Trainers Network Mtg, 1.9.2013

Facilitators: Jon Beger & Julia Eddy
Activity for all participants:

    • Notice things in the room
    • Walk around the room as if you were a small child
    • Floor is made of Quicksand
    • Walk around as the most brilliant expert on everything that’s happening here
    • Walk around the room as if you’re not sure if you’re in the right place
    • Walk around the room as if it were metro center at rush hour and you’re late for a very important mtg
    • Imagine that you were the friendliest ever

Find a partner you don’t know very well & sit next to them. Answer the question: Why are you here, and why is it important to equalize participantion?- “Popcorn” Answers:

    • People are distracted thinking about how they’re being perceived- focuses people on the learning
    • Make sure everyone’s needs are met
    • So people don’t burn out- core group of people doing a lot of organizing, campaign or project could fall apart—spread out the work among everyone
    • Diverse perspectives 
    • People get pissed off when it’s uneven—feels unjust
    • Want people to be engaged, equal participation means everyone is engaged
    • When people are alienated they won’t stay engaged (in general, changing the world in whatever way you’re working on) 
    • Allows for just, diverse spaces
    • Feedback loop to make sure everyone’s on the same page

Community guidelines:

    • 100% responsibility (everyone is responsible for meeting their own needs or articulating that their needs aren’t being met) 
    • Move up move back
    • Try on- like when you’re trying on clothes (trust the group, trust each other, try on new ideas) 
    • Disagreement is okay! Just keep it respectful

**noise issues**/We’re trying to reserve space in the basement because it’s more accessible/there’s less noise

Reflection exercise:
If folks feel comfortable: situate yourself comfortably in your chair
If you’d like to close your eyes and visualize two different experiences:

    • Think of a time you were in a meeting. Your participation was stymied. You weren’t fully engaged. Play the mtg through your head an observe what was going on. What did that meeting look & sound like? What was going on? 
    • Your fullest participation. What did it look like/sound like/feel like? 


Go around- what doesn’t make for your fullest participation?:

    • Main difference- how the agenda was decided on and what indivdual level of input was one person coming up with the agenda
    • Not the same common base of knowledge
    • People haven’t prepared, inefficiency, conversation is lackluster and folks feel like they’re wasting their time
    • Individuals dominating the conversation
    • When people use their privilege to silence others
    • Can’t get a word in edgewise
    • Robert’s rules of order and inflexibility
    • Having to interrupt someone else in order to get a word in
    • Telephone meetings/conference calls/technology is a barrier too
    • Poor meeting room layout/the structure of the space
    • Big picturevs. nitty gritty—lost track of the vision/inspiration
    • When you’re in a space and racism/classism/sexism don’t get acknowledged
    • Tokenism is the flip side of this/where people are forced to participate outside of their comfort level
    • Personal relationships/preexisting repoire that you’re not in on as the participant
    • Pace of the meeting- good meetings mix up various activities
    • The bigger the meeting, the less likely one individual person is to share
    • The ability to empathized, people’s inability to empathize leads to headbutting and disagreement


Helpful things:

    • Eyeing the agenda a head of time and giving ppl the space to think ahead of time
    • Positive feedback/acknowledgment that you’re participating
    • Trust w/in the group—common work experience or actively creating a safespace
    • Knowing that people in the room believe that I have something to offer
    • Relationships outside/beyond the meeting
    • Feeling that you’ve invested yourself equally in the work that’s happening
    • Feeling safe that other people will call you out/that you’re not upsetting people and no one is saying anything to help you correct your behavior
    • Culture of abundance rather than scarcity/possibility rather than crisis
    • Good communication/able to read notes if you miss a meeting/good & ____ process
    • Smaller groups (medium) are easier for people to participate
    • Creating space for small group discussion
    • Seeing that facilitators are concerned helps us relax
    • Knowing people’s goals and where they’re coming from so we know how to approach the conversation
    • People are invested. Voluntary presence and participation. 

Break into themes:

    • Culture and process of the mtg & physicality
    • Building shared values and trust
    • Power dynamics/systems of oppression
    • Interventions/Over Participation
    • Outside of the formal meeting (before/after breaks/before)

Dominant voices:

  • Building in/sharing/story telling
  • Bringing people back to the agenda
  • Naming what’s happening (sometimes works/sometimes doesn’t)
  • Setting time limits
  • Start with guidelines
  • Confrontation 101: if you want to confront as a facilitator- how can you make it go well? How necessary it is? Validate the dominant person
  • Naming the dynamic
  • Breaking into small groups breaks up personalities
  • Progressive stack (Person of Color, Women, traditionally marginalized people get pumped up in the queue as a way to equalixze)
  • Invite people who haven’t spoken to speak
  • Supporting facilitators

Equalizing participation doesn’t necessarily mean everyone speaks equally:

  • Systems of Oppression
  • Document of shared knowledge about marginalization (esp if it’s not officially about social justice work)
  • Allow space for conversations about –ist behaviors
  • Vibes watcher
  • Anti-oppression training (whether or not it’s directly related)
  • Interpersonal conflict training
  • Make a document before the meeting to bring everyone to a certain knowledge level

Hesitant voices:

  • Building or working off of different formats (small groups, duos)
  • Erika(?) shared a really awesome thing she does with her students where she draws a picture of the room with names and charts conversation (who talks, and to whom) to track her students conversations. She sometimes shows them to her students (without names) to illustrate unequal participation and encourage people to think about it.
  • Different forms of sharing (written, hand signals)
  • Open facilitation about different levels of participating (preparing people)
  • Personality issues- but also, dominant voices, power dynamics
  • Breathing mindfully helps be able to express thoughts clearly

Structure & group “process” & physicality:

  • Spreading out dominant voices
  • Being transparent about the limitation of the space
  • Circles are good
  • Octogons also work
  • Clarity and involvement in the process
  • Process watcher
  • Process is different depending on desired outcome

Building Trust

  • Name problems as they become a possibility
  • Vibes watcher
  • Value different kinds of participation (big/small groups, writing exercises, valuing good listeners, drawing)
  • Valuing talk time (informal talk time)
  • Creating a safe space to take risks (show vulnerability)
  • Acknowledging and appreciating contributions/vocalizing gratitude
  • Accountability mechanisms, building trust
  • Nonwork events/bonding in relaxed atmosphere
  • Valuing silence
  • Asking questions to make sure you understand where everyone is coming from
  • Asking clarifying questions