Egalitarian Group Process

“The group process contains the secret…it is our chief hope for the political, the social, the international life of the future.” --Mary Parker Follett

What You Will Do

  • Access resources for self-understanding, compassionate communication, and conflict-resolution.
  • Use a set of tools for participatory group processes that enable the gathering of ideas, and facilitation of group roles for convergent thinking.
  • Plan for, and carry out, a participatory group meeting to address a community question or concern.
  • Reflect upon aspects of group dynamics and communication techniques before, during, and after a group meeting.

This section by Hannah Hemmelgarn

Welcome to the module on egalitarian group processes! We’ll explore a sampling of tools and ideas on the subject that will prepare you for active cultivation of compassion and understanding, a key component of tending to the human communities that are interwoven into the physical work of ecological design.

​Learn how compassionate communication and organization can break down walls of hierarchy in many contexts. This work begins with the cultivation of compassion for ourselves, and spirals outward in recognition of the people systems within ecosystems. From inner work to outer work, we will apply this compassion as we explore a diversity of practices that have been employed to facilitate participatory group processes for conflict resolution, idea-generation, and decision-making.

Intro video for Egalitarian Group Processes

There is an abundance of resources for group process work, and I’ve included enough in the resources section to get you started down the rabbit hole. I hope that the module itself will introduce you to these concepts to the point that you will be able to find a path that makes sense for you in your communities.

The processes I’ll share are exercises and philosophies that I’ve practiced in community that have resulted in growth of empathy and thoughtful listening and hearing. I find that these are skills needed whether you live in an intentional community or on your own in a city apartment. If you are considering this work as a whole practice in your life, group processes call forth the natural patterns in us and how we can apply those patterns for the benefit of everything from political social justice to making a meal together.

​As you enter this module, reflect on your curiosities about group processes. Why does (or doesn’t) this feel important to your work at this time? How might this module help you in your envisioned groups in the future? What old community/interpersonal wounds from the past could you heal with this set of lessons (a process in itself)?

Functional Working Groups

We can use ecological ideas to design functional working groups.

Egalitarian Group Processes 1.1 What is it?

Egalitarian group processes

What do we mean when we say “egalitarian group processes” and what does this have to do with becoming an ecological designer?


Think of a time that you felt as though an egalitarian ideal was really alive and true in your life. 

Here are some questions to ponder in your reflection: 

  • How did that experience feel? 
  • What did it look like? 
  • Who was involved? 
  • Were the people in that group very much like you? 
  • Were they very different from you? How so?

In the example I share in this video, you’ll notice that there was a shift in authority. Rather than a class with a single leader, we became a leaderfull group. Each participant was given an opportunity to take part, and grow their sense of empowerment as we each served a unique and important role.

In this peer-led course, I was not asked to reiterate the course content, but to co-create it using reflective tools, discussion, and open questions, in addition to existing concepts from people who held authority on various subjects.

Based on the life I’ve lived, and the work in this area that I’ve been exposed to before and since that class that I ended up facilitating for several years thereafter, egalitarianism calls to mind an effort towards dismantling hierarchy. Hierarchy exists in all social interactions. It is embedded in our race, class, gender, and also our communication and other behavior patterns, how we hold ourselves and what we expect, etc. Egalitarianism is a way of thinking and of being that empowers each person to engage in the life they wish to live, or in this case to empower each person (including ourselves) in the group to participate in the process if they wish to do so.

Group Process:

In my own words, a group process is a social interaction where people come together with a purpose, whether that is to learn, to generate ideas, to make a common decision, or to resolve a conflict. With this loose definition, think of some examples of group processes that you’ve been a part of:

  • A group visioning? 
  • A discussion about something troubling, inspiring, or new? 
  • A community meal where conversations diverged in many meaningful directions? 
  • A group planning meeting? 
  • A city council meeting? 
  • A classroom of learners and teachers?

A group process can take place in one of these general contexts, and may also be associated with a specific kind of interaction, a way of sharing power.

