Fri 10 Jan 2020 6:59PM

How do you run community assemblies? - tips, tricks, sensitivities

V Vishal Public Seen by 264

XR has training on facilitating people's assemblies...but these are often for a sheltered bunch of XR rebels.

As we move toward running assemblies for any punter in our local communities What are the particular sensitivities, nuances and focuses you think someone running a community assembly should pay attention to?

We are compiling a resource on this so any ideas would be greatly appreciated!!!

Also please link any external resources you know about.


Rick Cross Fri 10 Jan 2020 7:28PM

Hi VishalFirstly it's about strengthening a sense of inclusion and safety.
Explicit information about how and who is holding the space and how individuals can contribute .
Some folk see hierarchy and control where none is intended and some just want strong leadership.
After a few decades of experementation the model I have had most success with is using the 8 Shields process developed by Jon Young.
There is an active network applying this in the UK known as the Nature Culture Network .
Best Wishes
Rick Cross
Danaway Permaculture Homestead


greg frey Sun 16 Feb 2020 11:19AM

Hey Rick! I'd be grateful for any links to the 8 Shields process, I've trawled around and can't find anything...


Rick Cross Sun 16 Feb 2020 11:51AM

Hi GregYour best contact on this is David Smart-Knight who has been working within XR on training for regenerative communities and is familiar with the 8 Shields model.
You can also listen on uTube to presentations by Jon Young the originator. Try searching for Jon Young
8 Shields .
David has developed a two hour introductory training workshop based on the 8 Shields model that has been trialled by XR Core Team and be is now rolling out in the region's.
He is due to come to Cumbria in March.
Strength and Light to you


Rick Cross Sat 4 Jul 2020 8:49AM

Dear Friends,Please could you pass this on to anyone who may know of young people in the 20- 25 age group looking for a stepping stone this summer.
With Thanks


Rick Cross Fri 24 Jul 2020 7:25PM

Dear Friends We have decided to open this programme to anyone over 18 and extend the application period up till the end of July.
If you know if anyone who might either be interested or may know others who would like to join us please do share this opportunity with them.
With Thanks
Rick Cross
Danaway Homestead


Rick Cross Fri 10 Jan 2020 7:29PM

For larger groups I would use Open Space the model developed by Harrison Owen .


Vishal Sun 12 Jan 2020 4:58PM

Thanks Rick,

I'm slowly trying to build clear and tangible tips that can go in to a resource without having to read everything that is out there

I just want to get in to specifics:

Are there any specific facilitator tips from 8 shields you could share?

So with the How and who is holding the space and How to contribute - where would you see this information? would it be on the event details? Or is it something that would be stated by the facilitator at the start?

So imagine we have advertised a community assembly to talk about local issues, it's the first session - what kind of thing might we say to be explicit about those things?

Oh and do you have any simple resources/summaries for Open Space?

Thanks mate!


Rick Cross Sun 12 Jan 2020 5:58PM

Hi Vishal,I am still developing my knowledge of the 8 Shields model that has originated from a distillation from many indigenous cultural practices going right back to hunter gatherer groups like the Bushmen.
It is the product of thousands of generations of human experience and has been adapted in many diverse cultures. My advice would be to talk directly to the Nature Culture UK Network trainers like Peter Cowe but also David Smart-Knight who is known to XR London office . Ideally we need to ask
Jon Young to offer some training to XR when he comes over to the UK.
You can learn more about him online by searching in UTube for Jon Young / 8 Shields.

World Cafe is a simplified version small scale approach similar to Open Space and you can search for World Cafe which has a web presence.

Open Space has a network of facilitators and is a great way to involve large numbers to set their own agenda based upon a focussed question that the event seeks to answer. The process allows the programme to be designed on the day and lead by volunteer coordinators.

Strength to you.


Rick Cross Sun 12 Jan 2020 6:39PM

Hi Vishal
Maybe this is more what you are looking for:

If you need a few simple pointers:1. Have a clear intention or question for the gathering.
2. Make everyone welcome by making sure they are greeted, know where everything is like toilets and ideally offer refreshments .
3. Allow informal space for conversations and spontaneous meetings on arrival. ( Signing in)
4. Invite everyone to find a space and get comfortable.
5. Reiterate the purpose
6. Ask everyone to introduce themselves where they came from today and why they wanted to come along.
7. Depending on numbers and time inviting people to share what they are grateful for today can be a simple way to share something everyone can relate to and deepen a shared understanding.
8. Use World Cafe Or Open Space process
9. Allow time for tea breaks and meals
10. Ending by sharing appreciation - ideally everyone able to say a few words about what was personally helpful to them.
10. Record outcomes and circulate to particpants

I hope that helps


Tom Atlee Sun 12 Jan 2020 8:32PM

This is a good "tip" list. It actually inspired my comment on the GroupWorks deck, below. Here are a few other things that come to mind:

  • Re (1) a realm of theory-and-practice exists around designing "powerful questions". Powerful questions are usually defined as questions that generate change or transformation, with or without being answered (e.g., Why isn't the emperor wearing any clothes? or Where are the women/people of color? or What could Extinction Rebellion also be?). I've compiled many approaches to that work at the Powerful Questions pattern.

  • There are two 10s in Rick's list above. The "record outcomes" tip should be 11. To these I'd add a 12: Discuss how the event went, including what you think you handled well and what you think you could improve next time. (Note that the GroupWorksDeck is useful for this, as are post-event response surveys of participants.)

  • World Cafe and Open Space are my favorite simple-but-powerful conference forms, but there is an open, emergent quality to them that many people - especially in the general public - are not comfortable with. They're used to thinking that conferences involve them being spoken to. It can thus help to have a speaker or panel at the start to anchor the event, specifically to get people thinking about interesting possibilities or meaningful challenges. If those speakers can be framed as big names, then they become a reason for the public to attend what otherwise might be seen as vaporous talk-talk. But it is then important to reframe the speaker(s) before the main process begins, e.g., "Now that you've heard from some experts, what do YOU think - and what do YOU want to create together here?"

  • Sometimes there is a need to focus or prioritize. If you want to have a coherent outcome from a more-or-less open and creative dialogue, like World Cafe, you can use a dynamic participatory process called Thirty-Five. There's a good example (used in a public climate forum) in "Finding our way together – through innovations in voting (Collective Coherence Part One)". You'll need to search the page for "thirty-five", but you might want to scan through all the other intriguing voting innovations as well. You can also find a mainstream process description of it here. (Note that 35 has a number of advantages over the more well-known "dot-voting" technique, in that it is highly interactive and high energy, takes a short time, includes mini-deliberations among participants, and is not corrupted by people voting in response to how the rest of the group has been voting.)

  • Here's one of the most powerful process-combinations I've ever experienced: At the start of a multi-day Open Space gathering (about making evolutionary transformation more conscious) there was a morning World Cafe exploring the question "What question, if addressed really well in our Open Space, would make all the difference in the world?" We did three rounds of a standard World Cafe about that and then had lunch, after which the "space was opened" (i.e., the Open Space activity was convened). Despite the WC framing, there was no effort to identify THE question. The purpose of that initial WC was to "stir the pot", to get people thinking about what they considered most important. Then in the Open Space the participants got to convene sessions about all those "most important" topics. The energy was high!

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