Some of us are new to online discussion forums. Others have more experience either with the previous NPCI Study Group and/or with online courses. Still we are all new to experiencing this particular forum, and it will take some time for each of us to get comfortable. best thing to do is to jump in and practice.

Here are a few guidelines for reflections:

Discussion topics: I have started a number of discussion topics. These are divided into different sections: Start here, Narrative Online, Michael White & David Epston, Special interest Topics, Conversation Forum, Inspiration & Provocation, Global commitments. Anyone can begin the online conversation with a response, or expand the conversation by creating your own topic. If you start a new thread, just give it a new heading, so we will be able to keep track. I will do my best to help organize what emerges.

Joining in: The next person’s comment does not just refer back to the original question, but if possible, should reflect on the preceding reflection(s). Every posting does not need to link with the preceding post. There is a lot to say, and we will have multiple threads going at once. Feel free to ask your own questions, and to spontaneously respond to others.

Acknowledging each others’ contributions: Let’s all do our best to acknowledge each other. It doesn’t feel good to spend a lot of time on writing something, nervously posting it, and then never hear anything about it. A very simple “Thanks for that…I will be thinking about what you wrote…” or something like that…goes a long way.

Noticing the unspoken – within an ethic of care: This group is a place where we can respectfully inquire into what might otherwise remain unnoticed. I cherish how narrative practice encourages us to question everything, to explore the effects of the invisible, and to hold ourselves accountable to living with/becoming more and more attuned to such questioning.

Listening and inquiring: Let’s do our best to listen to each other, and engage in satisfying conversation, which is different from simply waiting for space to say what you want to say.

Reviewing as we go: Throughout, we will review how this is going, and re-evaluate accordingly. As the study group progresses, we will use this format to experiment with ‘reflecting teamwork’ and ‘outsider witness practices.’ You will have the opportunity to share online some of your own work, and then to reflect upon each others’ work. I want very much to create a safe comfortable conversational context, to get the conversation going, and for us all to begin to engage with the materials. Along the way, please feel free to add here any reflections and suggestions that draw from your experiences using this online forum.

Respect and hospitality: Remember we are ALL still learning as we go. Often – and especially for people newer to this medium- that learning curve can be steep. Some people describe initially feeling intimidated by others’ voices and worry that they will sound somehow “less-than.” Posting something that doesn’t get sufficiently acknowledged can evoke old insecurities. Some people will enter the conversation mid-stream, which can be a set-up for experiencing oneself as an outsider. Being cognizant of these challenges will not make them go away. But I believe we can create a hospitable community where we welcome others’ entry into conversation, make room for different ideas, and give each other the benefit of the doubt.

Participation: On different “threads,” (conversational topics) some people will “talk” more than others – this is expected since different topics will resonate with each of us. No one is expected to respond to every question or enter every conversation. Besides, we all have different competing time commitments, and I trust we will all contribute as we can. At the same time, let’s pay attention to creating space for everyone with no one dominating all conversation. Some people will tend to listen more from the sidelines – in the online world, “lurking” is acceptable.
It is up to you to find the conversation(s) you want to enter.

Sharing responsibility . It will really help if we can share responsibility for keeping the conversation going. Write when you can. I also imagine we will take turns listening and “speaking,” and getting used to silences. We all go through busy patches in our lives. Membership in this group is meant to enhance not deplete our lives. Simply write when you can. It does help to create a routine that makes regular room for participation in this study group.

To sum up: Let’s create “an island of belonging” where self-surveillance doesn’t become silencing, and where we know that we will all learn as we go/make mistakes along the way. Can you help me create this kind of environment? Do you have any additional ideas for how we can best do that?