When my friend asked me what this has to do with the whole system, I must admit I was a bit taken aback. Having lived intentionally in community with people who consider themselves intimately woven to the land, it’s hard for me to come back to that place of separation, thinking of ecological design as a practice that’s more about gardening rather than about working together. These things are not separate.

To observe and apply patterns in nature to the ways we live is to bring this to the social ecosystem as well as the biophysical ecosystem.

With these concepts in mind, think back to the first reflective question: 

Consider the specific moments and types of interaction that happened in that egalitarian space you experienced (or, if you’re not able to think of one, vision what this could look and feel like).

The irony that I’m here in an “authoritative” role presenting this topic to you without your voice intimately woven into the lesson is not lost on me! While the materials for this design course needed to be constructed prior to your involvement, I ask that you participate in this module as an actively engaged student. 

Please send me your feedback and ideas. Let’s have a real life conversation and make this a living set of lessons!

The third ethic is the root of this work. But it’s not just the third ethic that this concerns, it’s all three. When we take care of each other we can take care of our place, and vice versa.

​It’s all connected!

EGP 1.2 applying principles to social permaculture

Nonviolent communication

​I was first introduced to nonviolent communication (NVC) during a radical clown camp at the Possibility Alliance community here in Missouri. One of my fellow clowns shared his own story of discovering and using NVC in a relationship that rocked his heart. He kept mentioning this term that sounded like “Offner”, and finally I asked what he meant.

OFNR is an acronym associated with the process of doing NVC in a very formulaic way. Once you’re in the habit of using it, it becomes second nature and much more relaxed in its delivery. As a reminder, O stands for observations, F for feelings, N for needs, and R for requests.

​At the core of NVC is the sometimes slow process of transitioning from a culture of blame and guilt, to one of recognizing that everyone has some basic needs. When those needs aren’t being met, we may feel angry, frustrated, or sad. We often assume that those feelings are coming from something lacking in us, or in someone else, rather than from an unmet need that can be addressed if it is understood.

EGP 2.1 Nonviolent Communication

The example I gave in the video is rather mundane (although these small conflicts can certainly snowball and be meaningful on their own), but Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is also a tool that can be used in more severe situations. The key is that when we use this process, we are listening for unmet needs and the associated feelings when entering into a compassionate conflict resolution. Sometimes having this formula to refer to when my nerves are fired up and my head is reeling, allows me to take a step back (think patterns to details) from the passion of the moment. I can then consider what’s around me (observe, then interact), which on its own has been valuable in my experience with NVC.

NVC can also be used in positive situations. Giving praise can be as empty as a voice of anger, from the listening end, if the praise lacks a specific observation. For instance, instead of saying “great job” to my students, without a clear reference to what’s so great about their job well done, I start with an observation, then my feeling: “The neatly woven string on your net shows me that you’re being careful in your work. I’m glad to see that our time together has been meaningful.”

Lucy Leu has written a wonderful NVC workbook that I highly recommend exploring. I’ve included one of her exercises in the worksheet for you to practice following this subtopic.

​There are many possible situations where NVC can be used, from preschool classrooms to conflict resolution between leaders of countries, or between community members with a very real need for shelter and nourishment addressing those with power to provide it. If you have the space to do so, please check out some videos of NVC workshops. I’ve provided links to some useful videos and resources in the extended reading section.


One of the essential components of effective NVC is that all parties involved are able to hear each other (sign-language included!). This is no simple task, and again, is something that we’re not generally taught in school. Hearing is a real foundation for all of the techniques I discuss in this subtopic. One of the practices that I have found to be very helpful for developing listening and hearing and co-creative upliftment skills is co-counseling.

