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What’s possible for our bushfire impacted communities
if we work together like never before?

Gather 'Round

at The Crossing 2022

Our communities have experienced huge shifts during the past two years. The double impact of bushfires and Covid have left us with a compelling need to recover and rebuild and to do that in a complex and changing environment. 


More than ever, we need collective and compassionate leadership from all of us. How can we individually and collectively learn to navigate big challenges and at the same time, strengthen and heal our communities?


Gather ‘Round is a year-long shared leadership program intended to build capacity for connected, adaptable and resilient communities. It is a partnership between Campfire Co-op and The Crossing Land Education Trust, jointly funded by the Commonwealth and the New South Wales Government under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.


Forty people from bushfire impacted communities in Bega Valley, Eurobodalla, Shoalhaven, Queanbeyan-Palerang and Snowy Valleys regions will spend a year in a mix of in-person residential learning at The Crossing, Bermagui (15 days), an online coaching and mentoring program, and working on projects in these communities. 


We’ve worked with locals to identify several communities for this pilot, based on need, impact, potential tension, readiness and different experiences across the south east. In some cases we are inviting a small team of participants that work across their region.

Throughout 2022, participants will learn and practice the foundations of the Art of Hosting and Groundwork, and other collaborative and personal leadership practices that contribute to peaceful and cohesive communities. The program aims to equip us, individually and together, with the capacities and skills to host our own communities, addressing challenges and moving forward together when there are many questions, and no right or easy answers. 


We will work with others in our own communities and across the region to discover and navigate our own futures.


How do we ‘do’ community-led? How do we find the courage to be and act differently in these times? How can we keep energised and keep showing up for our communities? How do we learn to listen to different perspectives, and create solutions together for our communities?

These are just some of the questions we may explore together. 

"The world asks that we focus less on how we can coerce something to make it conform to our designs and focus more on how we can engage with one another, how we can enter into the experience and then notice what comes forth. It asks that we participate more than plan."

Margaret Wheatley and Myron Kellner-Rogers

We acknowledge the custodians of these lands in the south east - and those of The Crossing - the Djiringanj people of the Yuin nation. 

We acknowledge that these lands were never ceded. 

We pay respects to elders who have gone before, who are with us now, and those yet to come. 


We acknowledge that many of the patterns and practices in this program come from the natural world, Indigenous knowledge and traditions, combined with new understandings and knowledge. We are grateful for all of those who have contributed to this work. 


Participants will set their own learning intentions for the program. It's our intention that you will leave with: 


Increased skills, tools, capacity and confidence in

  • Self leadership

  • Hosting participatory conversations and events

  • Collaborative practice, project design and initiation 

  • Working with complexity, uncertainty and responding to change

  • Engaging with and hosting in conflict

  • Collective decision making

Improved resilience for you, and your teams and communities

  • You feel hopeful, energised and inspired 

  • You feel more centred and calm, with more capacity to keep going

  • You are better resourced, and feel supported

  • Stronger and deeper relationships with each other and people in your own communities

  • A deeper connection to and understanding of Aboriginal culture

  • A strong alumni network of support across the South East 

  • A small group of committed participatory practitioners in each community

  • Co-designed projects developed and initiated to support community-led recovery where you live.


The Crossing

The Crossing Land is an environmental education camp located on Djiringanj country of the Yuin Nation, just outside of Bermagui in the Bega Valley. It is a permaculture camp, a home to co-learning for young people and adults for more than 20 years - a perfect place to host us in this program. 


Dean and Annette Turner founded The Crossing almost 25 years ago. Thousands of young people and hundreds of volunteers have contributed to the construction and conservation of this special place.


The Crossing is on the edge of farmland, river and forest. This sustainable site is off-grid, low-impact, solar-powered with dry composting toilets, and no wifi. There is a community hall with a kitchen, comfortable indoor and outdoor spaces and modern bathrooms. There is river access, an outdoor campfire, permaculture gardens, chickens and sheep onsite. It’s pretty magical!


This residential program offers an opportunity to live in community with fellow participants, to rest, slow down, experience time in nature - all as part of a deeper learning experience together. 

