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  • Submitted by Daniel on Oct 8, 2014

    There were so many highlights from our trip. Sue and Tree have expressed a lot of the learnings beautifully, so for now I thought I would just share a snapshot from a great conversation. During our Friday "Deepening Facilitation" workshop it turned out that the two other folks I was sitting with were also Jungians. We got to talking about the relationship between Jung's description of the structural nature of archetypes and how it paralleled Crowley's description of the underlying nature of Tarot and my experience with Group Works. 

    I won't give a full schpiel on the archetypes, but will say that Jung considered them to emerge from the collision of fundamental and inherited organizing principles in the mind on the one hand and experiences on the other: it's not that the "Mother" archetype would fully appear garbed in the rich imagery and symbolism in a vacuum, but rather than our minds have core organizational structures that will inevitably channel a host of our experiences in a way that takes on a familiar pattern as the Mother Archetype. (parallel to the way random points created based on probability distributions will form beautiful, complex and infinite patterns in IFS fractals (http://vlab.infotech.monash.edu.au/simulations/fractals/ifs-fractals/)).
    Similarly, Crowley talked about the way that Tarot cards came alive the more you used them - the more your personal experiences were associated with the cards, the more the underlying structure represented by a given card would get fleshed out.

    With Group Works, this is deeply true, which makes sense: The origin of each of the 91 patterns is story-based: folks came...

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  • Submitted by Sue on Oct 5, 2014

    The Group Pattern Language Project has just returned from our first ever 'field trip'-- and what an adventure it was!  Three core team members-- Daniel Lindenberger, Tree Bressen and Sue Woehrlin-- spent five days in Calgary, Alberta learning new ways that Group Works can be used to support large scale organizational change.  Over the last year we'd been hearing rumors that over 6,000 City employees, and a couple thousand more citizens had had their hands on Group Works cards, and we'd certainly noticed a geographical concentration of deck sales in the area, so we decided we just had to go see for ourselves what was happening in northern stampede country!

    Our hosts, teachers and collaborators for the week were 4 of the 5 team members who for the past two years have lead the City of Calgary's Cultural Transformation Project: Dave Plouffe (Engagement Lead), DJ Kelly (Strategy Lead), Beth Gignac (Lead and Culture Coach), and Ken Cameron (citizen 'raconteur'!). What a talented, committed and innovative bunch of change agents!  

    We spent the first day interviewing them about how they initially incorporated Group Works into the daily life of their team: drawing a card a day for random guidance, using the deck to plan upcoming meetings and scope out phases and aspects of their big initiative.  Indeed, one of the things that struck us most was the organic way team members had integrated the group pattern language into their thinking and speech.  That is, even without the cards in sight, they would say things like: "Oh, let's follow the group energy here" or "Guess it's time to inform the group mind" or "The experts on tap for this session were..."  It was so inspiring to see the group pattern language embodied so fully!

    Then we heard about that 'aha...

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  • Submitted by Tree on Aug 19, 2014

    You are invited to . . .

    DEEPENING FACILITATION PRACTICE:
    DEVELOPMENT WITH GROUP WORKS

    One-Day Interactive Workshop

    Friday, September 26th | 9:30am-4:30pm

    CommunityWise Resource Centre, 223 12th Ave. SW, Calgary, AB

    Are you interested in improving your work with groups and communities?

    Calling project leaders, teachers, facilitators, public engagement practitioners, coaches, non-profit board members, civic activists, permaculturists and others whose work involves empowering people to participate in groups, workplaces, and communities in a more dynamic and effective way!

    We invite you to attend a professional development session where you will have the opportunity to:

    • Reflect on your facilitation practices
    • Share dilemmas and seek solutions with colleagues
    • Get support on upcoming meeting designs
    • Identify opportunities for implementing patterns of excellent group process
    • Integrate exemplary patterns into your professional and/or community life (and start to speak the shared “pattern language” of facilitation)
    • Engage with others who care about these things!

    We’ll be using the deck Group Works:  A Pattern Language for Bringing Life to Meetings and Other Gatherings as our lens.  While familiarity with the deck is helpful, it’s not essential—you’ll recognize the patterns from your own practice and pick it up quickly.

