A MARL seminar starting at the inauguration of a new U.S. President; if that will not be unforgettable! The third seminar of Class XI happened virtually, due to Covid-19.

A participant’s setup for the virtual seminar

All 27 members joined at 8:30 a.m. via Zoom with introductions, good news and announcements after the holidays. I laid out the current situation regarding the program format. Program Leader Christy Kallevig then explained more about the plans for this three-day seminar. She touched on the three C’s to leadership cohorts: Competency, Confidence and Connections. She emphasized the Connections not being limited to others, but also space and place. Key to the success of MARL is to build relationships and alliances: the Connections. Together we are navigating this during the pandemic.

Program Leader Toby Spanier introduced Meaningful Involvement and the IAP2 Spectrum of Participation. Members had a chance to read about IAP2’s three pillars (core values, code of ethics and spectrum) of public participation as part of the seminar’s pre-work to have a better understanding. https://www.iap2.org/page/pillars.

This lead into the main session of the morning: a World Café. The purpose: to take a deeper look at our connections during the MARL experience. Several board members functioned as World Café hosts, including Linda Thompson, Bob Milligan, Patrice Bailey, Holli Arp, Shelly Schell and Olga Brouwer. Three rounds of small group conversations were held, with results “harvested” on a jamboard. Thanks to the engaged, candid conversations, plenty of useful ideas and suggestions were shared. This will help the MARL board and staff team to enhance the connections during the 18-month program.

Reflections on the World Cafe session

After a lunch break, the board and staff team shared proposals based on the World Café harvest. Members indicated their level of agreement using the Fist to 5 method; a visual version of the well-known 0-5 scale of agreement. It is fascinating to see how we all have different levels of comfort with situations, and at the same time a willingness to adapt and make the best of it. Class XI definitely seems to be committed to shared success.

Lastly, Christy facilitated an activity in which small groups created parodies to fairy tales. In “Reimagining the Classics”, members modernized a tale and added agricultural and rural elements to it. Fun props and even virtual backgrounds were used creatively to present on MARL-style Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Beauty and the Beast and Hansel and Gretel. A surprising, fun conclusion to the first day of Seminar 3.

Submitted by Olga Brouwer, Executive Director


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