At your door: a climate change art work

This is a video of my daughter’s HSC (final year high school) visual art work. It’s an acrylic painting on an old door supported by a soundscape. I admit I’m totally biased, but I think it’s very powerful.

Her artistic statement:

My Body of Work confronts the immediate and devastating impact of climate change and its monumental, enduring consequences, through a cubist inspired representation of the devastating 2019-20 Australian bushfires. I seek to convey the urgency and overwhelming nature of this crisis, and I have appropriated Picasso’s “Guernica” to evoke strong emotions and confront audiences, challenging them to draw parallels between the human rights atrocities caused by both war and climate change. My Body of Work represents my feelings of anger and frustration about political inaction on climate change, fuelled by the denial and ignorance represented in the media. Inspired by Duchamp and Ai Weiwei, my selection of a found object painting surface represents the immediacy of the crisis and reminds the audience that every household will experience the long-term impact of climate change but we can choose an alternative future.

At the end of the soundscape she included the last line of a speech she gave at a 2019 Student Strike for Climate. You can see the full speech here.

If you liked this post please follow my blog, and you might like to look at:

  1. Dear Mister Prime Minister: Are you listening?
  2. 9 things we can do to challenge fast fashion
  3. 4 types of power: What are power over; power with; power to and power within?
  4. The story of microfibres
  5. Give Frank a Break! (A humorous video about the serious issue of plastic pollution)
  6. Special days and dates for the environment – 2020

If you find any problems with the blog, (e.g., broken links or typos) I’d love to hear about them. You can either add a comment below or contact me via the Contact page.

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Off-topic posts in a LinkedIn community engagement discussion group

(Image: Gerd Altmann from Pixabay)

I’m a moderator of a LinkedIn discussion group on community engagement. While I have been deleting some posts, I wondered if the group would support a more active response.

I thus created five simple polls asking whether we should delete various posts and asked members to answer Yes, Mostly, Rarely, or No to the following questions:

  1. Should we delete material on community development and how to work with communities?
  2. Should we delete material about social justice or minority groups?
  3. Should we delete material that is essentially promoting a community engagement business or consultancy?
  4. Should we delete material that is not specifically about community engagement?
  5. Should we delete material on how to improve your business, linked in presence or resume?

The following graph summarises the responses.

Summarises responses to questions.
Should we delete material on community development and how to work with communities? 13% Yes or Mostly.
Should we delete material about social justice or minority groups? 24% Yes or Mostly.
Should we delete material that is essentially promoting a community engagement business or consultancy? 36% Yes or Mostly.
Should we delete material that is not specifically about community engagement? 76% Yes or Mostly.
Should we delete material on how to improve your business, linked in presence or resume? 86% Yes or Mostly.

I’m quite relieved by the results as I wasn’t sure if the group would agree with the approach I wanted to take. Community engagement is at the heart of community development and community work. I’m thus pleased that most people wanted to keep material on community development and how to work with communities.

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Song for Sunday – Times like these

Love this version of Times Like These (originally by the Foo Fighters).

 

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Song for Sunday – Sing Gently

The actual song is under 3.5 minutes, but the video is over 10 minutes. Most of it is listing the 17,572 singers from 129 countries who come together to perform Eric Whitacre’s “Sing Gently”.

If you liked this post please follow my blog (top right-hand corner of the blog), and you might like to watch some previous songs for Sunday:

  1. All the songs
  2. “Heal Together” by Christine Anu, Philly, Mindy Kwanten and Radical Son
  3. “This Machine” by FourPlay
  4. “Luka” by Suzanne Vega
  5. “Miserere mei, Deus” by Gregorio Allegri (performed by the Tallis Scholars
  6. John Lennon’s “Image” by Playing for Change
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Song for Sunday – Heal Together

It’s been over four years since I posted a song for Sunday so one is well over due. I’m in the process of updating a couple of online courses I teach and I’m wanting to have a greater focus on working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities. While looking for useful material, I came across this song from 2019: Heal Together with Christine Anu, Philly, Mindy Kwanten and Radical Son.

Written by Christine Anu and Max Lambert for the Healing Foundation, Heal Together emphasises the importance of healing from past, and current, traumas in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. But this relies on telling the truth about Australia’s history.

If you liked this post please follow my blog, and you might like to look at:

  1. Previous songs for Sunday
  2. Song for Sunday – Treaty by Yothu Yindi
  3. Song for Sunday – This Machine
  4. Song for Sunday – Luka by Suzanne Vega
  5. Engaging Aboriginal fathers
  6. Navigating dilemmas of community development: Practitioner reflections on working with Aboriginal communities

If you find any problems with the blog, (e.g., broken links or typos) I’d love to hear about them. You can either add a comment below or contact me via the Contact page.