Co-counseling is a method of alternative, peer counseling that considers language carefully. It assumes that we are all good in our core, but have had experiences in our lives that may have resulted in unfortunate outcomes. It is a method of connecting with our inner patterns and the influence of our past. It is being gentle with those observations as we discharge some of that buildup of past trauma that our bodies carry. If we don’t have an opportunity to release some build up of unexpressed hurt, this can really accumulate over time. As children, when we’ve not yet been conditioned to quiet or suppress those feelings, we express them openly in our screams and cries. When co-counseling, the counselor is in a position to remind the client that they are essentially good. Those reminders of our authentic beauty provide a space for upliftment and self-awareness.

Co-counseling is essentially egalitarian in that each person involved is both counselor and client, and equal time is shared in these roles. When practicing co-counseling, each participant is expected to maintain complete confidentiality, and because each person involved participates in this deep sharing, trust is built in a very profound way.

I’ve included a video in the resources section of two people sitting together discussing co-counseling that is informative. I also include a link to a worldwide co-counseling network where you can find other people in your community who co-counsel.

EGP 2.2 Co-counseling

​Some of the take-home elements of co-counseling that are useful in group settings are:

  • The importance of sharing time deliberately.
  • Ways that we can encourage expression (allowing for “wait time”, considering embedded history and trauma).
  • The need to remind ourselves and each other of our authentic beauty. This is a great starting place for gaining a sense of what your role might be in any given group: What do you bring to the group that will serve a commonly held goal?

Restorative justice

“In 1994, when the genocide ended, …the government of Rwanda came up with this idea to resuscitate a traditional judicial system known as Gacaca. Gacaca is a community-based judicial system …Most important is that Gacaca emphasized Rwanda’s traditional philosophy of reconciliation and reintegration, as against the whole punitive and banishment idea that undergirds present-day Western style.” 
– Chika Ezeanya-Esiobu

EGP 2.3 Restorative Justice

Restorative justice isn’t a new idea. It has been one of the foundation stones of several cultures for millennia, in particular in civilisations across the African continent. Chika Ezeanya-Esiobu describes how in Rwanda, following the genocide, the decision was taken to return to their pre-colonial system of restorative justice because they realised that they needed to find a way of living together again.

Restorative justice practices also offer tools that can be carried to a number of group settings and purposes. It overlaps with what we’ve learned about NVC and co-counseling. Restorative justice shifts the roles of perpetrator vs. victim to one of sharing and hearing and healing each other in community.

A facilitator will first meet with each person involved in the conflict. A meeting time is set for everyone to attend and move through a process with that facilitator. The feelings and needs and patterns of the past and present systems are uncovered, good reasons for the conflict to have occurred are explored, and next steps, similar to those NVC requests, are established.

In restorative justice circles, we step away from the common practice of doing something negative as a punishment to the perpetrator. We enter into a practice of doing something positive to meet the needs of the people harmed by the crime (including perpetrator, victim, and others in the community).The three essential components here are:mutual understanding, self-responsibility, and agreed-upon actions.

​In restorative justice, as in co-counseling and NVC, the following tools for listening and hearing may be employed:

  • Paraphrasing, or hearing back what the person has said. For instance, asking another group member to share what they heard the person say, perhaps hearing the person’s feelings and needs (as in NVC) in their statement.
  • Using a talking stick to give everyone a chance to share. A talking stick may be a feather, a stone, or any object that carries meaning and purpose for egalitarian opportunity to engage. Group participants may of course opt out of sharing by passing the talking stick.
  • Finding common resolution can often be effectively achieved by including a facilitator role in the group. This is someone who is familiar with the tools associated with these methods, and can help to ensure compassionate communication throughout the process.
  • Balancing. Often discussions will follow the lead of the first, usually more confident and privileged people who speak. A facilitator can use balancing questions to invite contradicting or unexpressed points of view. “Are there any other ways to look at this situation?” or “We’ve already heard about proposal A and proposal B, are there any other suggestions?”
  • Encouraging. Seating people in a circle can encourage input from all members of a group, but for larger groups this may be unachievable. In situations like these it is even more important to use encouraging prompts which invite more people to participate in a discussion. “A lot of women have been talking, let’s hear from the men” or “Does anyone have a personal experience they are happy to share?”

