By Osian Rees
On Saturday 19th November, Bristol Energy Network hosted a workshop facilitated by Jose Barco, Fausto Peña and Kat Wall of Community CoLab. The workshop was titled “Community Powered Change: Making decisions that make a Difference”.
The workshop was attented by a vast diversity of people representing organisations that spanned from campaigning for the rights of disabled people through to grassroots activisim to tackle climate change.
The time of the workshop seemed fitting. Donald Trump had been elected president less than 2 weeks previous. When discussing global issues such as climate change, there was a sombre atmosphere in the room. It felt as if, more than ever, there was a pressing need to actuate positive change from a community level.
The morning consisted of a series of activities centred around the quality of communication including empathetic listening which put a strong focus on actively listening as opposed to passively listening and concentrating on constructing a response.
An informative session was conducted on the different ways to make a decision and the pros and cons associated with each approach.
Jose Barco and his team succeeded in creating an inviting space in which respectful discussion could be facilitated. The atmosphere in the room during the activities was dynamic with strong opinions being voiced on the big issues challenging our society.
The highlight of the day came in the afternoon when the concepts of ‘World Cafe’ and ‘Open Space’ were introduced. It was clear that Jose, Fausto and Kat believed strongly in the emerging social practice ‘The Art of Hosting’, a key element of these concepts and one of the bedrocks of the workshop.
Having entered the Kuumba Community Centre on a chilly Saturday morning with a dampened global outlook, due to developments 4000 miles across the Atlantic, I left to a warmer Saturday afternoon with a refreshed positive outlook on the situation closer to home.
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