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Broken Squares online

Broken squares is a popular exercise in Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP), and other workshops. When we trialed an AVP workshop online, I created a version we could do using Google Drawings. It largely works the same way, but with only four groups.

The following instructions are based on using Zoom, but it would be similar with other platforms.

Time required: 20-30 minutes

Preparation

  1. Go to https://bit.ly/BrokenSquaresAVP, under “File” select “Make a copy” and save it to your “My Drive” (by clicking under “Folder” and clicking the back arrow until you reach “My Drive”).
  2. Make a copy of the broken squares for each group doing the exercise and copy the web link for each copy so you can share it with the group later. 
  3. Once you have created a copy for each group, you have to allow people to edit them.
  4. In each copy, click on share (top right hand corner). share
  5. Under get link, click Change
    change
  6. Then click Viewer and change to “editor”.
    Viewer
  7. Then click Done.
  8. Repeat this for each copy you have made. 

Instructions in large group

  1. Share your screen with the opening setup of the pieces (as at the top of the post).
  2. Tell participants that they will be working in teams of four and their objective is to create 4 squares of equal size (one in each of the 4 coloured rectangles).
  3. All pieces must be used and the pieces must NOT be rotated or resized (because if they are they will not be able to create all 4 squares).
  4. Each person will be given a coloured rectangle to work in (i.e., 1 person will work in the red rectangle, 1 in the purple , 1 in the yellow and 1 in the blue) and they can only work with pieces touching their coloured rectangle.
  5. During the exercise there is to be no talking (or using Chat or text messages).
  6. If they do not want a piece they have they can place it so that it is touching their coloured rectangle and another one.
  7. Note: there is nothing stopping them putting a piece in the middle so that it is touching all 4 rectangles, but let them work that out for themselves.
  8. They may not take pieces from other participants and may not place a piece in somebody else’s square.
  9. They may not ask for anything in return.
  10. Depending on your focus, you may want to add, This is a team goal, so watch for how you might assist your fellow team members in achieving this goal.
  11. If there are more than 4 people in a group, extra people can be observers.
  12. Check if there are any questions
  13. Place them in breakout rooms. There should be a facilitator or (somebody who knows what to do) in each group acting as an observer.

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Agenda and resources from our first AVP online workshop

The AVP philosophy poster from AVP in Western Australia

We (Graeme Stuart and Rob Duncan from Newcastle, and Selene Moonbeams and Jim Thom from Western Australia) are making the agendas and resources we used in our first Basic Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) online workshop. For an overview of AVP see What are Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) workshops?

Because we think there is real potential for AVP online workshops we are making all the material we used available for copying or downloading.  They are available from https://bit.ly/AVPOnlineBasic. (There are instructions for accessing below.)

The material includes:

  1. Our agenda with notes and extra information
  2. The participant feedback (both at the end of each session and at the end of the workshop)
  3. All the resources we created or used for the workshop
  4. Some of the material produced during the workshop.

The resources we created or used include:

  1. The participant agenda’s for each session
  2. The “posters” we used to introduce the workshop
  3. A template for Causes, Choices, Consequences (which we think needs simplifying)
  4. A few versions of the Transforming Power mandala (the coloured mandala used in NSW, the mandala in pieces so they can be moved around, and an Aboriginal version of the mandala developed in Western Australia and Northern Territory)
  5. The pieces for doing broken squares online.

There are more reflections from the workshop in the following posts:

  1. 20 tips for an online workshop
  2. Creating a safe space for a workshop on Zoom
  3. Reflections halfway into our first online AVP workshop
  4. More reflections from our first AVP online workshop
  5. Broken Squares online

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20 tips for an online workshop

Our facilitation team

Having completed our (Graeme Stuart and Rob Duncan from Newcastle, and Selene Moonbeams and Jim Thom from Western Australia) first Basic AVP online workshop, here are some tips for facilitating interactive, experiential workshops online (via Zoom)

There are more tips, reflections and information in our other posts:

  1. Creating a safe space for a workshop on Zoom
  2. Reflections halfway into our first online AVP workshop
  3. More reflections from our first AVP online workshop
  4. Broken Squares online
  5. Agenda and resources from our first AVP online workshop

