Back in June, my wife and I took the plunge and moved from St Louis to Los Angeles. When people ask us “why?” we tell them, “Sunshine, mountains, ocean.” You get it, right? All of that and the work situations worked out and here we are! Angelenos!
In St Louis I was working for a youth development organization where most of what we did as was facilitate groups for teens. I was facilitating at least 8 groups a week, sometimes more, and supervising a team of facilitators that were each doing 12+ groups a week themselves. On top of that, we were one team of many doing the same type of work in our organization. We would all get together monthly to discuss facilitation challenges and successes and to support each other. And on top of THAT we were facilitating a curriculum that was being used throughout St Louis County by other youth-serving organizations. Us and all of those folks would get together quarterly to do best practice sharing. You can see what I’m getting at here – I was living in facilitator heaven where support and community abounds. There was always another facilitator at arm’s reach, available for a debrief or a brainstorming session.
It wasn’t until I started my new job in Los Angeles that I realized how good I had it back in St Louis. I’d landed a great job as the Training Coordinator for the Community Health Consortia in LA County. My job was to create a “Training Center” for the Community Health Center staff from the ground up: assess the needs, book the trainers, create the trainings I knew something about, etc. I am basically the resident facilitator on our staff, which means I’m the only one. No community, no other facilitator to bounce my next training concept off of or to check in with and see if this activity works for that audience. Plus, being a completely new and in a HUGE city like LA, I didn’t really know where to seek out that support that I knew I needed. So, of course, I turned to the googles.
After clicking around on some not-so-helpful links, I stumbled upon FacilitatingXYZ in it’s infancy – when it was still just a shell of a website, a gif of Emma Watson and a form that said: Coming Soon, Free Resources for Facilitators. Click Here to Contribute. So, I clicked. I filled out the form and quickly got a reply.
I was familiar with Meg and Sam from their work with The Safe Zone Project and I’d corresponded with Sam back in the day when he graciously sent me a high resolution version of the Genderbread Person (Uncopyrighted!) So I was really excited and curious about FacilitatingXYZ and how l could be a part of it.
After a few back and forth emails, I learned that Meg and Sam were looking for a third co-facilitator for the site and we decided to do a google hangout to see if I might be a good fit for the team. This, my friends, is where the doubt started to creep in. Things like: What could I possibly have to contribute? What do I even know about facilitation? These two have written a BOOK about facilitation – I am NOT at that level.
Luckily, for me, Meg and Sam were really down to earth (of course!). As we talked more and they asked me questions about my past experiences, I realized that I DO have stories, skills, ideas and experiences I can contribute. There are strengths I have that other people might not, and I can lean on the strengths of others where I have less experience – that’s what makes a stronger community.
That’s why we want MORE people to contribute to FacilitatingXYZ. Most of us have been raised in a culture where we take a cues, our learning, our advice from “experts” or people who have enough confidence to say that they’re the “expert.” But what does that even mean? Do you need a degree in something particular? Do you need X number of years experience? Do you have to have gone through a particular training program? I’m sure for some fields there is a set outline of steps to complete but for facilitators – our paths are many and varied and I’m here to tell you that you definitely have something to contribute and we want to hear from you.
At FacilitatingXYZ we believe in the “non-expert” – those of us who are open to learning and growing and building on what we know. We don’t ever expect to become “experts” because that implies that we’re smarter or better than someone else or that we are done learning. That’s the opposite of what a facilitator is or does.
That’s also the opposite of what we want FacilitatingXYZ to be. We don’t want it to be exclusive to any particular group or set of voices. We want to grow our community of facilitators from all backgrounds and levels of experience and that means we hope you’ll take the leap and be a part of it.
Have I convinced you yet?
SO – how can you contribute to FacilitatingXYZ?
Step 1: Fill out the form
Step 3: Send your creation to the FacilitatingXYZ Team for suggestions and edits
Step 4: We’ll add your content to our schedule of posts.
Step 5: Give yourself a high-five.
(Need some inspiration? Check out our Wishlist!)
It’s that easy! You don’t have be an “expert” or have a certain level of education or have been facilitating for 30 years. You’re awesome and we want to hear what you have to say.
Just like I’m starting to adjust to all this LA sunshine, we hope you’ll adjust to the idea that you know enough to contribute, we sure hope you do.