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a facilitator's guide

This page is different from any other on the Melyn Social Action site. Because it's longer, it's designed to be printed and then read - rather than being read off the screen. It's a set of suggestions - a Facilitator's Guide to Melyn Powwow. Printing and following the guidelines on this page will enable you to hold your own Powwow. A Powwow is great:

... if there's something bothering you about your community or if you want to play a part in making your community even better
... if you want to join with others to explore problems, seek inspiration and deliver solutions
... if you want to try out a new idea generating brainstorming session which encourages participants to use their ideas.

Melyn Powwow is Melyn's newest project and it's in the early stages of development. We'd like you to play a part in that development by holding your own Powwow. Feel free to give it a try. Please, send word to Melyn Social Action to let us know how it went and how we can refine the Guide and also, please, pass on news of how the outcomes helped your community.

What follows is a Facilitator's Guide to the Melyn Powwow...

First of all, gather key members of your community together. 'Community' can be city, town, village, church, college, school, society, club, workplace, ... whatever ... If you're already a member of an organisation within a community - such as Lions, Rotary, Women's Institute, Scouts, Guides, etc. - please try to schedule one meeting for a Melyn Powwow. Here's what you'll need:

... people: between 12-60 is ideal, but you can have more or less
... location: a room with enough chairs scattered around informally
... resources: a pad of yellow stickies (e.g. Post Its); pens and papers; flip chart, whiteboard or blackboard; a wall or door to stick up lots of yellow stickies
... time: two hours is about right

Kicking off
Start off the Powwow with a quick introductory 'speech' to the whole group setting out the plan.

Mention that Melyn Powwow is about problem finding and problem solving. Both parts involve finding ideas. Powwow is all about ideas:

... different people will come up with different ideas
... there are no 'good' or 'bad' ideas
... to come up with the best ones, suspend judgement, don't block anything, be 'childlike' and naive

What's the problem?
Participants need a pen and paper.

Ask participants to draw a line a line down the middle of their paper, so they've got two columns. Write the word "SADDERS" at the top of the left hand column; write the word "GLADDERS" at the top of the other and then spend 5 minutes writing as many things as you can about your community that make you happiest (in the GLADDERS column) and saddest (in the SADDERS) column. Ask participants to be as specific as possible. (E.g. 'the litter in the Gele River' not 'environment'; 'children can't spell' not 'education'.)

Urge everyone to be as free and open as they can, because no-one else will see this list. (They can tear it up afterwards.)

When the 5 minutes come to an end ask everyone to look at the two columns and concentrate on filling up the column with the least writing in it.

When that's done, give every person six yellow stickies each. Ask them to transfer these six things from their list to the six stickies:

... the three SADDERS they'd most like to change and ...
... the three GLADDERS they're happiest about.

Then, ask everyone to put theirs up on the same patch of wall/window/door. When that's done, invite everyone to browse and enjoy reading others' concerns and celebrations.

The brainstorm
When they've had a browse, regroup everyone and ask the big group to select just one of the sadders from the many on the wall. Write that sadder statement at the top of a flip chart, whiteboard or blackboard.

The next step is to ask to big group:

"What's most hopeless about this sadder?"

Write down the first five hopeless points on the flipchart for all to see. Then:

"What's most promising about this sadder?"

Write down the first five promising points on the flipchart for all to see.

Call this sheet of flipchart 'Exhibit A'. You'll be referring back to it later.

Now divide the big group into four. Do this by pointing to the four corners of the room and calling them autumn (fall), winter, spring and summer. Participants go to the season's corner in which their birthday falls.

Ask each group to pick their own sadder, discuss it and list five hopeless and five promising

When everyone's finished, ask a spokesperson from each of the four groups to share their findings and their five hopeless and five promising points about their sadder with the big group.

With the one big group, thank everyone for their ideas. We're ready now for the next step.

Tell the story about the Swiss village Munchenbuchsee, near the capital Bern:

In the early 1990s Munchenbuchsee had built comprehensive recycling facilities. Trouble was, not enough people were using them. An innovative idea solved the problem. It was an idea that turned a seemingly hopeless situation into a promising solution. Refuse (garbage) was collected weekly. What Munchenbuchsee did was to say that only refuse in official bin bags would be collected from outside people's homes and, furthermore, a charge of the equivalent of USD2 would be made for each of these special bin bags. The result? People threw far less away and, instead, took refuse to the village recycling facility.

Just shows what a difference just one good idea can make to a community.

Back to Exhibit A
Just as the Munchenbuchsee bin bags was an idea that turned a seemingly hopeless situation into a promising solution, what we're going to do now is to look again at the five 'hopeless' statements about the sadders we chose and we're going to see if we can find a way to turn some of them into being 'promising'. Let's try it together first, with Exhibit A. (With the big group, look at the 'hopeless' statements and see if something 'promising' can be wrung from them). In a pilot Powwow, the 'hopeless' "paedophiles work in rings ..." was converted by the participants into a more 'promising': "... so if the police catch just one of the paedophiles in the ring, that one might lead on to the prosecution of many in that ring."

"Solve yours"
Having converted some of Exhibit A's hopeless cases into more promising ones altogether, it's time for the four smaller groups to work on their own.

Each of the four groups needs to feed back to the big group at the end.

Any gems?
Having heard all the ideas, ask the big group if any ideas seem to be real 'gems'.

By now, two hours or so will have elapsed and there may be quite a powerful group dynamic that could drive forward the best idea(s) towards implementation. That's what the Powwow's all about. It's the group's determination to make its ideas for the good of its own community succeed that makes the Powwow such an exciting concept.

Please print this
If you haven't already printed this page, please print it now. This Facilitator's Guide is too complex to be absorbed off a monitor screen.

Melyn asks you to try it out one evening with your group or society - Lions, Rotary, Women's Institute, Scouts, Guides, Church, school, college ... etc.

If you're not active within such an organisation, how about getting together a group of people, giving Powwow a try and getting back with suggestions on how this Guide can be made clearer? Also, please send news of how your Powwow went so we can tell your story on these pages.

It's time to make a difference.

Good luck, enjoy and, if you do like it, please tell your friends.

(v2.2, 24 Sep 1998; v2.0 25 Oct 1997. Gareth Morlais -

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