Rhizome is a co-operative which brings together the skills and experience of a network of facilitators for your benefit. We’re a co-operative consortium – that is a co-op of freelance trainers. Some of us have extensive facilitation, training and mediation practices outside of Rhizome. For others Rhizome is where we do most of our work. We have no employees – all of us are self-employed.
We use consensus decision-making. Surprisingly that’s not as common as you might think in co-operatives (though we hope to change that!). Not all of our members are experienced or fluent with consensus, so there’s a need for ongoing skillsharing until we reach a shared understanding of both the values and practice of consensus.
We endeavour to co-facilitate when possible (that is work as a pair of facilitators, occasionally more). It’s through planning and delivering work together that much of our skill sharing happens. We also find that the groups and organisations we work with enjoy it and see a real benefit in working with more than one facilitator.
In 2011 we grew from our 2 founders to a more diverse co-op of 7 facilitators. Previously we could afford to be organic and informal, now we need more agreed processes. Many of these are still in development through our face to face meetings (sadly not as often as we’d like them). In between times we improvise trying to ensure that we’re fair to everyone. These conversations include:
How we work together effectively even though we are distributed across the UK – we currently have facilitators in Manchester, Leicester and London
- What role will the use of social media play?
- How do we balance reducing travel (and carbon) with remaining a coherent and connected co-operative?
- How do we allocate work within the co-op? This is especially relevant with paid work, of which there is never as much as we’d like to ensure we all earn a sustainable livelihood. Of course we try to balance financial concerns with other criteria – clearly there’s who would deliver the best service to our clients, who’s geographically nearer, who would most appreciate the opportunity to learn on the job, who is available, who haven’t had an opportunity to co-facilitate recently, and so on
- How we make day-to-day decisions: What autonomy do our co-ordinator(s) have? What can be decided by a subgroup of the co-op? What needs to come to the full co-op?
- How do we pay for co-ordination time, much of which is currently done for free? And who does it? Is it centralised into one or two people’s hands or do we all take on an aspect of it?
- How do we share learning from the work we do?
When we’re paid for our work (as opposed to the pro bono work we do), after paying for our members time and expenses there’s a modest pot of money left over. We use this for:
- co-op expenses (meetings, admin costs etc),
- the development of the co-op (training, time spent getting to know each other better and sharing skills, stories and learning)
- paying for co-ordination time
- paying our facilitators to deliver work to groups who can’t afford a fee
- giving away – to support events and causes we support
As always we welcome your thoughts and comments. In fact there are a few comments below which relate to an earlier version of this page, but which still have some relevance.
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