In the course of our Artisan Facilitator Training in Amazonas, each small group was tasked with making one kind of woven bird with chambira palm fiber. The heart of the process, though, was having each member of the group become the group's faciliator for 20 minutes at a time before passing the role onto the next person.
While acting in the facilitator role, we asked each person to put aside their own work and focus attention on the others by following 5 steps...Explanation (use words to explain how the artisan could do the next stage of their craft), Demonstration (show the artisan with their hands how to perform the action they were explaining), Observation (intently watch how the artisan applies what the facilitator just shared), Comment (give specific feedback to help the artisan carry out the desired action), and Affirmation (Compliment the artisan on their technique and/or effort).
Many artisans were understandably shy at first about approaching a more experienced artisan thinking they would have nothing valuable to share with them. Over time, though, artisans at all levels realized that they all had things they could teach to and learn from each other. A beautiful degree of mutual trust and companionship gradually built within the groups.
Wenceslau showing bird weaving technique to Maria
Exiles showing woven bird in progress to Bora artisan
"While concepts like punctuality, mutual respect, no put downs of self or others, and listening when someone else is speaking may seem like obvious guidelines to form a positive community, a commitment to actually practice and hold each other accountable to observe these agreements is profound in a culture where showing up late, malicious gossip, and interrupting a speaker are painfully common."
"Artisan facilitators should of course share what they know, but beginning and experienced artisans all benefit by remaining humble, enthusiastic about learning, and committed to encourage and affirm their fellow artisans. So many artisans said that the thing they most wanted to bring back to their communities was this spirit of working in a mutually supportive environment."
"Both men and women wore garb made with bleached llanchama tree bark painted with graphic figures from Bora clans. Several wore headdresses made with the feathers from macaws and parrots. They discussed the importance of nature and craft-making in their culture and then launched into a lively dance where the men chanted and pounded sticks into the ground to the rhythm of moving around in a circle. Visitors joined the undulating lines to share the vibrant energy."