November 1991. Northern Michigan, almost at the Canadian border. Ten people gathered in a rustic inn for a weeklong training in group facilitation and consensus decision-making.
I had recently joined a grass roots, ecological network in which meetings were facilitated and decisions were made by consensus. Until then, my meeting-going experience had been limited to parent-teacher events at my children's school. I had never heard of facilitation, much less seen it in action.
A colleague and I realized that we had a dearth of trained facilitators in our area, so we recruited the most respected facilitator in the movement (Caroline Estes from Oregon) and committed to organizing and attending the training.
Even though I helped organize the training, I was skeptical. I thought, “A whole week? What could be so complicated about this that we need so much time to learn it?”
Short answer: It was an initiation, thinly disguised as training. A life-changing introduction to work that would eventually cause me to move to Mexico, learn Spanish and work in over 30 countries around the world.