About the Series
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Cohousing California is producing a two-year, eight-session hand-on experiential community leadership training series with movement leader/trainer Laird Schaub and Betty Didcoct, rotating around different Northern and Central California cohousing neighborhoods and sustainable communities. You can enroll for individual classes, or join the series in progress. Please contact us to learn more, host, or enroll.
Integrative Training in
The Art of
There are challenges to working effectively as a cooperative group—whether it’s an organization or community. Often groups experience a sense of being drained by their decision making and meeting process. Getting bogged down can be expensive: it diminishes energy for the work of the group and undercuts the sense of joy and identification among members. This does not have to be your experience. Learning the art of effective meeting facilitation can help your group enhance both energy and product from your meetings—this training can help you transform your group into the more dynamic and successful entity you’ve always intended.
The lead trainer, Laird Schaub (assisted in this series by Betty Didcoct and hosted by Cohousing Coaches Betsy Morris and Raines Cohen) has developed a facilitation approach he calls Integrative Facilitation. This program blends community values with a holistic and participatory methodology to produce collaborative agreements based on solid communication and attention to relationship. His approach to group work is enriched by a solid understanding of human development, a sensitivity to undercurrents, and a healthy dose of playfulness and appreciation.
The intention is to train a cadre of skilled facilitators in Northern and Central California who can be available to help each other’s communities and organizations run effective group meetings and handle difficult group situations.
Participants are members of organizations or communities within a day's drive of one another in Southern Oregon, Nevada, and California. They may have a little or a lot of experience as facilitators, there are no prerequisites, just a desire to grow the skills of graceful engagement. An essential common element is that groups use consensus process for decision making.
Program will consist of in-depth didactic sessions on the components of Integrative Meeting Facilitation accompanied by hands-on demonstrations. Full students will be given the chance to practice skills in live meetings under supervision. All students will be able to observe these live meetings. Each student will collect a notebook of handouts on Integrative Facilitation. Full students will receive a written evaluation of their skills and have the opportunity for in-person evaluations with the trainers each weekend throughout the two-year training.
Full students commit to attending as many weekends as possible, practice with their community or organization between sessions, and to teach others in their community or organization what they are learning. Each student will get the opportunity for live practice with host groups. Full students are strongly encouraged to get a sample of their facilitation videotaped prior to the start of the program and another done toward the end for purposes of evaluation and for use as a teaching tool.
Auditors commit to one weekend at a time. They will receive materials and have the chance to participate fully in the teaching and debriefing for the weekends they attend. They will not be facilitators of the live meetings nor will they receive the benefit of the personal evaluations offered by the trainers. Depending on space in the host community, auditors may need to find alternative housing during the weekends.
The class is open to 25 participants consisting of both full and auditing students.
Communities with a full-time student are encouraged to host at least one weekend during the two-year program. Hosting includes providing room & board plus meeting space for the class. Organizations are welcome to host weekends as well, provided they can satisfy the logistical needs of the class.
Live meetings, facilitated by the full students, will be scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Topics will be of the community’s or organization’s choosing and should be genuine work that needs to be addressed. In general, it is preferred that more difficult topics be chosen, as they tend to offer better training opportunities and the results will likely be more valuable to the host. While the intention is to use the students as facilitators as much as possible, the trainers will always be available to step in as a safety net if the students need help.
In addition to the training itself, the host community gets outside facilitation for several hours of community meetings at no charge (valued at $1200-$2000), plus a written report from Laird within two weeks summarizing the meeting results with observations about the group’s process and issues. Lastly, the host community has the option of having up to two of its members participate as auditors at no cost.
Course Outline and Format
The Class is structured over eight, three-day weekends spanning two years with approximately three months between each session. Thursday – late afternoon or early evening – arrival, check in. Friday – day of training and preliminary work with host community. Saturday – work with host community and debrief experiences. Sunday – work with community in morning, debrief, wrap up and depart after dinner or late in the afternoon. Thursdays or Monday there will be time for one-on-one work with the trainers.
Syllabus (expect adjustments to meet evolving group needs)
On each weekend we’ll focus on one or more aspects of the facilitator’s skill set, making clear what the skills are, as well as when and how to apply them. When we’re working with the host’s live issues, we’ll be doing real work, trying to put these growing skills to use.
Weekend I: Working content: Providing the essential tool kit for effectively examining
issues and developing solutions.
Weekend II: Formats: Looking at various techniques for discussing issues and the pros and cons of each.
Weekend III: Conflict: Understanding what’s happening when emotional distress is in play
and how to work with it respectfully and constructively.
Weekend IV:Delegation: Identifying what considerations are plenary worthy and learning
how to delegate effectively—both to save the group time and to develop vibrant communities.
Weekend V: Consensus: Learning the framework and values that undergird the successful application of this Quaker model to secular groups.
Weekend VI: Power Dynamics and Leadership: Distinguishing between “power over” and
“power with” in cooperative groups, and learning how to develop and support healthy forms of leadership.
Weekend VII:Challenging Personalities: Examining the range of common personality types, their interrelationship with each other, and learning strategies for coping with them.
Weekend VIII:Organizational Structure: Getting an overview of a healthy model for how to draft plenary agendas, manage tasks, safeguard process, and get the work done.