By Manuela de los Rios, Garden Mentor at the MAXwell Community Garden
I’ve been working for and as part of community groups for over 20 years. I’ve learnt very much on my way from so many different people. I’ve had some successes and of course, I have made plenty of mistakes. I’d like to share with you the first 10 ideas/tips that came to mind when I reflected on my role as a facilitator or activist within a community group (more resources for community projects here):
1. Different people join community projects with different expectations and needs – always listen more than you speak
2. Provide a safe and steady framework to start off – clear rules for all
3. Don’t assume knowledge or show off with jargon, find out what others DO know and CAN do, everyone has talents and skills
4. Use stories, facts and as many sensory interactions with nature as possible. Keep it hands ON!
5. Find a shared purpose that you can all celebrate, enjoy, be proud of and share. Focus on what keeps you and others coming back
6. Don’t be too ambitious, try not to be and look stressed or overwhelmed and keep sacred time for having fun and making mistakes
7. Marvel together, create together, grow as human beings together
8. Nurture each other, give your time generously, ask (and listen) to people when you ask how they are feeling
9. Link up with other community groups, get the bigger picture, be part of making a bigger difference
10. Keep track of your successes, what you have learned, new skill and knowledge, your attitude. Be kind to yourself and stay rooted and connected to your own aims and desires.