February 12th, 2020 09:46

Input on 'Listening' Tool kit for Deep Hanging Out

Josie Holt
Josie Holt Public Seen by 253

Dear Hive.
This is an invitation to brain dump all and every 'tool' you can think of for 'Deep Hanging Out', as in listening, connecting and engaging at local community level, here. This can just be as a list of everything that comes to mind. Links to relevant resources would also be helpful, but I can web search so not essential.

As a context to this I am in the process of redrafting the XR People's Assembly manual as a Community Assembly Manual, and need to expand the content around this phase of engagement appropriately.

Thanks in advance for any and all input



[deactivated account] February 12th, 2020 14:23

Hi Josie

I work for a local authority and here is a guide for working with people with a disability that I came across.

Hope that this is useful.

Love and rage



[deactivated account] February 12th, 2020 14:29

Hi Josie

Sorry but nearly all the words in your email have no meaning. They are either jargon or nonsensical. Perhaps you can send me another email simplifying the first. I really would like to help if possible

Kind regards


Ed Watson

Ed Watson February 12th, 2020 14:37

Hi Josie. It would really help if you could describe what the aims of a Community Assembly could be and how that differs from a PA.

It may also help to understand what you would ideally achieve and how much time you are designing for. I'm assuming a tool that takes a full day is not what you are looking for.

Rebellious Ed

“Action is the antidote to despair” Joan Baez

Nadia Franchi

Nadia Franchi February 12th, 2020 15:54

I can't see your guide ☺️

Rosa Zubizarreta

Rosa Zubizarreta February 12th, 2020 15:58

Hi Josie! Thanks for your question... one thought/question in response... I have just finished reading and re-reading the current People's Assembly manual, in preparation for a local online training here in the U.S. that we recently hosted. While I edited the manual a bit, I thought that overall it was a fine manual, specifically for People's Assemblies. And so I am wondering if what you are wanting to create, is an entirely different manual, one that includes a variety of different forms for having large participatory gatherings?

If so, would love to help with that...

Josie Holt

Josie Holt February 12th, 2020 16:04

Thanks for your responses,
Apologies for any confusion around the expressions I've used. I'll try to explain exactly what I mean and give a little more information.

So the XR People's Assembly Manual here https://rebellion.earth/wp/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/XR-PeoplesManual.pdf is in it's second edition and was written to support the use of People's Assemblies throughout XR. As such it is very 'XR' and Direct action focused.

The use of People's Assemblies within XR has meant that a lot of people who have attended an XR local group, or large scale action, will have found themselves taking part in democratic decision making. Peoples’ assemblies, especially, have drawn people into this within XR, but now we need to expand their reach to include  the wider societies in which we live. This is how we develop the self-organising communities which are our best hope for survival as climate and ecological breakdown unfolds.

A Community Assembly is a PA, or similar process. It's not the process that needs reworking, its the manual.

The aim of a Community Assembly Manual would be to offer a framework for running Assemblies and other participatory practices within any community or organisation. The aim of any Community Assembly would be determined by those convening it, but examples of a Community assembly could include groups looking to create community projects such as Credit Unions, Cooperatives, or Flatpack style Council takeovers, or as a more general community building exercise focused on finding shared concerns and solutions to local issues.

The redrafting of the PA manual to remove XR specific references, and shift the focus from direct action to supporting existing and emerging communities is part of the work of increasing democracy from the ground up. The XR PA manual will still be used within XR itself.

The term 'Deep Hanging Out' was coined by anthropologist Clifford Geertz  to describe the anthropological research method of immersing oneself in a cultural, group or social experience on an informal level. Basically listening and engaging with the Community you are focused on, on their own terms. So not trying to recruit or persuade them of anything, just immersing yourself in engaging and listening to the people you are hoping to connect with. Its a phrase used in Community Organising, and I use it here as I feel it really sums up the first necessary stages of engaging with any community.

I use the word 'tool' to refer to any method or practice. An example of a 'tool' in this instance would be attending a local event and talking with those you meet there, door knocking to listen to the concerns of the people in that area, or organising a community event such as a shared meal or a seed swap to bring people together.

