Providing Water to Desperately Thirsty People: A Facilitator’s Perspective

Posted February 15, 2011 in Blog, Religious, Story. Tagged: , ,

By Trudy McNulty, Portland, ME

Wow!  Facilitating this program feels like providing water to desperately thirsty people.

As of mid-February 2011 we have completed our orientation and the first two sessions of the CSC, co-facilitated by the minister and a church member. Co-facilitating makes it feel much easier.  We offer our program every other week and between sessions we spend approximately an hour deciding how we’ll conduct the session.  Our group decided not to have a potluck with the program in order to eliminate extra prep and clean-up work.  People bring munchies or not as the spirit moves them.  Most but not all participants are from the Allen Avenue Unitarian Universalist Church, Portland, Maine, where we held our orientation and about half knew each other prior to the program.

Nearly everyone who attended the orientation signed up for the course, so our biggest challenge has been giving everyone a reasonable chance to talk in a group of thirty people.  In the second session, we started and ended all together and each co-facilitator took half the group for part of the session.  Surprisingly, even in the large group there is no reluctance to share information. Large group or small, it is challenging to get through all the session material because people are so animated and engaged.

Beginning with the orientation, I think everyone had a sense that this was something that would continue long past the six formal sessions.  Ideas are already popping up about future projects and I believe members will comfortably participate in multiple projects according to their interests.

We started our CSC within a month of taking the facilitator training.  The program is so well developed it is very easy to run.  Everything is provided including handouts, exercises, timing, materials, homework, and even activity hints.  As facilitators, we stay just one session ahead of the group but we consider ourselves participants as well.  Every single participant is fully engaged and eager to discuss topics that are rarely discussed in other settings.  Everyone brings different information to the discussion; everyone leaves each session with information useful in their own lives.

As first time CSC facilitators, we find it enormously rewarding. The training doesn’t prepare you for that.  During the first session one participant commented that ‘this may well be the most important program the church has ever offered’.  Another revealed that she was so inspired by the orientation that within a week she had used a non-performing retirement account to eliminate nearly $20,000 worth of high interest credit card debt and cut up all credit cards.  Others are already talking about a co-housing project.

People are hungry for this information, hungry to share their experiences and frustrations and hungry to gain some control in a world that often seems out of control.

We are already beginning to cultivate additional facilitators because we are being asked when the “next CSC program” will start.  While flattered, we want to have time to be full participants in an ongoing Common Security Club.

Already we are beginning to feel that we are part of a large and growing awareness worldwide that our current economy and ecology are inseparable and unsustainable.  We can’t wait for change; we must be the change.  Together.