.

Similarly, better to foster the "urgent climate action network" theme than XR. Phase II of XR needs to be able to drop its logo and represent an entirely new approach. Would be happy to suggest what these elements should be but our group CCE is all about:

1. Robust data tracking - so actions have maximum impact
2. Leadership training - you don't grow as a movement without building leaders (this is especially critical in rural areas)
3. Effective liaison with other institutions - it is possible to be agitational and critical while also collaborating. It's about moving from a parent->child model to an adult<->adult model

The Alternative UK

The Alternative UK January 12th, 2020 10:46

Love the quality and attention paid to getting it right in all of the above. All of it is, in my opinion, important to dwell on.

My only caution would be to try and understand where your community is at before starting your clearly focused group. In the UK the public space is more defined by Brexit than climate. You could find yourselves having to defend your actions in the face of a growing populist sensibility that XR and progressives in general are unpatriotic for wanting to have more regulations rather than less. We have been Trumped in many parts of the country.

That doesn't mean we should marginalise what we are doing, just be prepared to take it to the deeper level of listening and understanding first. Don't over-rely on words - framing, testimony, debate - to set the emotional tone. The arts, food, friendliness - care - are crucial for generating trust before the talking even begins. This is one aspect of the feminisation of politics Jamie talks about (there are many more if you're interested).

The Alternative's commitment is to bringing people together in the face of generations of political division. Liberating what is essentially human ingenuity. But it requires patience. People living side by side hate each other without knowing anything about each other. I've already lived through decades of people 'being right' about how to go forward, making other people 'wrong' for things they can hardly control.

XR may not be the vehicle for this slower patient work - emUrgency is real. However, these two speeds of change do need to explicitly come into relationship with each other. Inform each other. In exactly the way, I guess, we are doing here.

Have you had a chance to look at the Citizens Action Network video on the FDH sight? Alternative's co-lab process begins with 'deep hanging out'. Understanding who the 'usual suspects' (people who want change like us) are and aiming to collaborate on mutual agendas, including but not only climate. They will give you an idea of who the excluded are in the community - meaning people who might share your values, but are rarely consulted. But also, how to tap into the networks that already exist. We don't have time to start from the beginning or to reinvent every wheel on the wagon. Discuss with them how best XR can advance - rather than rob - their cause.

Thirdly, we aim to have a feeling for who else is in the community, creating the context for the work we are doing. Many people - possibly the majority - will have no interest or be actively against what we are trying to do. We try to engage them on quite other terms to draw them into relationship with the bigger issues in manageable ways. Learning clubs, access to free stuff, festivals... we weave the story of what's already happening into the need to come together for the future.

All of this is not easy. But it is possible. And this is the time for all of our quite diverse efforts to move into relationship with each other so that it's not a repeat of old failures. After 3 years of doing The Alternative we have got very excited about the possibilities for a new era of people led transformation. Yet everything still founders on whether or not we can all find the ways to work together or not. XR's contribution has been explosive - waking people up everywhere. But it's what happens next that will, or will not, make the difference we are hoping for.

Carlos AG

Carlos AG January 12th, 2020 12:41

Thanks Tom for the links, very informative :)


Vishal January 12th, 2020 16:58

Thanks Rick,

I'm slowly trying to build clear and tangible tips that can go in to a resource without having to read everything that is out there

I just want to get in to specifics:

Are there any specific facilitator tips from 8 shields you could share?

So with the How and who is holding the space and How to contribute - where would you see this information? would it be on the event details? Or is it something that would be stated by the facilitator at the start?

So imagine we have advertised a community assembly to talk about local issues, it's the first session - what kind of thing might we say to be explicit about those things?

Oh and do you have any simple resources/summaries for Open Space?

Thanks mate!

Rick Cross

Rick Cross January 12th, 2020 17:58

Hi Vishal,I am still developing my knowledge of the 8 Shields model that has originated from a distillation from many indigenous cultural practices going right back to hunter gatherer groups like the Bushmen.
It is the product of thousands of generations of human experience and has been adapted in many diverse cultures. My advice would be to talk directly to the Nature Culture UK Network trainers like Peter Cowe but also David Smart-Knight who is known to XR London office . Ideally we need to ask
Jon Young to offer some training to XR when he comes over to the UK.
You can learn more about him online by searching in UTube for Jon Young / 8 Shields.