Watch this short video to hear another perspective on compassionate communication.

​Assembling, participating, and processing in groups

In this section, we’ll work through the process of organizing a group, defining roles, and enacting egalitarian group processes aimed at achieving several possible goals.

Before opening an egalitarian group, it’s helpful to spend some time getting to know yourself and your goals in holding the group gathering. Bringing awareness to your own tendencies and habits can help guide the way to identifying your own role in this process.

EGP 3.1 honoring our differences

There are lots of tools that have been used for self discovery. 

The Myers-Briggs personality test is one that is commonly referenced in this part of the world. I’ve provided a link to a Myers-Briggs online test you can take for free to explore that more. This operates in a binary fashion, with four sets of binaries: introvert-extrovert, intuitive-sensing, thinking-feeling, and judging-perceiving. After you take the online quiz and gain a sense of each of these binaries in yourself, consider how your expression of these binaries is portrayed in a group setting

Another self-discovery tool, one that is much older and more multidimensional and multicultural, is called the Enneagram. An Enneagram is a 9-pointed star. This 9-pointed star is an ancient concept map of how people relate to one another, what guides each of us and what’s behind that motivating force. There are online quizzes for the Enneagram, but rather than allowing a quiz to put you in a box, it’s recommended you start by reading about each of the 9 points of the star, to begin to discover what box you put yourself in. Then you work your way out of that box. 

​In the Enneagram, each of us contains a little of each number, but you may find yourself drawn to one or two of the numbers more than others. I’ll avoid saying the one-word titles associated with each number, since a one-word descriptor does not serve to describe the complexity within each type. A few books that are excellent resources for learning about and using the Enneagram are listed in the resources for this section.

What does this have to do with group processes? 

If you’ve ever been in a group setting and noticed that some people tend to be comfortable speaking and others listening, or that some people are motivated to explore ideas while others are interested in arriving at conclusions, then you know that we’re all different on the inside. This is not for better or for worse, but in ways that we can put to work effectively or ineffectively, just as in a garden where the right mix and roles of plants and other organisms can be mutually beneficial if organized mindfully.

In the same way, who we welcome (or neglect to welcome) into a group, whether for planning, organizing, idea generating or otherwise, can have a tremendous impact on the function and diversity of perspectives in the group.

Who A.R.E. I.N.? 

One of the conceptual tools that I’ve learned from other participatory group organizers is the acronym Who A.R.E. I.N.?

A. who has authority on the subject or process you’re focusing on?

R. who has resources relevant to your work?

E. who has experience?

I. who has the information you need?

N. stands for need, knowledge, and know-how.

This may refer to the people in need of hearing about or participating in the work because they will benefit from or be impacted from the work, or because they have a related need regarding your process. In all of these roles, be mindful of the diversity of perspective (P.). It is well documented that when groups contain greater cultural diversity, more innovative and diverse solutions result, and problems may be solved more effectively.​

In sum, we can have a group when we acknowledge and embrace our differences, and empower one another with the skills and knowledge needed to carry out our group roles effectively. 


Sociocracy, also known as Dynamic Governance processes, is a whole systems governance method that can make collaboration, self-organization, and distributed authority both practical and effective. It is based on transparency, inclusiveness, and accountability. Essentially, it is governance by those who associate together, similar to “do-ocracy”, i.e. those who do or are involved with a given task are those who make decisions about said task. Sociocracy does utilize consent in decision-making, which might bring up some questions. Do consent processes work? When do they work? And how? Watch a video on sociocracy here.

