when i facilitate something, generally, its as if each participant is hooked into me, pulling in their directions, and its my work to feel who is strong and weak and sensitive and brash and keep a balance throughout, know when to push and when to hold back. i learn the most about facilitation in reviewing a situation that is particularly difficult.
we finished three days of organizational strategy and development with the new orleans network today, and it was a great session, made a lot of work very clear, but i can’t remember the last time i was this exhausted after a session.
to get people in the place of vision again is to ask them to find a middle ground between trauma and dispair for some optimism, to remember how to love their city in this groundbreaking way – knowing that hurricane season is right around the corner…to take a little space when there’s not enough space anywhere and people are rumored to be sleeping in moldy abandoned cars under a bridge painted with the memory of trees.
what anyone person can do feels so small – here is some structure in the chaos, a reminder to hold each other and feel things, and for what’s worth – you are amazing. this is the echo in my head, sheer stunned amazement at the humble, deflecting nature of these beautiful folk who have chosen to come be here when the understandable choice is to run; who choose to work when the understandable choice would be to lay down and just sleep…who laugh when anguished screams ride the wind, still.
tonight my coworker lee, a fundraising wiz with the look of a 70s pin-up girl, sat with me as i got lost after our dinner (and after i found the credit card i’d left behind two night ago and only noticed the absence of today). a wrong turn and suddenly we were coming over a familiar odd bridge into a zone of darkness and i remembered the lower 9th and i tried to hide it from lee but oh i got spooked, all that darkness and spirit there…i 180’d and we had to wait for a drawbridge, a boat crossing, i could feel this pressure behind me, i felt weak by it. here there is katrina cough, and then katrina brain – no short term memory – and i felt, today, katrina soul, the collective spirit of a murdered people, a domestic genocide.
i had to get home and get alone, which for me is turning on my music and put on my head phones and there i am, safe in sounds that fill the cavernous dark and chase out the ghosts. after all, knowing the ghosts are all around and the mold is near and the time is short and the work is hard changes nothing – a good day’s work is all you can hope for. supporting the work of new orleans folks for self-determination and the power of owning their own information is a humbling honor.
tonight’s sleep pulls my eyelids down. do something nice tomorrow – donate to the network – www.neworleansnetwork.org/donate –
love love -amb