Join IAF facilitators & friends for regular facilitation meetups in London and elsewhere

IAF EMENA meetupPlease take a moment to join IAF London facilitators and friends for free on MeetUp, in order to join IAF facilitators & friends for regular facilitation meetups in London – or now also join IAF South West England facilitators and friends and IAF North of England facilitators and friends, and please contact me if you are interested in helping to establish a sister group for the English Midlands or for Wales!

I have recently taken over the role of meetup group organiser from IAF England & Wales Chair Julia Goga-Cooke, who has been our meetup group organiser for the past two years. Thanks are due to her, and to IAF Europe MENA Director Martin Farrell, who has hosted our monthly meetups at Connexions Trafalgar Square until now.

Julia & Martin were both ready to be relieved of their responsibilities for the group, so with their support I have identified some new venues near me in Kings Cross, which I hope others will find convenient as well, and I have scheduled a new pattern of meetups for the new year – starting now.  Thanks to the continued sponsorship of IAF, they will all remain entirely free – to IAF members and non-members alike.

Please also take a look at our upcoming meetups, outlined below and in detail on meetup, and RSVP now for those that you plan to attend.

chaosThursday 12 November, 6-8pm will see the last of the monthly Informal networking & sharing meetup that we have been running for two years on the second Thursday evening of each month. For this month only I have booked the meeting room at the Travelodge Kings Cross Royal Scot Hotel, as we have 11 already booked and a presentation from Sheila & Christopher Cooke of 5Deep on “Facilitating Through Chaos”.

IAF coffee cupWednesday 2 December, 8.30-9.30am will see the first of a new monthly Morning coffee meetup, on the first Wednesday morning of every month. I have scheduled the first at Half Cup, midway between Kings Cross and Euston. For future morning meetups I’ll welcome suggestions of other coffee shops elsewhere – somewhere different every month, or Half Cup if that works well enough. I’ll be glad to start earlier or stay later if that would suit others better.

IAF wine glassMonday 14 December, 6-8pm will see the first of a new bi-monthly Informal networking and social meetup, over drinks and/or food in a pub, cafe or restaurant on the 3rd Monday evening of every other month (except for this first one on December 14) . For this first one I shall book a table at the dining room of the spacious Parcel Yard gastropub within Kings Cross station.  For future evenings I’ll welcome offers from others to book us anywhere else in London that you want to suggest – we could meet somewhere different every time, or we could continue with the Parcel Yard.

IAFEMENA15 chaptersTuesday 19 January, 2-6pm will see the first of a more substantial bi-monthly Networking and learning meetup, for four hours on the 3rd Tuesday afternoon of every other month (alternating with the Monday evening social meetups). For these I have prebooked the meeting room of the Calthorpe Project community centre on Grays Inn Road, overlooking the community garden.

I hope that these meetups will allow time and space for us to demonstrate, practice and experiment with our facilitation together, and share feedback on that, as well as share presentations and support through discussion as we have been doing on our monthly Thursday evenings to date. I hope that the timing and location might also attract and enable people to travel from outside of London to join us as well – even from neigbouring IAF groups in Scotland, Paris or Brussels (we will be a 10 minute walk from the Eurostar terminal). There are of course plenty of pubs and restaurants nearby for those wishing to continue informally afterwards over food or drink, including a great value pre-7pm menu at the Union Taven.

IAFEMENA15 story tellingI have also suggested a one-day annual conference, perhaps during International Facilitation Week 2016 next October; and a CPF assessment event for IAF Certified Professional Facilitator candidates.  If we have enough CPF candidates for an assessment in London then that can be arranged with IAF, and we could even arrange some meetup support for candidates as they prepare their applications and portfolios.

Please contact me if you have any questions or other suggestions, or if you are interested to join me as a co-organiser of the London group – to share the leadership, to help to attract people to attend, present and facilitate at events, and to schedule any additional events.

For those based elsewhere in England & Wales, please join IAF South West England facilitators and friends and IAF North of England facilitators and friends, and please contact me if you are interested in helping to establish a sister group for the English Midlands or for Wales.

Finally, please let me know also if you are an IAF member and interested in joining the IAF England & Wales leadership team, as there are also vacancies for that. There is surely potential for further local activity beyond these meetup groups so, if you have ideas and are ready to help to make them happen, please step forward!

