Peer sharing process – using a “wagon wheel”
by Dale Hunter July 2018
Here is a description of one of the processes used at a Saturday morning (4 hour) session for a community gathering as part of a longer Friday night to Sunday afternoon winter / Matariki gathering.
The purpose of the morning: to grow and deepen our community/neighbourhood.
Participants: 50 people, all ages. A supervised painting/ craft table was set up for children and those who chose not to take part in large group activity.
The morning was in four parts.
- Whakawhanaunga / Welcome and introductions (in Te Reo Maori and English) (45 mins)
Break (15 mins)
- Peer Sharing Process. (60 mins)
Break (20 mins)
- Whole circle sharing. (1 – ½ hours)
- Completion (5-10 mins).
Here is the process used for the Peer Sharing Process.
A double circle of chairs was set up, with the chairs in inner circle facing outwards and the chairs in outer circle facing inwards. (Sometimes this layout is described as a wagon wheel). Participants were invited to take a seat in the double circle and form a pair.
Instructions were given:
Questions / topics will be suggested. (Can be changed by participants if they want).
Participants to choose an A and a B. Person A speaks for 3 mins while B listens. Swap roles when indicated by bell. (Time was kept using a pair of small tingsha cymbal bells). This process involves listening and sharing and is ‘not a conversation’. Powerful listening is encouraged. The outer circle participant in each pair moves one seat to the left after each paired sharing.
There were 8 questions for pairs to address. There were short (3 mins) movement/ stretch breaks as needed including music. After the breaks people were encouraged to change / swap chairs.
Topics or questions need to be designed for the occasion. The one’s I used for this occasion (mid-winter /Matariki in New Zealand / Aotearoa) were:
- How am I today? What I need to say to be present is…
- Matariki is about remembering and acknowledging those who have passed on (died). Are there people you would like to acknowledge?
- Matariki is also about leaving one year behind and moving into the new year. What would you like to acknowledge and let go of?
- To understand me more I would like to share ……
- In my life, I am inspired by ….
- What this community means or provides for me ….
- This next year I will contribute / share with the community …….
- This year I will contribute /share with the wider community / place ………
Reasons influencing the design of this process.
- The purpose of the morning was to deepen and grow the community / neighbourhood.
- Session 1 provided depth and growth through bi-cultural sharing.
- Session 3 provided depth through sharing in large circle.
- Session 2 needed to provide a high level of participation through actively involving each person in the community.
- Note: A painting and craft table was provided for anyone who preferred a less verbal activity.
The first session (Welcome) included singing, welcoming and some people (6) new to the community sharing their pepeha (ancestry). The 3rd session was a full group circle with spontaneous sharing by those who felt moved and confident to do so.
Given the number of people involved (50), and the time envisaged (about 1 – 1 ½) it was anticipated that about 10 -15 people would share in the whole group. This meant that about 30 people would not share in this session.
In contrast, the double circle sharing provided each person the opportunity to share 8 times.
Feedback from Participants
Feedback included many comments about feeling more involved, getting to know people better, and deepening.
My notes as Facilitator:
My attention was on the questions that I developed for the group. I felt into the group consciousness over several preceding weeks, especially in the last week. Based on my reading of the group consciousness (my felt experience), I honed the questions so that they took each person through the process associated with matariki – death, acknowledgment and letting going – and moving forward into and claiming the new.
The questions were worked on during this time and I changed one of the questions during the process itself on the basis of the feeling I had for the group. The questions were the “brew” – the ingredients of the recipe.
The sharing/ listening process helped to move the group consciousness into a heartful and more open (less defensive) place. This was the sense I had of the possibility of the purpose “to grow and deepen our community/neighbourhood”.
The purpose “to grow” and “deepen” was an opening to be a group “gardener”.
I also observed a more relaxed and open atmosphere over the next weeks.
The group comments and feedback for this session were all very positive.
by Dale Hunter