To answer your question Ed, I am looking for any ideas around listening and connecting with a community. You can add ideas that take weeks if you like! It's about giving people a wide range of ideas on how to approach this that they can pick and chose from depending on what works for them as a group or organisation. Like a connection buffet! The more input and ideas I can get, the more I have to work with.

The term 'brain dump' simply means just 'dump' whatever ideas around this come to mind here.

I hope any or all of this helps!



[deactivated account] February 12th, 2020 16:06


I have attached the guide. I hope that you can see it


Josie Holt

Josie Holt February 12th, 2020 16:11

That would be wonderful! The aim is to expand on what we have already created and yes, ideally to include a variety of different forms of participatory gatherings.That was going to be my next line of enquiry!

Peter Anderson

Peter Anderson February 12th, 2020 16:35

@Josie Holt you may already have this as it's quite a few of the other docs already, but just in case..

Peter Anderson

Peter Anderson February 12th, 2020 16:35

@Josie Holt you may already have this as it's quite a few of the other docs already, but just in case..

VocalEyes: Enabling community organising (prioritisation, organisation and implementation) and coordinated collective action around social and environmental initiatives on a national/global scale within communities, schools, colleges & other organisations.

Functionality - Overview

VocalEyes contains an extensive toolkit for community organising that includes:

  • Local democracy: Generation, prioritisation and debating of ideas.

  • High impact solutions repository (DNA): Enabling stakeholders within communities of similar types (i.e. pupils in schools, staff in local authorities, residents in geographic communities), to discover, adapt and replicate the best solutions and case studies implemented by similar communities around the world.

  • Participatory budgeting: Open and transparent budgets with income & expenditure transactions and evidence of need from the community.

  • Motion voting: Time limited voting on policies and procedures.

  • Crowdsourcing: Pledging time and resources into teams and projects.

  • Action planning: Creating tasks, due dates and assigning to members.

  • Events: Setting up events, managing attendees and logging meeting notes.

  • News: Generating blog posts to promote news stories and case studies of ideas into action.

  • Custom automated reports: Enabling reports with member priorities, pledges and other activity to be sent to specific people in specific departments and locations to help close the feedback loop.

    More info: https://about.vocaleyes.org or hello@vocaleyes.org

Edwin Rutsch

Edwin Rutsch February 12th, 2020 16:49

Josie Holt

Josie Holt February 12th, 2020 17:10

Yes, that one is very much on my radar. Thank you for your work and for introducing me to it x

Josie Holt

Josie Holt February 12th, 2020 17:10

Perfect. thank you

Rosa Zubizarreta

Rosa Zubizarreta February 12th, 2020 17:17

Hi Josie, World Cafe and Open Space Technology are two very basic formats that can be very useful, depending on the context and how they are framed. Both of them definitely support "deep hanging out".

And, while they are indeed "basic", there is also an art and a skill to using them. Each of these processes has extensive learning communities online. One of the most useful things you might do, is encourage/offer some "Art of Hosting" trainings, which is a process where people can learn these methods experientially, and more.

A third approach, Dynamic Facilitation, (DF for short) is a particular process for "deep hanging out" that can be particularly useful when we are in need of collaborative and creative problem-solving in face of a shared issue. It requires more active involvement on the part of the facilitator, and is ideally useful for a group of 25 or so.

And, it also has time-tested large-group applications; a small group (either stakeholders or sortition based can work) does a "deep dive" with DF support, then shares their findings as the catalyzing "input" to a much larger conversation, which can be held with a Public Assembly or a World Cafe process. This specific model, now called "Citizens' Council" in English and "Vorarlberg Bürgerrat" in German, has been used often in Germany and Austria and has worked very well there.

Note: I don't know anything about their XR chapters, I am speaking more broadly about the work of their public engagement practitioners. Just like most Citizens' Assemblies have been carried out by public engagement practitioners, so have Citizens' Councils. However, as a smaller, leaner, and more cost-effective format, they are a good one for community organizers to know about.

