Resources for Small Groups in Turbulent Times

9eosnmc2afk-riccardo-annandaleThe last few weeks have left a lot of people feeling overwhelmed and concerned about proposals and policies addressing issues and values they hold dear. A request came through a list serve I’m on asking how to create small groups to help people deal with a sense of overwhelm and take action. I’m sharing here the list of resources I put together:

  • A previous blog I wrote about Joy & Necessity of Micro-Collaborations shares guidance on various ways to convene small groups.
  • Joanna Macy is a good resource of personal group practices on how to handle the emotional and spiritual toll of taking in painful events of the world. See her website joannamacy.net or her books. She and others have worked for years to develop a set of practices called the Work that Reconnects. It has a good framework and there is a large network of people who offer workshops and trainings.
  • The Art of Hosting and in particular The Circle Way offer helpful guidelines and practices for hosting conversations that matter.
  • Meg Wheatley’s book Turning to One Another offers prompts for small group conversations.

Some other reflections:

  • People are so eager to get to action, yet there is a crucial need to create safe spaces to share and deal with the emotional weight of what is happening right now. Mutual understanding and support arises from storytelling and honest conversation about what is moving in us, in a context where there is quality listening (not debate). To create that space, this blog about Listening that Enables Emerging Possibilities has some guidelines.
  • A lot of energy is going into resisting and fighting against things, or to protecting things. It’s also important to devote time to modeling the values and ways of being together that are healthy and help seed alternatives. There are new models of small groups creating local networks of mutual aid, which is a core aspect of healthy communities and ecosystems.
  • On most issues, there are people who have been doing work on the ground for a long time, particularly in cases of marginalized and oppressed groups, such as Black Lives Matter or immigrants rights. Getting informed about the history, root causes and patterns in each area – and our own inner reflection/awareness of where they live in us – before jumping in to act or help is important, so we don’t perpetuate the very patterns we are trying to change. Here’s an example of resources related to racial equity from Food Solutions New England’s Racial Equity Challenge.

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