The ‘new’ beginners guide to community formation workshop

At the Prana Easter festival held in Opoutere, NZ, 2015, I ran an experimental workshop with this rather lengthy title above. My purpose was to offer something to the Prana Whanau (Family) that would generate hope and inspiration for community living. The workshop ran for two hours and had 12 participants. My approach was to use Zenergy Facilitation and Tools to generate the collective intelligence needed to produce a ‘new’ guide. I could have quite easily found a list online or in the library that would be all you need to know to form a community. This would not have allowed people to discover and learn together what community meant for them. Plus, for myself as a facilitator, it gets really interesting when I play in the unknown, it allows the space and possibility for any kind of magic to turn up.

Workshop Structure

I structured the workshop into 6 parts, as below:

1. Welcome and Introduction
2. The 3 levels of of Awareness (about 60 mins)

  • self awareness – I lead a 10 min body scan and reconnect meditation to help folk settle in and become present
  • awareness of another – I used Process 20 from the Art of Facilitation called ‘Being with another’.
  • awareness of the group – I invited participants to check in, say their name, where they are from and speak about their interest in community and what questions they have.

3. Acting out Scott Peck’s Model of Community formation (15 – 20 mins)

– using 4 large pieces of paper each containing a stage in community formation written large, I asked the participants to play act and dance each stage. At the end I asked for reflections. comments or questions. This produced a lot of energy and laughter.

4. Generation of the ‘new’ guide (20 – 30 mins) – I split the group into two and asked them to generate a draft for the ‘new’ guide. Halfway through, I introduced some chaos and told them that their new community had just fallen apart and for some members from each group to swap. After 10 mins in total, I brought the group back together. I invited them to choose their top two criteria. From there we produced on a new sheet of paper the new community guide.

5. Completion – a round inviting them to share what they had learned and were taking away.

Did the workshop achieve it’s purpose?Almost, in relation to the guide, which was 3/4’s complete when I called time. The indications were from the atmosphere, reflections and learnings shared, that hope and inspiration were generated for community living.
Here is the list for the new beginners guide to community formation (incomplete):

  • shared vision
  • shared values
  • transparency
  • communication
  • systems
  • consensus decision making
  • daily circle
  • empathy
  • FUN!
  • authenticity
  • safe to be myself

Some comments made by the participants:

“I don’t feel so much like the weirdo in the corner who wants to live in community anymore”

Arthur, Whakatane

“I feel inspired and hopeful that this is possible. It doesn’t seem so difficult to work out”
Ashya, Warkworth

“Come and share our land with us, we will start there by inviting you”
Doug and Lynne-marie, Waipu Cove


In conclusion, as a facilitator this workshop was a lot of fun to facilitate. It was rich and meaningful. I am always surprised how quickly a sense of community can arise when the conditions are right. Using the three levels of awareness, a learning shared recently with me by Karen Hunter, quickly provided the safety and trust needed for some deep personal sharing. And the magic came! It didn’t have a name only a sparkle.

As an added bonus five people in the group had land they wanted to share from Karamea in the South Island to Samoa and Argentina, but really did not know how to do it. I not so secretly plotted my next few holidays and they came away with some ideas on how they could go about sharing their land.



Comment from Liam Forde 08/04/15
Wonderful blog AKD! I can really feel the respect and reverence you have for the work, people and community – and community will change the world – on and off line. Fab sharing thanks.

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