“Our role was to listen and learn – specifically, how can and should SEI and EASE work together in the future – and we did have some great discussions as well as moments of socializing to get to know each other better.
Rebecca and I arrived in Setubal, Portugal on Thursday, October 14th, before the official start of the General Assembly on Friday. That day we had lunch with the EASE board at a local cafe and a few hours later had a private meeting with the board to discuss logistics for the next day and hear about some of their current challenges. The GA had about 20 people present, including representatives from some country associations, trainers/faculty, and organizers. We all sat in circle, introduced ourselves, and heard how the democratic process of decision making would take place during the next two days. We got to sit in and observe as the group voted on two different issues. All decisions made by the group that day were unanimous, and it was interesting to watch the process and listen to the various topics and discussions.
On Saturday, Rebecca and I again sat in circle and spent about 2 hours introducing ourselves, answering questions from the group, and discussing ideas on how EASE and SEI could move forward together.
In between the working sessions, we shared meals with those in attendance and I got to meet new people we had never met before – seeing in person those I had met only virtually. We even had a treat one night during dinner as Doris Mueller, from the German association, sang a beautiful song for the group! It was wonderful to socialize in person again, to connect with the European SE community, and to get a better understanding of EASE and its composition of associations, trainers, and organizers. I came back home inspired and hopeful that wherever it is we go, we can move forward having honest discussions and listening to one other with an open heart and a collaborative spirit.” – Ana Paula Bastian
“The GA is where folks from EASE come together to make decisions that affect the larger collective. Two major aspects struck me as central to their mission. First there is a focus on everything happening from the bottom-up, rather than the top-down. There is an EASE board, and they do so much work in between, and at, the GA. What happened in Europe is that each country created their own association and then, together, the associations created EASE. As a result, there remains a strong decentralized focus.
Second, the GA votes through true consensus, not through a majority rule. The EASE community refers to this as ‘deep democracy. The basic tenet is that if there is going to be a vote, everyone has a chance to ask questions and discuss. Then, a first vote is taken. If everyone does not agree, more discussion happens until all questions are answered and any changes are made. If a decision cannot be reached that year, it can be held until the next year.
This work requires time. It requires listening. It requires discomfort at times. It requires connection. It requires so many of the skills and senses we learn in Somatic Experiencing. It was truly an honor to see this in action and to feel the impact of being in a literal circle as decisions get made.” – Rebecca Stahl