In its community work, Five E's believes that resolving conflicts is about choices and relationships, those with which we free ourselves and those with which we imprison ourselves. To change anything, we must, through the choices we make, reach beyond where we are, beyond where we feel safe. No biological short-cuts, technological quick-fixes, or political hype can mend what is broken. Dramatic, fundamental change is necessary if we are really concerned with bettering our quality of life.
We provide opportunities for public participation practice toward creating authentic choices and establishing collective agreement on actions intended to achieve sustainability, according to a groups self-defined values. We promote the transformative approach to our facilitation practice because it is aimed at empowering the individual while engendering a collective experience of resolving shared problems according to the group’s self-defined values. With common ground established, issues are more readily resolved and change more easily organized and implemented. Transformative Facilitation encouragess a sense of accomplishment and belonging through shared learning and dialogue in a process of growing self-realization, self-definition, and self-determination. Through appropriately facilitated communication, the many individual perceptions are then coordinated and integrated into a collective vision.
Transformative Facilitation has the potential to engender moral growth in people by helping them -- in the very midst of conflict -- to wrestle with difficult inner and outer circumstances and bridge human differences. Five E's approach to facilitation is thus, intuitively transformative because it seems much more important to cure the cause and eliminate the symptom than to merely alleviate the symptom without touching its cause.
In contrast, the problem-solving approach to conflict resolution in strategic planning emphasizes the capacity to find solutions that generate mutually acceptable settlements, almost always for immediate benefit with minimal long-lasting effects and almost always addressing symptoms rather than causes.
In our client work we have found that the private, non-judgmental, non-coercive character of the transformative approach to facilitating group dialogue can provide disputants a safe haven in which to humanize themselves, despite their having started out as fierce adversaries. This safety helps people feel and express varying degrees of understanding and concern for one another as they grow toward greater compassion, despite their disagreement, through a better understanding of one another's perspectives.
Our task in Transformative Facilitation is to help parties in group dialogue understand that attitudinal and behavioral change is the key to resolving differences of opinion. Our transformative approach works because we believe people empower themselves by increasing their ability to control their own lives in order to create a more fulfilling existence through mutual efforts to resolve shared problems. In this way community development succeeds based on the belief that through collective learning, understanding, and action people can successfully resolve their issues as well as organize and implement change.