Join us now to RSVP for upcoming events, and for news and updates on future events.  I hope to see you soon!

ICAI Winds and Waves – facilitating new directions

This article was first published in ICAI Winds and Waves, April 2013.

Winds and Waves April 2013Welcome to this new issue of Winds & Waves, the online magazine of ICA International, on the theme of change and new directions.

Inside you will find stories of some of the change that ICAs around the world are enabling in the communities and organisations that they work with, including in the USA, Spain, Ukraine, India, Guatemala and Chile.  Also you will find stories of some of the change that ICAs themselves are undertaking within their own organisations, including in Togo, the UK and Peru.  You will also find news, reviews and feature articles, including from the new book of long-time ICA colleague Jean Houston. I hope you will find plenty to interest you, and to spark ideas for your own work and change in your own locations and in collaboration with others elsewhere.  I am grateful to the virtual global editorial team, and to all of our contributors, for so generously sharing their time, expertise, experience and ideas with us all.

ICA International is itself entering a period of significant change and development, with a new global Board in place since January and a new business plan for the new year.   I am grateful also to my predecessor as President Larry Philbrook of ICA Taiwan, and to other ICAI Board members past and present, for volunteering their time and leadership to help to shape and guide the development of our global network.  As a result of their sound management and leadership over the past years, the ICAI Board has been able to engage with members and colleagues over recent months to develop ambitious plans for strengthening and growing the ICA worldwide network this year.  You will find news of these developments also inside, and the Board would welcome your questions and feedback, and most of all your involvement.

Since my own ICA work has been mostly focused on the UK context in recent years, it has been exciting and energising for me to reconnect and re-engage internationally with ICA colleagues more in this new role, especially when I have had the opportunity to do so face to face – at the ICA global conference in Kathmandu last October, and at the ICA European Interchange in Paris in March.  Our virtual connections are also growing ever stronger. Our first online regional gatherings of the global network this year, in March, were also a real highlight for me.  Do please join us for the next regional gatherings in July.

The role of ICAI in the ICA global network is to facilitate and communicate ‘peer to peer’ support and collaboration among ICAs and ICA colleagues – in pursuit of our shared mission “to empower, through methods and values, an authentic and sustainable transformation of individuals, communities and organizations.”  I hope that this magazine may do something to help strengthen your international connections and collaborations.  Please do let us know how it does, and how it might better do so.

ICAI online regional gatherings facilitate peer to peer support and collaboration

This article was reprinted in ICA:UK Network News, issue 49 and ICAI Winds and Waves, issue 3.

fuller world mapICA International is the international body for the global network of the Institute of Cultural Affairs, with member organisations and related organisations and groups in over 40 countries worldwide.  Increasingly online gatherings are playing a key role in facilitating peer to peer support and collaboration among ICAs and ICA colleagues, within and across regions.  ICAI convenes online regional gatherings three times per year, for three regional time zone groups – Asia/Pacific, the Americas, and Europe/MENA/Africa.

These regional gatherings are open to all ICA members, staff and volunteers worldwide, and people are welcome to attend another region’s gathering if they cannot attend their own.  The first gatherings of 2013 were held March 25 & 26, and attracted 25 people from 17 countries.

The aims of the gatherings are to connect ICAs and ICA colleagues with each other, and help to build & strengthen relationships between them; to share information and facilitate peer-to-peer support and collaboration among ICAs and ICA colleagues; and to hold ICAI accountable to its members, and seek input & support to strengthen our global network and advance our global mission.

The agenda this time included introductions, activity reports with questions and discussion, a brief review of the new 2013-14 ICAI business plan and a preview of draft plans for a global ICA network survey, and a closing reflection.