    When: Friday, September 26

    9:00-9:30 am:...

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  • Submitted by Tree on Aug 12, 2014

    We are ready to share the fruits of our latest labors in two forms:

    1. The new free download version of Group Works is posted at the website  and ready for you to try out!  This file has the new cards (with all the minor improvements mentioned in our last news item, including added category cards), properly formatted for easy printing 4 to a page, and file size has been reduced from 47 MB to less than 8 MB.  Thanks to Christopher Allen who assisted our graphic designer Janelle Frazier with formatting for PDF.

    2. New decks, website, and distributor.  Since publication at the end of 2011 our decks have been capably distributed via mail by Paul Cienfuegos of 100fires.com, whose service has been appreciated by many of you.  As Paul's rates have risen and we are committed to keeping the deck as accessible as possible, we are now using Wright Fulfillment of Ashland, Oregon.  This changeover required us to build e-commerce functionality into our own website, so now when you place an order you will no longer go off to a different website.  The old stock has sold out and current orders are being filled with the new printing. 

    It's all looking very pretty, and we're hoping everything functions the way it should.  Please send any feedback about your experience with these improvements to me (Tree).  I've personally spent months managing the distribution changeover on the heels of the second printing, and want to make sure it meets expectations.  At the same time, i am excited and relieved to turn my attention to other aspects of the Group Pattern Language Project, including continued spreading of the word and teaching workshops. 

    As...

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  • Submitted by Tree on Jun 2, 2014

    The 4 of us on the core team (Sue, Daniel, Dave & myself) recently spent a few days meeting in person for the first time since fall.  When we do that we like to send out an update so others of you can hear what's happening behind the scenes.   While a bunch of our time gets spent dealing with the nitty-gritty of keeping the website and other functions flowing smoothly, we also enjoyed an evening conversation on complexity science and how it relates to pattern language, and did the personal reconnecting that is so important to keeping our project alive when we operate at a distance.  Here is some recent news.

    Deck Reprint
    There are less than 100 decks remaining from our first print run of 2500, so i've just finished managing a reprint of 2000 more copies.  The new decks are substantially the same as the previous ones, however there are a few changes you might like to know about:

    • improved packaging for better visibility;
    • 9 category cards have been added, with new category descriptions that are much more polished;
    • small, unobtrusive numbers now appear in the lower right-hand corner, to aid in re-alphabetizing and/or sorting out multiple decks after use;
    • the 9 "Keystone" cards (one representative card from each category) are now distinguished by a thin black line around the category icon leaf;
    • activities section of the booklet has been revised based on experience since publication;
    • new stock has 30% post-consumer recycled content as compared with 10% last time, and the booklet in new edition is 100% post-consumer.

    We are currently working on revising the free downloadable version of the deck to keep pace with these changes.  The new free version will...

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  • Submitted by Tree on May 31, 2014

    Beautiful new article on uses of this pattern language posted by Dave Pollard on his How to Save the World blog.  See "10 Ways to Help Your People Shine."

  • Submitted by Sue on Nov 26, 2013

    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...

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  • Submitted by Sue on Nov 26, 2013

    Can you believe that after this packed weekend the four of us-- Daniel Lindenberger, Dave Pollard, Tree Bressen and Sue Woehlin-- retreated to Eugene for a three and a half day work session?!  We did, and despite only starting at 10 in the morning (a new/later norm for the group) we still managed to fit in an average of 10 working hours each day. 

    In keeping with priorities identified at our June work session, one focus of our work revolved around continuing to “consolidate project systems.” This included reorganizing how we track priority projects, fine tuning individual task tracking, adopting a master list of ‘roles & responsibilities’ and assembling notes on ‘future dreams’ in one place.  We also made progress consolidating what had been way too many different tech channels, including working out protocols for where to archive photos and videos and where & how to make these available on the website, and revising the master list of accounts and access passwords.  Plans to migrate the pattern hi/lo mailing lists to Drupal (our website) were also drafted.