Nadia Franchi

Nadia Franchi February 12th, 2020 22:18

Great ideas. I'd appreciate more basic language without abbreviations and jargon ☺️🙏

Rosa Zubizarreta

Rosa Zubizarreta February 13th, 2020 03:17

Don't quite understand the request. These are the names that these processes go by; the intention of including their formal names is to help people find more information about them. For example, here is the main website for The World Cafe. And here is the website for The Art of Hosting. If there are any specific terms you would like to have clarified, am happy to help. I did use an abbreviation for Dynamic Facilitation (DF) have attempted to clarify above.

Edwin Rutsch

Edwin Rutsch February 13th, 2020 03:48

Josie Holt 

I see empathic listening/active listening as a basic foundational skill and mindset. It is like a basic building block that can be built on and helps people tap into their basic human capacity to listen to each other. It's bit of a crutch for bringing listening into hierarchical, fearful,  judgmental, low-listening based cultures that we live in.

Carl Rogers refined the active listening process and many, many people have built on the basics of empathic listening. So there are many process that have this as a foundational component.  Here is a the beginning of a list of practices with links. http://j.mp/2vpfabF

Being a Deep Listener
* Counseling and Coaching
* Person Centered Therapy (Carl Rogers)
* Focusing (Gene Gendlin)
* Peer Counseling
* Empathy Circles (Edwin Rutsch)
* Motivational Interviewing (William Miller)
* Non Violent Communications (Marshall Rosenberg
* Imago Relationships Therapy (Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt)
* Thomas Gordon Training (Thomas Gordon)
* etc, etc

Conflict Mediation
* Conflict Resolution and Mediation Practices
* Restorative Circles (Dominic Barter)

* Dynamic Facilitation DF (Jim Rough and Rosa Zubizarreta)

Empathic Design (Human-Centered Design, Design Thinking)

Empathic Direct Action

The empathic listening can be included into
Peoples Assemblies
* Democracy Building Practices
* Open Space,
* World Cafe (was one of my inspirations for Empathy Circles.)
* Etc.


Joe Milton

Joe Milton February 13th, 2020 10:16

Thanks :)

Phil Green

Phil Green February 13th, 2020 18:17

Hi @Josie Holt , this sounds a really good initiative and I wish you well with its development.

I quite like the term 'community democracy' and presume your Manual somehow relates to that term? ( @Margaret "Join your UK regional...", signs with "Community Democracy Team at XR UK")

Maybe not essential, but would help a manual as a stand alone document, if it included something like what the authors/Community Democracy Team at XR UK, mean by the term 'Community democracy'. So, it's more about, before the tools and resources, who are they for and for what purposes (in perhaps a bit more detail).

Your posts seem to already include something on this:
"...self-organising communities which are our best hope for survival as climate and ecological breakdown unfolds."
"...groups looking to create community projects such as Credit Unions, Cooperatives, or Flatpack style Council takeovers, or as a more general community building exercise focused on finding shared concerns and solutions to local issues."
"... increasing democracy from the ground up. "

One of the reason's I feel something like this is necessary is that there's perhaps a need to differentiate what 'community democracy' means contrasted both to
*"Traditional representational democracy"
(that the People's Assemblies manual begins with and to be fair does include quite a bit by way of contrast),
(Might not a lot of traditional representatives/councillors sincerely believe they're already doing 'community democracy?) but also
*the wider ecosystem of attempts to improve democracy: see for example resources from involve &
the list that @Edwin Rutsch mentions
For example would Appreciative Inquiry be considered part of Community Democracy?

So I guess what I'm asking is can you perhaps say for you what are the essential elements or characteristics of a process that makes it part of community democracy? Thanks.

Chris Pearson

Chris Pearson February 14th, 2020 10:16

Hi Josie, great to be trying to do something. The arrangement I have always wanted to try is when a facilitator has a group of chairs in a circle where only those interested in the subject under discussion sit. Others can gather around and listen but only those with seats contribute. If someone does not want to contribute then they can vacate their chair and someone else can move in and thereby contribute to the discussion. It means that at any gathering there can be several discussions going on that are focused while general chit chat goes on around.

I have always thought food is a good way of attracting people to meetings, and if tables have a menu of topics it can help people approach subjects they usually avoid!

