July Facilitation & Consensus Course Offered in Northern Italy

The International Institute for Facilitation and Consensus and Ecovillage Torri Superiore are offering a course titled ?“Facilitation and Consensus?” July 2-8, 2004, in Northern Italy. Participants in this course will learn skills that will serve them well in every aspect of their lives, including the impact of rank and privilege on group process, dealing with ?“difficult people,?” avoiding wasted time in meetings, building cohesion among group members, and creating an atmosphere of trust and safety. Other topics will include how to balance participation between the talkative and the timid, handling ?“experts?” and dealing with personal attacks. Less dramatic, but perhaps even more practical tools include agenda planning, meeting site preparation, ground rules meeting evaluation.

Facilitation - a new form of leadership
The facilitator-as-leader is committed to collaboration, consensus and high quality decision-making. The ability to facilitate meetings that are both participatory and productive is a fundamental skill for this new kind of leader. Other key characteristics include knowing how to draw out the best in others, respect for diversity and resourcefulness in the face of conflict.

Consensus ?– a decision-making process that supports visionary change
Consensus process provides a structure for transforming the passion of change-oriented groups into effective action. The intention is to go beyond the traditional push-and-pull of individual egos to forge decisions that incorporate the best thinking of all the participants and produce decisions that everyone can support. Properly used, consensus can be an antidote to the apathy and cynicism that prevent many people from even attempting to work in a group.

Participatory learning
Our teaching method is designed to engage the head, heart and senses. When we present theory, it is supported by colorful graphics and examples drawn from our own experience. Then participants test the concepts in individual and group exercises, challenge them in discussions and apply them in practice sessions. Our goal is to prepare the students in the course to be more confident, participatory leaders who can share power and move toward a common goal .

Minimal Prerequisites
We are looking for people who belong to groups (whether as part of their work or in their personal or civic life) and want to improve the way those groups function. Previous experience with facilitation and/or consensus, while useful, is not necessary. Those who successfully complete the training will receive a certificate from the Institute.

Experienced Trainers
Beatrice Briggs. Since 1992 Beatrice has given dozens of workshops on facilitation and consensus decision-making in Latin America, Europe, the United States and Canada. She is recognized as a dynamic and inspiring teacher. As a facilitator, Beatrice has served groups ranging in size from 3 to 300 people. She is the author of the manual Introduction to Consensus and has written many articles about facilitation, conflict resolution and group process.

Lucilla Borio. A founding member of Ecovillage Torri Superiore, since 1989 she has been involved in community creation and network management. Lucilla served from 1999 to 2003 as the Executive Secretary of the Global Ecovillage Network of Europe (GEN-Europe), and in 2001/2002 as Chair of GEN International. She is a student of Bea Briggs, and has facilitated meeting of intentional communities, ecovillages, permaculture activists and civil groups in general.

Setting ?– Torri Superiore
The medieval village of Torri Superiore is a jewel of popular architecture, built entirely in stone in the Ligurian hinterland near Ventimiglia (Imperia), a few km. from the Riviera and the French border. The ecovillage is at an altitude of 80 meters at the foot of the Ligurian Alps, in a green valley surrounded by olive and lemon trees. The guest centre features common dining rooms and terraces, single, double and shared bedrooms, bathrooms with solar warm water, a separate meditation room. Beautiful walks and swims are available in the vicinity.

Fees and Registration
The fee for the course is Euro 500. It includes accommodation in the medieval village (shared rooms) and full board. The diet is based on local and organic food, prepared with the care and taste of the best Mediterranean cuisine.

For more information:
Ecovillage Torri Superiore
Via Torri Superiore 5 - 18039 Ventimiglia (Imperia) Italy
tel. +39 0184 215504 - fax +39 0184 215914

Added February 27, 2004