OIFN – A Living Network

As I began my journey as the OIFN’s Community of Practice Animator, I started to delve into the full-bodied and deep-rooted history of the network. I was profoundly touched by the diverse members who made significant contributions to the work of independent facilitation. I was uplifted by the resounding commitment and steadfast leadership in the face of rapidly changing landscapes. I was reminded of the power that networks hold in their ability to harness the collective energy in order to facilitate social change.

As with all living networks, OIFN has experienced natural ebbs and flows. It is a sign that the collective group is deepening, expanding, and changing in alignment with the emerging landscape. It’s a reality when diverse agendas and emerging conditions impact the ability to focus on the unifying elements: the mission, vision, values and guiding principles. Effective leaders of networks understand this experience and the need to ride the waves, listen to the collective voices of its membership, and hold the focus on the underlying fundamental beliefs and principles.

Living networks balance the ability to hold the voices and longings of their membership, while probing the edges to unearth and share knowledge about their collective learning. Thriving networks embrace the creativity, passion and momentum of its membership, so that something new, alive, and vibrant may be given life.

In this light, OIFN is embarking on an exciting period, as it shifts its focus from the three-year Independent Facilitation Demonstration Project (IFDP). Sustaining this important work called for a great deal of time and focus, and OIFN played a vital role in;
• exploring the impact of independent facilitation
• facilitating dialogue with the Ministry
• creating space for the collective Individual Facilitation Organizations to gather and focus on deliverables, timelines, and emerging issues
• curating key pieces of reflection and evaluation and
• advocating for ongoing funding for the important work of independent facilitation.

While OIFN continues to advocate and support the work of the collective in many areas, the broader membership and voices of the network have been calling, and OIFN is excited about answering!

The Ideas Blog is one example of the network’s commitment to moving forward to engage with its members. This blog will reflect the voices and perspectives of our collective membership. It will explore the core themes of citizenship, community, belonging, relationships, self determination, and the work of Independent Facilitation as an avenue to facilitate person directed change. Over the next year you will see emergent and rich content submitted by a diverse collection of writers – all aligned in our common purpose of people living empowered lives.

To initiate the official launch of our membership based blog, I thought the words and music of Ontario born George Woodhouse – a singer and song writer currently located on the East coast – best set the stage. George and I engaged in a recent dialogue about independent facilitation and the universal themes of belonging and citizenship. Moved by this conversation, George wrote a new song. The words he shared in our correspondence, the lyrics of the song itself and the beautiful, soulful lyrical prose with which he delivered it … are noteworthy and transformative.

Here’s what George had to say:
“I always try to be aware of my position and privilege in our society, as a young white educated male with a full time job that is embraced by community.  Nonetheless, I have needed help finding my way as a young man and have had the good fortune of working with various mentors in my life who have taken the approach of meeting me where I was at.  I have not had to navigate many of the social, economic or physical barriers that people do who are marginalized by society.  Still, on some level, there is something universal about the need to be seen for who you really are… as someone with unique and worth-while gifts, and interests in a society that is so ready to pull you into a cycle that produces more of the same.  That’s why I love the philosophy and intention of independent facilitation.  It is doing the hard work to overcome those barriers, beginning with listening as opposed to telling.”

The lyrics of his song, demonstrate his profound understanding of the universal themes that independent facilitation strives to address: citizenship, belonging, individual gifts and contributions, community as an exchange and authentic relationships.

Click the Instagram link to hear the song that George wrote and see the lyrics that were inspired by our conversation about independent facilitation: https://www.instagram.com/p/BkSgWNqHuGr/

Click the Facebook link for a full audio version: https://www.facebook.com/george.woodhouse/videos/10156241793532347/

In our common pursuit of growth, expansion and full citizenship for all members of society – we look forward to meeting you here on the Idea’s Blog!

Warm regards,
Belinda Deenik,
Community of Practice Animator


Belinda Deenik has been actively involved in helping people unearth their gifts, while exploring the themes of belonging, citizenship and community, for the past 20 years. Whether she is
involved in her current work with two provincial networks, or engaged in her practice as a Life Design Coach and writing in the beautiful Grey Bruce region, she is committed to personally participating in the universal ‘we’ that leads to collective change!

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