World Cafe is a simplified version small scale approach similar to Open Space and you can search for World Cafe which has a web presence.

Open Space has a network of facilitators and is a great way to involve large numbers to set their own agenda based upon a focussed question that the event seeks to answer. The process allows the programme to be designed on the day and lead by volunteer coordinators.

Strength to you.

Rick Cross

Rick Cross January 12th, 2020 18:39

Hi Vishal
Maybe this is more what you are looking for:

If you need a few simple pointers:1. Have a clear intention or question for the gathering.
2. Make everyone welcome by making sure they are greeted, know where everything is like toilets and ideally offer refreshments .
3. Allow informal space for conversations and spontaneous meetings on arrival. ( Signing in)
4. Invite everyone to find a space and get comfortable.
5. Reiterate the purpose
6. Ask everyone to introduce themselves where they came from today and why they wanted to come along.
7. Depending on numbers and time inviting people to share what they are grateful for today can be a simple way to share something everyone can relate to and deepen a shared understanding.
8. Use World Cafe Or Open Space process
9. Allow time for tea breaks and meals
10. Ending by sharing appreciation - ideally everyone able to say a few words about what was personally helpful to them.
10. Record outcomes and circulate to particpants

I hope that helps

Tom Atlee

Tom Atlee January 12th, 2020 19:50

I just realized another piece of advice in response to Vishal's question - What are the particular sensitivities, nuances and focuses you think someone running a community assembly should pay attention to? - is "use the GroupWorks group process pattern language cards". This card deck isn't about "tips and tricks" but it IS about "sensitivities, nuances, and focuses". One could say that the cards point to "things to pay attention to if you want a gathering or conversation - dialogue, meeting, conference, deliberation, etc. - to be enjoyable and productive." I've seen them used by planning teams before a gathering and by facilitation/organizing teams reviewing a just-completed gathering.

Often the 91 cards are dealt into the planning/review group and a question is asked, like "What should we pay particular attention to at this point in our planning?" or "What did we do well in the conference?" & "What do we need to attend to more and do better at our next gathering?" People hold up and read aloud a card from their "hands" that they think speaks to the question. There can then be a discussion about that (short or long, or even - if there's energy around it - assigned to a committee to explore in greater depth) or simply an acknowledgement and moving on to the next person's suggested card. You can browse over the cards' patterns/topics on the alphabetical or category lists (with live links). Thousands of these open source/grassroots-created card decks are in use around the world by facilitators and engagement planners. They are available for purchase or free download.

A companion deck is the Wise Democracy Pattern Language. They serve the same purpose (and are used similarly), but for "generating collective wisdom" (with very extensive resources for each pattern). They overlap with GroupWorks and are useful for group work, but their center of gravity is principles for designing wisdom-generating social systems. Alphabetical list / Category list / Purchase / Free download.

Both pattern languages can be used in many ways, from browsing their surfaces to in-depth curricula study.

Tom Atlee

Tom Atlee January 12th, 2020 20:32

This is a good "tip" list. It actually inspired my comment on the GroupWorks deck, below. Here are a few other things that come to mind:

  • Re (1) a realm of theory-and-practice exists around designing "powerful questions". Powerful questions are usually defined as questions that generate change or transformation, with or without being answered (e.g., Why isn't the emperor wearing any clothes? or Where are the women/people of color? or What could Extinction Rebellion also be?). I've compiled many approaches to that work at the Powerful Questions pattern.

  • There are two 10s in Rick's list above. The "record outcomes" tip should be 11. To these I'd add a 12: Discuss how the event went, including what you think you handled well and what you think you could improve next time. (Note that the GroupWorksDeck is useful for this, as are post-event response surveys of participants.)

