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Facilitation is a powerful tool to work with groups to reach their goal. It’s largely group-driven, while the facilitator manages the process so the group can focus on content. Think of the facilitator as the oil for the machine — the oil makes it easier for the pieces of the machine to work together, but the oil doesn’t do the machine’s job.

A facilitator can guide a group from brainstorming and idea-gathering to concrete action steps and results. By managing interactions between group members as an impartial party, he/she creates a space for the participants to explore possibilities and reach solutions through collaboration and dialogue. So, quite literally, a facilitator is:

Someone who makes a process easier.

An impartial party that helps a group of people have a productive discussion or conversation about complex and — potentially — controversial issues.

Having an impartial party facilitate your meeting has several advantages:

  • It enables the participants to focus on the issues and take ownership of the dialogue and its resulting actions.
  • It levels the hierarchy of the group because the person usually ‘in charge’ can step down and be part of the creative process and not worry about running the meeting.
  • By keeping an eye on the process, the facilitator can bring the group back on track and keep the meeting from being derailed.
  • Using conflict management skills, the facilitator can help the group address conflicts and problematic issues in a safe space and assist the group in resolving them.
  • The facilitator can find creative ways to help groups get "unstuck," for example by using visual methods like relational maps.
  • Last but not least, the facilitator does not have a stake in the outcome. He/She is impartial about the content, but not about the process.

When would you use a facilitator? Essentially, almost any group can benefit from being facilitated by an impartial party for one or even several sessions. You can use a facilitator to help you gather information and feedback from a group of community members or to discuss and resolve internal conflicts in your agency. Or you can work with a facilitator in team building sessions or story-telling circles, board retreats or staff meetings — facilitation is a very versatile field and we are happy to work with you to tailor and facilitate a session or meeting to your specific needs. In addition to the facilitation our services also include consultation & planning meetings, as well as a debriefing after the event.

We facilitate anything from decision-making and problem solving processes that can last several sessions to community conversations with 100 or more participants.

Groups and agencies we have worked with include: New Haven Health Department, Hill Youth Action Team, New Haven Police Department, Evergreen Family-Oriented Tree Sober Homes, ElmCity Vineyard Church, Havens for the Future, Yale New Haven Hospital, Planned Parenthood, Whalley-Edgewood-Beaver Hill Neighborhood Management Team, The Consultation Center, Teach Our Children, the International Festival of Arts & Ideas, and Green Haven Co-Housing.

If you are interested in becoming a facilitator yourself, check out our regular training schedule or contact Brenda Cavanaugh (brenda@cmediation.org or 203.782.3504) to organize a training at your agency.

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The post An Open Streets Family Reunion: Reflections from the 2018 Open Streets Summit appeared first on Open Streets Project.

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