ALF Resource: Intergenerational Trauma

After reflecting a bit on how I’ve been voraciously consuming nonfiction without pausing to share out my learning–waiting, I think, to see the whole tapestry it’ll become once I weave the pieces together–I’ve decided to push myself to share my draft-y notes. Here’s the first attempt:

The other night, I got home and decided to Google around for a resource or two on working with Intergenerational Trauma. Sometimes I relate to facilitation as a mix of midwifery and healing work…and then I end up looking for frameworks that can inform my practice and help me better serve my relationships.

After a few *eh* articles, this video came up in my results. I saw how long it was and almost didn’t click. Then I decided to just listen to the intro while I did some dishes. Over an hour later, the talk ended and I discovered myself with two pages of doodled notes and a cup of cold tea. My head was buzzing with how affirmed my sense that ALF work is healing work was, with the impact of pausing to really look at the evolution of violences across time, and with curiosity about the learning journey of the speaker, Nene Kwasi Kafele.

Notes below the video. For tl;dr folks, here’s a quote:

“Nurture, cultivate, support the genius of young people…in ways that are safe, respectful, and healthy. Be with them on this journey in a way that respects their lived experiences and sees their cultures as legitimate…”

Noted that an environment for survivor youth should be safe, reassuring, supportive, effective, providing stabilization, helping them see the paths forward in terms of addressing the problem and building their own resilience

Youth agency is crucial

Opportunities to express, process, and name needed supports in groups and individually are helpful

…so to this point describing much of what our school feels like…

Notes to be aware of coping tendencies like psychic numbing, of the repeated mention of CBT as helpful in trauma response management/breathing/visualizations

Notes on how “trauma” as a term/concept is highly Western, with introduced terms Mengamaazi: Willful, organized, coordinated, prolonged destruction and suffering and Maafa: Disaster, overwhelmingly terrible catastrophe. (Kiswahili)

*just* discovered all the resources at http://youthrex.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Intergenerational-Trauma-Healing-September-27-Resources.pdf while checking my spelling

Thinking of looking more into which traumas our institutions reinforce as well as how to reckon with the dance between survivors of survivors and survivors of perpetrators generations on

Note on ALC Logos

With new variations on our logos coming out (and start-up groups showcasing their creativity all the time), I remembered this email exchange where @tomis explained a bit about what the deal is with our branding guidelines and @spence suggested he put something together to share on the topic.

In case it takes Tomis a while to get around to writing such a thing with all his being-a-new-dad happenings, I’m just going to share a snippet of that email. He wrote:

“The brand guidelines were created by Eric Friedensohn [who designed and donated our logos, is mad talented on top of being so generous, and who is definitely worth following on social media]. You can see more about his process for this project here.

He gave us four colors as a starting point so we wouldn’t have to jump into picking coherent color pallets, but was clear that his design sensibilities (embedded into the guidelines) would not be disrupted by choosing different colors. You can see that the forty-ish icons he made for us a little later involve all kinds of colors.
So, the thing is that we, collectively as the ALC Network who use this logo/brand, have the right to change any part of it we want or disregard the guidelines — he’s given us this as a gift. That said, it’s my opinion that Eric is good at what he does and that the guidelines serve an important purpose…”
There. Shucks, Tomis. Couldn’t have said it better (or, frankly, that well in the first place).

 

 

ALF Page Jan. 2018 Update

How does someone even end up at alf.agilelearningcenters.org? I honestly am not quite sure.

What I know is that the page used to essentially be a flyer for the ALF Summer super-programs in Charlotte, NC. As we started to see other ALCs hosting various retreats, trainings, and workshops starting in 2016, the page morphed into a listing of those programs. On the one hand, this was lovely. It was helpful to have a place where all our events were listed, and folks like me who have been around for a bit enjoyed seeing signs of our growth.

For some time, though, a few things about the page had been bothering me. First, focusing the “agile learning facilitator” page on marketing events felt way too narrow. Maybe I’m too in the work to see clearly, but for me a facilitator page should be about sharing the vibrance and brilliance of our community. It should certainly have some resources for aspiring facilitators, including events, but I also wanted it to share more of a story. Like…who are we? Especially as we’ve grown past the small cohort in NYC that we once were, I wanted the page to illustrate that we’re many different people from many different backgrounds all doing this work.

