While at the International Anarchist Gathering in St Imier in Switzerland, a group formed to deal with the issues around accessibility, privilege and creation of safer spaces. Unfortunately such a major area seemed to have been completely overlooked buy the organisers of the event and the groups that formed spontaneously did a great job of trying their best to rectify the problems where they could.
I was kindly asked to give a brief summary of how a facilitator can help with accessibility and dealing with privilege in a meeting environment, at an open emergency meeting that the group called. About 150 or so people attended. This is not a how to on facilitation, if you want that I recommend looking on the seeds for change website as those guys are great and have some top resources available.
This was simply a brief overview and is transcribed below.
“As a facilitator it is important to be aware of the needs of those participating in the meeting as well as the personality characteristics of others.
The most common examples will be people who dominate meetings.
This is not to say that people who have a lot to say are dominating, but it is the role of the facilitator to prevent this from becoming a problem.
A common need will be those who feel uncomfortable speaking in a large group.
One way of dealing with this is to split a large group in to smaller ones of five or six who can then feed back to the main meeting.
Another issue for the facilitator is how to give fair and proportional time and space to people who do not have the same privileges as others. Such as and form of disability, people of colour, gender, and in this situation, language, to give an incomplete list.
This can be aided using the stack system. Does everyone know what I mean by the stack system?
Put simply usually who ever puts their hand up first speaks first, but in this system you can take note of who has put their hand up to speak and then move people higher up the stack.
T facilitator does not have to do first come first served and can move people to the top of the stack where appropriate.
This is not a rule, but instead a state of awareness and understanding of the role of privilege. That the life experiences and view points of a straight, white, able bodied, English speaking Male, without learning difficulties is just one view point.”
St. Imier, Switzerland – 11/08/2012