  • World Cafe and Open Space are my favorite simple-but-powerful conference forms, but there is an open, emergent quality to them that many people - especially in the general public - are not comfortable with. They're used to thinking that conferences involve them being spoken to. It can thus help to have a speaker or panel at the start to anchor the event, specifically to get people thinking about interesting possibilities or meaningful challenges. If those speakers can be framed as big names, then they become a reason for the public to attend what otherwise might be seen as vaporous talk-talk. But it is then important to reframe the speaker(s) before the main process begins, e.g., "Now that you've heard from some experts, what do YOU think - and what do YOU want to create together here?"

  • Sometimes there is a need to focus or prioritize. If you want to have a coherent outcome from a more-or-less open and creative dialogue, like World Cafe, you can use a dynamic participatory process called Thirty-Five. There's a good example (used in a public climate forum) in "Finding our way together – through innovations in voting (Collective Coherence Part One)". You'll need to search the page for "thirty-five", but you might want to scan through all the other intriguing voting innovations as well. You can also find a mainstream process description of it here. (Note that 35 has a number of advantages over the more well-known "dot-voting" technique, in that it is highly interactive and high energy, takes a short time, includes mini-deliberations among participants, and is not corrupted by people voting in response to how the rest of the group has been voting.)

  • Here's one of the most powerful process-combinations I've ever experienced: At the start of a multi-day Open Space gathering (about making evolutionary transformation more conscious) there was a morning World Cafe exploring the question "What question, if addressed really well in our Open Space, would make all the difference in the world?" We did three rounds of a standard World Cafe about that and then had lunch, after which the "space was opened" (i.e., the Open Space activity was convened). Despite the WC framing, there was no effort to identify THE question. The purpose of that initial WC was to "stir the pot", to get people thinking about what they considered most important. Then in the Open Space the participants got to convene sessions about all those "most important" topics. The energy was high!

Tom Atlee

Tom Atlee January 12th, 2020 21:42

I just watched your CAN video, Indra. Wow! Very well conceived. (I've logged it for inclusion as a resource on eleven of my wise democracy patterns!) I can see the CAN approach as a way to transcend the problematic issue (raised by Stefan) of "XR" being the center/identity of its local democracy initiatives. XR LGs can be the catalysts for CANs which (by definition) launch as an expanding and evolving coalition of the interested which, being larger than XR, allows XR activists to be subsumed as major organizers/facilitators/servant leaders in the CAN without the CAN being defined by or identified with them. The more the CAN grows, the more XR sinks below the radar and the more potential CAN has to fulfill XR's democratic dreams. XR can continue to have its provocative symbol and demonstrations without endangering CANs' capacity to involve all sorts of people. Nice!

Stefan Haselwimmer

Stefan Haselwimmer January 12th, 2020 22:01

Love the video! Reminds me of the "reweaving the fabric of society" goal of community organisers like Citizens UK. They have run some astounding democracy events including 6k people in London Citizens Assembly (a People's Assembly). Their refugee resettlement network from 2015 also shows what is possible in terms of a national network.

But yes you gotta start from where people arw which may not be as close as one might like as an outsider. I also think it's important to encourage leaders who may not be the "usual suspects" in terms of being XR or even environmental-inclined.

Phil Green

Phil Green January 13th, 2020 18:03

Starting conversation with those who's views seem so divergent

(Sorry this is perhaps a bit wider than running community assemblies, but seemed a good place to ask)

I see there's lots of helpful info here, which is great, but I'd like to focus on a question it seems to me is largely unasked so far. It doesn't seem catered for in External: Democracy Mobilisation & Municipalism Plan, for example, beyond an acknowledgement that "Community Assemblies... will require extra sensitivities for facilitators and they will be supported with trainings to do."

It does however get a mention in @Indra Adnan's recent post to this thread: "Many people - possibly the majority - will have no interest or be actively against what we are trying to do." So my question is (more please on, 'cause Indra follows with "We try to...", ) how can we engage with these "Many people"? Challenging, yes of course, but as often rewards great if we can.

I personally don't have much by way of answer, though I'll share, but it does seem to me to be an important question. I may be wrong but it seems to me that this is not primarily about conflict resolution (though of course such skills are very useful anyway), it seems more about reaching out in the right sort of way in the first place. (eg if one starts out with an expectation of conflict does that make conflict more likely?)