The January 2018 revision of the page was a first step towards what I’m hoping will be a richer ALF page. It’s got some portraits from various ALCs’ staff pages, a link to the Facilitation Guide that Mel put out for us last spring, and it’s now got a promise that links to ALF-generated content will come soon…alongside the much anticipated links to events that the page has become somewhat known for.

Almost certainly, my next edit will simply be posting those links and dates.

Eventually, though, I’d like to get snippets of ALF stories incorporated, in their own words. I asked our web-tech team about the possibility of building some kind of form+map that would let ALFs post their own events (and maybe blogs or social media accounts) rather than submitting them to me for manual posting…though they have to convince the website to stay up and running before they get to focus on optimizations and upgrades. Finally, I *think* some kind of a resource page for aspiring facilitators might be a useful thing to create and link to.

All things in time, though…;)

Network Membership Update

“What does it mean to be a member of the ALC Network?”*

This question has been following me a lot for the past few years. In the past 13 months, I’ve given it a bunch of intentional thought–often aloud and in dialogue with others similarly exploring it–and I’ve reached enough clarity that I finally edited the “membership” pages and form on the ALC Network website this week. Here’s where I’m at (and notes on the edits):

We become members of communities when we show up and contribute. I grew up in a steel town watching “moms’ clubs,” church consortiums, local farmers, and neighbors on various streets practicing community…all of which convinced me that “community” is something one practices–like love or facilitation–and that takes a combination of time and care to grow. People join our local ALC community this way, but paying $95 for access to an online community feels slightly different.

Growing up in community also taught me that sharing resources, including information, empowers us to hold and grow each other better. I felt this spending summers at the local library as a kid, and it showed up again in college when I studied museum politics (like…who got access when, and to what, decided by whom?) All this feels particularly important in this “knowledge economy” age…so it’s important to me that we’re not relating to ALC Membership as giving fees to some invisible gatekeepers for access to the wealth of knowledge they control.

This invites a separate inquiry about how to be responsible while being transparent: sharing generously, protecting folks’ privacy, and giving credit where it’s due…all at once.

Membership, though. Right now, it’s whatever we make of it. The ALC Network’s main functions are currently to facilitate connection between ALCs and the dissemination of resources about our work. I see that changing in the next few years–what we needed in our first five years will not be what we need in the next ten. Presently, though, the Network’s main source of revenue is membership fees and its main expenses are related to running our online communication platforms. So “membership” currently involves a pretty tidy exchange (that isn’t *quite* sufficient to fund Network endeavors yet, but we’re working on that).

“Members” contribute a fee annually to enable the Network to keep communication channels up and open. With those channels, they get access to resources–documents, other facilitators, call invitations, chances to collaborate on projects that shape how this movement grows–though the extent to which they use this access (and contribute back to the community’s wealth) is up to them. Lots of our resources are open-source, and most of us are Google-able, so a non-member *could* find most of the information that members get tidily packaged on their own. There’s nothing keeping someone from looking through the 40+ ALC websites and social media accounts for photos of our whiteboard notes or contact info for different facilitators. Knowing that, for me, shifts the dynamic from paying a gatekeeper to see hoarded treasures to chipping in to keep the local library (which we co-steward and staff) open.

***There’s politics of language, translation, and internet access to dance with in that metaphor, but knowing we’re already working on those topics as a five-year-old organization gives me hope we’ll make reasonable progress in this next season of our growth.***

I said “community” in the parentheses above, after just starting this whole thing by saying signing up for ALC Membership feels different than becoming a community member. There’s certainly a community of the folks who make up the ALC network…it’s more that, in my experience, “joining” a community doesn’t immediately confer recognition of membership. That takes people getting to know you…it takes relationship. So those just signing up for Membership–like those enrolling or volunteering at an ALC–get an introduction, and then the more organic process of relationship-building and getting engaged with the community begins. You follow?

All that to talk about some quick website updates…

Our Membership process online wasn’t super clear before, but it was oriented towards organizations, specifically schools and start-up groups. Once an organization signed up for membership, they’re trusted to decide which team members to pull into the network conversation. They may add all staff and a founding parent to Slack. They may add one facilitator to Slack and another to Drive. Whatever…we trust them to determine who their community caretakers are and what will be most supportive to them. There’s conduct agreements, for sure, but essentially if a community says ‘yes, this person’ then those of us in the wider community start by trusting that.

