Colloquy Downeast Blue Hill Maine

Colloquy Downeast

Spirited Conversations in Great Company

FacilitatorAnnie Porter
Date & TimeMarch or April 2022
LocationHoward Room, Blue Hill Public Library

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

– Viktor Frankl

The premise of these discussions is that we all carry within us vast wells of wisdom based on our own experiences. We all hold this in our own way, but rarely do we have an opportunity to intentionally share, to pool hunches and guiding principles, and offer them up, lightly, to one another.

This series of conversations will bring participants on an observational journey in which they will be asked to consider how they function–successfully, or not–within their own inner dialogue, in their dialogue with other individuals, and in their engagement with the world.

Each week will have a particular focus (self, the other, the subconscious, and the social), and a group conversation will be initiated by a set of questions, and some reading, that participants will be asked to consider, prior to meeting. Participants will be asked to share stories about themselves that illustrate or show (as opposed to tell) their vulnerabilities, core assumptions and values. The meetings will be facilitated in a way that models the sharing of these stories, allows for all voices in the group to be heard, and encourages empathetic listening and respectful objectivity.

 The goal will be to learn something about how we actually function in the world, and for the very brave, an opportunity to ask, “Is this who I want to be?”  It would be my hope that in listening to one another’s stories we recognize ourselves, and see in that reflection a clarity that allows us to identify obstacles, and cherish that which serves us well.

Prior to moving to Brooklin, Maine, Annie Porter worked extensively as a facilitator with teachers and parents, in an effort to align adult expectations with the developmental stages of elementary school students. She also served as a pedagogical administrator, mentor, student advocate, and teacher of middle school English, drama, earth science and history. 

  ▼ Syllabus/Reading



How to Be Perfect”,  Ron Padgett

The Bench”, Mary Ruefle

excerpts from Nonviolent Communication, Marshall Rosenberg

excerpts from Getting to Yes, Roger Fisher and William Ury

excerpts from Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl

(and maybe more…)

Participants will be asked to come to the first meeting with three items:

1. A work of art (a postcard, an image from a book, or the artwork itself –if it is book-sized, OR a short poem) that captures a quality that you value in yourself now.  
2. A motto, mantra or saying that has acted recently as a touchstone or a guiding principle. Give this some time, so that you come with something that has been meaningful to you.  
3. A specific memory of a recent time when you experienced the truth of that particular guiding principle.
Week 1: Identity – the personal

What grounds you?

After a welcome and articulating some ground rules around confidentiality, this conversation will be a fun opportunity to hear a variety of different guiding principles held within the group. The sharing will also function as a way to warm up the group and develop a comfort level with one another. Depending on our time, our reflection (see below) may be started before the end of our meeting.  

Example assignment for week 2 (given in person):

1. Reflection: using Ron Padgett as inspiration, gather together some of the guiding principles shared in the first week and craft your own “ How to Be” poem. Poems can be shared via email prior to the next meeting.  
2. Looking forward: consider communication strategies that have worked well for you, OR a communication approach that failed. Find a specific memory–a little slice of biography–that tells the story of that success or failure.  Read excerpts from Marshall Rosenberg.
Week 2: Consensus – the interpersonal

How do you find alignment with others? How do you get to yes?

We might discuss:

personal anecdotes about communication strategies that have worked for us – and some that haven’t.
the basic tenants of Marshall Rosenberg’s Non-Violent Communication and examples of how this approach has been reiterated in different contexts (restorative justice, marriage counseling).  
formal consensus  – pros and cons.  
strategies for compliance in different age groups (young children vs teenagers).

Example assignment for week 3 (given in person):

1. Reflection: rewrite the steps in Rosenberg’s NVC protocol.  
2. Looking forward: consider your own “triggers” this week.  Observe what floods you. (example provided)  Observe your response. Write it down.  Is there a difference between what you actually do and what you would like to do?  Is there a difference between your actions and your intentions? Pick something recent to share. Be brave.

Week 3: Subconscious – the hidden

Observing triggers and responses.

The goal of this week will be to find some common ground in the fact that everyone struggles with responding productively in a “triggered” state. The hardest thing of all is to take the time to respond thoughtfully. Consciousness of our own fears, our own triggers, and the discrepancy between our actual response and our intentions are all first steps in taking charge of this part of our psyches. Priority this week will be given to hearing one another’s stories. This conversation is not about what makes us triggered. This objective conversation will be about our response.  

We might also discuss:

Strategies for walking away from a confrontation and formulating a response
How to bring in humor to de-escalate a situation
Shame and blame – and the wonders of empathy
The “most violent word” (and why)
The projected narrative

Example assignment for week 4 (given in person):

1. Reflection: watch on youtube, Brene Brown and/or great animated video on empathy and/or mirroring
2. Looking Forward: find an image (same format as the first week) that best describes something you are curious about and would like to manifest or pursue going forward. Be prepared to share.  Make a list of 10 things you are curious about.  Read excerpts from Viktor Frankl.

Week 4: Social – engagement with the world

Finding meaning and moving forward with intention. Is this the road to happiness?

Sharing these images will be a nice bookend to the first conversation.  The goal will be to create a picture–a feeling–of the future, individually and collectively.  We will share our interests, then write specifically about our intentions. The focus will be on identifying obstacles while holding a clear vision of our personal goals.  

We will also take some time to reflect on the past four weeks.  

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