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Gather 'Round: a unique shared leadership program

Building capacity for more connected, adaptable and resilient communities

Our year-long Gather ‘Round program is past the halfway mark, with the challenges and obstacles of Covid restrictions and more providing real-life examples of how to be adaptable and deal with emergence in the complexity of life.

Our two participant ‘Circles’ come from across South East NSW, areas devastatingly impacted by the Black Summer bushfires of 2019-20.

From 23 to 70 years young, they represent the diversity of those affected and working towards a better future – from recovery and resilience agencies, local government, not-for-profit organisations, community leaders, to individuals who lost everything in the fires. Everyone has a personal story to tell of their experience that summer, and a desire to take an active role in moving forward.

The first three Modules have been completed, providing residential experiences at The Crossing – a permaculture environmental education camp, so thriving with life after such a rainy start to the year. A place where you can feel the healing.

The first Module was a five-day introduction to The Art of Hosting and Harvesting Conversations that Matter - principles, patterns, practices and processes that provide a powerful way to bring people together to co-create change.

Participants absorbed these through experiential learning, doing,reflecting, and applying learnings to their own context. Emotions were shared, connections were made, and possibilities identified.

“A growing sense of community and friendship”
“A sense of peace in this space and flow of this program”
“Excitement for the possibilities that these processes open up”
“A sense of transition from isolation to action”

Module two focused on Collaborative Practice, with an introduction to Groundwork, building individual and collective capacities to be and work together effectively and deliver powerful results.

In community project teams, participants began to explore how these techniques can be applied in developing and supporting collaborative bushfire recovery projects with their communities.

“Doing Groundwork can make something work. It has helped us work cohesively as a team”
“Collaboration – the opportunity for everyone to have a say. Don’t get stuck, let it flow.”
“How good it is to work in a small team with passion and purpose.”

Module three was centred around Working with Conflict, within ourselves, with others and hosting others in conflict.

This was a nurturing weekend, full of exploration and ways to practice, and build confidence for navigating conflict.

“The absolute generosity of listening to each other, feel very refreshed and so much stronger…”
“A sense of contentment and real relief. A clear pathway forward and clarity on my role in the conflicts that I am in.”
“A very rich and rewarding experience.”
“Gratitude for a fertile weekend on a subject I haven't given enough attention. I’m now more comfortable in dealing with conflict and possibility of conflict leading to something new.”

Online learning calls have been held between Modules for participants to reflect on how their learning and practice is showing up in everyday life. These calls keep the energy and connections alive. Community teams are working on their collaborative projects, and peer buddies are catching up to support each other.

There are already many ripples. We’re all looking forward to what the rest of the program will bring…

We will share more as the year progresses, and for now, here's a peek at the experience of Circle 2 during Module 1 - a 5 day introduction and training in the Art of Hosting and Harvesting Conversations That Matter.

Gather Round 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.

If you're curious about the program and its applications in other contexts, reach out.


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