I remember the first conference I was in when I heard one. A guy at the start explained how the land beneath our very feet was once inhabited by Indigenous people – he named the tribes – and he explained that the land had been taken.
Wow, I thought to myself. That’s pretty rad. Turns out land acknowledgements aren’t actually so radical these days. They are showing up at conferences and meetings more frequently. Yet they are not to be done lightly. And there is good advice from Indigenous sources on why and how to do a land acknowledgement. Here’s one resource.
To me, it’s a pause to pay respect to those who died for my freedom came before me. I have a remarkable lifestyle today. On stolen land. The least I can do is acknowledge that. Out loud. And it’s also a shout-out to descendants with us today. There are many here among us.
You may not be ready to start meetings with an announcement that you are on stolen land, but do you know how the land beneath your feet passed from Indigenous people to the current owner? For me, learning the local history helped me acknowledge some hard truths, even if just to myself.
“Thank God for the last minute,” I once heard someone say. “If it weren’t for the last minute, most stuff wouldn’t get done.”
In a lot of meetings, that’s when the most stuff get’s decided. In fact, I don’t facilitate without a stated end time. This is because meetings without a stated end time don’t have a last minute. I have no leverage to push the group.
In a highly collaborative or “flat-hierarchy” group, the last minutes of a meeting can feel frantic. You know, time is running out, consensus is not clear, stakes are big, tensions are high, and no one by themselves is allowed to make a decision.
Hopefully a skilled facilitator or leader sees such a situation far in advance and plans for it. One technique is what I call Brake in Advance. If you have a high momentum of passion and energy in a group you can’t stop that train without warning; without lots of advance brake-peddle pumping. The concept is explained more fully at the link.
Another technique: I tend to get more pushy with a group as we approach “the last minute.” And I tell them why. I remind them of their meeting objectives. I tell them exactly how many minutes are left to achieve those objectives. And I essentially ask permission to be expeditious so we can get agreement in short order.
Sometimes you can see that you will not get group consensus before time runs out. When that’s the case — at the very least — either Name Leads or Decide How to Decide. You can read what I mean by each of these phrases at each of the links but basically: clarify next steps and lead responsibilities.
The last minute can be a wonderfully productive time and a great lifting of spirits and enthusiasm. Yet it can also be a great unraveling and a plummeting of emotions. Instead of fretting about the last minute, plan for it. Get great things done.
I’m afraid that our United States Congress has reached a point where they are unable to solve the problems of the nation. I’m afraid that the United Nations and other coalitions of nations lack political will to actually save our species from climate change. And I’m afraid when I see unnecessary conflict in our communities. …read more
A couple weeks ago there was a hearing on Capitol Hill on How to Build a Move Civil and Collaborative Culture in Congress. I listened to it live and wrote to the staff afterwards, hoping to get involved. It was pretty inspiring. Chaired by Representative Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and Vice Chair Representative William Timmons (R-SC), …read more