Shout Out youth forum – planning

Our planning for the youth forum is progressing. It feels like it is going to be Art of Hosting on speed!

I met with students from the TAFE youth work course, Council staff and people from the Salvation Army youth service Oasis this week to do some more planning. The plan for youth facilitators is taking shape with 7-8 youth work students aged under 25 are going to take a lead role in the facilitation and others are going to help in other ways. All the students aged under 25 are going to be playing dual roles. going to be participants in the forum. They fit the target group for the forum so they will be participants and join in the discussion. They will also help with facilitation either as an “identified” facilitator or informally by joining in tables and encouraging everybody to have their say.

We are using a number of processes that are used in Art of Hosting. After providing a bit of an overview of the day we are stating our assumptions:

  1. We all have something of value to bring
  2. We will respect each other (no put downs; respect ideas, disagreement fine but we aren’t trying to convince people they are wrong, discussion rather than argument )
  3. We will share the space (people who normally say give others a chance; people who normally don’t say much, have the courage to share your ideas and insights with everybody else)
  4. We will think about how we represent ourselves (videos, photos, face book, notes from flip chart etc will go to Council, people are watching! Sydney Swans No dickheads policy)
  5. We will work hard and have fun

Our introductions are quick one word answers around the whole group (a bit like a Mexican wave): Name, where they are from (e.g., what school), something I like and then we send a clap around the room and finish with a clap altogether. The aim is to break the ice a bit and to help create a sense of energy.

We then use three main processes (two of which are used in Art of Hosting). The first is World Cafe where will be asking three questions for conversations at tables of 4-5:

  1. What time is it in Newcastle? (two rounds)
  2. What makes Newcastle unique?
  3. What else could Newcastle be?

After the first round we ask the person with the longest hair at the table to stay as a host on the table and to briefly overview the previous discussion. We are encouraging everybody to draw, doodle or write on the flip chart on the tables to encourage less vocal participants. After each questions we will be asking each table to briefly bring back “two pieces of gold” from their conversation.

The second process is open space where participants are asked What idea would you like to work on right NOW? I’ll explain more about open space in more detail, but there is a brief introduction here.

The final process involves  exploring ideas further through creative processes such as painting, digital story telling, street poetry, movie making etc.

The room is going to be set up with concentric circles in the middle of the room and tables for the conversations around the outside. On two sides of the circle we will have scribes writing up key information, the questions etc. We will also have an illustrator/cartoonist on either side of the circle capturing key points visually.

The pace of the first two processes will be very quick. Each of the world cafe questions will be discussed for 5 minutes only and the open space questions will be discussed for 15 minutes. We are also encouraging participants to comment on a FaceBook site through out the forum.

The last I heard we had about 50 people coming and hope to get more before Tuesday. If you are in Newcastle and are interested call 4974 2820 or email

My role will be to act as a coach and to provide the gallery view – explaining how they might be able to use some of the processes in their school, youth group etc. I’m really look forward to seeing how it all goes.

[There are some reflections on how the forum went here.]

If you liked this post, you might also like:

  1. What is a World Café?
  2. Setting the context for a world cafe
  3. A World Cafe in a school – a step-by-step description
  4. Making parents feel welcome in schools
  5. Nonviolence as a Framework for Youth Work Practice

About Graeme Stuart

Lecturer (Family Action Centre, Newcastle Uni), blogger (Sustaining Community), Alternatives to Violence Project facilitator, environmentalist, father. Passionate about families, community development, peace, sustainability.
This entry was posted in Facilitation & teaching, Working with communities and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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