We’re keeping most of this process unchanged, though planning to replace the “we request an additional $10 for every 10 kids over 20 you enroll” thing with transparent data about Network revenue-expenses and a “donate to our 501c3 here” button. The major difference is a response to requests for individuals who want to get involved with the ALC Network but don’t want to do so as representatives of their projects or schools. New to the membership page is a separate rate and benefits list that lets individuals join us…and a bonus is that while planning this we gratefully received a donation from one of our earliest ALC students of two logos for use by members who aren’t ALCs.

Long hours of conversation have gone into the question of ALC Membership, and I’m sure they’ll continue to do so as our growth challenges us to keep growing our processes and procedures. In the meantime, I’m really excited about this step and eager to see what new dimensions to the question it brings up.

*Are you a total newbie to ALC-land? That’s cool. Know that we–all of us active community members across the world–ARE the ALC network. We’re the ecosystem, the organism, the movement…whatever you want to call it. What I’m mostly talking about here is the US-based 501c3 nonprofit that’s behind agilelearningcenters.org and many of the communication channels facilitators depend heavily on to connect with staff at other schools when they want to seek or offer support. I tend to write “ALC Network” when talking about this entity as something distinct from our more organic network. Cool? Cool.

“I’m Bored” Toolbox

@catmooy and I opened this old draft blog post and asked people to help us finish it. We asked what people do when they’re

B

O

R

E

D

and they (@kirkorovfan @thewitchqueen908 @serenagermany @simoneboss @theanchor @heartabby @aidenstarwars) helped us come up with this list:

Read a book. Play with stuff that’s here. Look at a plant up close and explore it. Watch out the window (for mommy?) Try a new game. Search stuff up. Listen to music. Watch Mario Maker play-through videos on YouTube. Think about mom. I play games. Talk to people. Draw. Scroll through Instagram. Look up things on Wikipedia. Play piano. Look at animals. Sit around. Think about stuff. Think about stuff. Stretch. Write. Practice Duolingo. Dance. Go outside.

Guess we have one more to add…Interview people!

Hope that helps 🙂

 

[Guest Post] Siena’s week

makeup      snack       lnuch

 

 

She says:

What I liked this week was that I made a picture for my mom. These are my intentions for next week: to make make-up, eat snack, and eat lunch. I wrote them. Now we’re going to look up how to make make-up.

[Guest Blog] Jan’s Friday Blog 9/15

I like that I can build stuff, like out of wood. I also like that I can swing on the hammocks outside. I like that I can read the animal books that are in the school.

I like that I can cook corn. In other schools, you cannot cook corn outside. I am happy that I don’t have to do homework like in other schools you do.

That’s all.

 

ALC-NYC Summer Planning (list)

When it’s time:

  • Explore why you’re interested in organizing a facilitator training.
  • Re-read some anti-colonialism/anti-oppression texts.
  • Reflect on your experiences facilitating and then as someone holding an ALC community. What roles and topics can you rock? Which ones do you need to find partners to take up?
  • Set personal intentions and goals

ASAP:

  • Gather a team
  • Align team intentions/goals
  • Pick a location and a format

ASAP-after-that:

  • Set a date for a team check-in, with each person’s deliverables clearly requested
  • Research rates for similar programming in your area
  • Research rates for providing food so folks can stay in flow
  • Research rates for (and availability of) the space you’ll use
  • Brainstorm other possible needed/wanted accommodations
  • Figure out rates charged by guest teachers and facilitators
  • Determine accounts/deadlines for managing money
  • Determine where you’ll build your website/application forms
  • Get familiar with relevant local legalities/insurance
  • Write up offerings/content ideas for the program

At your team check-in:

  • Decide scaffolding for the program (daily rituals, openings and closings, etc)
  • Commit to any offerings/content which require advance planning + designate CH to plan
  • Do some math to set rates (for a reasonable target # of participants) that will let you cover your costs
  • Create a finances/budgeting spreadsheet and establish a CH to handle money things
  • Decide whether people will register or go through an application process, and what that entails (in NYC, so far, people register…elsewhere they apply and do interviews before being accepted)
  • Take on planning tasks
  • Determine how you’ll update each other until your next check-in

Planning Tasks (sort-of in order):

  • Arrange a space
  • Build a webpage (with a registration deadline and who to contact with questions clearly listed)
  • Create a registration form, linked to your webpage
  • Share the webpage
  • Arrange catering (+other provisioning)
  • Arrange childcare, if offering it
  • Tell parents at hosting school that there’s bonus school (or start a summer camp) and do whatever paperwork your state/entity requires to make that happen
  • Coordinate with any guest teachers/facilitators
  • Keep sharing the webpage

