What we harvested from the training in September
“Creating Conversations for Change” is a unique 1-day training event aiming at enabling participants to work with large groups of people using methods like the World Café and Open Space. Last September, ReachAbility brought together 37 people from different backgrounds and organisations that were looking for innovative and creative ways to engage the communities and groups they come in contact with.
Government officers, NGO workers, researchers, facilitators and even a film-maker met in a single room and although the diversity of backgrounds was great, their willingness to take risks, their belief in creativity as a way to enable knowledge sharing and social change brought them closer and allowed them to learn from each other.
Bring your own questions
One of ReachAbility’s commitments is to provide course participants with the pieces of learning they find more useful for their daily work or life, and so the participants raised their own questions, such as:
“What works when a group can’t reach consensus?”
“How to access, record and understand feedback from large groups” and how to “collect reflection and evaluation that is meaningful?”
“Can we find a language that enables everyone to participate?”
“How to increase community interest in locally grown food?”
Using the World Café techniques, the participants reflected on how to improve their communities and what was the most powerful thing in them. Open Space methods enabled groups to approach issues that they thought were most urgent and useful. Conversations flourished, regarding topics as diverse as how to engage people in action on climate change, how to motivate people to speak up, how to use the arts to generate conversations, and how to have meaningful conversations with young people.
What they learned
Besides providing knowledge on the World Café and Open Space techniques, the course also gave each and every one of the participants a few more pieces of learning to take with them and put to use in their daily work. One learned to “phrase a problem question succinctly”, so that “more people will engage”. Another discovered that “doing less” as a facilitator will “encourage the group to do more”. “Taking risks is worth it”, declared another participant.
Some of the participants have already contacted ReachAbility to say that they now feel more confident to coordinate large group conversations and they’ve already used the methods learned in activities such as facilitate Third Sector groups to feed into a county council strategy and develop academic research.
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