Each month we bring you a nonviolence training workshop
based on the experience of the Nonviolent Action Training
project and INNATE.
A check list of an ideal model for voluntary, political and
here to view print version
- Consensus decision making and democracy (but
who makes decisions has to be defined, e.g. do temporary
- Involvement from all and awareness of roles.
- 'Leadership' functions circulate and/or are
- Ability to define and limit extent of personal
involvement (able to say 'no').
- Conflict seen as positive and conducted openly
- Process for problem solving available.
- Ability to deal openly with sectarian (Catholic/Protestant),
racial, cultural, gender or other questions of difference
as they relate to the group and individuals.
- Openness to outsiders (welcoming) whenever
- Willingness to allow people to grow and mature
within the group (taking people from where they're at, welcoming
their contribution, encouraging them to learn).
- Ability to be critical and self-critical
(good assessment of work done and undone).
- Humour which doesn't put people down.
- Aims and principles are clearly defined (so
they can be referred to) and are open to discussion and
- Others; add your own ideas...
- This isn't a list you have to agree with!
It's a check list to think about the features of an 'ideal'
voluntary/political/community group; you may decide some of
these qualities are unnecessary or irrelevant, or that others
are more important.
- You can try to decide which of these qualities
are essential in a group, and which are good but not essential.
- You can also think about the extent to which
hierarchical situations (typically your daily work) should
or does include these qualities
This list can be used in a number of different ways. You can
brainstorm a list first and then relate what people come up
with to the list (in which case it is a check list). It would
be good to give everybody present a copy of the above list
at the appropriate point.
Alternatively, you can work through the list
initially to allow people to get to grips with it, and share
from your own experience. You can also encourage group members
to share from their experience. At the end of the list, and
later. you can see if people want to add to, or substitute,
others items to the list.
This exercise can come alive if you share anecdotes
from your experience about where these qualities have been
present in groups - and, perhaps even more interestingly,
where they have been absent, and the resultant consequences.
You don't have to – and generally should not - name
names and places!
While people may agree that ‘Trust’
(or some other item) is essential, what do they mean by that?
What limits are put on ‘trust’? The fact that
people are agreed on a quality does not mean they are thinking
of the same thing. So probing as to what people mean, or how
they would define and measure a quality, may bring out differences
of approach where initially it may seem that people are agreed.
Having worked through the list, and had some
experiences shared, you can break into a one-to-one session
for a few minutes each way, to allow each person share something
of their experiences and relate the check-list to themselves.
And/or you can get people to pick one quality which they personally
identify with personally, and share why.
You can go on to look at those qualities which
are essential for good group functioning. You can also distinguish
between hierarchical and non-hierarchical groups and structures,
and the differences between the features of each.
Obviously further work is possible in looking
at how essential or desirable qualities can be fostered in
a particular situation or kind of situation. If particular
qualities are absent, or in short supply, how can they be
engendered? That can from the basis of another brainstorm
and practical planning.