As people fill out your form:

  • Keep track of who is signing up, their contact info, their intentions, their program interests, their fee commitments, their support requests, and other helpful information on a spreadsheet shared across your team
  • Reply to inquiries
  • Keep sharing your webpage (especially 1 month, 1 week, 3 days before registration closes)

 

*****Invoicing dates/deadlines depend on whether you need to collect deposits to be able to book the space+caterer+etc. In NYC, we’re fortunate to have worked with collaborators who haven’t needed numbers until the week before and payment until the first day of the program. *****

At your registration deadline:

  • ASSESS. Do you want to extend your deadline or let late applicants email you to be considered? Are you content or totally full? Keep in mind a handful of people will likely bail or not show.
  • Update your website
  • Send a confirmation/greeting email to everyone already on board, with notes about what to expect in the coming weeks

*****People will be enrolling and dropping out right up to the start of the program–and sometimes during it–if you let them. Your team will want to decide how adaptable you want to be and communicate that clearly. *****

1 Month Before:

  • Send an email confirming program dates, asking for dietary restrictions/allergies, and letting people know how to pay you
  • Contact the caterer (and any guest teachers) with a preliminary count and any other information that would be useful to them. For food, I usually do participants+staff+2, just in case.
  • Send out invoices for program fees
  • If you have kids coming, send whatever communications you need to so their parents are reminded of the times/dates/program type

Two Weeks Before:

  • Email the details from the website (address, dates, times), newer details (childcare rates, what to bring), and suggested pre-program reading (really just the Network website…). Invite questions. Get people thinking about how they’ll introduce themselves.
  • Update spreadsheets
  • Follow up with any parties necessary. Likely catering numbers have changed or someone misplaced their invoice or two people need to be connected to figure out housing or or or…
  • Figure out with your team which offerings are going to be scheduled and which are optional. Determine CHs for each, and plan to procure any supplies needed.
  • If you have kids coming…email to remind parents of the times/dates/expectations

One Week Before:

  • Send a welcome email asking recipients to reply with an introduction. Start them off by introducing yourself or selves. Remind them what time you’re excited to see them on the first day of the training 😉
  • Send confirmations and payments.
  • Update and review spreadsheets
  • Set the space
  • If you have kids coming…email to remind parents times/dates/expectations/what-to-pack

The First Day:

  • You know best what you need to set yourself up…Do that…
  • Go!

ALC-NYC Summer Planning (narrative)

This post started as my journaling the process @ryanshollenberger and I went through in planning the first ALF Summer program outside the Network program in Charlotte, NC in the 2015-2016 school year. It’s one of 3 posts I’m putting together from my experience planning the NYC programs so far. 

While I didn’t write that we were able to start how we did because we 1) had use of the school as a location and 2) had use of the school PayPal/bank accounts, which let us both send invoices and set the payment deadline later than we would have if we’d needed the money up front to pay the guest teachers and the caterer. 

For 2016-2017, we looked at our feedback and reflections from the previous year and adjusted our plans accordingly. We also incorporated our new staff–@melody and @theanchor–into our planning. The bones of the program had served us well enough; those didn’t change. The most major planned changes were inviting multiple parents to come share as a panel about their experiences (so grateful to Alex, Diane, Sarah, Rachel, and Taasha!) and adjusting our closing/reflective exercises to be less structured and more personal. While our intentions in hosting the program had broadened (we were definitely more focused on supporting the Network than finding local collaborators than we’d been in 2016), our underlying program goals turned out to be almost exactly the same.

Here’s what I wrote about planning the 2016 summer program…

Mid-January, aware that the growth of ALC in NYC and the tri-state area will be smoother and more powerful if we have more practiced facilitators/entrepreneurs in the area, Ryan and I decided it was time to host a training at ALC-NYC. “ALF Summer”–pioneered by @nancy–had so far only happened in Charlotte, where planners arrange housing and transportation for participants on top of planning programming, running a nested summer camp program, and providing food. Right away, we opted to run a lighter program: we prioritized local participants and left travelers responsible for their own housing, we took advantage of having more extensive public transportation than Charlotte, and we forfeited potential summer camp revenue to release ourselves from summer camp paperwork. We were clear that our priorities were sharing our learning, supporting new projects/facilitators, and budgeting so we could break even.