Topics of discussion emerging from the reports shared this time included:

  • New groups emerging in France and Colombia, and ICAs re-emerging in Guatemala, Croatia and Brazil
  • Peer to peer support & collaboration between UK & Spain, Taiwan & France, Japan & India, Tanzania & Canada, Cote D’Ivoire & Japan, Taiwan & China, Chile & Colombia, Guatemala & Chile, UK & Togo, Brazil & Colombia…
  • New projects and achievements in Ukraine, Spain, Kenya, Zimbabwe, USA, Nepal, Peru, Guatemala…
  • The face-to-face annual ICA European interchange held in Paris earlier in March
  • Translation of curriculum and materials into French and Russian
  • The impact of financial constraints on programmes and operating structures , and the challenge of sustaining core funding & sales of services
  • Challenges of defining and communicating identity, mission & strategy, sustaining focus on both local and global priorities and managing skills development & transition of people
  • Developing relations between ICA and IAF
  • Global co-ordination on ToP facilitation and training, as more and more markets overlap
  • A proposed new ICA Americas network for sustainable development
  • Proposals for international ToP facilitation training of training initiatives in Europe and in Latin America
  • Confirmation that  ICAI’s UN consultative status remains valid with ECOSOC, FAO and UNESCO
  • Draft plans and questions for a thorough survey of the global ICA network, to gather & share basic information as a platform for expanding peer to peer support & collaboration

Reflections from those participating in the gatherings included:

  • Very good facilitation
  • Great conversations before and during the call
  • Ran smoothly – a good survey of what others are doing at their ICAs
  • Appreciated quick introductions with what people are currently doing/thinking about
  • Great to connect with you all
  • The ICAI business plan is broad enough ,and yet specific enough to measure what you plan to be doing
  • Great UN status report and actions already moved forward
  • Adobe Connect is excellent
  • Great to hear what is going on, and to think about potential partnerships
  • Great to talk, listen and exchange ideas
  • The technology is great and ever easier to use.  VERY well organized meeting!
  • It would be nice to have more present, especially from other countries – please all invite others to join next time!
  • Maybe a little more next time on brainstorming regional activities- what are clear regional next steps?
  • Need to look at topics across the regions as well as within regions – host meetings on ToP expansion, IToPToT etc.
  • Please all continue to connect with each other between meetings
  • THANK YOU all, good night, hasta luego!

A full transcript of the gatherings has been circulated – please ask if you’d like a copy.

The gatherings also provide a valuable opportunity for us all to develop our expertise in virtual meetings and virtual facilitation, to the benefit of our work with clients and partners as well as with each other.  They are held using Adobe Connect online meeting software, which has been adopted as the platform of choice for many virtual ToP facilitators.  Each meeting is preceded by some time for orientation to the technology for newcomers, and for additional technical support for those that need it.

ICAI is grateful for the technical support volunteered by the US-based Sisters of Virtual Facilitation in developing and hosting these gatherings over recent years.  The online training in virtual ToP facilitation offered by ICA USA (the ‘bootcamp’) is highly recommended for anyone interested in a more thorough grounding in the tools and skills – details are at www.ica-usa.org.

If you weren’t able to join the March gatherings, please do look out for the next in July and try to join us then.  Please also let me or another ICAI Board member know if there is anything that we can do to make these online regional gatherings more valuable and accessible to you.

Imaginal Learning- Focusing Images to Enhance Learning and Facilitation

Imaginal LearningHere is a great opportunity to attend this advanced Technology of Participation (ToP) facilitation training in Europe, with guest trainer Larry Philbrook of ICA Taiwan (also former President of ICA International). Many thanks to Larry, and to ToP trainer colleague Lan Levy of Coactiv in Paris who is hosting the course (and who hosted last week’s ICA European Interchange in Paris)

The course will be delivered in English in central Paris on 17-18 June. For further details and bookings, click on the image above or visit Coactiv.

This course covers ICA’s Image Theory and it’s application to group facilitation, as does the Power of Image course hosted in recent years by ICA:UK. I would recommend it particularly to anyone who is familiar with ICA’s foundational Group Facilitation Methods and wants to take their understanding and practice to a deeper level.

Café, croissant and facilitation – and balancing the social process in Paris

This article was reprinted in ICA:UK Network News, issue 49 and ICAI Winds and Waves, issue 3.ParisThe annual ICA European Interchange is an informal face-to-face gathering for networking and mutual support, open to everyone with an interest in the Institute of Cultural Affairs in Europe. A total of 14 people from six countries participated in this year’s event, held from March 15-17 2013 in Paris.

