Each summer, I co-lead workshops at Knoll Farm on leadership, story, civic dialogue and facilitation.

Please join us and be part of our learning community.


Upcoming Workshops

Facilitating Civic Dialogue: Building Skills and Possibility in a New Era 

Facilitated by: Deb Bicknell and Peter Forbes

August 16-18, 2017

Knoll Farm Fayston, Vermont

Politicians say it’s getting harder and harder to talk with one another, sociologists say our nation is going through “the big sort” that divides us by race, class, and ideology.  We believe these times require challenging assumptions, creating space for new awareness, and bridging polarities.  There are many ways to engage - one of them is reconsidering how we listen and respond to different word views. Civic dialogue seeks insight and empathy in divided places through actively understanding difference and fostering dialogue on matters of consequence to our lives. Whether you are a change-maker advocating for an issue, an elected official seeking durable public policy, or anyone trying to advance an idea this workshop will help you to lead difficult conversations that can transform situations. 

This workshop offers opportunities to gain personal awareness and enhance practical facilitation skills. Participants will explore how to create safer, more welcoming environments for people to have brave and honest conversations about issues that often separate us. We will explore how our identities play a role in facilitation and how they affect group dynamics. Knoll Farm will be used as a beautiful setting in which to learn as well as a tool for understanding the role of place in facilitation.

Please join two veteran cross-cultural facilitators, Peter Forbes and Deb Bicknell, for a skill-building professional development workshop on process facilitation techniques that seek dialogue, awareness and new possibility among groups and communities.   Here are the themes we will be covering:

1. Preparing yourself and understanding the context.

Understanding the environment you are entering, developing awareness of self in this role, and coming to understand the group itself. Connecting to your own values and curiosity as facilitator: why do I care about this project and this group and do I believe in their/our potential to breakthrough to one another?

2.Making visible that which is often invisible.

Understanding the transformational power of difference to group dynamics. If any group hopes to move forward, it will do so through understanding its differences more so than its similarities.  How does one bring to light a group’s different life experiences, perspectives and ideologies?  We’ll explore the role of caucusing and other tools to cultivate awareness of things that are hard to see, harder to talk about, and often confrontational but can be transformed into understanding, empathy, and shared action. We’ll also examine how to observe cues and patterns of behavior, valuing your intuition as facilitator, and using a variety of tools before during and after the facilitation to make visible that which is often invisible.

3.Invoking the pause.

Understanding the role of courage and awareness to breakthrough facilitation.  Sometimes issues can’t be resolved but groups can stay in productive relationship by leaning into difficult moments and understanding what happened and why.

4. Your identity in the mix.

What am I bringing to this conversation and how is that positive and negative for the group?  Understanding your own identity and its power within the group: rank, role and power.

5. Changing the conditions, creating a new environment.

Embodying the goals of the facilitation assignment physically. Bringing different ways of thinking and doing to change the conditions within the group.

Deb Bicknell is a seasoned international educator, curriculum designer and facilitator. She works in organizations and communities near and far, focusing on leadership development, cross-cultural communication and engagement, critical thinking and creativity, conflict transformation and youth empowerment.  She believes deeply in the power, creativity and resourcefulness of people and communities and is a global citizen, who hangs her hat in (and is from) the great state of Maine.

Peter is a northern New Englander with more than 20 years of experience as a process facilitator for dozens of communities and coalitions from Alaska to Maine.  He also has many years of experience in organizational development, having founded and led 3 social profit organizations. Peter draws on other life experience as a writer, photographer, father and farmer. You can learn more at Peterforbes.org

Inquiry on all levels and all people are welcome. 

Full workshop cost:

Lodging and meals: at Knoll Farm $250.00
Tuition: sliding scale from $300-$650

Register HERE through Knoll Farm Web site. 

The Long Now

Facilitated by Peter Forbes

September 11-14, 2017

Knoll Farm Fayston, Vermont

What is your long work, the purpose of your life that spans time, organizations and careers? How do you view the long arch of that work amidst the urgency of today’s news cycle? How does this moment in our nation’s history ask you to engage? What are the critical questions?   What does this long work ask of you?

Many are hungry to connect with other thoughtful, experienced people during this period of enormous change. We are in one of those times of mounting challenge that begs clarity and courage about one’s long work, and requires that we stay connected. 

The Long Now Retreat is an inquiry into the long work of a life and what it calls on you to do today.  Very often it is helpful to have space with peers and the context of good facilitation and individual coaching to consider important questions such as What is the right scale of my life work that recognizes my gifts and my limitations?  How does privilege show up in my life making some things possible and other things impossible? How do I merge deed and creed in more aspects of my life? What enables my arrow to hit its mark, and what makes me miss that mark altogether?  What sustains my creative energy?  What must I ask of myself?  

The retreat will include group discussion plus ample time for personal reflection on your own along with individual coaching sessions with Peter who will draw upon all of his 20 years of experience helping individuals and groups to do their best work.  You can learn more about Peter here.

Full workshop cost:

Lodging and meals: at Knoll Farm $375
Tuition: sliding scale from $350-$600

Register HERE through Knoll Farm Web site.