On Sunday 14th May I facilitated my first ever Street Wisdom event. It was a blast. The sun was beaming down on us, the market stalls were buzzing and 11 strangers embarked on a Chichester quest to find answers to some of the most important questions they hold.
Some of you reading may be wondering about running your own Street Wisdom event and what it takes to be a ‘Street Star’ (our Street Wisdom name as facilitators). I hope this post provides a flavour of what’s in it for you as a group leader and, I hope, provides a gentle nudge of encouragement to get involved with this global movement.
The team at Street Wisdom couldn’t make it easier for you to be a facilitator. Once you’ve decided to give it a go you get access to a 15-minute video that explains everything you need to know plus a handy download guide. It surprised me how quickly it took me to prepare. There was just one exercise that I couldn’t quite get to grips with so I popped Street Wisdom an email and the super Mel got back to me within 24 hours with a response.
Everything else was scoping out location, finding a good coffee stop, and making sure I left home on time!
Meeting the group
Of course there were a few nerves and jitters. But I knew I was ready with my list of attendees to hand, a few notes jotted on a Street Wisdom sign, and a fellow Street Star supporting me in the wings. Christopher Bemrose led me on my first quest back in chilly January and it was his inspirational facilitation that encouraged me to run an event myself – I was honoured that he came to join the madness. Thank you for your support Chris and bringing along little notebooks for people to use (good tip!).
I had a super group to spend the afternoon with. Some had come alone, others with a friend, most had never taken part in Street Wisdom before. All had some levels of anticipation, excitement, enthusiasm, and intrigue.
This is where you have the most content to guide people through. It’s your role to help the group connect, have fun, and let go of their inhibitions. The 10-minute exercises you will use in this section help you do this really well. They offer people time to explore alone and learn from one another with mini discussions.
As the Street Star, you’ll probably stay close to the meeting spot but it doesn’t stop you from joining in the activities too. I found myself walking backwards around the bags I was looking after as part of the ‘slow right down’ exercise. Yes, I may have had a few funny looks but it was a great opportunity to empathise with what the group may have been experiencing.
What’s great about this section is you also get time yourself to go on your own quest!
I recommend taking time at the start to ensure everyone is really clear on their question. Nothing too big, nothing too small. Those who are stuck may require some gentle coaching, or another option is to get participants to chat in pairs before heading off on their quest. This can help with accountability and focus – an hour seems like a long time but it goes in a flash.
I chose to make it to the final meeting spot a little early to ensure we had a comfortable space set up, and the cafe knew they were about to have a sudden demand for drinks as they neared the end of their day.
Learning from one another
This was possibly my favourite part of the day. We split into mini groups to share our stories from the past hour before coming back together as one group and laughing at the funny things that had happened, reflecting on the epiphanies of others, and generating more questions around how to apply the answers to our questions.
It was wonderful to see a group of strangers bond so well over the course of just a few hours. I was overjoyed when a couple of the group voiced their interest in becoming Street Stars themselves – I took that as evidence of a rewarding afternoon. One participant, Bryony, was so taken by the event she wrote a pretty awesome blog the very next day. Check out Bryony’s experience of seeking answers from the Street.
So what do you think? are you up for it? I hope so. Street Wisdom is a fab event where, as a Street Star, you can create an extraordinary experience that generates meaningful answers for others. You’ll also get to practice hosting an outdoor event with people you don’t know, you’ll likely enjoy it and probably make a new friend or two also.
Will I do it again? YES, Definitely! In fact myself and Chris are already planning events as part of the Arundel Festival in August… watch this space.