|Re: How to handle departing members||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: Gretchen Westlight (grenagora.rdrop.com)|
|Date: Sat, 24 Jun 2000 23:28:13 -0600 (MDT)|
On Sat, 24 Jun 2000 Yacky5 [at] aol.com wrote: > I live in a community where two households out of the orginal group left for > a personal reasons. The remaining members are very hurt and somewhat > bitter..i am wondering if anyone has dealt with the grief issues when someone > leaves or has advice on stuff I can read..the group is somewhat stuck..help! Here is a longish response to this plea, which includes a description of what we at Cascadia Commons did under similar circumstance and the standard outline for our farewell ceremony under less stressful circumstances. We had an unhappy and uncomfortable departure on the eve of closing a loan last summer (the loan fell through for other reasons). Two days after the household announced they were resigning the LLC, our Coordinating Committee asked me to design and facilitate a process to help folks get through it (they knew we'd never be able to get any business done without a change for folks to publicly voice their strong feelings). Having been through some hard times previously (not departures), I knew that one of our group dynamics was a lack of follow-through. So I designed a 4-part process: First was venting. We used a Listening Meeting format, and each person had about 5 minutes to share their thoughts, feelings, insights, whatever -- very free-form, popcorn-style sharing, confidential. It was *very* illimunating, at least for me. (I had been uncomfortable with the departing couple from the very beginning, but was an Associate at the time they joined and so had no input into the decision about their membership. I thought I was alone in my discomfort, but it turns out I wasn't.) People expressed a wide range of emotions, some of which included anger, relief, impatience to move on, gratitude for their past contributions, missing them, betrayal, sadness, even neutrality. At our meeting the following week, I put 4 sheets of paper up on the wall, titled: Lessons Learned, Ideas for Improvement, Unanswered Questions, Whatever (catch-all for things that didn't fit into the other categories). Specifically drawing on the sharing from the previous week, I asked for popcorn-style sharing to any of these lists. It felt really important to me to get these things written down in a group context, to capture the wisdom and unfinished business from this traumatic event. The 3rd week, we went over the lists and assigned responsibility for following up on the ideas generated. Some of them went to a specific committee, others we just said "Let's keep this in our consciousness." Due to the pressures of scrambling for financing yet again (I didn't name it the "fiscal inferno" for nothing!), the group decided to forego what I had planned for the final part, which was more refinement of the not- easily-categorized items from the lists. This decision corroborated my concern about our group's less-than-perfect follow-through. But we made it farther than we had previously, and now I get to say "I told you so" if we make any of the same mistakes again. ;^> And we *have* implemented a number of the Ideas for Improvement, so we've learned *something*. I don't know that this template will fit every group or every situation -- it really depends what you want/need to get out of it. I should say that I had just finished reading _The Dazzle of Day_ by Molly Gloss (I've recommended it on this list before: Quakers in space on a 200-year journey to another planet -- can't beat the premise!). Its depiction of meetings and the roles patience and reflection play in them definitely influenced my approach to creating the kind of process I described above (and still does). I should also mention that prior to this couple's departure, I had designed a farewell ceremony for folks who left earlier that year. It feels as important to me to say good-bye consciously as it does to have a welcoming/induction ceremony for new members. It's not always possible or desireable to do it *with* the departing member, but it's still important for the group to acknowledge the change. We're hoping we don't have to do another farewell ceremony for awhile, but it's there when we need it. It's a book-end to our induction ceremony in some ways. Re-reading it, I realize it will probably change for our first farewell after we have been living in community for awhile (less formal, more intimate). In case anyone is interested, here's what it looks like: Outline for Farewell Ceremony Preparation ----------- Check in with departing member: do they want this ceremony (as much for the group as for them)? (If not, consider what group needs and do something without the departing member.) Review outline, ask for additions and concerns. Set date (preferably potluck). Prepare card (I fold a large piece of paper into a crane base origami fold, another member writes "Farewell, __________" in calligraphy on the front, we paste on a logo cut-out, and everyone contributes by writing or decorating or glueing in a card or memento) Set up ------ Table (flowers that they can take are nice) Candles - pass out and light them somehow! All stand in circle Introduction ------------ "We are here to acknowledge the contributions of _______________, a member of Cascadia for ___ years, and to bid him/her farewell as he/she moves on to other things." Acknowledgements ---------------- Time to give thanks for their committee and position work, and any other contributions they have made. (Make notes ahead of time of recent involvements and specific actions.) "Without these contributions, we would not be as strong a community as we are today. Thank you, __________! Let's have a round of applause!" Presentation of Card and Sharing Memories ----------------------------------------- "We have created a keepsake card for you, as a token of our appreciation. We hope it will remind you of the happiness and struggles we have shared over the years. [give card] In addition, we would like to take the opportunity to share some thoughts out loud. Let's do it popcorn style." Sharing Memories (individual to group) -------------------------------------- "Now we invite you, _________, to share your memories and to make any specific public acknowledgements you would like." Future Relations (individual to group) -------------------------------------- "Please tell us how you would like to be involved with Cascadia in the future: what kind of contact from us to you and vice versa, how often will you be over for dinner, etc. And we would like to know what it would take to have you re-join as a member!" Song ---- "Blessing" by Brewer & Shipley, arranged by Motherlode (on their _Precious Stone_ CD). Start on E, keep the tempo snappy. Closing ------- "While we say good-bye to you as a member, we want you to know that you will always be welcome in Cascadia as an honored guest and good friend (and a member again if you so choose!). You know where to find us, and we hope you will remain in touch. Please keep your candle in addition to the card!" That's it, FWIW. :-) Gretchen Westlight, Cascadia Commons Where Phase 1 completion is only 2-3 weeks away! Check out our newly revised website (url below). Hope I can finish tonight's changes before 1am, as has been my unfortunate habit for over a week. My daughter turns 3 tomorrow (6/25). Boxes are taking over our apartment. Can I hold all of these miracles in my heart? More importantly, will I survive the STRESS? -- gren [at] agora.rdrop.com Member of: Cascadia Commons Cohousing http://www.ogi.edu/~gren/ Portland, Oregon http://www.cascadiacommons.com
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