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grateful from Seattle

The project has just concluded another combined Games night/ public workshop weekend, this time in Seattle. It was fabulous to connect with old friends like Nancy White, John Inman, and Michael Wolf, and as always, to meet new friends and users of Group Works! Kudos especially to Stephanie Ellis who travelled all the way from New Mexico just to attend the weekend’s events.

The Games night was as usual full of friendly competition, and much laughter. If you haven’t yet tried out some of the games that have been refined as a playful way to engage the deck, I really encourage you to check them out on the activities list on our website. Dave Pollard has been refining a growing set of possibilities, mostly modeled after common games such as Charades, Pictionary, "Apples to Apples.” “Best Fit” is a perennial favorite as well. If you’re having a bunch of tending toward process geek or nerd friends over for an evening, try something a little different by pulling out a deck. Alternately, if you are facilitating an all day or multi day event and need a playful respite, try one of these in that lull after lunch to get folks moving around and embodying learnings about effective group work.

In the all day workshop we continued with old standbys— like the full group serving as consultant to one person’s approaching dilemma, with each of nine small groups using the patterns of one category, but we also continued to weave in new segments. For example, Dave had the group in teams of three have each person do an "organizational assessment" of their home reference group just using the nine new category cards to find 1-2 areas of particular strength and 1-2 areas that most need development. Or one of Tree Bressen’s new favorites “Reflecting on Your Practice” where folks after a little silent reflection individually chose one card to represent your past with groups (where you have come from), another card to represent your present (where you are now) and finally a third to represent your future (where you want to be). Subsequent pair sharing focuses on what steps would help one move toward the future one desires.

I’m partly sharing details of some of these exercises because we’re starting to hear back from these announcements cries of “when are you going to do a workshop in Minneapolis? Boston? Atlanta? etc. A few responses. One is an encouragement to take on organizing a group of 20 or more in your own locale and invite one of us with lots of experience leading these workshops to come lead it for you. Another is to take our designs, consult with on of us by phone and try it yourself! Toward this,check out the "workshop segment compilation” on the website resources page. Remember we freely share all of this and encourage you to run with it and/or improvise your own group activities!

On this front, though we’re taking a bit of a breather, we have been talking about launching some sort of hosted application and train-the-trainer calls/webinars to better support those of you who don’t live in a city on the western coast of North America! (where the core team all live). Let us know if you have interest in these, and even better if you have interest in helping to organize them! ;-)

We had a productive, if shortened work session the day before the weekend’s events. We were delighted to meet and come to agreement with our new deck fulfillment service providers (a pretty basic function in the project!). And as well, Peggy Holman, joined us for lunch. It was helpful to hear Peggy talk about the developmental phases of a non-profit she has founded, and to start reflecting on our own trajectory. Peggy graciously asked us each to speak to our future aspirations (she also took notes!), which has launched a conversation about the project’s future, which we will take up in depth at a four day retreat on Bowen Island in late May.

I’ll also add that it was delightful to have our inaugural intern, Wesley Lucas, join us for the entire time. A graduate student at the University of Oregon, Wesley has been very helpful all winter (among other projects he organized the workshop segment compilation mentioned above!). Wesley also ran one of the games circles, shared astute observations about the nature of how our board operates (informed by a recent class on non-profit board leadership) and yes helped out (as we all do!) at the workshop doing food prep and clean-up. Just to let the word out: we love interns, and are seeking more who would benefit from partnering with us for part of their educational journey.

Finally, we want to say thank you for all who have responded in recent months to our requests for help: to Michael Wolf who secured a free workshop space for us from his employer, Emdeon; to Wendy Wolf who led us to our new fulfillment guys! And to Lucas Cioffi who has introduced us to QiqoChat as our likely conferencing tool. We are learning to ask for help! … and so appreciate folks stepping us to offer ideas and avenues. Please don’t hesitate to let us know if you’d like to become more involved. One of us would be happy to talk with you to see how your energies and interests might align with the project’s.

Meanwhile, enjoy Group Works in whatever ways it enhances your life,

Warmly, Sue