So for example if I myself feel conflicted before I even start maybe I'm not in the right place to start? One of the potential (internal) conflicts is the feeling that if I'm listening too empathetically (is that possible?) to what comes across as supportive of 'business as usual' (for want of a better summary), am I in some way condoning or even supporting the perpetuation of such views?

Where I live feels very conservative (both small and big c). People's concerns include overdevelopment. Their answers to this tend to involve yet more car dependency, which is to some extent very understandable in a rural area with poor public transport, especially for the elderly. In cases like this I try instead to raise awareness of questions of water scarcity. Similarly people's concerns may include pollution, simply because even the press talk about this. Then challenging but possible to mention health (ideally benefits, and link with personal experiences involving different generations) rather than transport (options, about which many may feel they don't really have).

Just a couple of further points on why this might be a useful question:
1. If we're honest aren't views supportive of 'business as usual' (for want of a better summary) still quite pervasive in our society, especially in some areas? So if we're serious about inclusivity we have to reach out in these areas as well?
2. If the concept of tipping points has some validity here, perhaps tackling the difficult questions can help with the "urgency/breakthrough" thing?

Nadia Franchi

Nadia Franchi January 14th, 2020 18:03

Where is the link to the CAN video. I'd love to see it.

Nadia Franchi

Nadia Franchi January 14th, 2020 18:06

If I was facilitating an Assembly and conflict arose would I immediately set up a conflict resolution process?

Nadia Franchi

Nadia Franchi January 14th, 2020 18:10

Similarly to you Phil I would like to know the best way to start s convo with someone in say a cafe that would potentially lead to me inviting them to a local assembly...do people have any ideas? This is a big part of the way that I meet people 🙂

The Alternative UK

The Alternative UK January 14th, 2020 20:14

The Alternative UK

The Alternative UK January 14th, 2020 20:24

When you meet people generally, do you ask them who they are and what they do? My guess is that will always lead to entry points. I'm less in favour of pulling people into my agenda as a way of connecting. And a bit more into going to meet people where they gather, hearing what they are into and then introducing what we do through that lens. My experience is that there needs to be connection before invitation.

Stefan Haselwimmer

Stefan Haselwimmer January 14th, 2020 20:30

Kathryn Hayhoe's talk on finding the common values with other people is very good (and dont open with the science cos that typically alienates people).

Also stories and "public narratives" a la community organising can be a great way of building relationships based on common humanity

Nadia Franchi

Nadia Franchi January 14th, 2020 21:07

Thanks, it's a fascinating video full of inspiration :)

Nadia Franchi

Nadia Franchi January 15th, 2020 17:32

Thanks. That makes sense

Phil Green

Phil Green January 15th, 2020 17:40

Hi @Stefan Haselwimmer , @Indra Adnan and @Nadia Franchi , thanks very much for all your replies. Very much appreciated, and very much enjoyed, and would recommend, Kathryn Hayhoe's talk.

Charlie C. Shekeris

Charlie C. Shekeris January 16th, 2020 20:52

dear @Vishal , apologies for the delay and for not having the time to have gone through the whole conversation. Furthermore i apologise if the point i want to make (hopefully in two lines) is trite or has been repeated many times above.

I cannot stress enough the importance of different wolrdviews and cultural differences, even among people who have the same passport or live in the same neighbourhood for twenty years (after all they probably grew up somewhere else or watch different tv shows). And to navigate themselves through this, the facilitator ought to become conscious of these differences first. Saying 'the facilitator must be neutral' may not achieve it, and i think it'd be very different perhaps even for a facilitator to challenge their own assumptions without affecting a process.

Nadia Franchi

Nadia Franchi January 17th, 2020 00:14

I just attended PA training in Woking. It was a great evening. I cried when we did the children's flame.as I was really moved at us all focussing on what is best for future generations. 3 of us in Brighton are keen to get out there and facilitate now 🙂

Vicki Burke

Vicki Burke January 19th, 2020 17:12

Hi very much interested in all of this, thank you for the conversation. I am very interested in getting to the core of the issues and looking in before we reach out. I am concerned that much work is done before sorting the fundamentals out first. The whole problem with the 'us' and 'them' concept is that we, of course, hold so much conflict within ourselves. We reach out expecting people to join 'us' when we are still coming from an unresolved place. Seeing some responses to the recent political events from people who I would consider coming from the same ideologies as myself (and I don't consider myself exempt) I would like to consider doing far more in-depth inner work understanding ourselves before attempting to understand others.