We agreed to draw up our visions for the program independently and share/compare them the following day. We anticipated overlap in terms of basics we’d like to see covered, and we were hopeful that each of us will cover the things the other forgot. Here are my January 21st notes:

I came home tonight and turned the scattered notes I’ve been taking over the past two weeks into a sketch. In doing so, it became clear to me that I don’t actually want to offer the first three days as a conference or festival. If one of our intentions is to be connecting change-makers rooted in NYC, then we need to make time for them to build relationships.

I found it easy enough to mark out the daily rituals (opening, eating, cleaning, circling). I then played with the idea of giving the first three days loose themes…and realized that I like the feel of the Be/Think/Do from the Archetypes exercise. From there I filled in a basic sketch of what the first three days could look like, with flex time and play time built in. This took some focused and strategic thought, but it wasn’t as difficult as I had anticipated.

Planning days four through twelve felt funny, because I intentionally “planned” them as minimally as possible. I’m pretty pleased with myself for coming up with a new expanded definition of STW (Set The Week…our 5-day-sprint scheduling meeting) that wasn’t limited by the number of days defined as a week. Hopefully, Ryan likes Set The Warp (get it? like in weaving?) as much as I do 🙂

I’m also pleased with the possible last day closing rituals that I cobbled together. I don’t want to share and spoil them yet…

Once we met and patched our notes into a unified framework, I began the less fun work of budgeting. Ry and I discussed approximate numbers of participants we’d like in the space, decided we wanted to provide lunch, and agreed we would like to make enough to pay ourselves and some guest facilitators (like Yoni and some of those contractor ALFs…). If we turned a profit, the plan was to put it towards the school.

I looked up typical costs of similar programs in New York City and calculated what our tuition would be if we charged the same as them per day. From that, I picked some numbers that felt like they would both value our work/time and be accessible to me-of-three-years-ago. I also researched how much it would take to cater lunch for different numbers of people for the duration of our program. Numbers numbers numbers, crunch crunch crunch. I worked out projected budgets depending on different numbers of applicants, but I haven’t yet looked up how much each of the guest facilitators we’d like to invite usually makes per hour. That’ll be important going forward…

Once numbers, dates, and times were chosen, I got to work building a webpage–complete with forms–for the event. My WordPress skills have been slowly improving over this past year. I had to rework the page a few times (more text or less? links to click or all the information on one long scroll-able page?), but ended up pretty happy with it. I shared it on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, the Nonsense NYC listserve (Thanks, Jeff Stark!), and the nycagile.org website (in a banner at the top).

Then we waited….

As applications came in, I replied to questions (vegetarian meal options? childcare available?) and kept updating the “applicants” tab on my planning spreadsheet. WordPress made this really easy; I just exported application form entries as a .csv then opened them in Google Sheets.

On line, I translated my hand-written notes into a “finances” and a “schedule” tab on that same spreadsheet. This let me share with Ryan more easily, so we could track updates as things changed. Off line, Ryan and I arranged the program set-up by coordinating with teenagers from the community to offer childcare, organizing the catering through an ALC-NYC parent, scheduling a Acro-Balance and Cooking with Yoni Kallai and Nancy Hooper, asking the marvelous Alex Patz to come share about her experience as an ALC parent, and checking the alignment of our intentions with ALFs who asked about dropping in.

In late spring, we told the parent community at school about the training. We offered discounted rates for those who wanted to attend, and we let them know that we’d run the second week of the training as a week of bonus school that their kids could attend for free. While this made the end of the proper school year feel a little strange, it ended up being an awesome gift to offer parents, kids, and new facilitators.

About a month before the program, I emailed everyone who had applied, asking for dietary restrictions/allergies and letting them know I’d be sending invoices via PayPal. Ryan and I also brainstormed about supplies we would need; we ordered some extra dry erase markers and toilet paper 🙂

Two weeks before the program, I emailed again. This time, I send out both the details from the website (address, dates, times), newer details (childcare rates, what to bring), and suggested reading (really just the Network website…). I asked for questions anyone might have, and I shared that Ryan and I would be sending out a call for introductions the week before the program.

A week before the program–while wrapping up the school year–Ryan and I sent out the call for introductions, which we started by introducing ourselves. We refined our schedule and sorted out our roles for different points. We discussed breakfasts, and I confirmed lunches with our caterer. Then I sent invoice reminders and updated my spreadsheets.

The day the program started, we arrived early to clean, set up breakfast/coffee/nametags, and arrange our workspace. Folks started showing up and…we were off!