m e l y n
p o w w o w
a facilitator's guide
This page is different from any
other on the Melyn Social Action site. Because it's
longer, it's designed to be printed and then read -
rather than being read off the screen. It's a set of
suggestions - a Facilitator's Guide to Melyn Powwow.
Printing and following the guidelines on this page will
enable you to hold your own Powwow. A Powwow is great:
... if there's something bothering you about your
community or if you want to play a part in making your
community even better
... if you want to join with others to explore problems,
seek inspiration and deliver solutions
... if you want to try out a new idea generating
brainstorming session which encourages participants to
use their ideas.
Melyn Powwow is Melyn's newest project and it's in the
early stages of development. We'd like you to play a part
in that development by holding your own Powwow. Feel free
to give it a try. Please, send word to Melyn Social
Action to let us know how it went and how we can refine
the Guide and also, please, pass on news of how the
outcomes helped your community.
What follows is a Facilitator's Guide to the Melyn
First of all, gather key members of your community
together. 'Community' can be city, town, village, church,
college, school, society, club, workplace, ... whatever
... If you're already a member of an organisation within
a community - such as Lions, Rotary, Women's Institute,
Scouts, Guides, etc. - please try to schedule one meeting
for a Melyn Powwow. Here's what you'll need:
... people: between 12-60 is ideal, but you can have more
... location: a room with enough chairs scattered around
... resources: a pad of yellow stickies (e.g. Post Its);
pens and papers; flip chart, whiteboard or blackboard; a
wall or door to stick up lots of yellow stickies
... time: two hours is about right
Start off the Powwow with a quick introductory 'speech'
to the whole group setting out the plan.
Mention that Melyn Powwow is about problem finding and
problem solving. Both parts involve finding ideas. Powwow
is all about ideas:
... different people will come up with different ideas
... there are no 'good' or 'bad' ideas
... to come up with the best ones, suspend judgement,
don't block anything, be 'childlike' and naive
What's the problem?
Participants need a pen and paper.
Ask participants to draw a line a line down the middle of
their paper, so they've got two columns. Write the word
"SADDERS" at the top of the left hand column;
write the word "GLADDERS" at the top of the
other and then spend 5 minutes writing as many things as
you can about your community that make you happiest (in
the GLADDERS column) and saddest (in the SADDERS) column.
Ask participants to be as specific as possible. (E.g.
'the litter in the Gele River' not 'environment';
'children can't spell' not 'education'.)
Urge everyone to be as free and open as they can, because
no-one else will see this list. (They can tear it up
When the 5 minutes come to an end ask everyone to look at
the two columns and concentrate on filling up the column
with the least writing in it.
When that's done, give every person six yellow stickies
each. Ask them to transfer these six things from their
list to the six stickies:
... the three SADDERS they'd most like to change and ...
... the three GLADDERS they're happiest about.
Then, ask everyone to put theirs up on the same patch of
wall/window/door. When that's done, invite everyone to
browse and enjoy reading others' concerns and
When they've had a browse, regroup
everyone and ask the big group to select just one of the
sadders from the many on the wall. Write that sadder
statement at the top of a flip chart, whiteboard or
The next step is to ask to big group:
"What's most hopeless about this sadder?"
Write down the first five hopeless points on the
flipchart for all to see. Then:
"What's most promising about this sadder?"
Write down the first five promising points on the
flipchart for all to see.
Call this sheet of flipchart 'Exhibit A'. You'll be
referring back to it later.
Now divide the big group into four. Do this by pointing
to the four corners of the room and calling them autumn
(fall), winter, spring and summer. Participants go to the
season's corner in which their birthday falls.
Ask each group to pick their own sadder, discuss it and
list five hopeless and five promising
When everyone's finished, ask a spokesperson from each of
the four groups to share their findings and their five
hopeless and five promising points about their sadder
with the big group.
With the one big group, thank
everyone for their ideas. We're ready now for the next
Tell the story about the Swiss village Munchenbuchsee,
near the capital Bern:
In the early 1990s Munchenbuchsee had built comprehensive
recycling facilities. Trouble was, not enough people were
using them. An innovative idea solved the problem. It was
an idea that turned a seemingly hopeless situation into a
promising solution. Refuse (garbage) was collected
weekly. What Munchenbuchsee did was to say that only
refuse in official bin bags would be collected from
outside people's homes and, furthermore, a charge of the
equivalent of USD2 would be made for each of these
special bin bags. The result? People threw far less away
and, instead, took refuse to the village recycling
Just shows what a difference just one good idea can make
to a community.
Back to Exhibit A
Just as the Munchenbuchsee bin
bags was an idea that turned a seemingly hopeless
situation into a promising solution, what we're going to
do now is to look again at the five 'hopeless' statements
about the sadders we chose and we're going to see if we
can find a way to turn some of them into being
'promising'. Let's try it together first, with Exhibit A.
(With the big group, look at the 'hopeless' statements
and see if something 'promising' can be wrung from them).
In a pilot Powwow, the 'hopeless' "paedophiles work
in rings ..." was converted by the participants into
a more 'promising': "... so if the police catch just
one of the paedophiles in the ring, that one might lead
on to the prosecution of many in that ring."
Having converted some of Exhibit
A's hopeless cases into more promising ones altogether,
it's time for the four smaller groups to work on their
Each of the four groups needs to feed back to the big
group at the end.
Having heard all the ideas, ask
the big group if any ideas seem to be real 'gems'.
By now, two hours or so will have elapsed and there may
be quite a powerful group dynamic that could drive
forward the best idea(s) towards implementation. That's
what the Powwow's all about. It's the group's
determination to make its ideas for the good of its own
community succeed that makes the Powwow such an exciting
Please print this
If you haven't already printed
this page, please print it now. This Facilitator's Guide
is too complex to be absorbed off a monitor screen.
Melyn asks you to try it out one evening with your group
or society - Lions, Rotary, Women's Institute, Scouts,
Guides, Church, school, college ... etc.
If you're not active within such an organisation, how
about getting together a group of people, giving Powwow a
try and getting back with suggestions on how this Guide
can be made clearer? Also, please send news of how your
Powwow went so we can tell your story on these pages.
It's time to make a difference.
Good luck, enjoy and, if you do like it, please tell your
(v2.2, 24 Sep 1998; v2.0 25 Oct 1997. Gareth Morlais - firstname.lastname@example.org)