John Bunzl

John Bunzl January 20th, 2020 07:03

Inner work is key, I agree. "Us vs. them" is a very energising position from which to enact protest or civil disobedience or to create awareness of an issue. But it's not much good for delivering creative solutions. The conflict, as you say, is within ourselves. Because the reality is that we are all enmeshed in a system that's almost impossible to break out of - and that includes business people, politicians, governments - everyone. It's called "the global market". And while it's true that there are those (i.e. the 1%) who gain massively from it, no one is actually in control of it. No one has the power to change it alone. All of us are its prisoners. Which is why "us and them" makes no sense!

Nadia Franchi

Nadia Franchi January 20th, 2020 11:09

Where can I find her talk? 🙂

Phil Green

Phil Green January 20th, 2020 13:48

Hi @Nadia Franchi , it's on ted.com, with transcript below the video

Vicki Burke

Vicki Burke January 20th, 2020 17:00

I agree to a point. I believe there are ways to step outside the prison gates. We have to work and be diligent and yes it is easier if we do it together. I am an eternal optimist and I am very keen to start working towards this goal because I believe it is not only possible but vital for change. I hope I am not alone here!

John Bunzl

John Bunzl January 20th, 2020 17:12

What ways did you have in mind, Vicki? My preferred one is www.simpol.org

Vicki Burke

Vicki Burke January 20th, 2020 17:40

Yes, I can see how that idea (I didn't look at the intricacies of how it works only the overview) needs to be in place. However, my work is more at a grass roots level, working with the individual to start with. This is obviously too little too late for many, however, its the way I, personally, know how. It is still work in progress however, so am probably speaking out too soon! Will be back in touch when I have something tangible to offer. I am an artist first and foremost


greg frey February 16th, 2020 11:19

Hey Rick! I'd be grateful for any links to the 8 Shields process, I've trawled around and can't find anything...

Rick Cross

Rick Cross February 16th, 2020 11:51

Hi GregYour best contact on this is David Smart-Knight who has been working within XR on training for regenerative communities and is familiar with the 8 Shields model.
You can also listen on uTube to presentations by Jon Young the originator. Try searching for Jon Young
8 Shields .
David has developed a two hour introductory training workshop based on the 8 Shields model that has been trialled by XR Core Team and be is now rolling out in the region's.
He is due to come to Cumbria in March.
Strength and Light to you

Rosa Zubizarreta

Rosa Zubizarreta February 16th, 2020 16:02

Building on, on "how to do outreach" for a potential community assembly... I've not seen any mention yet, of Asset-Based Community Organizing. It's a form of taking an appreciative perspective with regard to a community... very powerful lens.

Stefan Haselwimmer

Stefan Haselwimmer February 16th, 2020 16:05

I've talked about general community organizing as practiced by Citizens UK here before. Indeed Cambridgeshire Climate Emergency relies upon a broad community organizer approach (ABCD where it's appropriate and institutional agitation where it's appropriate)http://camemergency.org



Rosa Zubizarreta

Rosa Zubizarreta February 21st, 2020 15:37

Nadia, would love to invite you to say more. What kind of People's Assembly, and what kind of conflict?

Rosa Zubizarreta

Rosa Zubizarreta February 21st, 2020 15:40

@Charlie C. Shekeris would offer that there are other (often more helpful) framings than "the facilitator must be neutral". Some of us find it much more helpful to think of being multi-partial, or "taking all sides"...

Rosa Zubizarreta

Rosa Zubizarreta February 21st, 2020 16:15

Hi Phil... again, not sure if this is the place here, but your very thoughtful post reminded of some very helpful work I came across in Spain... actually in País Vasco, at a gathering in Donosti (San Sebastian) on the "Art of Co". One of the things I learned about there, is a very interesting model of how we can listen to a community, in any situation where there is conflict... intentionally "listening for", what is called the "emergent axis"... meaning perspectives that are outside the "yes-no" line that constitutes a dilemma... when we do this we. can discover a much larger plane, a plane constituted by TWO lines... perpendicular to the "yes-no" line, we have the "both/and" / "neither/nor" line, and thus a tetra lemma...

