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Welcome to Facilitation Stories, where we discover how facilitators ended up in the profession, and how facilitation methods, principles and techniques are used more widely. Brought to you by IAF England and Wales. For more information on our chapter, click here.

Oct 6, 2020

In today's episode, Helene Jewell talks to TWO guests!
First to Susannah Raffe and then to Cat Duncan-Rees and the episode focuses on the IAFEW Conference 19 - 23 October 2020.

These show notes include a transcript, below usual summary. 

On Twitter, we are @fac_stories and @HeleneJewell

You can register now:
There are concessions available for IAF members, and those in need of support. 

Susannah Raffe
Susannah is a facilitator, compassion advocate and climate communicator, and co-host of London Meetups. You can find her on LinkedIn and Twitter:

And bravely heading the planning of the conference, which of course this year is online.

Susannah focuses on helping people have better conversations about climate change. She started doing this back in 2014, and she started using this facilitation started in people's homes. She also coaches change makers, on a one-one basis.

She's used the last six months to reflect on what's important to her, as facilitator and human, leading her to call herself a "compassion advocate".

The conference is taking place between 19 and 23 October. The conference will have a mix of sessions - for facilitators of all levels, including those who don't call themselves facilitators. The focus is on building community and getting to know each other, with morning coffees and evening networking sessions. You can drop in for five minutes, if you fancy it, or have longer conversations if you feel like it.

The signing up this year is different: you buy one ticket through Eventbrite,
which gives you access to a MeetUp group (as this is where the community already meets online), where you can sign up to the different sessions - some of them have capacity limits. This also gives you access to session leaders and other attendees to the session, both before and after the session.

There's a range of sessions, about different topics, exploratory conversations, how to support diversity and inclusion, and even a WhoDunnit mystery game and wine tasting (by previous guest Pinar, check out episode 16).

Susannah is looking forward to meeting some of the session leaders from outside the UK, enabled by the fact that the conference is online. This includes session leaders from Africa and India. At the moment there are no overlapping sessions (Helene is worried she won't be able to make all the ones she wants to go to!), but this might change as the programme is evolving.

Listeners, check out the programme, which looks amazing! Susannah feels like preparing the schedule has been like baking: getting all the ingredients together, and then put them all together rapidly, at the same time. (Editor notes: she's done great!)

It being online, has allowed the process to be more emergent, adapting the format to a host the proposals, so that the community can guide the content. Being online has allowed it to be a week long, rather than two days. The Meetup group will continue to be open for further connections - of course attendees can come from wherever in the world, even though the programme has been curated with the EW chapter in mind.

Helene has got her head round the fact that the conference is going to be online, and is much more aware of the benefits, including the diversity of attendees. And Susannah has been crashing other regional meetups, and felt very welcome!

17.01mins Cat Duncan-Rees
Our second guest is Cat Duncan-Rees, curator of change, creative disruptor, pirate, wife and mum!

Cat fell into facilitator in the public sector, after seeing someone else do great work, and being mentored by them. She uses many techniques from PinPoint, and mashed it with other practices, "doing what makes sense and hopes for the best" (like most of us!).

Cat has recently joined the IAFEW Leadership team and is now standing for the board, she finds herself landing in these situations when they most makes sense. She's been around the IAF for a while, and started going to the Manchester meetups. She was going to run a session at the IAF Global summit, which was cancelled - and after attending a virtual meetup, and having an interesting conversation (which features in our own Facilitation Stories episode 20), she was encouraged to "stay around" and become more involved. Her and John Varney ran a session for IAFEW, and more! She's even become part of our Podcast Team!
(You can hear Cat also in episode 20 )

She finds she can both learn and pass on plenty of stuff in the facilitator community.

Cat is running TWO sessions in the conference:

Upping the Facilitation Game in a Time of Crisis, with John Varney, and

Be More Pirate (which was the one she'd already planned)

Upping the Facilitation Game in a Time of Crisis is a follow up/extension of the conversations they've already been having on the future of facilitation As facilitators, we are privileged to hold the space for others, so there is a responsibility to be aware of how we are shaping the conversations, and our own influence. Is our "neutrality" also preventing us from being part of those conversations? 

