Diana Leafe Christian Visits BC

by: EJ on 08/15/2013
Posted in: Events

I have always said that I would never start or join an intentional community without first reading Diana Leafe Christian's books, Creating a Life Together: Practical Tools to Grow Ecovillages and Intentional Communities and Finding Community: How to Join an Ecovillage or Intentional Community.  Now, I would say I would never start or join an intentional community without also attending one or more of Diana's workshops. Diana offers workshops on Growing an Ecovillage, An Introduction to Sociocracy, Helping your Community Thrive and Facilitation for Intentional Communities.

Diana Leafe Christian at Sooke Harbour House Pavilion (photo: M. Crtichlow)

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to sit in on Diana's facilitation workshop at the Sooke Harbour House which was sponsored by Harbourside Senior Cohousing.  Harbourside's mandate is "to build an intentional neighbourhood of strata-titled housing for seniors that is affordable, environmentally friendly, and socially/culturally supportive, allowing people to flourish through mutual support as they age in place and in community."  The purpose of Diana's workshop was to train community members in the essential skills of facilitation.

Diana explained the role of facilitator is one of service.  When working as a facilitator, she sees herself as channeling the life force in order to assist the group in reaching their goals.  Personal ego, attachment to issues and opinions must all be set aside.  The focus is instead on guiding the process of discussion and decision making.

Facilitation is a learned skill. Diana compared it to learning to drive a car.  There are several skills to be acquired and this is done in stages.  A beginning facilitator could reasonably undertake to establish an agenda contract and stick to it, "stack" names to ensure everyone is heard, and to call for consensus at a set point.  However, even these simple tasks are quite complex as the group found out when attempting a "call for consensus" exercise.

Diana also offered some tips for keeping organized.  She set up a time keeper to help her honour the agenda contract.  She also sometimes appoints a "vibe" watcher.  This is

Diana discusses the three steps in calling for consensus (photo:M. Critchlow)

to help the facilitator and others not get caught up on content at the expense of process.  The vibe watcher focuses on how people are feeling, what body language is being expressed and what the overall vibe of the group is.  If the watcher notices something, this is brought to the attention of the facilitator and a discussion as to appropriate action ensues. 

Diana has been in BC for a week giving talks, slide shows and workshops in the lower Mainland, Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.  If you missed her this time around, don't worry, she will be back in a few months to give a three day workshop on sociocracy.  Sociocracy is a method of structuring and governing organizations which is based on the principles and methods of systems engineering and cybernetics.  Watch our twitter and facebook for details of Diana's next visit.




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