The Art of Facilitation for Cooperative Groups

5-Week Online Course | Resuming in 2022

Groups often get bogged down by their decision making and meeting process. Poorly held processes can diminish energy for the work of the group and undercuts the sense of joy and identification among members. This does not have to be the fate of your group! The secret of happy and productive groups is great facilitation. Gain the confidence and skills you’ll need to facilitate your group, team, or community towards greater effectiveness and cooperation through this online course.

The Art of Facilitation for Cooperative Groups course image

Facilitate your group, team, or community towards greater effectiveness and cooperation.

This 5-week online course will unpack the essential elements needed to be an effective facilitator in cooperative culture. Distilled from more than three decades of working as a professional facilitator and trainer for cooperative groups, Laird Schaub will cover what you need to know to be the best facilitator you can be for the groups you care about.

You will gain an understanding of what cooperative culture is and how you can build more of it through your facilitation work. You’ll learn the subtle arts of facilitation, such as what it takes to skillfully manage both content (what people are saying) and energy (the way they are saying it), unpacking the ways in which people differ and how to work creatively and inclusively with those complexities, how to efficiently tackle issues that are worthy of whole group attention, and learning when and how to hand off work to teams. Get ready to undertake personal work (what you need to unlearn) so that you can step into your full potential as a facilitator.

Key Course Outcomes

  • The mindset of the facilitator
  • The essential differences between competitive and cooperative culture
  • Operator’s License (the authority facilitators need to do their work)
  • The necessity of attending to both Content and Energy, and how to do it
  • How to sequence work on an issue for maximum efficiency
  • Understanding the myriad ways in which people differ and how to respond creatively
  • Unexamined assumptions that get groups into trouble
  • How the expression of strong feelings can be harnessed rather than harmful
  • The advantages of opening up to non-rational input 
  • How to delegate effectively (something most groups stumble over)
  • Learning how to give and receive critical feedback

Meet Your Instructor

The Art of Facilitation for Cooperative Groups course instructor, Laird Shaub

Laird Schaub

Laird’s specialty is up-tempo inclusive meetings that engage the full range of human input, teaching groups to work creatively with conflict and diversity—all the while being ruthless about capturing as much product as possible. Laird lived for four decades at Sandhill Farm, an income-sharing rural community that he helped found. He also helped found the Foundation for Intentional Community, where he served as the main administrator for 28 years. In 1987 he created a self-insurance fund for healthcare among income-sharing communities called PEACH (Preservation of Equity Accessible for Community Health) that he ran for 22 years. In addition to his expertise in community living, he’s parlayed his passion for good process into a consulting business focused on cooperative group dynamics, styled CANBRIDGE (Consensus And Network Building for Resolving Impasse and Developing Group Effectiveness), since 1987.

The Online Course Experience

Live Interactive Sessions

Each week will feature a 2-hour live class with the course instructor so you can learn in a dynamic setting and get your questions answered directly. Get ready for interactive presentations, group discussion, small cohort activities and personalized support. Plus, each week there will be bonus sessions with guest speakers and panelists.

Journey with a Cohort

Join participants from around the world who are embarking on creating community for better living and more connection. You’ll have opportunities to network with like-minds and develop a network of support to carry your community project forward. Welcome to your global community of communities.

Deep Learning

Participants will have access to a private online space to connect with the instructor and other students through a discussion forum. Each week new learning materials will be uploaded to the space, including videos, worksheets and articles. You’ll be able to watch previously recorded sessions and stay on track with your weekly assignments.

Praise for the Art of Facilitation Course

Laird Schaub is a national treasure in terms of his experience dealing with the different challenges that intentional communities can encounter in decision making and his positive attitude toward helping communities find solutions that work. His emphasis on the importance of both process and product is key. Students in course represented a lot of different types of experience with intentional living and were very engaged. Class discussions were interesting and helpful.

Deborah Kogan

This course was a great overview of not only effective facilitation, but also of group governance using consensus. I gained a deeper understanding of both of these topics, and had insights that I know will make me a better facilitator. I am also taking away valuable information about how to shepherd the development of ideas, projects and policies in my community in ways that are both inclusive and effective.