What does it mean to be human? "Our own humanity is a fundamental part of the shift we're going through." That's how we'll be starting the week! (It wowed Helene!)

About her second session, Be More Pirate, what is a "pirate"?
The Be More Pirate movement (of social change)  started with the book of the same name. The session, which she is co-leading with Alex Barker , will look at how to apply the "pirate" principles in organisations operating more like "the navy", and how rules be rewritten, and challenge the status quo. 

If we're serious about upping the facilitation game and create a better society, what would it look like if we applied the Pirate principles?  

Helene really wants to go to both sessions, to make her brain hurt... join her, listeners! 

Links to people:

Our host: @HeleneJewell on Twitter

Helene Jewell 0:00
Hello facilitators and friends and welcome to Episode 25 of Facilitation Stories brought to you by the England and Wales chapter of the International Association of facilitators. To find out more about us head over to And follow us on twitter @IAFEnglandWales.

My name is Helene Jewell, and I'm your host for this episode, which is going to focus on the October conference. And that's happening between the 19th and 23rd of October, and it's online. Today I'm joined first by Susannah Raffe, who is going to tell us a bit more about the conference itself and about herself hopefully, and then by Cat Duncan-Rees, who's going to talk a bit more about the session that she's leading at the conference.

So first up we have Susannah. Susannah is a facilitator, compassion advocate and climate communicator who helps people to engage bravely with the big scary issues of our time, using the climate crisis as a starting point. She is a member of the IAF England and Wales leadership team and co host of the IAF London meetups. She's also bravely taken on heading up the conference planning this year. Welcome, Susannah.

Susannah Raffe 1:11
Hi, Helene.

Helene Jewell 1:12
How are you?

Susannah Raffe 1:13
I'm good. I'm good. Right in the midst of all that conference planning?

Helene Jewell 1:17
Excellent. So yes, I know, you've ended up driving it along quite nicely. So before we head into conference land, what I thought I'd ask you about is your work. And if you could tell us a little bit more about the kind of facilitation that you do.

Susannah Raffe 1:32
Yeah. So my background is in sustainability and climate change. And that's how I got into facilitation through that didn't a lot of my roles involve facilitation. A couple of years ago, around 2014, I started looking at, you know, the power of conversations in bringing about climate action. So I focused on how to have better conversations about climate change. And that started with an organisation back home in Australia called climate for change. And we set up that organisation to facilitate conversations in people's homes, with their friends and families about the climate crisis. Because sometimes those conversations can be hardest with the people closest to us, and to generate that understanding and generate a social climate for strong action on the climate crisis. And so when I moved to the UK, I thought, How can I bring those learnings more broadly, and realising that it's not just climate change, where there's a lot of polarisation and difficult conversations, but that is always my starting point, because that's my background. So I run workshops on how to have better conversations on climate change. those tools are applicable to all sorts of issues big and small. And I also am now offering coaching one to one for changemakers, who are looking for different ways to engage with other people and have those conversations and practice having those conversations.

Helene Jewell 2:55
Amazing. And has that has your work changed a lot recently, over the last six months or so?

Susannah Raffe 3:01
Yeah, I guess I've had a lot more time to sort of think about what I offer, who I am in all of this. And just reconnecting with, with what's important to me, as a facilitator and as a professional as a person as a human. And that's where the phrase compassion advocate has come from. Because all of my work is based around bringing more compassion into our conversations, whether we're talking about climate, whether we're talking about COVID, whether we're talking about racism, or whether we're just talking about whose turn it is to unload the dishwasher.

Helene Jewell 3:34
Oh, fantastic. Yeah, let's not forget the small things. And we've got your email address and contact details at the bottom of the show notes so people will know their how to get in touch with you.

