Low-Tech Solutions Work Best

Low Tech Tools 1Low-tech solutions (i.e. great portable facilitator kits with good quality supplies) proved to be the best for community conversations.  Our initial assumption that most meetings would take place in the library was wrong.  Although some meetings took place in the library, many were at non-library locations.  We expect this trend to increase as we work with more community groups.

Since our initial assumption was discovered to be wrong early, we re-thought the technology budgeted for the grant.  Money originally earmarked for smart boards and projectors to be installed in library meeting rooms was instead used to buy portable facilitator kits and good quality supplies for our 12 branches.  These kits proved so invaluable that the library now budgets annually for facilitation supplies in our Community Services Budget.      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

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

I Carry Blue Painter’s Tape in My Bag

Blue Painter's TapeHow has the FIT Team experience helped you in your personal and professional life?

Ah, let me count the ways.

Personally

First, the ground rules had great influence in my life.  Second, I made some incredible personal connections through this experience.  Third, I learned things that have been useful in all aspects of my life.  Fourth, I connected with my kids through the games and activities we have done.

I previously wrote a few posts about how the ground rules became part of my personal life.  The one that has had, and continues to have, the most impact, is Everything is an Offer.  That attitude of gratitude and acceptance is very powerful.  I need to keep it in mind more often – especially as my kids become teenagers. More

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