The Facilitation Team

  1. Until you are quite experienced with online workshops, we think it is particularly important to have teams that can work effectively together. While it is always important, in a normal workshop we can more easily work with other facilitators we find challenging. (They often have something to teach us.) In this new context—where we are having to experiment, develop new ways of doing activities, don’t have tried and tested agendas, and are having to spend a long time planning—there isn’t the time (or energy) to work as much on the team.
  2. There needs to be at least two facilitators (and for an AVP workshop we would suggest four) to share facilitation and technology, and in case anything goes wrong. By having four facilitators we could have three groups in breakout rooms, each with a facilitator. But if there are too many facilitators, it makes the group too big.
  3. When using technology for exercises (e.g., using breakout rooms) or taking notes (e.g., in a shared screen), it is important that the one facilitator looks after the technology or note-taking so that the main facilitator (for the exercise) can focus on the group and facilitating the activity.
  4. In creating a team, we suggest it helps to have:
    • Some quite experienced facilitators
    • At least two facilitators who are quite confident with technology generally and Zoom in particular
    • People who are excited by change and trying new things.
  5. You also need facilitators who have the time to devote to the workshop but who won’t expect too much planning and debriefing. As well as the 2 1/2 hours per session, for our workshops we spent two hours planning between each session, 30 minutes before the session and up to 30 minutes having a quick catch at the end of each session.  Later on, we didn’t always need that long, but certainly early on, we couldn’t have done it much quicker. But also, we didn’t want to spend any longer planning and debriefing (even though there was more we could have done.) All up went spent around 47 hours on Zoom (in addition to writing up agendas, preparing exercises etc).

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More reflections from our first AVP online workshop

We (Graeme Stuart and Rob Duncan from Newcastle, and Selene Moonbeams and Jim Thom from Western Australia) were very happy that our first Basic Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) online workshop went well. We believe that, while clearly having differences to an in-person workshop, AVP can successfully be offered online and offer new possibilities for engaging people who would not be able to attend in-person workshops. Examples include:

  1. Including people who list in remote regions
  2. Including people who have physical or emotional limitations on their ability to attend in-person workshops
  3. Offering workshops for marginalised sections of the community who may not feel safe attending a mainstream workshop
  4. Assisting people to do a workshop in their own language (e.g., a person living in Australia could do a workshop in Indonesian offered from Indonesia)
  5. People who live on opposite sides of a political divide (e.g., people from Israel and Palestine).

As more online workshops are run around the world, the AVP facilitators will become better at running virtual workshops. We certainly do not believe they should replace in-person workshops, but they will be a useful addition to the range of potential workshops.

Here are some reflections mainly based on the final four sessions of the eight sessions. There is background to the workshop and reflections from the first half at Reflections halfway into our first online AVP workshop. Topics include: planning; zoom and other tools; adapting exercises and facilitation. There is also a separate post on creating a safe space for a workshop on Zoom.

Two participants withdrew from the workshop because they had other things going on in their lives (and the fact that the workshop was online was not a major issue). The remaining 10 participants attended all the sessions except two who missed a session when they were sick or had technological issues in the first session.

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Reflections halfway into our first online AVP workshop

We (Graeme Stuart and Rob Duncan from Newcastle, and Selene Moonbeams and Jim Thom from Western Australia) are half way through a 20-hour Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) online workshop (eight 2.5-hour sessions over four weeks) held via Zoom. Our first! The following are some reflections about the process so far. While the reflections will be particularly relevant for AVP facilitators, they may be of interest to others offering online workshops. (See What are AVP workshops? for an overview an AVP face-to-face workshop.)

We are very happy with how the workshop is going, believe that the group has successfully built quite a sense of community and are convinced of the value of offering AVP online. While the workshops are different and some aspects are probably not as successful, there are other advantages and we believe offering workshops online will make it possible for people who would otherwise not attend a workshop, to do so.

There are 12 participants (a 13th registered but did not join) and four facilitators. Only 10 participants made it to the first session as one person tried to join the workshop but had technological problems, and another had an appointment they could not avoid. As we had organised the workshop on short notice, another was only able to attend the first half of the session due to a prior commitment. While AVP would often not allow somebody to join after the first session, we thought it was not demonstrating caring for others if we said no to the person who tried to get on but was unable to. As we were going to have to incorporate a new person into the workshop, we decided to also invite the second person who was not able to join the first session. A facilitator contacted each of the three participants to fill them in with what had happened. In session two, the group was able to incorporate them well and we don’t think it has had a significant impact on the group.

Everybody joined the second session although one person did leave the workshop half-way through. We are quite concerned as we don’t know why they left, and we haven’t been able to contact them since, despite several attempts to do so. We don’t know if technical issues made them drop-out, if they decided to leave, if something happened that made them feel unsafe or if there was something else.

We feel we need to be flexible around attendance as in each of Sessions 3 and 4, somebody has been unable to attend due to sickness or some other unavoidable reason.

The following are some of our strategies that we think have helped and some things we have learned.

Planning

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