Re: rotating facilitation
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Sat, 13 Aug 2011 11:04:54 -0700 (PDT)
On 12 Aug 2011, at 10:18 PM, Lynn Nadeau / Maraiah wrote:

> There are lots of jobs that anyone can do adequately, or that do  
> little harm if not done well, but in our experience we really have had  
> good results with a steady team of facilitators, and a Steering  
> Committee that is selected by a Nominating task force, and affirmed by  
> the group, for staggered two-year terms.

I agree with Lynn's comments the advantages of not rotating facilitation tasks. 
I would also add that as a participant in a meeting I feel much more relaxed 
when it is being led by someone I have experience with. I know whether they are 
likely to be prepared or to understand this or that topic well or not. What 
they are likely to forget. In other words, I can arrive prepared for their 
strengths and weaknesses and not be caught off guard myself.

We also have facilitators from the facilitator team assigned to operational 
teams and to issues so when that team or issue on the agenda the same 
facilitator will preside for that part of the meeting. That means the 
facilitator is better informed and has chosen a topic they feel comfortable 
with. It isn't random. That also means I know they remember what was said in 
the last meeting — we don't have to catch them up or start all over again with 
the discussion.

The facilitator team is open to anyone who wants to join and those who are 
inappropriate for our group sort of fade away on their own. People who have 
facilitation experience in other settings may not be appropriate for cohousing. 
One person, for example, who facilitated parent groups who were learning about 
a particular method of parenting, spent too much time lecturing — perfectly 
appropriate if she had been the expert in the room. Drove us crazy. Another 
just had too much fun being entertaining and never got to the point. Great for 
a dinner celebration for a professional organization but not for us.

The facilitation team also makes some selections of who will facilitate so they 
also have control over assigning people who are good at specific kinds of 
discussions, decisions, etc. One person might be asked to facilitate a meeting 
with discussion but no decisions; another to a meeting with a hard consensus 

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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