A facilitated conversation is one led by a facilitator using an open ended questioning technique to assist participants explore ideas and concepts around a topic, or theme. The purpose of participating is to share knowledge and experience, build understanding, promote subject matter learning, and strengthen relationships and connections.
Each McLeods of Condah event is a facilitated conversation amongst the participants that explores the concept of their collective identity.
“Who am I?” Every day we unconsciously we seek answers to this question. We search in many places: our work, our community, our faith, our hobbies and interests are some of the things that help us to shape an answer. Our family is also a critical element. When we look to our family’s past we are sorting through pieces of our identity puzzle.
How we see the world and our place in it is socially constructed. In constructing our reality we pay attention to some things and ignore others. Our beliefs and values are important in how we selectively pay attention. When we look back at our family’s history our imagination is captured by the people, places and events that speak strongly to our current day value sets. Someone who ‘speaks’ to us from the past most likely says something that is important to us currently, or to the values we most believe in, or exercise in the way we live our lives day to day. We can see this when we watch the show, “Who do you think you are?”. When researching their past, the celebrity researcher interprets what they discover and constructs a story around the ancestor that speaks to their current day identity. They are most often moved when their ancestor is shown to have acted in ways that support what they think is really important in life. Occasionally we see the show’s celebrity disturbed when they discover an ancestor who offends their current day beliefs and values.
The aim of the McLeods of Condah event each year is to hold the conversation so we can learn more about who our ancestors were, why they came, and how they fared in Australia over successive generations. Through the conversation we are able to share our stories of their lives and show the memorabilia that has been passed down. We learn collectively more about what it means to be Australian and through the conversation process we reshape our ideas about our identity. In some ways as participants we will share common interpretations of the McLeod story; in other ways our interpretations will be diverse. It really depends on what values we hold to start with and how open we are to what we hear, learn and experience.
The conversation is set up to allow participants to come in and out of the process over a number of years. The essence of the McLeod story forms the backbone for each conversation (i.e. Norman and Susan and the first generation in Australia) and then a different theme each year adds depth to the family story. This means those who participate each year potentially get a richer sense of the McLeod story, whilst those who participate irregularly still have a worthwhile experience that adds to their knowledge and understanding about their ancestors and the society in which they lived.
Maryanne Martin, 2013
|2019 – Condah
|2018 – Branxholme
|2017 – Cavendish
|2016 – Hamilton
|2011 – Condah
|2010 – Port Fairy