    On a process level we also attended to articulating (and documenting) desired group norms and communicating around how we want to deal with conflict and other upsets.  [Which we began to put into practice as the days unfolded ;-) ]

    We also spent a fair bit of time on issues related to both outreach and recruitment of new volunteer Stewards and Ambassadors. These ranged from a plan to launch “dilemma calls” in the new year to support folks (regardless of location) to connect with others around applications of the deck, to thinking through ways we could support local networks forming around a shared passion for the deck (such as is developing in Portland, OR), to developing a...

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  • Submitted by Tree on Sep 13, 2013

    Hereby announcing a Group Works team offering . . . since publishing the deck we've given public workshops in Seattle, Vancouver, & Berkeley, now it's time for PORTLAND! 

    • Are you sitting with a beautiful Group Works deck on your hands, wondering what to do with it? 
    • Do you want to geek out with other process people? 
    • Does diving deep into a new way of thinking about group dynamics that builds on your existing understanding and skills sound compelling? 

    New to all this?  What is Group Works?

    1. A new way of thinking about group dynamics and how to work with them effectively. A common vocabulary for facilitators and participants to use in exploring how to create and support fulfilling group sessions.
    2. A deck of 91 beautiful cards, available for $25 in print or download for free from www.groupworksdeck.org (also available for iPad and as an iPhone app). Each card describes one pattern that shows up in meetings or other group gatherings that have a sense of life in them.
    3. A nonprofit (technically called the Group Pattern Language Project) that collectively created and stewards this ongoing exploration, and that you can get connected with in a variety of ways.

    Come be with us!  We will gather at Daybreak Cohousing on November 15-17:  Friday evening, Saturday daytime, and Sunday morning

    You are welcome to attend the Friday evening introduction as a stand-alone event, regardless of attending the rest of the weekend.  If you are attending on Saturday/Sunday, please either be present at the Friday night opening or have...

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  • Submitted by Dave on Jul 8, 2013

    On June 25-28, our four Core Team members and Directors -- Tree Bressen, Sue Woehrlin, Daniel Lindenberger and Dave Pollard -- along with our newest Stewards' Circle member Christopher Allen, met at Dave's house on Bowen Island, BC for our first 2013 face-to-face work session.

    The purpose of the session was to hammer out our direction, priorities and strategies going forward, and streamline some of the tasks we have been doing to date.

    Pursuant to our overall Goal/Mission: to learn and share the core wisdom of what makes deliberative group work successful, primarily through the development and promotion of a pattern language for group process, we identified seven organizational Objectives and a prioritized list of short- and long-term actions and strategies to achieve them. The seven Objectives are:

    1. To get trim -- to update, streamline, and simplify the tasks, procedures and technologies we use to accomplish our work
    2. To maintain a well-functioning, sustainable organization
    3. To foster a culture of collaboration -- so that anyone interested in group process feels invited and empowered to participate in achieving our objectives
    4. To help people learn the possibilities of the Pattern Language and Group Works
    5. To share more tools for bringing life to groups
    6. To deepen the Language
    7. To remain open to emergent opportunities as the profession evolves and as new technologies and collaboration and application possibilities arise.

    To these ends, we made a lot of decisions on tasks, procedures and technologies going forward, including the decision to close our Wagn wiki-based development platform at grouppatternlanguage.org later this year once the last of its content has been moved to the...

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  • Submitted by Tree on Jul 3, 2013

    This weekend was our most ambitious set of workshop offerings yet for the Group Pattern Language Project.  It was 2 full days of interactive presentations, with 5 of us co-presenting.  Sue Woehrlin & i led off with an introductory workshop on a variety of ways to use the deck.  While we are still developing more ways to actually use Group Works with groups in action, it's clear there are many applications in planning, studying, and debriefing group processes.  And depending on how process-savvy or open groups are, it can also be brought in in other ways; for example, Daniel Lindenberger of Source is starting to use it with clients to define the essential aims and intentions for a session. 

    After that, Dave Pollard led a skit on "How Not to Do Public Engagement," comprising 9 vignettes which the audience acted out, noted the problems of, and then called out which patterns from the deck could have made the situation go much better.  For anyone with experience in public engagement, the skit struck humorously close to home, and was a reminder of just how far we have to go in making public meetings better. 