The gathering was kindly hosted and led this year by Lan Levy, Technology of Participation (ToP) facilitator of www.coactiv.fr, in her office in central Paris. Lan also kept us well fuelled with café, croissant and pain au chocolat! Also from Paris were Lorraine Margherita, Pascal Dubois and Marc Enguix, recent graduates of Lan’s ToP training courses and members of her local facilitation community of practice. From Luxembourg was Elisabeth Wille, long-time Associate of ICA Belgium. From ICA Spain were Catalina Quiroz and Iman Moutaouakil. From ICA:UK were Alan, Shelley and Oliver Heckman, plus Derek McAuley and me (mostly this time from ICA International). Joining us briefly by Skype were John Miesen of ICA Australia and Linda Starodub in Austria.

We shared introductions, and reports on our last interchange in Vienna, and on the ICAI global conference and meetings in Nepal last October. In sharing reports on our ICAs and our own activities we noted many instances of beneficial past collaboration and mutual support, arising from previous interchanges and otherwise.  Among these were two joint EU-funded 5-day courses of ICA:UK and ICA Spain in the past year. After attending last year’s interchange and one of these courses, former ICA Croatia director Zlata Pavic has now begun work to re-activate ICA Croatia. Michael Pannwitz & Mia Konstantinidou of ICA Germany had facilitated strategic planning with ICA Netherlands, who have ToP courses now coming up in April.  Larry Philbrook of ICA Taiwan had led ToP courses in Paris with Lan, and will lead an Imaginal Learning course in Paris in June. I reported on my own collaboration with ICA Ukraine and ICA Tajikistan, in preparation for my ToP training at the IAF Russia conference in Moscow in April.

We looked in some depth at ToP training materials used in France and the UK, and how ToP had been applied to religious diversity training by ICA Spain in its EU-funded Belieforama project. We were excited to learn of Elisabeth’s work with EU institutions in Brussels and Luxembourg, and the opportunities she sees emerging there. We looked at the ICA International 2013-14 business plan that I had circulated globally a few days before, and reflected on the state and direction of our global ICA network and the role of Europe in it. We shared our own involvement and experience with IAF, the International Association of Facilitators, and our aspirations for that. We also enjoyed snails, tripe and other classic French dishes at dinner at a delightful local restaurant next to Lan’s apartment! Most of all, we drew from all of these discussions to identify numerous opportunities for further practical collaboration and mutual support.

A key thrust of our plans for future collaboration are to revisit previous plans for a European international ToP training of trainers programme, informed by our now greater experience of successful fundraising from the EU for such work.  We agreed to share and publicise our own and each other’s training schedules and training of trainer opportunities. We agreed to explore ways to engage further with ICA International, and with IAF, and to collaborate to deepen our understanding of ICA and ICA methods beyond ToP – for example by means of an online Courage To Lead study group.  We agreed to use the longstanding ICA Europe yahoogroup as a means of communication and a forum for exchange, so as engage as well with other ICA colleagues in Europe and beyond who were not present in Paris.

Although fewer ICAs were directly represented at this year’s interchange than in recent years, I myself was very excited by how the gathering seems to draw in new and returning people each year – and how each year we hear of more collaboration and support going on, and even greater appetite for more in the future.

A key insight for me in my role as ICAI President came in a side discussion with one of our new Paris colleagues, who seemed quite intrigued by what they learned of ICA.  I had briefly explained our historic global mission, and our name the Institute of Cultural Affairs, in relation to ICA’s Social Process Triangles model – as seeking to bring balance to the social process by strengthening the cultural, meaning-giving dynamic in society.  We had earlier been reflecting that perhaps too much of our attention, together in Paris and more broadly, was at the level of the business of facilitation and facilitation training rather than at the deeper level of mission, values and spirit. It occurred to me that in our own global network we might well conclude that we have allowed our economic dynamic to become dominant, the political to be allied to the economic, and the cultural to be collapsed. In contrast I suspect that in the 1970s and 80s, at the height of ICA’s global reach, we might conclude that the cultural dynamic was dominant and the economic collapsed in relation to it.  In recent years at the global level we have necessarily devoted much of our collective attention to the economic and political dynamics of our international network, and there remains much still to be done to put these on a strong and sustainable footing.  If we are to collaborate and support each other effectively to have impact at the global level, however, it will be the cultural dynamic that mobilises and sustains us in doing so. Details of ICA’s Social Process triangles can be found in ICA Canada’s ‘The Courage To Lead’.

