From Stories to Action: Building a Community of Results Learning Cohort - Flow of Sessions

Flow of Action-Learning Cohorts

Building Resilience, Before and After Disaster


Building Resilience Before and After Disaster is a 4-part online seminar which will draw on the expertise of Transition US and NewStories and all participants.  The first three parts will be before summer.  In the third session you will get enough clarity about something you will undertake in the summer months.  It might be further community research or planning, it might be inviting a group of people to form an action team, or perhaps stepping in and getting something done.  Then in the fall, we will come back together for the 4th time to share what happened and what what we learned and to deepen that learning.

There will be two separate cohorts doing this work in parallel. For each of our virtual seminars we will use ZOOM, sometimes as the whole cohort and other times in breakout groups. ZOOM sessions will be recorded and available for reference (not breakouts). Between virtual seminars and over the summer, we will be using SLACK (one for each cohort) which will also have channels for the whole as well as breakouts.

What happens in the first cohort session will affect the detailed design and content of the next sessions.  Our “starting point” in terms of flow for the first cohort session is below. The basic rhythm in one of connecting, focusing together on a particular topic of theme, going deeper in breakouts, sharing learning from those breakouts, and talking about next steps.

Cohort A: Tuesdays -- April 24, May 15, June 5 -- 3:00-5:30 PT


  • Session One:  Connecting with each other and our current experience and questions of building resilience before and after disaster.
  • Session Two: What works and what doesn’t? Exploring models for successful engagement of community folk in building resilience before and after disaster.
  • Session Three: What are the new experiments/work that we will undertake this summer?


First Session (April 24 - 3-5:30pm PT)  2.5 hours


In each whole cohort (around 20 people) as well as breakouts of 6-7 (3 breakout groups), we’ll do something like what’s detailed below.  We use an emergent teaching style, following the energy and the questions that emerge, so it won’t be exactly this flow, but this gives you an idea of what to expect.


  • Overview - Building resilience before and after disaster? Setting our context -- Transition US and NewStories -- for this offering.  Why did we call this cohort into being and what do we hope will happen. An overview of our time together.
  • Who are you?  Name, where from. What is the context in which you are working? What are the common threads in your contexts?
    • Begin in circle, break into smaller groups to go deeper...
    • Harvest back to the whole
  • What are you already thinking about and doing?  What are you doing or hearing about or dreaming about that you think gets good work done in your community to build resilience before and after disaster. Where do you get traction and where do you encounter obstacles?  What are you finding in terms of promising practices for engaging people in your community and what are you engaging them around?
    • In smaller groups, and then back to the whole
  • Stories from the field.  What are some other examples we can share of where people are taking actions which build community resilience?
  • What helps you think -- what models and frameworks have been most helpful for you in thinking about these questions and opportunities.
    • In smaller groups, and then back to the whole
  • A framework or two from NewStories and TransitionUS
  • Final circle question:  What is it that really holds us back from doing what we see?  What is it helpful to learn about?
  • In SLACK, create learning teams (2-3 person) around particular questions/inquiries that you will bring back to the cohort

Second Session (May 15th - 3-5:30pm PT)  2.5 hours


  • Welcome & Overview

  • Tech intro

  • Brief Check-In

Question: What are you really grateful for today? (Form: Person will designate who s/he is passing to)

  • Setting the Context (Carolyne and Bob)
  • Open Space. Calling question: How can we take action, make things better, and build social connection and cohesion?

Open Space MarketPlace: Some of you have ideas you want to bring forward to explore?  What are they?  Take a couple of minutes to write them on a piece of paper -- six words or less.  Then we’ll have space for you to announce them -- 6 words or less -- and we’ll determine whether we’ll have one or two Open Space Rounds.

  • We'll break into small groups based on marketplace questions. Group Discussion Guidelines:

- Listen carefully to others. 

- Don’t monopolize the discussion. Make sure everyone is given a chance to speak.

- Don’t withdraw from the discussion. Everyone in the group, has unique knowledge and experience to share.

  • Small Group Breakouts

Begin with a moment of silence in the group, settle into why you have chosen to be here, and then host begins. Make sure to bring everyone into the discussion -- these breakout groups are self-facilitating. 

  • Return to whole group

Harvest from small groups (What did you hear/what did you say that really caught your attention/was the critical essence? What were you learning?) 

  • Summary, next steps
  • Closing circle

Third Session (June 5th - 3-5:30pm PT)  2.5 hours


  • Welcome & Overview

  • Brief Check-In

(Form: Person will designate who s/he is passing to)

  • Setting the Context for NowCast (Bob)

(Form: Each Person completes each of the sentences outlined below, then group reflects on what they heard)

  • In relation to my project: 
  1. What holds me back is...

  2. The resources I already have to begin are...

  3. The support I need is...

  4. The commitment I am willing to make is...
  • Buddy Pairs / Trios

The project I am planning to undertake is... 

  • Return to whole group
  • Summary, next steps
  • Closing circle

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