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
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.
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…;)
“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.
@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
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 blog by Roan]
I played with Joaquin with Roblox. That’s all.
makeup snack lnuch
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.
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.
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
- Gather a team
- Align team intentions/goals
- Pick a location and a format
- 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…