Susannah Raffe 3:48
And I'm very easy to find on the internet. My name is unique. So type it into Google, and you'll find me

Helene Jewell 3:53
Yeah, we're having a conversation before we about how to pronounce your surname, because it is quite an unusual one. Okay, so let's talk conference. Now let me get the dates, right. It's happening over five days, I believe. And that's the 19th to the 23rd of October. And it is all online. Can you tell us a bit more about how it's structured and how it's set up?

Susannah Raffe 4:19
Yeah, sure. So yes, it is 19th to the 23rd. We will be opening the conference at 9:30 on the 19th at the moment, that's what we're planning to do. And it's going to be a mix of so obviously lots of learning sessions, workshops on on facilitation and looking at the lineup it is for all levels. So whether you're starting out in facilitation or whether you're really experienced there is something for everybody and everything in between. We will also make it really about community and building community and getting to know each other. So we've got our coffees in the morning, our coffee in the lobby in the morning at 830 and evenings. We'll have evening networking from 5:30 That's sort of trying to mimic that, that face to face conference feel. So you know, face to face conference, you might show up to the lobby a little bit early, go to the coffee station, make your coffee, talk to some people there. And so that's what that coffee in the lobby session in the morning is, if you can only drop in for five minutes to say hello, because you've got other work to do, that's fine. Or if you can come and stay for the whole hour to have a chat and a debrief before the sessions get started. That's great also, and similarly in the afternoon in the evenings. And so yeah, they sort of bookend days, and then lots of learning in the middle, as well as some really fun sessions too.

Helene Jewell 5:33
And if people want to sign up for the conference, do they have to sign up for particular sessions within the conference? Or do they have a one ticket and they can sort of just drop in and out? How does that work?

Susannah Raffe 5:46
Yeah, it's one ticket for the whole thing. And you get that on on the Eventbrite link. That's always the best place to start for any information on this conference is to go to that Eventbrite link. And once you've signed up, wait, then what we've got is a private Meetup group, an exclusive Meetup group, because what where our community already meets is on meetup, we have seven different meetup groups around the country already, which we used to meet face to face. Now we meet online, all year round. That's where our community already meet. So we're setting up an exclusive Meetup group, just for the conference delegates, and that's where you will be able to sign up for each of the different sessions. Because obviously, some sessions will have capacity limits to them. So we'll be able to manage that there. But also, beauty of using meetup is that you can chat to other conference goers, you can get directly in touch with your session leader. If you're having trouble session leaders can get in touch directly with their attendees to let them know how to join, give them instructions on joining online, if there's any special things there, and just yeah sharing things. So I'm really excited about that element as well. But the first port of call is always going to be getting your ticket on Eventbrite and then let you know how to join meetup.

Helene Jewell 7:00
Brilliant. So it sounds like there's a real kind of focus on community and enabling funny that because we're all facilitators, enabling conversations and people to kind of connect and have those opportunities to sort of meet up with each other in the virtual space.

Susannah Raffe 7:16
Yeah. So we obviously wanted to have some really strong learnings. And we've got some great sessions, introducing new tools and techniques, as well as looking at some familiar favourites and taking them online, like open space technology, which for most of us were like, How on earth would you do that online? Let's find out. And then we've got, you know, exploratory conversations about what it means to be a facilitator in this time of crisis, as the world changes, and also thinking about how we can more strongly support diversity and inclusion in big questions like that. So there's a whole range of things. So lots of really strong learning. But also you're getting together and having a good old chat. And we also, I just can't avoid mentioning that we've got some really fun things, including an online wine tasting, and a whodunit murder mystery game. So super excited. And probably more of those things to come. So as the programme evolves

Helene Jewell 8:12
And I think that's really nice that there's a kind of fun element as well, as you know, after a day of learning, maybe Yeah, bit of wine tasting. I'm very intrigued as to how that's going to work virtually it sounds fascinating. But all these kind of nice things, that sort of buffering the main element of the conference, that sounds great,

Susannah Raffe 8:31
Yeah, we don't want to just sort of have sessions and then leave people to themselves in their in their room. This is a conference and we want people to be engaged with each other. So hopefully, the wine tasting will help.

