Bettina Fung sums up the group’s reflection on this study period and includes some more of her thoughts.
We held a reflection session after our bursary supported study period and bounced off ideas for our next step, which is still taking form. All in all, we seemed to want to remain as a group but the structure of how we work together and what to do next is now open for discussion. I feel that the most important thing is for us to individually recognise our reasons for being in this group and our desire of what to explore together next.
The supported period afforded us the space to gather, exchange thoughts, share concerns and frustrations we encounter in our practice, and having this space to share was important. Most of us saw the value in studying together, perhaps studying became a way of being together particularly in this time of a global pandemic. Some felt it enabled them to touch on subjects they would never have come across, hence a chance to be outside of their practice. It seemed that we all have taken something out of the sessions and as the topics were so rich most are still in the process of digesting what we covered. We also noticed how intense the sessions were. It could be due to the enthusiasm of wanting to cover a lot of ground, we all put way too much into a session and left little time for discussions, which was something we all enjoyed. Perhaps we hadn’t fully realised just how intense and how much focus video conference platforms demanded. It is very easy to forget what the body needs (i.e. to rest or to move) and to just power through to achieve outcomes and be productive.
The group consists of members with varied experiences in facilitation and session planning and all have different methods and styles. From the standard presentations, talks, reading and discussions to a sound recording exercise, a movement activity as a way to process what was learnt to collective cooking, role playing and off screen activities, I feel we all gained experience and additional skills in facilitation from having to organise and oversee a session. We also learnt from each other’s methods of sharing knowledge. I am glad we were all open to new ways of working and welcomed exploring new online tools such as Padlet, which we used in two sessions.
One of us mentioned in the reflection meeting that organising, preparing and facilitating a session could be considered as a form of care, where the order of activities are curated ensuring participants are ok and included, and I couldn’t agree more. Doing these tasks is also an opportunity to help us learn to communicate better and to examine whether certain normative/assumed ways of doing things could actually be exclusive or not as helpful. Splitting into pairs/group of three to plan a session enabled members to take responsibility and perhaps gain a sense of ownership of the group. It was also a great way to collaborate as not everyone has worked together before.
I see myself being drawn to wanting to further explore structures, group dynamics and group decision-making strategies, all the components in self-organising. I believe this is integral to making social change. The structures that support us to make change matters. For wanting to change a system we must also recognise how much the system itself is embedded within us through scrutinising our assumed way of being, the way we operate and what we expect of each other. Otherwise we will be perpetuating something we are trying to change. Coming back to care is important. It is because of care we listen, we give our time, we hold space for others. I notice how easy it is to fall into a system of deadlines, clearly defined objectives and the pressure to show outcomes to prove worthiness, especially when it comes to funding (not saying these things are all negative but it is often assumed to be the only way to be). Therefore I am very appreciative of how much freedom each peer-group had in this bursary programme that enabled us to just test things out and learn without the pressure of having a defined outcome. Even though there was a time constraint, where all activities must be completed by the end of January, I feel that we all benefited greatly from it and it was a very fruitful period. I hope there will be more programmes like this.
In regards to time, specifically taking time, I notice how important causal conversations can be, which could at times be even more fruitful than in a timed organised meeting. A chat over a cup of tea or a meal could become a meaningful exchange where knowledge is shared, concerns and issues voiced out and new ideas formed, all of these outcomes couldn’t be predicted or controlled. The issue then is who has the time to chat when is it not labelled as work related? I wonder whether funding bodies see the value in a slow and well-being centred approach, giving time and cultivating the conditions to allow things to emerge, like patiently taking care, trusting and waiting for the seeds to take the time they need to germinate and sprout.