An effective sociocratic process first depends on an idea that we’ve touched on before, that we must begin with the end in mind: What is the purpose and what are the goals of the project? Once this is established, we can work collaboratively toward a common goal. This is so often overlooked, and so critically important to making real a common vision

EGP 3.2 sociocracy/ dynamic governance

As a review, equivalence of voice in sociocracy is enacted with the talking stick method (go-around), and with a sequence of decision-making steps: 

  1. Picture forming or gathering of ideas. Picture forming can be done in a multitude of ways. You may have each participant do personal writing of their ideas first. This is also one way to empower those who are less vocal to feel comfortable expressing their ideas. Group members may post their written ideas via sticky notes to pre-defined groups of ideas, or grouping of ideas can happen after the sticky notes have been posted as a practice of convergent thinking.
  2. Proposal shaping or convergent thinking is the next step from this convergent thinking process. By seeking similarities between ideas, and using the listening and hearing techniques described earlier and in the module handouts, the creative and open-ended beginning step can be focused into a mutually agreeable proposal.
  3. Decision-making using proposals with go-arounds of reactions and clarifications is the final step in this process. Once any needed changes have been made, a go-around for full agreement, consent, or non-consent (in a range of tolerance) is offered. If full consent is not achieved, another round of amendments can be made through this adaptive feedback cycle until a decision is reached. 

The critical piece of this method working is that the multiple working groups involved in a broader project are connected, so rather than 50 people going through the process of consent, 5 groups of 10 are each reaching consent on decisions that are most closely related to their work.

Through the process of double-linking, two members of each smaller group form a home group to review the big picture and ensure that everyone is informed and on board. An image showing this group structure is provided in the module materials, and its patterns are very much representative of the biomimicry we apply.


Whether or not you choose to use dynamic governance processes, there are a number of group situations that you’ve likely encountered before that can impede on a group’s effective functioning. So this last video is meant as a troubleshooting guide, drawn from Technologies of Participation, NVC, and other facilitation processes that I’ve explored.

EGP3.3 troubleshooting & wrap up

Some simple techniques for deliberate time sharing and co-creation:

​Part of my life work is spending time with young people sharing our curiosity and wonder. With young people, it’s easy to understand that these folks may not have yet learned the art of sharing time in conversation. A lot of the methods I use in the classroom for this purpose, to both uplift, encourage, and engage all learners in a group, can be used in other group settings as well.

​We discussed the use of a talking stick, but what if someone is taking advantage of the talking stick? I’ve certainly seen this happen, often with one or two of the kids I work with who are in need of extra attention. They hold onto the talking stick, knowing it focuses everyone’s attention on themselves, but without recognition that the talking stick may also allow others to speak freely when time is short. This is one occasion when a facilitator can be very useful to respectfully and gently guide the person with the talking stick to be mindful of the rest of the group, and consider passing the stick. 

Another tool for allowing each person a voice without heavily weighting some voices, is to use a bell or timer. Lots of meditation apps on phones have wonderful bell timers that cue to the speaker that it’s time to move on, while they can feel free to finish their thought/sentence without a harsh alarm. Keep in mind, while that child who needs extra attention is asked to participate mindfully with the talking stick, those needs are real and may need to be addressed in some other creative ways (perhaps with co-counseling or a restorative justice circle).

Alternatively, speaking up in the whole group may not be everyone’s forte, but providing opportunities for each person to contribute in other ways can help keep everyone at the table.

​A segment of time may be dedicated to writing or drawing ideas related to a certain question or decision (think of sociocracy’s picture forming stage), and those written or drawn contributions may be shared by a single leader (with room for clarification), or shared individually by the author or another member of the group.

Another activity I use in the classroom is called think-pair-share. This activity starts by allowing some quiet time for each person to think about the question or decision at hand. They then pair with someone else or in a smaller group to discuss their thoughts.

Finally, they come back together in the whole group to share ideas that came forward individually and in small groups. This allows for each person, introverts and extroverts alike, to have an opportunity to be heard. This is also an example of a technique used for convergent thinking.

Get this poster and a bunch of other really cool ones at

You can think of convergent thinking as similar to the way the sociocratic process moves from the big picture to a narrowed decision that includes and engages each participant. Groups often experience divergent thinking where multiple ideas exist without a clear place for coming together/agreement. This is a great place to start, but it’s easy to get stuck there. Instead, we might go from listing ideas in the group, to figuring out how these ideas could converge or work together so that everyone’s needs are met.