Helene Jewell 8:44
So aside from the wine tasting, is there a session that you yourself are particularly excited about? Or a couple of sessions? I don't know what kinds of things stick out for you?

Susannah Raffe 8:54
Um, so I'm, well, I guess one thing about this being online is that some of our session leaders are calling in from around the world. So we've got some insights from outside of the UK, coming to our conference, which is really exciting. And we do have a session around diversity and inclusion by John Cornwell, Monica Atim & Basil Manning, and they're calling in from several different countries in Africa and really excited to get their experience and their insight. We've also got session leaders calling in from India, parts of Europe, and then also all across the UK, and bringing, bringing their different perspectives. So I'm just really excited about that.

Helene Jewell 9:41
Wow, those sessions sound really cool. I'm gonna be just sort of struggling to know which ones to go to, but they are all what's the word consecutive aren't there there aren't parallel sessions. Am I right

Susannah Raffe 9:52
At the moment with our preliminary programme, I've tried to build it so that they're not overlapping. However, we continue to get more and more really amazing sessions. So there will probably be some overlapping sessions, some decisions will have to be made. I'm sorry about that. It's so hard that the hardest part of going to a conference is deciding which sessions to go to. And of course, you know, we've all got our lives and our households to deal with. So, you know, we're just going to have to make some choices. But there's, there's something really interesting on every day, and as much as possible, we'll make the sessions consecutive, but there probably will be a little bit of overlap.

Helene Jewell 10:26
Cool. Yeah, that's the great thing I guess about having so many things is there are only so many hours in a day, and it's better to, I guess, have so many things and then make a few choices, then not have those things there at all. So I'm really excited to see what's going to be coming up and I have had a quick nosey at the preliminary programme, which you've done an amazing job of putting together I mean, how has that been actually sort of scheduling everything?

Susannah Raffe 10:50
Yeah, well, it's been quite a lot of work in a short period of time this week, just to try and pull that all together, sort of everything happens at once I was thinking about the other day, and because I tend to think in metaphors, I was thinking about baking, where you can get all the ingredients ready. But then everything has to happen all at the same time for everything to be ready, in one meal. Get all the ingredients ready as much as you can. But at the same time, you know, we've got like, several different dishes that you have to have ready at the same time, it's gonna, it's gonna be challenging, but it's been really lovely, the engaging session leaders, they've all been really great. And also excited about the, you know, getting into that community spirit of the conference as well. So I'm really looking forward to that.

Helene Jewell 11:37
Yeah, very excited.

Susannah Raffe 11:39
The the approach we've taken for this one, and something that we probably couldn't have done if it was face to face is take more of an emergent planning process. So we didn't have a grand plan at the start, we had some ideas at the start. And some of those, we've thrown out the window, because they haven't turned out as session proposals have come in, but just sort of making it much more organic, and emergent. So that one, it takes the stress off of us as the organising team. But also it means that the community can really guide how this conference goes

Helene Jewell 12:11
Brilliant. And yeah, for those people that came last year, it was a two day face to face conference, this has a very different feel. You've already talked a bit about that the benefits of for example, we've got people presenting or hosting sessions who are from all over the world, what else would be a benefit? Because I think sometimes we will have a lot of facilitators, myself included a little bit, I think we have this kind of like, Oh, we can't be face to face, because that's what we're used to. And there's so many benefits of doing it virtually. It's just a sort of different animal, I suppose all together, what what else would you think are the benefits of us being sort of virtual this time?

