|Re: Improving group dynamics||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: Louise Conner (lcempiredi.com)|
|Date: Fri, 21 Nov 2003 11:42:07 -0700 (MST)|
Regarding team building and community skills, following is information from Laird Schaub. Our community (celebrating one year of our first residents moving in) will be engaged in a community development workshop with Laird next February. --Louise Conner, Casa Verde Commons (With five homes still available for purchase) in sunny Colorado Springs, CO. BACKGROUND My work in group process is rooted in 29 years of intentional community living--all with a group that makes decisions by consensus. In addition, I have been actively involved with consensus-based network organizations for 24 years. Out of that experience, I've been offering my skills as an outside facilitator and consensus trainer for the past 16 years. It is my view that there is no more intensive way to learn and practice group skills than to live in intentional community, where a person is called upon to grow in the work every day (not just after work on Tuesdays and Thursdays, or for an afternoon every other Saturday). PERSPECTIVE Perhaps the most powerful aspect of my approach to group dynamics is that I encourage people to welcome the full range of human responses. This expressly includes non-rational input--such as emotional, intuitive, and spiritual--in recognition that people know, process, and transmit information in a wide variety of ways. I take the view that dispassionate, linear thinking is only one way this is accomplished, and it's crippling to a group to insist that everything be considered in that format. In particular, people in our culture tend to mistrust or be fearful of strong emotional response, and I believe there is valuable energy in emotions that can be directed toward solving the problems instead of being used to bludgeon or manipulate. My idea is that people cannot do their best thinking and move to another position until they first feel heard and are allowed to make a full expression of their input. Wherever possible, my preference is to apply the theory directly to actual issues and dynamics currently present in a group--whatever they are. For purposes of teaching the concepts, the nastier the issues the better (after all, if what I have to offer doesn't help with the tough problems, why bother?). It typically works well for me to start out by observing the group in action, where it is discussing something challenging. That way I can get a first-hand sense of what is going on and what some of the underlying issues and tendencies are. Also, it makes possible my tying the theory to direct observations of the group, which tends to give the information more life. Another possibility is to spend time looking at the nature of conflict and the advantages of moving away from the traditional view of conflict as an indicator of ill health in the group. Instead, I can show you how to work with conflict as an opportunity for gaining leverage on knotty problems. Another angle I can bring to the work is deep experience in community structure and agreements. At this point I know which issues groups must wrestle with (sooner or later) and the variety of ways that others have already worked out solutions. Finally, I am a experienced facilitator who specializes in up-tempo, inclusive meetings. I can offer training, demonstration, and coaching in that skill. SPECIAL CHALLENGES OF COHOUSING While there are many ways to experience community, and examples of healthy groups with major differences in style and depth of engagement, it is my sense that many people come to cohousing as their first experience in intentional community, and there is often confusion about how much engagement is achievable or desirable. In addition, because cohousing communities tend to include a large financial investment with serious debt load, there is often pressure to complete the project and get it fully occupied as soon as possible. There can be a tendency to set aside some of the community aspects during development, both because the financial and technical considerations are so pressing, and because there is often confusion about what are the right questions (never mind the right answers). Community is essentially a social challenge, not a technical one, and the people who will be living in the community must be the ones to own the issues and address them. I can help bring into focus what's really wanted by the desire for "community" and present options and tools for getting there. RESOURCES In addition to doing work in person, I have a collection of 90-min audio tapes on selected topics (introduction to consensus, introduction to facilitation, conflict utilization, & issues in consensus facilitation) and a variety of books which I bring along for examination and possible purchase. COMPENSATION I rate my skills as a process consultant at $1000/day plus expenses (travel, room, and board). While reimbursement for expenses is firm, the fee for my labor is negotiable, depending on what the client can afford and the value received from the work--I do not want money to stand in the way of my helping a group in need, and it has served me well to trust that I'll be treated fairly. If you have any questions or would desire references from other groups I've worked with, please contact me at your convenience. Laird Schaub-CANBRIDGE Consensus And Network Building for Resolving Impasse & Developing Group Effectiveness Rt 1, Box 155 * Rutledge MO 63563 660-883-5545 _______________________________________________ Cohousing-L mailing list Cohousing-L [at] cohousing.org Unsubscribe and other info: http://www.cohousing.org/cohousing-L
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