Leslie Thomsen

Laird is concise and comprehensive without running over people; he addresses each person’s questions with an appropriate level of thoroughness and invites further discussion via email if the subject is somewhat off-topic for the class topic that day. His handouts are very well organized, and he is all at once funny, compassionate, knowledgeable, and entertaining.

Emily Abel

Excellent course for facilitators of intentional communities. Laird brings a wealth of knowledge with excellent handouts and teaching style. He addresses the challenges specific to intentional communities where we are committed to moving from an “I” context to a “we” community. He offers specific information on all the aspects of facilitating. I am putting his ideas to use immediately with my facilitation team in our community.

Martie Weatherly

Be prepared! This course covers a lot of great material in a short amount of time. Set aside enough time to read through all the materials before each session. This course is designed for people facilitating groups in intentional communities; however, it covers all facets of good facilitation regardless of the setting.

Julia Dodge

I thought the course was a tremendous intro to the role of facilitator; what it is (or should be) and what it isn’t (!) All of the material we touched on was very relevant to our community situation. I benefitted greatly from the contributions made to the course by fellow participants, and I consider Laird to be a truly gifted teacher.

Susan Clark

Laird is a treasure. Our community, Heartwood Cohousing in southwest Colorado, has hired him to lead several of our weekend retreats. Some of those retreats have been to simply deepen community connections, while others have been to resolve contentious community issues. In all cases, Laird has done a great job for us. With his decades of experience, his keen intellect, and his deep compassion, Laird is a true master of community communications, conflict resolution, and decision making. We’ve had many facilitators work with our community and I’ve encountered many at cohousing conferences and community events. Laird is the best I’ve met.

– Mac Thomson

Laird is an amazing facilitator and an excellent teacher. The skills he shares with his students are incredibly valuable to any community and to society as a whole. I appreciate that Laird grounds his work in a broader social analysis—that we as a society need to get much better at hearing each other, cooperating, and making hard decisions without domination. He has developed a thorough and effective system for guiding groups through a variety of challenging situations. It is thrilling to learn how to practice it. And it pays dividends not only within the community but in other areas of one’s life. I have used skills I learned from Laird at work and in family situations as well. Learning from Laird has been a life changing experience.

– Tom Smyth

Laird’s knowledge, wisdom, and insight about group dynamics and cooperative culture taught me, above all, how to be a functional member in a cooperative setting. The clarity and humor of his personal delivery style made this learning an enjoyable experience for me.

I took his classes multiple times since 2008 and continue learning from him today. The way I participate in community meetings changed profoundly as I acquired potent tools for self-awareness, self-development, and refinement of my communications skills and thinking patterns. Having been exposed to his work enough, I am now able to see more deeply into the subtleties of the facilitation skills he teaches and the common quicksand holes that groups tend to fall in when trying to work together. With Laird’s guidance, I went from being clueless about how to make cooperation work to being competent to offer good quality facilitation services to groups I’m not familiar with.

– María Silvia

There are few people with the sheer breadth and depth of experience as Laird has.  He is sharp, challenging, provocative, insightful.  He deeply cares about promoting cooperative culture in communities and in the world.  And it shows.  I would recommend his classes to anyone and everyone.

Mary Bennett

Course Schedule

You will also have access to three live Bonus Sessions on relevant topics with guest speakers and facilitators scheduled at various times throughout the weeks. Please view the calendar below. All classes and Bonus Session recordings are viewable afterwards.

Sample Bonus Session Topics:

  • Facilitation in Covid Times: Beyond Boxes on a Screen
  • Nonviolent Communication Training
  • Consent-Based Decision Making
  • Regenerative Relating: A New Approach to Sustainability
  • Circle Work: Bridging the Gap between Conflict & Community

Join the Waiting List

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Need financial support to attend a course?

Apply for a scholarship. Those with low-income and from marginalized groups are encouraged to apply. FIC is committed to ensuring everyone has access to intentional community learning opportunities.