Susannah Raffe 12:54
Yeah, I think that that's come up a lot in our meetups, that as facilitators, before all this happened, we're like, yeah, we, you know, we know you can facilitate online, but we'd rather not, you know, we're not going to do it. And then all of a sudden, now we all have to do it. So it's one of the benefits of this conference is learning how to facilitate online and upping that gap in your game in that space. But also, you know, obviously, last year was two, three days long. This one is all week long. And because we've had to sort of think differently about the conference, and decided on having that Meetup group, it means that there can be we're going to keep that Meetup group open for a little bit after the conference so that people can find each other and connect with each other in different ways. And people can attend. As much as the session leaders can be from around the world. The attendees can be from around the world and especially around the UK, obviously, we are IAF England and Wales. So we've curated this for our England and Wales, community. But you know, geography is no barrier to attending and nobody has to buy train tickets until the train travel. Or, or block out their diaries entirely. If they're like, okay, I can, I still need to be on call that week. But they can still attend the conference, which brings up its own challenges as well when we have to be, when we're trying to attend a conference and we've still got things going on at home or at work. So it will be interesting to see how that how that goes. For people have had experiences. And I think for for us, certainly, if the IAF running an online conference, this is going to be a learning experience. So it will be really valuable to hear what people's experiences have been compared to face to face conferences.

Helene Jewell 14:48
Hmm, I mean, it sounds very much like it's you know, so much has been included to make sure that it is the most amazing you know, week or five days of so many different things. And I think, yeah, there is probably a tendency for us to go, you know, it's nice being face to face. But actually, for me personally, at least, it's a bit about just changing the way I think. And so all of those benefits, you know, the idea that people can come from all over the world and those kind of things, I think is so important. And I think sometimes it takes us a little while to sort of get into the mood of doing something online. Actually, I think it's going to be an amazing experience. And I really have so excited. I mean, I do the, the Bristol, you know, host the Bristol IAF meetups, and often we'll have people that aren't from Bristol, or even, you know, from people from Ireland and all over the place. And I think that's the, you know, it's so nice to have that sort of diversity when you have virtual stuff. So, yeah,

Susannah Raffe 15:51
yeah, I've certainly gatecrashed some of the the non London meetups, and was welcomed with open arms. So I'm very glad about

Helene Jewell 15:59
Yeah, excellent. And so what other questions have we got for you today? We are going to put all the links and everything in the show notes. What should people oh I haven't asked about cost? How much is it?

Susannah Raffe 16:13
This is a very good question. If I can remind myself the full conference ticket is 90 pounds. But there are discounts if you're an IAF member, and there's also a special concession ticket if you're suffering financial hardship right now, because of the global situation. I mean, it's it's tough for us all. So but the standard rate is 90 pounds. And that gets you the full week, the meetup group the community all of those things.

Helene Jewell 16:39
Yeah. Brilliant. Thank you so much, Susannah, for joining me today. And yeah, if you want to get in touch with Susannah, her website is And all the meetup information and Eventbrite links will be in the show notes so so please have a look at them

Next, I'm joined by Cat Duncan-Rees, curator of change, creative disrupter, co production advisor, pirate, wife, and mum

Welcome Cat. How are you?

Cat Duncan-Rees 17:12
I've arrived a little bit. Yeah, here I am podcasting. It's quite a new random thing for me. But hey, we'll see what happens.

Helene Jewell 17:21
Oh, we like random things. Thank you so much for joining us. So what we're going to talk about today, ultimately, is your sessions, plural, I think at the IAF conference, but I thought leading into to that I'd like to find out a bit more about you as a facilitator. So and obviously, I'm interested in the pirate thing. But I don't want to steal your thunder because I think that's you're going to tell us maybe a little bit more about that at the conference. So yeah, facilitation, what kind of stuff do you do?

Cat Duncan-Rees 17:51
And so my background in facilitation is largely public sector. It's one of those things that kind of fell into I just found myself in that space. I think there was somebody in an organisation I was working for who I kind of hugely admired in terms of what he could do. And I was like, I could never do that I kind of ended up working alongside him a bit. And he was so encouraging and supportive. And I found actually, I could do it. And not only could I do it, actually, I loved it and I really enjoyed it. And it gave me a sense of purpose at a point in time of my life where other things probably weren't, you know, at their best. And it was kind of just a yeah, one of those things that I fell into, but I wouldn't go back to do to anything else.

