What a week!
We made some major progress this week and built up a lot of momentum for Endor as a whole.
Last Friday, March 20th, I was away for a family wedding, Rochelle was the only facilitator present. During checkouts that day, a number of people expressed dissatisfaction with the way things were going at Endor. From what I can gather, people were feeling unproductive, that they weren’t learning new things, and that they were spending a lot of time “hanging out.”
On Monday we revisited this discussion in the morning, spending over an hour going over everything those present had issues with. We went around in a circle and I wrote notes about what everyone had to say. Some of the things that came up included: We want more guest presenters; We have too many meetings and not enough action; People are using violent language; People are messing around too much; We can’t be allowed to do whatever we want.
I wrote a list of the issues that came up and then kind “responded” to each one after everyone had gotten a chance to speak.
Here’s a summary of what I had to say about the issues raised.
Participants said they wanted more guest presenters
My opinion is that if any Endor participant wants to have someone come in and present about anything, then that’s great! Have them come in! That’s why everyone has @liamnilsen.com Email address. If writing to or calling someone to ask if they’ll come in is too scary, or if a participant doesn’t know how to go about doing it, or if they need help finding someone in the field they’re interested in, they can go to a facilitator for help.
In a later meeting I made an example about a Getting into College workshop Rochelle had talked about a few months ago. I asked the crowd if this had happened. It hadn’t. I asked the crowd if anyone had talked to Rochelle and asked her to teach the workshop. No one had. So, someone did right there on the spot, and now that workshop will be happening this Wednesday. I used this as an example to reiterate for the 100th time that if you want something to happen, you’ve got to make it happen. And we’re here to make that easy for participants, but not to do it for them.
Endor is not a marketplace for content the way a school is, it’s a community that is participated in, where every community member contributes to making it a rich and fulfilling place to work and to learn.
The other point I had to make about guest presenters was that for us to have them, the presentation has to be an exchange that goes both ways, the presenter has to get something out of the experience too. Guest presenters take time out of their day to come in, take time to prepare material beforehand, and often times they walk away from the experience feeling unappreciated. This happens if people are doodling, having side conversations, walking away mid-class, or otherwise being disruptive. Again in a later meeting I made an example about people doodling “See, you’re doodling. I know that you can doodle and pay attention, but a guest coming in to teach doesn’t know that, and they’ll see that and feel disrespected.” I also pointed out that we had a community expectation that if a participant wishes to do something that doesn’t relate to the purpose of the event (doodling, eating lunch, playing mobile games, knitting, texting, etc), they have to ask the event host if it’s permitted at the event.
So, we brainstormed a list of fields to find presenters in. Brenna wrote them down and started reaching out to people right there on the spot.
Participants felt that many of our group projects get caught up with long meetings that don’t lead to much action
To this point I had to agree wholeheartedly. Many of the meetings we have concerning group projects have long meetings where few decisions are made and where the group loses focus within thirty minutes. I pointed out that we have quite a number of facilitation techniques at our disposal that are mostly not utilized. Someone suggested that we just need to “step up our game!” Take things more seriously, and sometimes save humor for later.
People were unnerved, insulted, and embarrassed by others language use
Back when we were at Studio Zahiya, someone brought up profanity as an issue, not an issue that they had, just an issue. We went around and everyone stated that profanity didn’t bother them, as long as it wasn’t discriminatory, racist, sexist, ablest, etc. It didn’t come up again until now.
Now we’re faced with the fact that we’re no longer in a space where everyone has stated that profanity doesn’t bother them, at OS AVL we’re constantly around people from outside Endor; including adults and children. When people at Endor use profanity, it reflects badly on all of us.
There was also an issue of violent language as apposed to just profanity. People (jokingly) threatened each other, yelled at each other, etc. So we decided to Step It Up and leave that behind.
Too much freedom
A participant suggested that they had too much freedom, which made it hard to sit down with just one thing and focus
I stated that I, as a facilitator, wasn’t going to tell people do with their time (as long as it isn’t hurting anyone), but, if someone wants to change their own behavior, I am more than happy to help them implement that. In fact, that’s one of the main reasons facilitators are present.
Several participants pointed to Endor 3.0 when we used to meet at different local businesses such as Mojo, Dobra, the Chocolate Lounge etc. as a time when, as a group, we were more capable of staying on point. With this I agreed, but stated that we can achieve this same level of focus at OS AVL, but it’s something we’ve got to work at and take seriously.
Other stuff from that meeting
Cian’s Happy 00:45
One of the things some people found they were spending a lot of time on without getting much of a return on was video games. Which I absolutely understand; I think video games are a cool art form, I have nothing against them, but they’re definitely not something I would go to a working/learning center to exercise on a regular basis. Some non-gamers expressed frustrations with the noise level sometimes emitting from gamers and the distracting nature of them. The more people gaming or watching people game, the less people at your discussion group.
The group decided to add video games to the “Dump” list.
I made a general statement about blogging and self-reflection in general. About how it’s extra important to reflect when you feel like you’re not spending your time well. Many participants had previously voiced not wanting to blog because they didn’t have anything to blog about. This, I think, is a super important realization because ideally that leads spending time differently in the future.
So, the community decided to make blogging a weekly expectation for everyone, every Friday. This I thought was great. We were planning on starting to use this part of the ALC practices in the fall, but starting already now will make us more agile, more faster.
I also wonder if this whole conversation would have happened earlier had we been blogging all along.
The general themes were about needing more focus, and needing help finding things to work on. We’re addressing these by starting the Monday morning Set The Week meeting, using kanban boards to write good ideas for things to do later, to have weekly brainstorms for picking subjects, and to Step Up Our Game.
After we discussed the issues people had, Rochelle took over and led us in an exercise where we made three big lists. One for things to leave behind, one for things to keep, and one for things to create going forward.
On Wednesday, with higher enrollment, and with our official decision making procedure at the Changeup meeting, we went through the lists and “signed them into law” so to speak. We established a system to insure that everyone, present or not, could understand the new guidelines established, by adding their name to a separate column once they had read them each week.
Our Changeup meeting was really good. Everyone was really engaged, though after about thirty minutes the group started to lose focus, so our future Changeup meetings will happen in the morning each Wednesday, instead of in the afternoon.
We built up a lot of good momentum this week, and we can carry it forward, but only if every participant steps up their game and we manage to raise the bar for each other.