Don’t Do this Alone
I was used to flying solo in my vocation (pastor) and my avocations (nonviolent communication training, native plant gardening and blogging). Occasionally I had collaborators for a short time… I neither expected them nor took full advantage of working with them.
I came to the Deep Adaptation Forum (DAF) looking for an audience to serve with my “Grief Gratitude and Courage” workshops. Katie Carr advised me to participate in others’ workshops, and to always have a cohost for my own. That was the request of all facilitators. A Zoom cohost made sense, especially with all the moving parts in my workshop. But as I spent more time hosting my own workshops, and cohosting others’ workshops, I began to appreciate how much more was possible with a good team. My learning grew witnessing others in action, and sweet synergy occasionally made the experience amazing for me and I hope for the participants too! Some fine friendships have grown out of that cohosting.
I can still whip out a Council Circle or an NVC session alone, but now it seems a little thin, a little dry. I admit I have cohosts who just hold space, as well as cohosts who truly collaborate. And I have lost cohosts as well. In one case we disagreed about tone. In another, a challenging participant (with whom I could have set better limits, alas) pushed my cohost’s buttons more than she wanted to deal with. Still, when I am scheming my next workshop, I depend on finding a promising cohost in order to proceed.
When I first started participating in DAF facilitated events, I was surprised to frequently see other facilitators as participants. Sometimes it seemed like we facilitators were mostly facilitating for each other. I had in my head that we were the providers and others the clients. What I came to realize is that all of us benefit from being supported in DAF spaces as well as providing that support. It is a form of mutual aid. In a circle of deep listening (or other circling technology) the listeners and the speaker are each fully contributing. I am so grateful I don’t have to do this Deep Adaptation thing alone.
Curiously, shortly after I came to DAF, a man named Chuck, experienced in wildland restoration, invited me to partner with him to remove invasive plants from a beloved preserve four blocks from my house. He kept crowing about how much better it was to have me on board than to be “a committee of one” as he had been in the past. I in turn invited friends, and we became a team of four. The Powers that Be spray herbicide that kills the native plants too, leaving bare earth full of the seeds of invasives. With the finesse of handwork, we are able to protect the natives before the invasive become a monoculture. Four people removing smothering invasives with handpicking, shovels, saws and hoes last years made a difference that one couldn’t have touched. This Spring I put out the invitation on our neighborhood email list and now we are up to six, just in time for Black Mustard season.
Nenad has taught me the power of project workgroups. When doing some heavy duty web editing, I therefore convened a workgroup. I did the bulk of the work, but I had neither the authority nor the organizational skills to do the project alone – I met weekly with the team. One thing I learned from that experience: convene more people than I think I’ll need, and then find out how each person really will enjoy contributing and let them do that!
For my facilitation administration, I have a partner, Lisa. She and I work together easily, yet we have different strengths, so we are a good team. Nenad says at least three is needed for a work group, and it’s easy to see why. But two is a whole lot better than one! He also says that spending time on nonwork connection and fun is important when meeting, and that is my experience. I appreciate the modeling of DA meetings, to always take a generous check-in, and if a check-in reveals something big, attending to that thing. It can be big trouble or big fun!
This is one small way I am healing from the brokenness of modernity: I don’t fly solo as much any more.