I have 25 years experience facilitating groups in five broad contexts:
- arts-based facilitation,
- interactive learning facilitation
- strategic planning,
- community education and training,
- graphic recording, and
- gestalt group facilitation (developmental groups and conflict transformation)
Engaging people who are visual and kinaesthetic thinkers from diverse cultural backgrounds is one of my strengths. Linear, mainstream processes just don’t cut it with such groups. In fact, most of us only bring a fraction of our attention and interest to linear, mainstream processes.
My facilitation is multi-modal and engages people on a ‘whole person’ level to bring more of their knowledge, values, visioning and thoughtful prioritisation to the table.
I have worked in the space of arts-based community engagement for a long time and bring a balance of strategic facilitation with clear purpose and intent and creative processes that help people connect with the project and with each other.
Here are some of the approaches I use:
Dialogue-based learning – Living Books
I developed this training framework in 2015, taking the Danish Living Libraries model as my inspiration. Living Libraries is a stereotype-busting and relationship-building process where members of communities that have been stereotyped by the mainstream media are employed by libraries at special events as ‘living books’. They can be ‘borrowed’ for a conversation, and then checked back in to the library after the conversation.
In the learning model I use, 3-4 living books are chosen to provide a snapshot of their lives in a public forum, like a cover-blurb that brings out the key themes of a book. The audience then splits into ‘book clubs’ or conversation circles, sitting with each book in turn, and asking questions in the more intimate setting of a small group. By engaging in dialogue they learn directly from the living books. This model honours community members as experts of their own lives. It works on the premise that human beings are adept at recalling narrative, while we quickly forget facts and figures that are presented to us without being anchored down by lived experience.
The model suits many contexts but is best with people who work in community-facing roles. It is essentially an ‘extroverted’ learning process and requires some comfort from participants to ask questions and engage in conversation. It can be adapted to more introverted contexts with some support measures provided to facilitate comfortable interaction.
Ideal objectives for this training include awareness building and service improvement in relation to groups, communities and cultures that are identified as ‘non mainstream’. The living books may represent diversity, be less visible or the opposite: stereotyped, they may be classed as ‘harder to reach’, fringe or alternative.
Talking about them is often offensive, but talking with them is revelatory!
A session can be as short as three hours or be extended into a full-day of learning.
Graphic recording is a fabulous facilitation tool, capturing workshop and conference proceedings visually. This is particularly useful for visual thinkers (about 65% of the population) as well as for people who don’t have strong literacy skills. Australia’s functional literacy is quite low with the ABS indicating that 47% of Australian adults have trouble with literacy. Graphic recording tells the story and encapsulates key points that would otherwise need pages of text to express. It is highly engaging to see your words summarised graphically before your eyes.
I am IAP2 accredited (International Association for Public Participation) and have completed both the International and Australasian Certificates in Engagement. I am part of the Australasian Facilitation Network community, and also work in alliance with Curious Minds Co.
For more information, contact me:
© 2014-2017 Rachel Apelt