Facilitative Leadership For A Living Democracy
By Rosa González
If you’re paying attention, you know the challenges of our time are calling on us to make some fundamental shifts, at every level, from the internal to the global. Our survival on the planet may depend on our capacity to shift from isolation to belonging, from consumption to creativity, from competition to mutuality. How will we make these shifts? There is an overlooked capacity in our society that is needed now as much as ever: the capacity of the facilitator leader. Facilitator leaders work behind the scenes, supporting groups to envision new possibilities, make clear-eyed assessments of where we are now, and take coordinated leaps across the gaps between where we are now, and where we have the potential to go together.
A living democracy means knowing who we are, reclaiming our connection and our creativity, and rebuilding the world in accordance with natural law. It means shifting into models of community governance and deep stewardship. The skills of facilitative leadership can awaken this possibility in us. To that end, this book explores four foundational areas of practice: Uncovering Purpose, Seeding, Harvesting, and Weaving:
To Uncover Purpose is to:
- Dig for deeper meaning, vision, and impact
- Illuminate the path forward
- Find what unites us
- Go beyond performance
To Seed is to:
- Be conscious of the covert messages and potentiality held within different forms (e.g. circle vs. lines, discussion vs. lecture, thinking vs. playing, homogeneous vs. diverse groups, etc.)
- Choose forms that hold the values and messages needed to achieve a shared vision
- Cultivate the conditions for those values and shared vision to sprout and thrive
- See and cultivate the gifts and strengths within communities and new leaders
- Embody the values at the heart of the work
To Harvest is to:
- Practice deep and inquisitive listening that allows you to pull out essential strands of wisdom and apply them where they are most useful
- To locate, map, categorize, refine, clarify, and shape ideas, lessons, priorities, values, solutions, and knowledge
- Create opportunities for the gifts and strengths of communities and individuals to be activated
To Weave is to:
- Make choices about what strands are needed when, where and why
- Integrate strands into new and needed narratives
- Pull strands together into practical tools that support the health and balance of an ecosystem
- Bring diverse groups together to unite a range of perspectives or strengths in service of a shared vision
Rosa González was born into the Movimiento Chicano in 1974 to an Irish/Italian mom and a Mexican/Guatemalan (Maya Quiché) dad. At a young age, she began to navigate racial, class and cultural borders, and dreamed of what institutions like education and government might be like if they were designed by folks who cared about people and the planet. Grounded in education, political theater, and land-based philosophies, she is always paying attention to creative process and practice.
With more than 20 years of experience in popular education and transformative facilitation, Rosa is dedicated to a thriving culture of participation where communities come together to solve social, environmental, and economic challenges. Through her project, Facilitating Power, she has partnered with dozens of organizations, agencies, and community leaders to develop participatory approaches to building community resilience and grassroots power. She wrote the Framework on Community-Driven Climate Resilience Planning, and the Spectrum of Community Engagement to Ownership, in collaboration with climate justice leaders from around the country, and is working to deepen collaboration between the public and private sectors at the local level through multiple city-based initiatives. She has designed and directed programs for the Movement Strategy Center, The Building Healthy Communities Initiative, The Alliance for Climate Education, Green For All, and the Partnership for Immigrant Leadership and Action. She currently designs and facilitates the VISION | POWER | SOLUTIONS workshop series on community-driven planning for racial and climate justice in collaboration with the National Association of Climate Resilience Planners to build the capacity of community-based facilitators through a thriving community of practice.
Rosa has a gift for accessing the core values at the heart of any effort and weaving shared narratives that unify groups around big vision and concrete practices. She is also a student of Vedic, Nahuatl, and Mayan wisdom, committed to practicing the lessons of our ancestors — to bring balance — with all our relations.