Helene Jewell 18:39
Ha. And what kind of what sort of does it look like when you facilitate? Or is it sort of very different depending on who you're working with?

Cat Duncan-Rees 18:46
Yeah, different. I've done a lot around public sector health and social care. And for me, it's mainly about creating that space for people to kind of reflect, you know, the usual kind of stuff that that facilitators sort of do. But my training and my kind of lot, the techniques i've i've used have come from pinpoint origin. So pinpoint facilitation, the work of Keith and Bruce so done all their training, and I've kind of assimilated all that and mashed it with lots of other things that have taken my fancy over the years, really, so I kind of just do what makes sense. And hope for the best.

Helene Jewell 19:27
I think that's true of a lot of us. I like the word mashed But yeah, I think it's an eclectic mix of, yeah, whatever sort of works at the time, I guess, isn't it? Nice? Excellent. Okay. And you are a think relatively recently sort of joined become part of the IAF leadership team. And I think you're standing for the board, aren't you?

Cat Duncan-Rees 19:50
Yeah, yeah. I just kind of seem to fall into these spaces. When it when it makes sense. I don't know if that rings true for anybody else. But yeah, just let's just go with it and see what happens. And I followed the if for a while. And it's been a source of curiosity for me. And I think last summer, I started to go to some of the meetups in Manchester with Adrian and but I was on the road a lot travelling with work. So actually to physically get to the meetup was was was quite difficult. And, and then got sight of the global summit. And I thought I quite like the idea of that good Sweden, Sweden's actually one of my favourite places to go. Anyway, and I've sort of fairly recently gone more freelance as well. So having that time to play with my own time, and, you know, carve out my own kind of destiny in that sense.

So it's somewhere in the process, I randomly applied to do a session at the global summit. And that was accepted, obviously, that's not going ahead now, and then ended up in lockdown on zoom, going to some of the meetups went into a national meetup, met John, who John and I were in the last podcast that I did for you, in that session, and we have this very random conversation with Martin at the end of the session, which, which became a podcast. And that's kind of like, I think just the sense of interest that people showed in some of what we were talking about, and the sense of welcome that I felt from people and the connections and the meeting lots of different people through the kind of virtual sessions that the IAF have put on those regular monthly meetups regionally and nationally. And some of the other things that have been, have been a huge encouragement to me during lockdown. And, you know, when we, when I haven't been on the road as much and been out meeting people, I guess, we all feel a little bit of that.

And, and, and then John, and I ended up on the Martins kind of encouragement, doing a session earlier in the year looking at what it means to facilitate the future that we want. We had another session last week, with another very interesting and deep discussion that degenerated into utter madness at the end, which was just brilliant, you know, that real humanity, I've actually let we're in this together, there's an element of depth to all this stuff. And but also, we're human, and it's alright, to have a bit fun with this. And, you know,

Helene Jewell 22:32
I love the way that that session or your It was about the future of facilitation, I think was that the title that that that session and your conversation at the podcast were all that we put into the podcast was, I guess the true sense of something that's quite emergent. It just kind of appeared then is morphed into this sort of, because I actually came to your session, the second of those sessions, and it was quite Yeah, full of really interesting stuff. And, you know, some great discussions that have appeared to have Yeah, come out of haven't been planned or just come out of suppose your thoughts and your conversations back then.