We were all asked to write a few lines of text for Winds & Waves before we closed the meeting.  Reflections included:

  • Good time together, Stronger connection with ICA Europe. Practical actions to take forward. Thank you for coming! – Lan, Paris
  • Saturday I went to Paris and participated in part of the European Interchange. It was really a very inspiring day, lots of interesting project and nice to meet people from UK, Spain and France. Quite a lot is actually happening in France, very interesting! – Elisabeth, Luxembourg
  • First of all, I’m very glad and pleased to be in my first ICA European Interchange. It was really exciting and very interesting, gathering where we could know about each other in a personal and professional level. The most exciting point is that we created a great network in order to collaborate and participate all together.  There were a lot of new ideas and projects that were born in this gathering! I’m looking forward to start co-operation with all ICA members – Iman, ICA Spain
  • As a recent ToP student/trainee, I was invited to join the participants of the ICA European Interchange meeting for the 3rd and last day. I was happy to hear what other chapters of ICA in Europe are up to, and to learn more about the story of the organisation, its mission and values. It was great being part of the conversation about the ways ICAs could co-operate. We came up with practical ideas. I’m looking forward to sharing more ideas and insights with other ICA members throughout Europe – Lorraine, Paris
  • We had fun hanging out, building and sustaining relationships. We learned from and were inspired by each other. We made practical and realistic plans to keep doing things together and supporting each other – Alan, ICA:UK
  • It has been a very inspiring Paris gathering. Key information shared and reviewed for well-informed future decisions on a European and international level. Key questions raised about our mission and values beside the added value of ToP in our network. Great step in having ICAI’s ‘Plan de Trabajo’ in different languages! Very nice having French colleagues joining on Sunday and letting all of us refresh and learn more about ICA and our history – Catalina, ICA Spain
  • It was very interesting to see so much enthusiasm for learning and exchange in Europe for ICA values and ToP methods. Nice to see concrete actions coming out of three days of talking! – Shelley, ICA:UK
  • A very positive and action-oriented ICA Europe gathering in Paris.  Good to meet new people and look to the future – Derek, ICA:UK
  • A great day with wide open minds and ideas to contribute to an enthusiastic human-oriented project! With enthusiastic people and a lot of energy. Big action plan and quite exciting possibilities
  • Meeting nice people. Impressed by the process to handle the implementation part of the meeting. Long way to go…

Many thanks indeed to Lan and everyone for a great event!

Anyone wishing to connect with the ICA European network is invited to email ICAEurope-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.

ICA International Board update, March 2013

ICAI Global BuzzThis post was first published in ICAI’s monthly bulletin, the Global Buzz.

The ICAI Board has met three times in January & February. Much of our time has been spent developing our new 2013-14 business plan, in consultation with numerous members and volunteers.  This is now about to be circulated in English, French & Spanish – please ask if you would like a copy, and please let us know if you have any questions or feedback.  In the process of these meetings we we have been establishing our meeting practices, including use of technology and formats of agendas, reports and minutes.

We have been able to use the @ica-international.org domain to establish new ICAI email addresses for all Board members and an email list for the Board.  We have now also established an ICAI email list for the global network of ICAs, with over 100 ICA represenatives in over 40 countries, to facilitate dialogue among and between ICAs.  Having overcome some technical hurdles, we are now in a position to establish lists also for the conference teams wishing to continue their dialogue by email after the Nepal conference.

We have submitted overdue reports in order to maintain and update ICAI’s UN consultative status with ECOSOC, and we have confirmed that ICAI’s consultative status remains valid with FAO and UNESCO as well.

We have agreed with ICA Nepal to make it’s new book Changing Lives Changing Societes available globally on a print-on-demand basis via Amazon and other channels, and will be arranging that soon.  In the meantime copies are available from the USA via Ebay.

We are now making preparations to survey the network over the coming months in order to update basic data on the current status and activities of ICAs worldwide, as a baseline for further supporting peer-to-peer activities within the network.  As we do that we will also be inviting ICAs to pay annual dues for 2013 to renew their membership with ICAI, and to participate in the first online regional gatherings of the year, on March 25-26.

Martin will be attending the ICA European Interchange in Paris, March 15-17, and hosting online sessions for those who would like to connect virtually – if you are interested to do that please contact Martin.

We are also beginning to work with ICA Canada to prepare the annual audit report for 2012.