    Next up, Daniel & Dave invited people to try out a few different games with the deck.  While the past year and a half since publication has seen the rise of many "activities" to do with the deck, actual "games"--something that feels more like play, and has an element of winning in it (whether cooperative or competitive)--have been few and far between.  We did the "Best Fit" game invented by Betsy Morris (sort of like Apples to Apples), and one that was sort of like Cranium (itself a mixture of Charades, Pictionary, and Taboo), and explored other possibilities.  In the Cranium-like game, i was amazed how effective my teammates were in expressing...

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  • Submitted by Daniel on May 23, 2013

    We are pleased to have the opportunity to present a 2-day Group Works workshop at the end of June in British Columbia.  If you are curious about the deck and want to further explore how to use it, this is your chance!

    When: Saturday June 29, 9:00am-4:30pm, and Sunday June 30, 9:00am-4:00pm.

    Where: Quayside Village Co-housing, 510 Chesterfield Ave. at W. 5th Street in North Vancouver, near the Lower Lonsdale seabus dock.

    Cost: Sliding scale $25-$200 (cheque or cash at the door)

    RSVP: Please mark the dates in your calendar and reserve your space by email ASAP (this event may sell out) to Daniel Lindenberger (...

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  • Submitted by Sue on Apr 13, 2013

    Planning is underway for a series of events in the greater Vancouver, B.C. area June 25th through July 1st.  They will include a combination of public Group Works application workshops, professional development sessions for facilitators (perhaps around the therme of games possible with the deck?!) and project working sessions (likely on Bowen Island).  Local planning is being coordinated by Dave Pollard and Daniel Lindenberger.  Stay tuned for more details!

  • Submitted by Tree on Mar 11, 2013

    The sessions last month in Berkeley were fabulous.

    On February 22, about 16 of us gathered to engage in Method Mapping, under the able leadership of Sue Woehrlin.  Method mapping means taking a type of group process you are familiar with, and figuring out how to illustrate it using the Group Works deck.  For example, this time small groups worked on Sociocracy, World Cafe, Anti-Oppression, and more.  We intend to enter the "maps" created this way into our online module, along with posting photos & videos about them.  One of the groups also had an exploratory conversation to notice what we are learning about different ways of creating the maps.  While the people who can participate most effectively have experience both with the Group Works deck and with the particular method under consideration, as long as they have one or the other it's enough to get by.  Overall it was very fulfilling.

    The following day, almost two dozen people attended an introductory workshop on how to use the deck, led by Sassy & Tree.  This Applications workshop arose out of a common experience we've been having since the deck was published, which is that when we show it to someone new, the first thing they say after, "Oh!  How beautiful!"  is:  "What do you do with it?"  This workshop is designed to answer that question.  We offered a combination of sample activities to try out, stories from other people's experiences, and collective brainstorming on other possibilities. 

    In addition to the public events, we spent hours meeting in Stewards' Circle.  A particular theme this time was our relationship with technology.  There are so many...

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  • Submitted by Tree on Jan 24, 2013

    You are invited to attend . . .

    GROUP WORKS:  APPLICATIONS

    Saturday, February 23rd

    1:00-5:00pm

    Location:  Berkeley Unitarian Fellowship (Fireside Room), 1606 Bonita Avenue, Berkeley, CA
     

    An open workshop on the Group Works deck and ways to use it to help your meetings and group events go deeper, be more lively, and accomplish their goals.
     

    Presented by Tree Bressen, Kate Sassoon, and Sue Woehrlin,

    Registration:
    Sliding scale:  $10-50
    To attend, please RSVP to Sassy at sassy@sassycooperates.org.

    What is Group Works?

    1. A new way of thinking about group dynamics and how to work with them effectively.  A common vocabulary for facilitators and participants to use in exploring how to create and support fulfilling group sessions.
    2. A deck of 91 beautiful cards, available for $25 in print or download for free from www.groupworksdeck.org (also available for iPad and soon an iPhone app).  Each card describes one pattern that shows up in meetings that have a sense of life in them. 
    3. A nonprofit (technically called the Group Pattern Language Project) that collectively created and stewards this ongoing exploration, and that you can get connected with in a variety of ways.

    To learn more about Sue, Tree, and Kate Sassy, check out the following:

    more...

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