Cat Duncan-Rees 23:05
So yeah. And then I think, you know, there was that a plea to help with the podcast a bit, which I kind of responded to, and, and then and then I just thought, you know, well, when you advertising for people to be part of the board, and it is no, it is an area of interest to me, and I am completely freelance now. And I have a bit more time and what can I give back to, you know, a community because there's that that mutuality, in all of this isn't there? It's not absolutely, how can we work with and support one another? So yeah, but you know, standing for election to be part of the board's been part of a leadership team, who knows, you know, whatever happens happens, but it just feels like an exciting kind of time to, to want to push myself and, and to want to be part of that space alongside of the people that I can learn so much from, as well and share that sort of space with

Helene Jewell 23:58
Yeah, it's a really nice community, I think. And yes, very pleased to be part of it. Okay, so we're going to talk now about the conference thinking about community. And, yeah, thinking about whole week, we've got a whole week of or five days of conference, and I believe you've got two sessions on the go, is that right?

Cat Duncan-Rees 24:16
Yeah. Why do you one when you could do two?

Helene Jewell 24:20
Nothing like going for it? So what are the two sessions? What are they called, first of all

Cat Duncan-Rees 24:26
so we've got, um, kind of towards the start of the week, we've got upping the facilitation game in a time of crisis. That's a bit of a follow on from the conversations that we've had about facilitating the future we want. And that's been a kind of very sort of emergent thing over the last few months. And the second session, which I think is kind of going to help close the week off is at be more pirate and the be more pirate stuff was was the stuff that we were going to take to the global summit, but obviously, so that was kind of more formulated and established and you know, we put that forward already. So that's why we've ended up doing two things. Because of the ball, I've ended up doing two things, because that was already in the pipeline, and the kind of connection with John, John Varney and the work that he's doing and the conversations we had around facilitating the future one, it just seemed to make sense to bring that into facilitation week as well. So that's kind of a theme running across all of that.

Helene Jewell 25:26
Okay, I like a good theme.

Cat Duncan-Rees 25:28
And I think that first session, the, the upping the facilitation game, in a time of crisis, we hope is an extension of the conversations that we've had already around facilitating the future we want, and it's a response to, as facilitators, we are very privileged to hold space with people

Helene Jewell 25:48

Cat Duncan-Rees 25:48
in a way that a lot of other people don't have the opportunity to. And with that, for me comes a level of responsibility in terms of how we are influencing the dialogue and the conversation and the shape of things to come.

Helene Jewell 26:03

Cat Duncan-Rees 26:03
And we talk a lot, you know, in terms of facilitation terms around neutrality, that's not a bad thing. But really, it's peeling back the layers and understanding what that really means. And if we are, you know, truly neutral in a space, are we endorsing, you know, that the problems and the challenges that we face? Are we absolving ourselves of the responsibility of actually bringing something of ourselves into that space, and challenging the status quo? And, you know, helping people to move towards that different, that different future? And so, you know, there isn't, there isn't an answer to that. And we don't pretend to give an answer to that, or even come up with an answer to that in terms of that session. But we really want people to come and join that conversation. And and really kind of help help us think through what that means. And I suppose a big part of that, for me is, what is it? What does it mean to be human, and our humanity, and how we connect with people in the world around us is, you know, a fundamental part of the shift, I think that we're going through as a nation and, and indeed, across the whole world. And coming back to those roots is, is so important. We get so stuck in system, process world and system process responses to everything, that we forget the simplicity of our own kind of humanity, and human to human connection, and the importance of that in how we kind of move things forward. So that's the start of the week.

Helene Jewell 27:40
Wow, that sounds like a really good session to get your teeth into. And sounds like it's the kind of thing that is gonna breed so much discussion. And I don't know how long session

Cat Duncan-Rees 27:51
we have actually allowed two hours, it will be a, you know, chunk of time because often we come into these spaces, and we, you know, we use the breakout rooms quite a lot. And you just get stuck into a discussion and then somebody hits that close breakout rooms button and you're catapulted back into. So we want to create space for people to have a really good conversation about some of that stuff.

Helene Jewell 28:14
Absolutely. It sounds like the kind of thing that is going to need time and space to breathe. And yeah, time to allow people to have a think of it. Okay, looking forward to that one. And so, the pirate one. Now I do I know what the pirate refers to. So as we are on zoom, and we've got the camera on which you can't see in the podcast, I'm going to hold up the book that I think Cat is referring to. And I have read the book. So I know a little bit about the pirate thing. But for people that don't tell us a little bit more about the pirate thing, why you are a pirate and what that's got to do with your session in a few few minutes. I know this could probably take quite a few hours. But anyway.

