Facilitation Workshop Notes

[ Hi Folks – These are the notes I (Kat) took during the facilitation workshop we had before winter break. They formatted themselves a little funny but I’m not sure how to edit them. Please let me know if they need clarifying ]


“What is consensus & How does it work?”
An informal facilitation workshop with Stephan Fink and Jillian Quinn Buckley of Occupy Wall Street



  • got in two groups, gave us the question: what would make you feel more comfortable in this space? to get accustomed to process
  • reviewed hand signals: spirit fingers, block
  • in facilitation – during review, she asked to hear from female-bodied folks since people who had spoken were both men

Ground Rules

  • active listening/internalizing
  • step up/step back: if you’re speaking a lot, sometimes step back and vise versa
  • be aware of voice volume
  • be aware of time limits
  • be present
  • progressive stack: folks with hands raised – people who are typically marginalized get listed first on stack if hands raised at same time. Same for folks who speak a lot.
  • look at needs behind what someone is saying, rather than comparing opinion: be empathetic, constructive
  • respect the space: self-facilitate, don’t put “baggage” on others
    • She went through and did temp check on items
      • brief discussion of gender powers on campus vs. general society
      • clarification of computer use


  • way of taking notes
  • Pizza example
  • like bubble graph
  • way of thinking “expansively” since our brains don’t really work linearly
  • in facilitation, he asks to hear last one from someone who hasn’t spoken yet

Consensus Explanation

    • applause in sign language is spirit fingers up – means I’m In Agreement
      • nuances of hand signals
  • finger pointing up – Point Of Information
    • info that changes the dialogue
    • used if person speaking is basing what they’re saying on wrong info
    • is a FACT that is a FACT to everyone
    • IMMEDIATELY gets attention, jumps folks on stack
  • “C” shape is clarifying question
    • recognizing that there’s something ambiguous about what person is saying that needs clarification
    • IMMEDIATELY gets attention, jumps folks on stack
  • Hands in shape of up triangle
    • Point of Process
    • gets folks on track – brings us to the agenda point we’re at
    • used often if we’re on Questions and some begins to rant instead of ask question
    • Should be directed at facilitator – NOT at person who is off process
  • Wagging fingers back and forth away from body
    • used to ask facilitator for permission to do the back and forth, get permission first
    • calls folks out for individual conversation if inappropriate, if convo doesn’t pertain to everyone
    • solution: ‘come talk with me afterward’
    • similar to point of process, actually, use point of process instead
  • Block
    • forearms crossed across chest
    • means: I have moral ethical safety concern that’s so big and I’ve tried raising this in other forms and I feel like I’ve been left behind in this and if this goes on, I’m leaving
    • overused at OWS a lot
    • this is – “this is totally racist” and unacceptable NOT “I don’t agree”
    • ask, is this something that’s going to completely halt our movement? if so, then it’s appropriate
    • Discussion of Process: THIS PROCESS IS NOT VOTING
      • should take vibes on agenda
      • Fake Proposal: We should all wear green shirts from now on!!!
  1. Facilitator says, Now for the Proposal: Proposer person has floor, explains reasons for proposal
  2. Fac says, great. Questions? Open Stack:
  • take names, people talk individually and are answered individually
  • close stack if lots of repetitions
  1. Fac opens Concerns. Open Stack:
  • don’t have clarifying questions, but have concerns like, I hate Green
  1. Fac opens Friendly Amendments
  • “I think we should actually wear pink shirts”
  • make additions to proposal
  • Proposer can decide to take it or not take it
  • up to proposer to accept amendment: if someone has issue with amendment, can block it and then address that.
  1. Temp Check:
  • Proposer restates proposal with amendments accepted, doesn’t say ones not accepted
  • if not good reception, offer for them to table it
  • offer to meet with folks separately to have clarifying conversation so we can agree on something: a break-out group is suited for people who really care about the issue
  1. Ask for Blocks
  • No blocks? – CONSENSUS!!!!!!!!!!
  • Blocks: each gets to voice why
  • OWS does 9/10 – if ten percent are against, not doing it
  1. Stand Asides:
  • middle spirit fingers, or they stand aside
  • means: I’m not into it, not a moral concern though, but I understand its important to you so that’s okay
    • **OWS is using 9/10ths more often now, which is not cool
    • ROLES
  1. Facilitator
  • front of room, mirror back to the group what they’re seeing.
  • responsible for moving process forward,
  • do not give opinions or twinkle
  • keep folks accountable
  1. Stack Keeper
  • see people for stack
  • write name down
  1. Fac Greeter
  • help folks understand the process, explain why off process or what’s going on
  1. Vibes
  • calls group out for vibes, offers solutions to equalize vibes
  • spirit vegetables are one, dances, give inspirational speeches,
  1. Time
  • make signs, raise them
  • 1 min, 30 sec, times up
  • “We love you, Time is Up”

Roleplay Activity

  • We Leanred: use discretion regarding facilitator’s participation


  • To focus folks:
    • clap once if you can hear me, repeated until silent
    • Mic Check
      • not to be used if 2 people are arguing,
      • After usin Point of Process without avail, use instead clap once if you can hear me to bring back to silence so folks aren’t comfortable yelling anymore
      • Projecting
      • Redirecting folks if arguing –
      • “I’m hearing”
        • be active listeners, reflecting back what’s said in the room.
        • I’m hearing this concern, is it common?
        • Okay, you’re obviously uncomfortable with this person, so let’s get a mediator but move it out of the larger space
        • Provide outlet: Soap Box after GA or before
        • Building a culture
          • accountability to their actions
          • Facs should be cheerleader role, get people hyped – get people invested
            • take a moment to celebrate consensus
            • be supportive, but not personally involved
            • keep group vibes in mind
  • part of the process is breaking process when it needs to happen, taking group’s thoughts into consideration: ex. should we try to get consensus about this proposal, or postpone it for smaller meetings?
  • If folks are fighting and screaming, its your responsibility to settle it. BUT if they aren’t listening to your mediation, use the HAND SYMBOL of hands over head in shape of house: “Bring it home” “respect the house” – says to folks having side convos to be quiet, so fac can address fighting parties by saying, “I’m not moving forward until this is over”
  • Breakout Groups
    • who’s interested in specific thing? meet afterward
    • Bottom Lining
      • I’ll bottom line buying the tents
        • person responsible for finding tents at good prices, bringing back to group for consensus, logistically get to park
        • coordinator to get those things to happen

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