One way I like to do this is with concept mapping or opportunity mapping. If you’ve ever drawn a concept map, this is a similar method, except you’re creating a concept map as a group with each person’s voice included. You can begin by sharing ideas (this works especially well with post-it notes or small pieces of paper with tape that each describe an idea or message), and then you organize those ideas based on a larger conceptual framework. When I’ve done this process with groups of high school agriculture teachers, who are collaborating to find ways to integrate agroforestry content into their program, we use a few different concept map centers.

These centers or focus areas can be identified ahead of time. They are the main questions or topics upon which your idea generating is based. A few examples of what this can look like are provided in the images for this section. On a big poster paper or white/black board, ask each person to tape or stick their written/drawn ideas into the appropriate place, drawing lines to make connections to the center focus question. Once everyone has placed their notes, have one or a few people, depending on the group and concept map scale, stay at the front to facilitate further reorganization of ideas. The sociocracy practice of using a series of go-rounds, or a talking stick that can be passed around, is very helpful in this stage. A scale of priority and do-ability is also a great tool at this organizing stage (see example in images).

After this group conceptualizing process has had some time to ferment, you may find your group is ready to make a proposal (the next step in the sociocratic process). Remember also that these things take time. Be patient with the process, and when possible, sitting with a number of proposals between meetings can provide for critical reflection time (just as moments of silence in conversation are opportunities for deeper thinking and hearing).

Another tool that very much mirrors the sociocratic process and some of our compassionate communication processes towards convergent thinking is ORID focused conversation. ORID is an acronym that stands for objective (facts, data, senses), reflective (feelings, reactions, highs/lows), interpretive (drawing out meaning, what was learned ‘so what?’), and decision (what will you do about it? ‘Now what?’). As you can see, this is almost an exact mirror of the NVC process of OFNR, but for use in a group setting where a convergent process is needed to make a collective decision.

Another troubleshooting area that is worth addressing is the difficulty that we humans may feel in accepting criticism as an individual or as a group. Accepting feedback is a critical part of learning and growing. One formalized tool for giving and receiving constructive feedback is called ritual dissent (and assent). In this process, an idea or proposal is presented and the speaker subsequently turns their back (no eye contact) while participants offer critical feedback (dissent) in the first round, and alternative proposals (assent) in the second round. A timer is generally used in this process both for the speaker’s proposal and for the participants’ feedback. The intention of this ritual is to enable deeper listening by removing visual stimulation between group members and to de-personalize criticism. On its own I don’t believe this process is enough, but as a tool to be used within a larger decision-making process, it can certainly be helpful.

Appreciative inquiry (AI) may challenge ritual dissent to be focused on positive change. Just as the ascent phase of the ritual focuses on positive alternatives, AI suggests that rather than framing our group work around what isn’t working to change from the negative, we should start with what is working to grow in a positive direction. You can read more about appreciative inquiry in the extended resources. Again, group processes, whether for compassionate communication or for decision-making and strategizing, each have their place. I encourage you to experiment with these tools, to play with them and learn from what emerges in various scenarios. Perhaps an appreciative inquiry model is needed in a group environment that has become bogged down by negativity. Perhaps a thorough criticism of the way things are moving is a necessary step for your group. Take some time to consider where your group stands, where the group has been, and where it would like to go. Just as in the sociocratic model, starting with common goals is critical to achieve common destinations.

When there are more people in a group than the group has time to acknowledge and hear, breaking into smaller groups to confer as separate bodies is very useful (also used in sociocracy). There are also times when you may want a more open group exchange, in these contexts an approach such as Open Space Technology may help.. Open Space Technology (OST) is a wonderful device for these situations that essentially mirrors the energy at a coffee break where people are finding each other based on common interests and goals (following the natural patterns in us). In my community here in Columbia, we’ve used open space technology to put on a series of unconferences loosely organized at the start of the event by inviting each attendee to select a time block to share their skills and wisdom.

