For the past ten years, TWI has explored bringing people together in authentic, unconferencey ways. In early October, we are bringing together over one hundred partners for a weekend of “trust in practice.” As we turned our attention toward this convening, I reviewed the feedback and lessons learned from last time.
I came across the following list, of 10 things I learned, I wrote just after the last retreat and found them handy, so thought they might be useful to others:
- Never try to sit in one large circle – seems like the people across from you are on another continent. Always put something beautiful in the center of the circle.
- Give clear, sharp, and timely directions. Give them repeatedly. Do not be afraid of saying the same thing thrice, because someone has not heard you the first two times.
- If you want everyone “back at 10:30” say, “please be back at 10:20.” Thenprepare to start at 10:40. 100 people = slow moving molasses type movement. Plus there are peanut m&m’s to congregate around.
- Start with a workshop on listening, inclusion, and equity. Especially the listening part. Especially the inclusion part. Especially the equity part.
- Make room for introverts with some structured time and spacious space, and some time to sit in silence.
- Have a team of 3-5 facilitators who are observing the energy of the room and ready to take emergent, appropriate action. Make sure to ask them for help.
- If you are the organizer, do not be overly self-reliant. See #6.
- Make sure there is not a heat wave in Santa Cruz, while having packed your new fall wardrobe.
- Actually sit down and eat meals and have conversations with all the lovely people you’ve brought together. Eat slowly. Talk leisurely. Take them in.
- Prepare to fall in love a million times, even with people you thought you already knew. Recall that this is why you do this in the first place. But do not repeat for another 18 months.