Recent Stories

Find a Metaphor

Lately I’ve noticed more participants get hung up in trainings where the trainer is trying to teach them a concept, by referencing other abstract concepts. I watched one group go glassy-eyed when the speaker told them nonprofit lobbying was like advocacy, but within a legal framework. Huh? Kudos to that facilitator for not simply offering

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Recognizing Middle Class Standard Time (MST)

I’ve been thrilled with the number of references to “MST” I’ve heard since I wrote about it this past spring. I’m not sure if it’s the best formulation for the influence of middle class oppression on nonprofit/social justice meeting culture, but at the very least it’s been nice to know I have allies out there.

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Avoiding Unrealistic Retreat Enthusiasm: Two Suggestions

It’s harvest season, which also means retreat season – we at Training for Change get the most requests to facilitate organizational planning retreats between late summer and mid-fall.  It’s also when I see the most Unrealistic Retreat Enthusiasm. And we know a thing or two about Unrealistic Retreat Enthusiasm at Training for Change, because even

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Lessons on Organizational Resilience in Colombia

UPDATE: “Organizations Like Bamboo” was also published by the great crew at Organizing Upgrade. Four years ago I got to live and work in Colombia for a while. I wrote about the movements we accompanied, because at the time there wasn’t much reporting on them in English. Since then I’ve been able to connect more

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Five Organizational Practice Myths, Part 2

(Continued from Part 1) Myth 2: Everyone Should Be Equal For many of us who believe everyone should have equal privileges and human rights protections within society, it’s not a big leap to assume that there should be equal participation in our organizations as well. But not everyone participates as equals – some have a

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Five Organizational Practice Myths, Part 1

Putting Roots Through the Rocks: DC’s HAFA & Five Organizational Practice Myths Last December I wrapped up six months as occasional facilitator for a dynamic and always-shifting, community-based food justice initiative in the District. Healthy & Affordable Food for All (HAFA) is a cross-section of the people who grow, prepare, distribute, serve and consume food

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Taking Advantage of Being “Hot”

My framing of Middle Class Standard Time includes a lot of meeting culture behaviors that have become the default setting for many groups.  Since that article continues to ripple outward through Facebook, apparently, I’m offering a few more specific alternatives that my mentors and colleagues with Training for Change have come up with. (And you can

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Supporting Alternatives to Middle Class Standard Time

It looks like Middle Class Standard Time is more resonant than I’d thought – 2,500 of you from Facebook can’t be wrong. There will probably be more to say, but for now I wanted to offer two options for supporting meeting & facilitation culture from a place of abundance, and which undermines our oppression-based enforcement

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Are You on Middle Class Standard Time?

Have you ever heard meeting leaders say anything like this? “As you can see, we’re packing a lot in today” “We’re going to have a working lunch today to make sure we get through everything” “Wow! We’re going to cover so much ground today – ten really important agenda items in just ninety minutes” “I

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Following & Leading Volunteers – 7 Things

By my count, in the last year I’ve given volunteer hours to between 12-15 organizations, from packing books and stamping envelopes to mentoring organizers and DJing a fundraiser. And as a facilitator I sometimes help organizations come up with plans for creating more supportive environments for volunteers. These ideas come from both my love of

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