I’m Maggie and I’m Here

I'm HereBeing a part of the FIT Team couldn’t have come at a better time for me.  Midway through our grant, my office moved into the Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center (CEC) on the University of Nebraska Omaha (UNO) campus.  Omaha Public Library (OPL) is one of 30 community or UNO organizations housed in the CEC.  The CEC’s purpose is to inspire and support collaborative efforts that benefit the community as a whole.  It is also “the only stand-alone, comprehensive, engagement-specific university facility in the country” according to UNO’s website. More

A Completely Different Person

Completely New PersonAlthough a lot has changed over the last year and a half of FIT Team training for me, little of it is concrete or easily defined.  Unlike other FIT Team members, I haven’t changed jobs and haven’t had any major life changes.  I feel like a completely different person.  I’m more confident, more outspoken, and more forgiving of myself which is a result of my time on the FIT Team.  I really think a couple of experiences provide the best example of how I’ve been helped by the training we went through and the team that formed. More

I Want to Be in a Meeting Like That!

I Want to Be in a Meeting Like That!When I was called downtown to talk to Theresa Jehlik I wondered what that was all about.  She inquired about my interest in becoming a member of a new FIT Team.  I thought, “Sure, I guess I’m game for anything…”  I had already attended some meetings facilitated by Cheryl Gould and Sam McBane Mulford at Omaha Public Library.  I was impressed how confident and comfortable they were in their facilitator roles.  They acted like they had known us all our lives!  These “meetings” didn’t always seem like a “meeting” in the traditional sense because they weren’t!  By using games and activities to bring people together (I mean EVERYONE, even the traditionally shy and reserved people who never spoke), everyone was thoroughly engaged and loved it.  There was a great sense of play, camaraderie, and connection that made the time fun, memorable, and productive.  My staff who attended facilitated meetings returned to the branch more energized and shared the experience!  I want to be in meetings like that!  I want to help facilitate meetings like that! More

Growing Through Facilitation

EmpathyI was very new to the library when I attended the Omaha Public Library’s Staff Day where Sam McBane Mulford and Cheryl Gould introduced facilitation by having volunteers guide a conversation at each table.  For some reason I thought, “I can do this”.  Public speaking is not something I was comfortable with.  Although I came from a previous office where you didn’t express your thoughts or ideas even when asked, I kept thinking that this is something I could do.  I felt good about this small table facilitation. More

I’m Here

I'm HereI’m here.

I can still hear Linda Trout’s voice saying “I’m here”.  This was the first facilitation training activity at the beginning of the grant project’s FIT Team.  Before I say anything else, I need to say there is no wrong way to say “I’m here”.  Some people asked it like a question: “I’m here?”  Others said it meekly: “I’m here.”  Participants were asked to stand in a circle, and when ready, step one-by-one into the circle’s center, make eye contact with everyone else, and say those two words.  Some people said “I’m here” as fast as possible and bee lined it back to their spot.  Linda actually turned around and looked at everyone in the circle.  The “I’m here” she said that morning had deep, invisible roots that held firmly to the building’s foundation.  I had no idea what was going through Linda’s mind but it felt like Linda was truly here.  Not pretending to be here.  Not wishing she was here.  Present. More

Final FIT Team Thoughts

Safe EnvironmentI had only been employed at OPL a few short months in Summer 2013.  Since my entire professional library experience had been in academic libraries, I was learning both public library work and my branch manager position.  It was overwhelming at times to learn a new job and how to facilitate community conversations.  I happily discovered the FIT Team such a source of support and camaraderie throughout this year and a half that all the ups and downs were more bearable. More

Full Circle

Full CircleMy FIT Team colleagues and I recently facilitated a quarterly meeting of the Community Services Section for Lutheran Family Services.  I remember looking around the room and observing the participants’ reactions as we ran the icebreaker and other group activities.  There was rolling of the eyes, confusion, disinterest, etc.  I was worried.  Would they get anything out of this process?  As I let go of this worry, I reflected back on my first meeting to learn about facilitation.  I too rolled my eyes, was somewhat disinterested, AND inserted my opinion often!  I changed. More

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