During the opening session we share one of the most important rules of OST: The rule of two feet. This rule is meant to encourage participants to use their two feet to move to the place where they will be fully engaged. If you are not engaged go find some other place to be fully participating, whether that’s a different workshop room, the kitchen for a snack, or a quiet space for personal reflection. I like to think of this rule in my own life too, if I’m not where I feel most alive in this moment, where else could I find that?

As you can see, egalitarian group processes can look different in each context, depending on the situation at hand, the people involved, the scale of the group, the intentions of your coming together, and both the collective and individual needs. I hope that with this short introduction to group processes you’ll find yourself more ready to apply these skills to your life and work.

Remember, this (linear) ORID model can be used in a spiral process, transitioning from the decision/action back to observations, reflections, and interpretations for a continuous adaptive feedback loop. The Appreciative Inquiry loop fits rather well with an open feedback approach. The key here is that there is a concrete question or focus area (define), opportunity for observations to be shared (discovery), reflection (dream), clarification, interpretation (design), and decision-making.  


Questions for Review

  1. What comes to mind when you hear the word egalitarian? Specifically, what situations in your own life seemed to be very much, or not at all, in line with egalitarian ideals? From this reflection, how would you define egalitarian in the context of group processes?
  2. How do you carry the ethics of ecological design into your interactions with people in your community? Select at least 3 of the principles you learned in this course. Describe how they relate to human ecosystems and social examples from your own experience or new understanding.
  3. NVC practice: Think of a conflict, however small, that you are currently experiencing in your life with another person or people. Work through the OFNR process by completing the following statements:
    A. When I see that (observation without evaluation) ________, I feel _____________, because my need for _______________ is/is not met.
    B. Would you be willing to (be clear, present request)_____________________________?
  4. After reading about each of the 9 Enneagram types and Myers-Briggs binaries, consider where you find yourself in this matrix. What aspects of these personality maps do you associate with most, and how do you think these basic motivations and tendencies affect the way you behave in groups? If you like you can take a Myers-Briggs or an Enneagram Test.
  5. Using an example of a project or organization in your life, Who ARE IN (+P)? Who is missing from that circle currently that you might invite based on this model?
  6. Think of a situation in which you have been part of a group decision-making process. What is/are/were the underlying purpose(s) of your coming together? Describe a few ways that the group succeeded in working in an egalitarian, participatory, collaborative way. Describe a few ways that the group could have improved its process. Provide enough detail so that the lessons learned from your practice are clear enough to refer to for others.

Recommended Hands-On

  • Participate in a group. If you have an opportunity to go step by step through the process of forming a group for your design or a community project, consider who should be included in the group, what the short-term goals or long-term purpose of the group are, and bring these ideas to the group at the onset.
  • Hold a group meeting using tools that you’ve gathered in this module. What egalitarian group processes and communication techniques did you find most useful for your group? What would you like to try differently next time? What barriers do you still feel uncertain about?
  • Attend and observe a group. If you are not currently participating in an intentional group, you may also choose to observe a group process. This could be a city council meeting, a participatory workshop or class, or a group that you’ve been curious about but would like to learn more before becoming involved. Attend the meeting and give your attention to the way the individuals are arranged, the way the space affects behaviors and attitudes, the roles that each group member undertakes, whether specified/identified or not. What communication patterns do you notice that may help or hinder empowerment of each member of the group?
  • Use one or more of the processes outlined in this module to organize a working group. How did it go?
  • Join a co-counseling group in your area, or start one!
  • Pay attention: Whose needs are being met in your group? Whose needs are not being met?
  • Bring a talking stick to the dinner table to see how it changes the dynamics of the conversation. How does it feel?
  • Attend a nonviolent communication workshop.
  • Be mindful of multitasking while conversing: Check yourself that you’re fully present.
  • Check out this toolbox: Working with Communities and experiment with the techniques.