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Successful Portland Workshop!

Last weekend we hosted another set of very successful workshop offerings around the Group Works deck—this time in Portland, Oregon (This makes 4 total now, beginning with Seattle last fall, Berkeley this past winter, and Vancouver, B.C. in June).  Some 30 Portlanders (Portlandians?!) not only emerged more engaged by the patterns/deck, but also delighted to forge deeper connections with one another.  They want more!  A number of participants are psyched to continue to meet in some manner so as to continue sharing how the group process pattern language can deepen their facilitation work. (If you missed this event, but live locally and want to join in, contact Keala Young younjust@gmail.com)

Four of us from the project—Daniel Lindenberger, Tree Bressen, Dave Pollard and I— took turns facilitating, sharing application stories, offering historical perspective on pattern languages and our project’s evolution, sitting in on small work/play sessions, and otherwise doing the back ground grunt work (registration, deck sales, preparing snacks and meals, and washing dishes and all) that enables a workshop to run smoothly.

Friday Evening Daniel and I lead an introductory session focused on applications of the deck.  We addressed five of the six loose categories of usage that are emerging as a helpful way to present the infinite realm of possibilities: 1. learning and assessment, 2. planning, 3. mid-stream guidance (stewarding and trouble shooting), 4. Games for play (and learning!) and 5. debrief, reflection and evaluation.  Each area was explored experientially and the room buzzed with activity, learning and excitement.  It was especially fun to integrate games into the mix as a viable way to teach basic engagement with the deck.

Saturday Tree guided the group in a deeper dive into method mapping.  Method mapping is where people who are knowledgeable in one or more particular facilitation approach (such as Appreciative Inquiry or Dynamic Facilitation) work out which cards in the deck best illustrate that method, and how.  We had only ever allowed a few hours for this segment before and Tree finally got her wish to spend a whole day at it!  Through three rounds participants mapped Open Forum, Dynamic Governance, Restorative Justice, Open Space, Radical Faerie Heart Circles and Ritual (in general).  Some small groups also took on whole arenas such as education and parenting, making meaningful maps of these terrains.  This continues to be a very rewarding activity and our library of still photos of these maps and videos of the small groups presenting/explaining them is growing (check out the website).

Sunday Daniel lead the group into new territory for our workshops with a segment titled “Layouts, Mapping, and "Molecules.”  In one exercise teams studied photographs of an array of previous maps in search of a ‘legend’ of common visual layouts and symbols [dubbed 3-D cardography by one participant! ;-)  ]  In another exercise we mapped the flow and content of the weekend workshop.  It was fascinating to see how different groups mapped the same experience, which opens up a whole other way of doing process mapping!  Though we didn’t collectively make it to the molecules and component patterns piece, that is another exciting frontier Daniel and others are putting good thinking into.   

Probably our biggest learning from the whole weekend was that facilitation practitioners love to talk application!  And more than anything, are hungry for opportunities to explore real life scenarios they have faced--or will soon face—to discover new insights and group facilitation strategies.  (Who can’t use a little nourishing and refueling from dynamic interchange with like-minded souls?!)  In several splinter groups two’s and three’s were ‘working’ a dilemma one group member was struggling with.  These were some of the most alive sessions. During our subsequent work session in Eugene the Steward’s Circle talked about soon starting to convene conference calls (we’ve been referring to them as ‘dilemma calls’) to offer this kind of support and learning for folks who live anywhere!