For the residential component of the program:

Circle 1

17 - 22 Jan 2022  

Monday morning - Saturday morning

25 - 27 February 2022   

Friday afternoon - Sunday afternoon

27 - 29 May 2022

Friday afternoon - Sunday afternoon

22 - 24 July 2022 

Friday afternoon - Sunday afternoon

12 - 16 Sept   (half of each circle)

Monday morning - Friday morning

Circle 2

14 - 19 Feb 2022 
Monday morning - Saturday morning

29 April - 1 May

Friday afternoon - Sunday afternoon

17 - 19 June 2022   

Friday afternoon - Sunday afternoon

12 - 14 August 2022  

Friday afternoon - Sunday afternoon

28 Nov - 2 Dec  (half of each circle)

Monday morning - Friday morning


Saturday 10 December

day celebration for both circles


Jane O'Brien

0458 255 232

Mel Geltch

0400 412 498


1. Introduction to the Art of Hosting

5 days

The Art of Hosting and Harvesting Conversations that Matter (also known as the Art of Participatory Leadership) offers simple and powerful participatory practices, patterns and processes to host generative conversations that can lead to coordinated action and positive change. 


These approaches have been used effectively in diverse contexts worldwide to harness collective wisdom, encourage compassionate leadership and collaboration, and create better social and environmental outcomes.


We’ll slow down, connect and explore the questions that we are passionate about in our own local contexts, and develop new ways of working together to create the future we need.   


The quality of our conversations matters. It determines what we pay attention to, how we engage with each other, and where we direct our time, energy and resources. ​The Art of Hosting will invite us to consciously create and host spaces for collaborative conversations, where we can address challenges and take positive actions.


Over 5 days you will have opportunities to practise hosting various participatory processes and methodologies. It will support you to host more effective, purposeful meetings, help groups navigate complexity and develop clear direction, and greatly assist people to work together to create impactful projects. All of this will help build capacity for community leadership and community-led recovery. 

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2. Collaborative practice


So many situations in our lives and communities demand that we collaborate, and do it well. Never before have our collective efforts been so needed or the outcomes so critical.


Building on module 1, we’ll learn about Groundwork: a framework and practice for strengthening collaboration. We’ll build our individual and collective capacities to collaborate more effectively and with powerful results. We’ll do this by applying Groundwork to new or existing projects and initiatives in your communities.

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3. Working with conflict 


Conflict is a natural part of everyday life. For most people it can be stressful, frustrating or anxiety-inducing. It can also provide opportunities for healing and learning.


The ability to navigate conflict is an essential human skill which can be learned. We’ll explore the nature of conflict, our own responses, practical skills and processes for limiting opportunities for conflict, and for responding and supporting others in conflict situations. We’ll keep learning and practising our own strategies to keep calm and steady when things get a little hot.

4. Practising for Peace

How can we use our power consciously for meaningful action? How can we restore balance and centre to act wisely and courageously in the world? 


In dealing with the challenges, complexities, and demands of life, this weekend offers us an opportunity to explore ways to work from a place of peace and strength: that is balanced, calm and clearly decisive when action is needed. 


This weekend is an opportunity to be of service to yourself – to refuel and strengthen clarity of mind and heart, to continue your good work in your communities. We will bring together the principles and practices of Aikido basics as a way of focussing on our internal capacity, and apply the Flow Game to seed wise action.

5. Embedding learning and taking it back to our communities

4 days 

In these four days we’ll revisit and refine community collaborative projects, strengthen connections across  communities. We’ll spend time reflecting and integrating what we’ve learned, addressing what’s needed and discovering what’s next. There will be time to connect with ourselves, country and community.


For this module, we’ll bring half of each circle together with the other, so you’ll get to meet and learn alongside other people from other communities.

6. Finishing and celebrating together

1 day
We’ll gather everyone together, along with program partners and supporters, to reflect, share stories, connect and celebrate.


Residential program

Online and other support 

Before, during and after the residential sessions, there is a strong container to hold questions, challenges and learning, with these online sessions.

  • Welcome and Orientation session. For program orientation and preparation before we start

  • Learning circles. 5 sessions in between modules for connection, sharing and learning

  • Reflection circle. Final session at the end of the program

  • Community circles. Additional coaching support for each community team 

  • Peer mentoring. Participants supporting each other across communities


Hosting team

The hosting team is a group of experienced Australian hosts and stewards of these processes and practices, includings south east NSW residents Mel Geltch and David Newell. A growing and diverse group of experienced and emerging South Coast practitioners will join the team to host and deliver each module. 


We will work with Australian and International stewards and co-founders of the practices in each module, local Aboriginal elders, and the natural world to learn and explore the challenges and possibilities for each community.

Gather ‘Round is part of the larger project to establish a community-led recovery and regeneration education hub for South East NSW at The Crossing Land Education Trust.


The Crossing Land Education Trust develops leadership in sustainable design and has been assisting South East NSW community members with bushfire preparation and fire retardant landscape design.

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NSW govt logo.jpg

This Local Economic Recovery Project is jointly funded by the Commonwealth and the New South Wales Government under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.

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