Thursday, November 8, 2012

SASCI workshop attracts a cross-section of the community

Kerry Brown and Karla Reesor
T. Lucas photo

Toni Lucas, Pincher Creek Voice

Southwest Alberta Sustainable Community Initiative (SASCI) held a workshop on November 8 at Ramada Inn and Suites to improve facilitation skills titled "Engaging for Results".  This workshop was put on by Kerry Brown and Karla Reesor of the company Moving Forward Ltd.

There was a wide range of community involvement at the tables.  Some of the not-for-profit groups represented around the room were the Crowsnest Pass Boys and Girls Club, Crowsnest Pass Children's Services, Pincher Planters, Rotary, Mustangs Football, Oldman Watershed Council, Community Futures, Cowboy Poetry, Group Group Youth, Chamber of Commerce, and Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village. Schools and private businesses were also represented, as well as interested individuals, all gathered to work on solutions for their facilitation needs.

Brown and Reesor got everyone on track and ran through the course efficiently.

They used tools like flip charts and brain storming, and asked the participants what they were hoping to get out of the workshop, using these tools to engage the group.  A few of the issues that were brought up were creating and maintaining a respectful environment, organizing ideas, engaging community involvement, keeping meetings on target, working within time frames, and conflict resolution.

Going through key topics, they covered the process of being prepared,  communicating to understand interests, bringing energy to the room in a non-aggressive manner, how to stay on track while remaining flexible, and how to deal with disruptions.  Brown reminded everyone in the room that for an individual to be in a conflict they have to feel that "their issues have been violated, or ignored."

Reesor and Brown both emphasized the difference between hearing people and listening to them as a communication tool.  Brown said that listening is "suspending preoccupation with oneself and creating a psychological connection with someone else."

The pair took the room through a number of exercises that helped develop listening techniques and the ability to ask open-ended questions.  They opened things up again at the end of the seminar to help address some of the needs of those attending before summing up some of the skills that they presented.

SASCI Manager David Green was very happy with both the presentation and the turnout.  "I think it was really productive, with a great cross section, not only of this community, but other communities as well.   I hope everyone comes away with having learned enough to share with their community."  Ninety  percent of the funding for this course was covered by a Rural Community Adaptation Grant with 10% covered by SASCI funding.

related links:
Moving Forward

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