Cat Duncan-Rees 28:54
Yeah, how long have you got it follows on from what I was talking about? Just Just then in terms of upping the facilitation game, and facilitating the future we want. So in a nutshell, the be more pirate movement started when a guy called Sam Conniff wrote a book on social change rooted in the whole kind of concept of Golden Age Piracy. And because he'd kind of clocked on to this idea that golden age pirates were a big movement for social change. What Sam did through that book was and what Alex who has just taken over captaincy of the be more pirate movement and who will be doing this session with me have have done is demonstrate how those pirate principles are being applied within large organisations today. So where Golden Age pirates left the Navy and went pirates or privateers you know and and were kind of endorsed to go and try and shake things up a bit. And we're kind of using the analogy that there are lots of big organisations out there, or not big organisations and just lots of spaces out there that feel a bit like the Navy, where people are exploited, where people aren't free to kind of be who they are and to make the changes that they want to make. And the end results are, you know, not always favourable for people who need that extra bit of support, or even for people, you know, working within those kind of cultures, which can be quite oppressive. So how do we apply those those principles? And how do we kind of encourage people to stop, reflect on what that means? explore what the stupid rules are? Think about how we break down some of those stupid rules. But more importantly, how do we rewrite the rules, and challenge the established way of doing things as those golden age pirates did? So yeah, that session at the end of the week is a bit of a kind of, it'll be fun. It'll be it'll be there'll be a look a bit a little bit of a look at the kind of, you know, the context of that. And Alex will bring, you know, some of what she brings into that space, which is, you know, which is brilliant. But it will be a challenge again, at the end of the week. So if we're serious about upping the facilitation game in a time of crisis, and bringing about that challenge to the establishment and, you know, creating a much better place society for people to live in. What does that mean, if we apply those be more pirate principles to that?

Helene Jewell 31:30
And so for us as facilitators, then I guess, going through from the first session to the last session, it sounds like the the kind of thread is about Okay, well, how how can we be involved in this as facilitators? And I guess, what is our role? And what kinds of things can we do to maybe to be more pirates to be to create the book or the maybe the book, but but maybe it's not about being more pirate? Maybe it's about? Yeah, just I guess it could be, as you say, there's little things but it's about our role, then I guess, as facilitators,

Cat Duncan-Rees 32:03
I would say to people, you know, come with an open mind, because, you know, we're not in a market of telling people how to respond to any of this stuff, or what to do. This is the space, a safe space, or a brave space, actually, to explore some of this stuff. And to have that level of honesty, and, you know, integrity and depth of conversation.

Helene Jewell 32:25
intriguing. I'm fascinated, I hope I can go to both your sessions because they do sound, I think, yeah, like the kind of thing that's going to possibly make my brain hurt slightly, but that I kind of, yeah, I like a session where I'm going to come away and, and feel like I've definitely explored things as far as I can. In the time I've got

Thank you so much Cat for joining me today. It's been lovely to talk to you. And I really look forward to seeing you at the conference.

So that's the end of today's episode of facilitation stories. Make sure that you're subscribed to the show on whatever podcast app you use. And if you'd like to contribute to the show. Well, are you a facilitator? Have you got a story? Have you got something to say about an IAF meetup you've attended? If you have send us some text or even an mp3 audio and we'd love to know you're listening.

You can get in touch with us on twitter @IAFEnglandWales you can use the hashtag IAF podcast we are on email where you can find out more about us over at the England Wales page on the website if you want to get in touch with either of my guests today. They're both on twitter @CatDRees, or @SusannahRaffe and you can get in touch with me @HeleneJewell.

This has been Facilitation Stories brought to you by The IAF England and Wales