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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Thomas J. Neuville: Rules For Radicals 4 - A Workshop Process

Thomas J. Neuville: Rules For Radicals 4 - A Workshop Process

Rules For Radicals 4 - A Workshop Process

Creating a Community Action Session

Creating an interactive and high-energy session makes social change agents of all participants. The session title; Rules For Radicals; Waging Peace For Full Inclusion builds expectation even as potential participants consider their roles. The facilitator’s role is to develop and evolve a significant, citizen-centered innovation relating directly to full inclusion. The session format is based on the triangulation of three critical components (Alinsky’s tactics, Guidelines of inclusion and peaceful resolution) with a nucleus of participant affinity and need.

Purpose and Structure

1) The interweaving of guidelines for full inclusion and peaceful resolution with Alinsky’s tactics.

2) The connection of the session calls for action from participant experience, in order to create post-conference activity.

Agenda and Process

The history of equity, diversity, social justice and inclusion is replete with stories and example centered on people taking action that is within their experience. The session; Rules For Radicals; Waging Peace For Full Inclusion triangulates the methods of the pragmatic radical Saul Alinsky, guidelines for full inclusion, and elements of peace with the capacities of the workshop participants. The information is applied to those most at risk of exclusion, and people most vulnerable to segregation and isolation due to social devaluation. The tactics are founded on the principles of adult education / participatory action which result in high degrees of collaboration, shared learning and the creation of new knowledge. The narrative disseminated and generated throughout the event is targeted at creating post workshop participant action that breaks down institutional barriers to inclusion.

How the issue is presented and discussed

The interactive and participatory learning environment created by this workshop results in participants clarifying their own connection with inclusion and designing local action for change. The agenda and processes are:

1) Presentation and discussion of Alinsky’s 13 tactics. (15% of total time)

2) Presentation and discussion of Inclusion guidelines as they interact with

Alinsky’s work. (15% of total time)

3) Discovery process of group experience, local needs and participant definitions

of material presented. (35% of total time)

4) Creation of 2 or 3 individual actions to be taken at home. ( 35% of total time)

“The citizens concerned with quality learning and inclusive environments are numb, bewildered, and scared into silence. They don’t know what – if anything, they can do. This is a job for today’s radical – to fan the embers of hopelessness into the flame to fight.” (Alinsky p.194).

The workshop is designed for people who are concerned about the segregation and isolation of large groups of people within our society, and who want to take new and effective actions that place people who are most at risk on a trajectory of community, contribution and wholeness.


Facilitation is the sustaining of opportunities, resources, encouragement and support for the group to succeed in achieving its objectives through enabling the group to take control and responsibility. The facilitating leader is a facilitator with a vision. The use of facilitation finally answers the question of how to motivate people. The answer is not about motivation, but is rather about inspiration. To produce or arouse a strong feeling is the only direct path to quality, effectiveness, health, profitability and personal well-being.

General Facilitation Guidelines

Beegle, Gwen & Neuville, Thomas 2005.

1) Open with participant comments, input and questions. This clears the emotional way and opens up.

2) Lead specific assessment discussions with “what did you think? This starts from the spot the participants are at.

3) Publicly list responses. This allows for participants to develop to the next level of knowing by letting go. It also generates material for further analysis.

4) Set up seating for participant interaction and relationship building (e.g. circle). Among other advantages this form leaves spaces for the facilitator to enter.

5) Adopt a friendly and professionally familiar affect. This invites trust.

6) Make use of small groups.

a. Everyone will have an opportunity to teach and learn.

b. Productivity and work output increases.

c. Gives participants varied opportunities for hand-on experience with tools.

d. Guards against drift.

7) Create and re-create context, foundation, purpose and focus (this is a particularly

critical skill and pays attention to the moving target of developmental learning).

8) The facilitators must distribute themselves equitably about physically. Moving about with complete coverage allows relationship building and works best in u shapes or circles.

9) Make use of self-reflection relevant to the content as a public or private activity. This develops the ability to analyze, discover common ground and build steps toward practical generalization.

10) Refocus and restate with respect to participant language in order to build knowledge on focus area as well as enhance depth and meaning. Taking a persons statements and sometimes ramble and repeating it back in clear concise content specific terms builds individual and group understanding and offers to the person what they know.


The move towards inclusion and peace is blocked by false vision. The intent of the processes of inclusion, peace, and Alinsky’s tactics is to get a glimpse of what is most valuable about inclusive communities. With an increase in sight may come a positive institutional bias toward community, reformation and, perhaps, revolution evolves while creating space for citizens to gather and put together the steps they need for inclusion and peace. Whether systems change, people gain in belonging, or we simply get to know each other, the action of coming together is worthy.


Alinsky, Saul (1971). Rules For Radicals. Vintage Books, New York, NY.

Covey, Stephen (1989). 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Simon & Schuster, New York, NY.

Henderson, William (2005). Personal communication. Patrick O’Hearn School, Boston, MA

Neuville, Thomas (2000). What are the Main Concerns Related to Students With Disabilities as They Transition From Secondary Schools to Adult Life? UMI Ann Arbor, MI.

Peterson, Michael & Hittie, Mishael Marie (2003). Inclusive Teaching; Creating Effective Schools For All Learners. Allyn & Bacon, Boston, MA.

Rogers, Will (2005).

Samuel, Bill (2005). Friends (Quakers) and Peace

Henderson, William (2005). Personal communication. Patrick O’Hearn School, Boston, MA.