Je Ne Sais Quoi (Historic Preservation in Omaha)

Historic Preservation 2Purpose
Omaha is a city rich with character and historic architecture. Although there is a wide range of parties invested in building Omaha’s future, these stakeholders struggle to find a common vision for the city’s historic buildings. Tension from past debates and decisions has a significant impact on current discussions. We hope to lay the groundwork for deeper relationships and more positive communication on historic preservation options in the development process. An environment of communication and mutual respect will support a well-balanced vision of the city’s future that retains its unique identity. More

Unexpected Benefits

Benefits 2When I signed on with the FIT Team, I really couldn’t have told you much about facilitation. Eighteen months later I’m amazed at how much intensive facilitation training has changed our team, our understanding of community engagement, and potentially our organization.  I could never have anticipated how it’s changed me both personally and professionally. More

It’s About Strategy

Facilitation SkillsI facilitated a group working on infrastructure development strategies at the Heartland 2050 morning session on July 23rd.  This was second stage work for the Vision Committee.  Small groups had identified desired regional outcomes by 2050 in the June 11th session.  Since then the project’s steering committee and consultants had drafted strategies to “seed” the work of today’s session.  This session’s goal was to identify three actionable strategies for each outcome.  Small groups would review the objectives and draft strategies; brainstorm additional strategies; and report their top three strategies per outcome to the entire room. More

Prisoner Reentry – Cooperative Homecoming

Prisoner Reentry 1Joanne Ferguson Cavanaugh, Megan Klein-Hewett, and I conducted a facilitated discussion on prisoner reentry at the Benson Branch Library on Thursday, April 10, 2014.  Our project proposal describes the meeting’s purpose and goal:

Nebraska state prisons are 53% over capacity.  Proposed legislation to lessen this overcrowding would result in more former convicts reentering the community.  While many groups are working to address the impact and needs of ex-inmates, there is no nexus for reentry information and services.  Uniform access to services and increased communication between service providers will lessen the duplication of services and allow service providers to strengthen their services, leading to more positive reentry outcomes.  This will strengthen the Omaha community by reducing unemployment and recidivism and strengthening families.


Music Education

Music Education 2Purpose Statement:
Access to music education is transformative. Youth involved in music cultivate crucial skills, fulfill their creative potential, and grow into complete persons. Unfortunately, barriers to musical exploration are high, especially as beginning students face steep instrument costs and school music budgets fall. This project will unite music educators and students to reduce these barriers to access, especially at the upper elementary and middle school level when students are most likely to explore instrumental music. More

Facilitation Meets Youth Services

Youth Services Meeting Ground RulesI was recently invited to facilitate a meeting of our Youth Services staff.  Since my early facilitation experiences were in an informal book club setting, I appreciated the chance to facilitate a more structured meeting.  The group was meeting to reflect on the highs and lows of our 2013 Summer Reading Program and to brainstorm programs for the first half of 2014.  After receiving the agenda and time goals in advance, I planned activities and techniques that would move the discussion forward.  Since the meeting had three “phases”, I chose a slightly different mechanic for each topic. More

“Aha” Moments

Mark Sorensen Facilitator TrainingThe biggest challenge from our three-day facilitation and evaluation training?  Thinking about what I do – and to be a little abstract, our role in our community – in a new way.  As we practiced skills for organizing meetings, connecting conversations, and assessing processes and outcomes, I found myself thinking, “This is so unfamiliar!  It feels unlike what I do, the work that I’ve learned intimately, and poured myself into for the last eight years.”