Monthly Archives: October 2013

The Power of the Honest Conversation

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Over nearly 30 years of working with groups and exploring different ways of moving through information and issues to support effective planning and decision making I am struck by how it is the simple approaches that seem to have the most power. Working up in Kinglake after the Black Saturday bushfires the only thing that was appropriate was to sit around in a safe space with some nice food and talk to each other about what should come next.  This was a simple and profound reminder for me about the importance of creating space for meaningful conversations to take place and trusting the process of dialogue to draw out knowledge and wisdom that can lead to an effective decision. 

So for all the colour and movement, speed and ‘accessibility’ that is offered by the plethora of techniques currently being employed to ‘engage’ with communities there is nothing like the power of an open and honest dialogue.

“We can take courage from the fact that this is a process we all know how to do. We can also take courage from the fact that many people are longing to converse again. We are hungry for a chance to talk. People want to tell their stories, and are willing to listen to yours. We are awakening an ancient practice, a way of being gathered that all humans intimately understand.” (Meg Wheatley)

I am inspired by this quote and have enrolled in Meg Wheatley’s one day workshop on ‘Engaging Communities in Challenging Times’ being hosted by Kimbra White on November the 21st 2013 from 9:00am-4:00pm at the Abbotsford Convent in Melbourne (for more information go to We need more people to be willing to host conversations on the big issues of our time and sow the seeds of future change.

“Change doesn’t happen from someone announcing the plan. Change begins from deep inside a system, when a few people notice something that they will no longer tolerate, or when they respond to someone’s dream of what is possible”. (Meg Wheatley)


Victorian Facilitators Network

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The Victorian Facilitators Network (VFN) is a great environment for peer support and professional development.

Under the umbrella of the Australian Facilitators Network, monthly meetings of the VFN offer the opportunity to catch up, discuss projects, ideas, challenges and explore new ways of working. This month’s focus is “Empowerment and self organising systems”.

Empowerment and Self-Organising Systems

We live in interesting times! “Empowerment organisations are social forms and processes which can embody the spirit of inspired change and transformation. They both support and challenge their members to keep growing in a balanced way and make room for the continued evolution of the orgnaisation’s vision and methods as it and its members bring forth new realities and LEARN in the process.”

What have we learnt about empowerment in our work and community involvement? What are the conditions, processes and practices which support individuals and groups to take ownership and responsibility? Let’s explore our experience and knowledge and look at how these learnings might apply to the future of the VFN. The new team of VFN convenors invite you to an energising peer learning process.

Everyone is welcome and there is a small charge for tea and coffee. So join us on Monday 21st of October at the Kent Hotel (370 Rathdowne Street Carlton North) from 6pm for a light meal and some lively discussion.

Michelle Howard 

Co-convenor Victorian Facilitators Network