So more than something we "do", it's a frame of consciousness that influences our "doing"... allows us to listen in a different way... and begin mapping out a much larger field of possibilities. I know that some Constellations work explores tetra lemmas, but I've not yet found much in the community organizing world that takes this approach, outside of Spain...

these links are in Spanish, and fairly academic, but may be useful anyway. Here is an article, and also there is a website... maybe this is already familiar to you all in England? At any rate it's some of the most exciting work I've found in this arena, and, super compatible with the complexity and self-organizing perspectives that we work with in Dynamic Facilitation.

Rosa Zubizarreta

Rosa Zubizarreta February 21st, 2020 16:33

Great, Stefan! very much appreciated your points above, about being very flexible re branding (here in the US we are sadly in the midst of huge turf wars about who "owns" XR, which would be greatly reduced were people to take your enlightened approach.. :-) I also, very much appreciated your points about the need to focus on leadership development, along with, data tracking and effective liasoning...

I just posted something above, in response to Phil Green's post, that you may be interested in as well... it's a link to Red Cimas, "Una red de profesionales comprometidxs con la transformación social y las democracias participativas" (which translates to "a network of professionals committed to social transformation and participatory democracies").

While I don't recommend over-deferring to "experts" in any way, these folks have put in a lot of time and energy into being scholar-practitioner-activists... and there can be just as much to learn within. the realm of community organizing, as there can be, say, in computer programming. Here's to many, many more of us, deepening our skills in the former...

Stefan Haselwimmer

Stefan Haselwimmer February 21st, 2020 16:51

So the question of how does one relate to experts is an interesting one. I remember when I first started with community organising, it was on refugee resettlement and I remember being quite the gun-slinging arrogant SOB who didn't want to to do it the proscribed way.

But after making quite a few mistakes, I really started to appreciate the benefits of doing it a certain way.

It's important to have a kind of over-confident energy, and also important to be receptive to feedback.

Another problem with "experts", is that they can dent one's confidence. We ran a climate community brainstorm and it was noticeable how people sat back and were less engaged when the experts took over. We somehow need to empower people with expertise in a way in which the experts are not dictating. That's really hard - especially in Cambridge UK - where I live where most experts are really rather arrogant and only too happy to take over. What is particularly frustrating is that the vast majority of academics in Cambridge have no idea about community engagement but think that they are expert at it. Still gently breaking that one down...!

Anyway, these people are extraordinary and I would recommend everyone to check out the website, sign up, get community organiser trained:


They are gamechangers in my opinion and possibly one of the few hopes left (given XR seem to be imploding rapidly)

Stefan Haselwimmer

Stefan Haselwimmer February 21st, 2020 16:54

Yes, I think climate emergency is particularly challenging because - despite XR's best efforts - it doesn't neatly fall into good vs evil. We all happily consume the benefits of fossil fuels, indeed the bulk of modern life runs on oil. If you look around where you are, you will see fossil fuel powering something.

So we need some kind of unifying approach in order to build the consensus necessary to take big actions. Because if we try and somehow extricate ourself, we won't have much of a scalable impact

Charlie C. Shekeris

Charlie C. Shekeris February 22nd, 2020 07:02

dear @Rosa Zubizarreta i admit it that i can be a bit quick and loose with terminology sometimes, we can discuss many of these ideas if you want ' multiparitality, taking all sides' or other terminology and god knows i need good discussion if any academic will ever hear me because they only read papers even though what these papers contain are not a million miles away from what we're discussing here! so would be thrilled to discuss with such esteemed friends as yourselves, either in public or in private/small group if we don't want to bore people :) many thanks @Rosa Zubizarreta for revisiting an old post of mine, i really appreciate that!

Phil Green

Phil Green February 22nd, 2020 16:33

Hi Rosa, that's great! Thanks.