The following is excerpted from an article, “What is ZEGG-Forum” by Dolores Richter and Achim Ecker:
Forum is a special kind of communication process. It is a creative way for a group with a common vision and value system to create a safe space where members can share with the group in such a way that the consciousness of both the individual and the collective is raised.
In part, Forum provides a stage for thoughts and feelings that are ever present in daily life but which lie veiled or suppressed out of fear of rejection or judgment. It is a vehicle designed to bring into group consciousness what has been, until now, only present in the individuals’ consciousness.
Forum is not, however, a collection of random personal sharing. Because from the beginning it is based on a set of shared values and long-term goals. What emerges is channeled by the commitment to personal change, honesty and aliveness. When used frequently in an ongoing group Forum ultimately becomes like a school of life, a classroom devoted to the exploration of Life and Truth.
In community it can be useful to separate problem solving and decision making. When a decision is to be made, it can start with a Forum process designed to make ideas, personal intentions or emotional background transparent. When this has happened, the decision making process can go ahead without being sabotaged by personal agendas.
Sometimes you will be surprised what you say when you step fully into the role of the actor in the center of the Forum and the process begins to flow. What emerges is the complexity of the human condition: its beauty, potential, paradoxes and violence.
How Forum Works
The individuals making up a Forum sit in a circle. One person goes into the middle as though going onto a stage while the others form the audience. The presenter or actor has the power and the space to speak and act without being interrupted by the others who initially play the role of observing and aware spectators.
The presenter brings with him/her a longing to communicate and learn through revealing in words and actions thoughts, feelings, values, opinions, emotions and judgments about a situation. The other, the facilitator, focalises and guides the process by intervening from time to time in the presenter’s flow. In this way the presenter and the facilitator stage a kind of extemporaneous play together in the center of the Forum, while the group in the circle around them form the silent audience until the work is complete.
When the presenter has finished, others can step into the middle to give feedback and express what they perceived. Now the presenter can learn what others think about him/her and what they have to say which supplements, broadens and sharpens the personal issue he/she brought forward. The discovery of what others think and value about us, what perhaps keeps them from loving us, what meaning we have for them provides us with essential social feedback. After the feedback a new presenter stands and ventures forth into the center.
The Role of the Facilitator
Each session of Forum, usually lasting about 60–90 minutes, is guided by a facilitator plus a co-facilitator, who remain members of the group but take on the temporary role of facilitating the process. The facilitators are the only ones who can intervene in the presenter’s process. They must hold a high level of self-awareness and be able to channel the energies, issues and processes of the Forum. It is a role of service and can be fulfilled in different ways: as a soft moderation which guides just by asking questions that lead to the source of the issue; playfully and artistically; in a strict and directive way – but all forms of facilitation are to serve the presenter who stays fully responsible for the content and style of what is presented.
Facilitators are people who feel drawn to the role and have trained their skills. Forum facilitation is not neutral because Forum supports what is authentic, alive and true, that which comes into the light beyond politeness and the daily games of hiding and disguise. The ideal of Forum is to bring out the beauty of the person, revealing their highest potential.