Good luck and I will watch with interest

Regards Chris


Perry Walker February 14th, 2020 11:00

Hi Chris, the name I use for what you decribe is a Fishbowl. 7/8 people sit in a circle. Everyone else sits around them, also in circles. The people in the inner circle start a discussion. After a while, anyone from the audience who wants to join the discussion comes forward and the moderator asks one of the inner circle to give up their seat and retire to the audience. The discussion carries on and the participants continue to evolve. This combines large numbers with some of the depth of a small group conversation. The distinction between speakers and audience is undermined, but not erased.

all my best



Perry Walker February 14th, 2020 11:04

Hi Josie,

More years ago than I care to think about, I edited a book called 'Participation Works, 21 methods of community participation for the 21st century'. You can get it at https://neweconomics.org/1998/06/participation-works I don't think it has dated too much.

I also attach notes about a couple of approaches that I use.

best of luck with this


Nadia Franchi

Nadia Franchi February 14th, 2020 11:43

It was sortition and DF that confused me 🙂

Josie Holt

Josie Holt February 14th, 2020 13:57

Can I just say that you lot are marvelous! Thank you so much to everyone who has already taken the time to share here. This has given me lots to work with, and also reassured me as I had already listed most of these practices. It's at least a sign that I may be on the right track!
Please keep it coming!

Rosa Zubizarreta

Rosa Zubizarreta February 14th, 2020 14:50

Thanks so much for clarifying, Nadia... yep, sortition is not a frequently-used word outside of deliberative democracy circles. Sometimes people use "random selection" which may be more easily understood yet it can sound like just picking someone up off the street! 🙂 So maybe "scientific random selection" could be a better choice of words... others are proposing "chosen by lottery". There's actually a major conversation going on within deliberative democracy circles, about how to best language this, so any input you might offer would be most helpful...

Rosa Zubizarreta

Rosa Zubizarreta February 14th, 2020 14:52

Hi Josie, Phil Green above asked about Appreciative Inquiry... I also want to mention Asset-Based Community Development, which is a very useful framework from which to do community organizing...

Phil Green

Phil Green February 15th, 2020 12:09

You may already know of this/may have already been mentioned, but just wanted to also add Participedia


greg frey February 15th, 2020 12:31

The first two links don't seem to work 🤔


greg frey February 16th, 2020 15:42

Hello everyone!

I'm really interested in this thread as I'm putting together a guide + training on Deep Hanging-Out for the Community Democracy mobilisation (called Here Comes Everyone) in XR.

All of these suggestions are wonderful and really useful. I'm looking for more examples of how to create spaces that meet people who aren't engaged in organising or activism where they are a little more - how might you go to pubs/cafes/faith institutions/clubs etc and learn about a community without being a strange and awkward intruder? As well, how might you be able to 'hang out' with people who aren't looking out of their usual milieu?

Thanks in advance.


Josie Holt

Josie Holt February 19th, 2020 12:46

Hi Edwin.
Thank you for this. I'm just flagging up that the links don't seem to work. Have you got a good link that we could use to signpost people looking to run an Empathy Cafe?

Peter Anderson

Peter Anderson February 19th, 2020 13:14

Hi Greg, this is very much what we've been focusing on for the last decade. Engaging communities with "Community Voice" or schools/colleges with Pupil/Student/Learner Voice or Public Sector/Large Orgs with "Staff Voice". This enables us to start the conversation from a point of intrinsic motivation and where they are now. Within these priorities always come the environmental ideas/solutions and more often than not, they are the ones we are looking to advocate for anyhow. So enabling stakeholder discovery & adoption rather than top down orders / policy. We also have developed a mechanism where the less known high impact ideas can be discovered from a repository of known & proven solutions getting over the people dont know what they dont know issue. Happy to discuss further on Zoom if useful.



Edwin Rutsch

Edwin Rutsch February 19th, 2020 15:40

Hi Josie, here is the list.
these are practices that have Active listening, ie Empathic listening as a foundation or element.

Jean Bartrum

Jean Bartrum February 20th, 2020 09:37

This is beautiful and we need to attract young people to it as much as possible