So you're meeting up as a group! Right from the off, it's worth taking time to reflect on where you are starting from - and how things are progressing.
As passionate people who want the world to be better, we often forget to take stock and see how far we've come, and how much we're changing.
This page provides useful starter-tools to help you take stock as individuals and as a group. What's most alive? What's "stuck"? What's shifting? And what impact have you already had, or are you benefitting from - however big or small? The author and activist Rebecca Solnit sums up the importance of asking these kinds of questions in her wonderful book Hope in the Dark:
BASIC PERSONAL EMPOWERMENT TRACKER
This worksheet offers a helpful prompt to capture your changing sense of Engagement, Power, Wellbeing, Community and Impact. Refer to it before each meet-up, and then again in the final part of your gathering - or afterwards.
Prefer to work more visually? Use the prompts in the worksheet to doodle or create a simple photo collage from old magazines which describes how you're progressing - or take ideas from Sarah Corbett's How to Be A Craftivist book or website.
My Changemaker History - a worksheet
You may not think of yourself as a change-maker, but if you’ve ever taken action out of a desire for the greater good, you are.
Use ANY of the prompts in this visual worksheet to reflect on your own unique change-maker history / story to date - and/or talk it through in small groups (allow at least 15 mins each). The worksheet encourages you to reflect on: the people who've inspired you; your beliefs about how change happens; what has worked or hindered you in the past, and more...
GROUP HEALTH CHECK
For regular use in your group, to check on what’s working and what could improve.
It’s easy to fall into “group dynamics” in any group (patterns of relating to each other and ourselves) and not question whether they are working for your shared purpose. Use any of the questions in the Health Check tool to stay aware of what’s happening unseen in the room - and make it better. For fun: why not cut the questions out and pull some at random from a “health check hat”?
BODY BASED REFLECTIONS
This may seem obvious to some, and weird to others: but we believe that our physical bodies hold clues about how we understand and relate to the world. For example, if I have a headache, it may well be my body's way of trying to tell me something about how I am experiencing the world outside my head.
The simple practices listed below are designed to help individuals and groups tap into what our bodies know about creating change, which our minds might not have put into language. It can be a rich source of insight, and worth playing with. If you're less comfortable with body learning, a simple rule is not to worry about getting it "wrong" or overthink it! This ain't gym class.
If you have other accessible body-based reflection ideas to share, please let us know and we'll think about listing them here.
With credit to The Presencing Institute.
Purpose: This simple exercise can help you connect intuitively with things that might be preventing you making progress with a problem, action or conversation - either personally or as a community/group/village etc.
- Think of a situation in which you (or a collective) is "stuck".
- Find a few meters of space to move freely around in. Without thinking about it (trust your body's instincts): create and hold a body shape which in some way represents how that "stuck" situation looks or feels like. Some groups prefer to take this stage in turns, and let others say what they see or feel in each representation (sadness, confusion, fear, joy)... before moving privately on to the next step.
- Slowly over 5-10 minutes move further into the position/shape you have made. Intensify it. Let it follow its natural course and notice what happens. This isn't acting. Don't pre-determine what your body will do. Just let the fullness of your "stuck" situation take its course, as a bodily representation. If you feel heavy, or divided, or light... what happens if you get heavier, or more divided, or lighter?
- You will typically find your body changing its shape - sometimes in very small ways, sometimes dramatically or uncomfortably.
- Keep going until your body comes to a rest. Invariably it will refuse to stay stuck and transform itself somehow. What hidden insights might your body be revealing about your situation, or how you might move beyond it?
- If you want to, gather back into your group and share what came up for you. If nothing obvious happened, don't worry!