In the last few weeks I’ve been working with Emily from Transition Leicester on a training for facilitators which we deliver in about 3 weeks time. The facilitators in question are going to pioneer the first round of Transition Leicester’s Footpaths project. On the surface it’s another carbon footprinting programme based on getting workmates or neighbours together to share the experience of informing themselves and taking small steps to reduce their personal impact on the planet. What’s impressed me is that the vision for Footpaths goes deeper than that.
The Footpaths materials, spread over 7 sessions, includes a conscious and sizeable proportion of material on the nature of groups and the nature of making change in the life of individuals and groups. Real attention has been paid to the psychology of working in groups and of making change, neither of which are always an easy process.
At least part of the thinking behind this seems to be a desire to seed Footpaths groups that carry on beyond the 7 sessions provided by the organising working group as well as to create group-workers who are better equipped to work within their community in the future.
And if that wasn’t interesting enough, Footpaths has adopted a model in which the role of the facilitator changes over time facilitation. For the first one or two sessions the facilitators will undertake a fairly traditional workshop facilitation role but with an increasing emphasis on devolving responsibility to the group until by the end the group are co-creating the agenda and sharing responsibility for both the process and the content. I suspect this will be a challenging transition for some facilitators to make – it’s easy to get stuck in a rut of facilitating one particular way. Part of our work in preparing the facilitators is to support them in enacting that transition.
As for the agenda we’re devising? It’s almost there. The usual struggle to prioritise the material we’ll include and that which we think is valuable but for which there simply isn’t time. There will be 2 drop-in evening sessions in addition to the initial training. These will be strategically placed to offer facilitators ongoing support and allow us to bring in some of the material we’ve not included in the initial session, hopefully at a stage of the facilitators’ journeys when it’s particularly relevant.