In March 2012 a two day workshop was held over one weekend in Edinburgh. The workshop had three strands;  firstly, its title and theme, “Connection and Isolation”, secondly, that the topic of networking was to be explored, and thirdly, in running it jointly Lilian Brzoska and Jan Pieter Hoogma sought to demonstrate the ease with which cathartic and cornucopian methods can be used in tandem.

A variety of techniques were taught to the whole group and tried out in sessions, short and longer sessions took place in pairs and in small groups and two good lunches were enjoyed. A co-co café was held exploring three questions:

  1. What do I really want to see so that people from all coco backgrounds can work together?
  2. What client skills would I like to learn/brush up on in a workshop or regular group?
  3. What topic would interest me enough to participate in a group which would use co-counselling to encourage and support me deal with the issues and move forward?

Feedback was made to the whole group and there were six pages of feedback from the March weekend printed in the summer 2012 edition of Zest.

A follow up workshop, “Connection and Isolation 2” was held in September 2012. Again the title and theme addressed the possibility of participants sharing and moving forward on any issues or challenges to do with connection and isolation, again the topic of networking was to be explored, and again Lilian and Jan Pieter sought to demonstrate the compatibility of cathartic and cornucopian approaches. The format of the second weekend had similarities to the first with the exception that instead of a coco café there was an open space session.

So far the only feedback from the September weekend is in the form of offers and needs expressed during the open space session. This list of offers and needs was published in the spring 2013 Zest, also in the email CoCo Scotland Newsletter and also on the website CoCo Info. The question on the table now is “would it be a good idea to have another open space sometime in the near future?” This article came into being to help look at that question.

An Assessment of the CoCo Open Space held in Edinburgh in Sept ‘12

In order to assess the success of this Coco Open Space which was held as part of the Connection & Isolation Workshop II, we asked participants to send us their feedback. We would like to thank all the participants for their generosity in sending this to us.

Our request brought an overwhelming response, ten pages of feedback! We have assembled this and it can be obtained in its entirety from Roots 2 Fruits co-editors Lilian Brzoska and Lindsay Gibson.

The feedback was reviewed and the aspects that were seen to be successful as stepping stones to build on for the future were drawn out. Note was also made of those aspects of the process which could be improved on.

Stepping Stones to build on for the future:

  • The invitation in itself was helpful, even for people who did not attend the event. Formulating and crystallising thoughts was good for many and somehow set the scene for the future.
  • For those who were present, speaking out supported them to voice their needs and the communication which followed made it easier to be clearer about issues.
  • The Open Space provided support in dealing with live issues.
  • Integration happened in both directions – for some people the co-counselling space provided a place for desires to be met, while others were empowered to get what they needed from non ​co-counselling sources.
  • Even when nothing seemed to be achieved or there were slow beginnings Coco Open Space was often helpful in creating future outcomes. It sowed the seeds for the future i.e. fundamentals, community days, workshops.
  • Interest was raised in new areas
  • Personal projects were launched with support.
  • Participants expressed wishes to join in with others’ ideas, this enabled collaboration to begin.
  • Spaces were offered and found for events.

What needs to be improved to make Coco Open space more successful:

  • It could be helpful for people to have an overview of the process they
    are to go through in advance. This would allow time for reflection on
    needs and offers before attending the Coco open Space
  • More time for sessions within the space.
  • Support:
  1. Finding support with looking at ways of achieving what you want after the Open Space, perhaps a buddy could be set up at the workshop
  2. Negotiation of initial offers and wants creates flexibility of outcomes
  3. Life action and Action Planning techniques could be used
  4. Give out clear messages – does clarity of request make a difference to     the outcome?
  • After the Coco Open Space look at what can be improved if you are not getting what you want, communicate and share this with other participants, have sessions and keep trying to find ways forward,
  • Practice acceptance, if you really can’t get what you want can you transform what you can get?
  • For some the pace of the beginning needed to be speeded up. How could this be done?
  • Long distance communication sometimes proved difficult and made issues a challenge to follow up, support was needed here.
  • Steps need to be built into the Open Space to meet the needs of those engaged in the process, both in the present and in the future.
  • As far as possible it’s helpful to deal with distress before and during the Open Space to prevent it blocking the development of the process.
  • Allow time and space for discussion and what is needed at the end.
  • The question needs to be asked …
    ‘ How can the Coco Open Space be developed and what is the follow up that is needed to round off the process?’

Lindsay and Anne, November 12th 2013