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The 3-day process will provide an opportunity for citizens and practitioners involved in social and ecological change to reflect and deepen their own practice, while also learning and dialoguing around two key frameworks.

The first is the participatory ‘method framework’ of development practices (see Kelly & Westoby, Participatory Development Practice, Practical Action Press, 2018). It's a true and tried participatory methodology and participants will finish the process with a clear 'method framework' for their community development thinking and practice. Community Praxis Co-op has run this process many many times all over Australia and other parts of the world.

From this first framework we will specifically:

  • Examine the role of ‘community’ in ‘development’ within contemporary society, and cross cultural contexts;
  • Learn the how-to of relational practice - establishing a developmental relationship, and practising key principles such as: see what the people see; see how we as practitioners see; connecting and dialogue, working with key joining words in dialogue
  • Learn the how to of small-group practices (the heart-beat of our work) – such as, establishing and supporting participatory action groups and practising key principles such as: testing and moving from private concern to shared public analysis and action; group-formation, building shared analysis, and facilitation of small groups
  • Consider the challenges of holding participatory work from within organisations that are oriented towards service-delivery
  • Reflect on our utopian visions for social change and consider the contribution of community development to broader level systemic transformation.

The second is the reflective social practice (phenomenological) framework as articulated in the Three Rivers Flowing book (Peter Westoby, 2022).

To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work. - Mary Oliver 

As a way of both doing and being the workshop will support people's inner and outer development through a number of practical activities based on the themes: observation and attuning to aliveness.

You have to know yourself, because you’re always in a social process as well as looking into it – and so it’s important to know what kind of looking you bring (and what powerful internal and external forces are shaping that looking). And it is also about seeing one’s centre even as there is a dance with everything that comes within us or towards us in a social or community situation. The socialists will come, as will the entrepreneurs, along with the rabid ecologists and the fundamentalist activists. So you have got to know where you stand, or at least the patterns and forces running through your story, even as you engage all their worlds. - Peter Westoby

It will include experiential activities combined with individual, small group and larger group reflection processes supporting a deepened and renewed sense of self and more purposeful, attentive and effective action. 

These activities take many forms including but not limited to:

  • reflective observation that develops intimate encounters with other (both human and more-than-human),
  • art journalling that develops the capacity to pay attention and to work with living ways of seeing
  • gentle movement that connects mind, body and breath together to support participant's body observation and awareness
  • mindfulness meditation enables observation of the mind without reaction and a deeper connection to the present moment

The intention is to move between the two frameworks in organic ways that are attuned to the group process. 

Both processes will be potent and practical for:

  • People who’ve got community development in their job descriptions, but feel they need a clear ‘to do’ or ‘method framework’
  • Practitioners who’d like to reflect on the quality of their practice; and their own quality in the practice
  • Active and engaged citizens who’d like to add to, and reflect on their intuitive community-oriented practices
  • Activists, social and ecological practitioners who want to add a community development approach to their work.
  • People who want to become more attuned to their quality of being (not just what they are doing while enhancing their skills of attention and  observation
  • Practitioners who want to learn the art of pausing and slowing down in personal/professional life and how this enhances the effectiveness of decision making and action while preventing burnout and exhaustion
  • Anyone who wants to connect to what brings joy and aliveness in life

This workshop will be held at Campfire in the Heart in Alice Springs - a 20 year old community space that is vibrant with life, nature and deep listening.

The process will run for three days, 9.00am-4.30pm, Wed 19th June-Friday, 21st June, 2024. The infamous Alice Springs Beanie Festival is held the weekend after the workshop for those travelling from interstate.

Important information:

The 3-day workshop can be attended as day program or residential process with various accommodation options available. See tickets for more information.

Please reach out to the facilitators if you have any questions. 

About your facilitators & host:

Peter Westoby was introduced at a keynote of the 2018 International Association of Community Development as “a community development scholar, activist and analyst”. Peter kind of liked the ring of it; almost poetic. Yet, more accurately, from the age of 20, Peter has been on a journey of community development practice, deeply shaped by a grass-roots tradition, Freirean in nature, and place-based. That evolved over many years, particularly as he worked in places such as South Africa, Uganda, the Philippines, Nepal, PNG and Vanuatu.

At the age of 40 he found himself as a latecomer wading into the academy, and perhaps by chance, took up a position as a community development scholar just as Anthony Kelly retired from 40 years of teaching, practice and service at The University of Queensland.

He has been a writer or co-writer/editor of 15 books and over 50 professional journal articles on community development (, and loves that there is an emerging global ‘community of scholarship’ growing around the world. But more importantly, he loves reading, walking, sitting by a fire under the moon or stars, wandering daily in Mary Cairncross Park, exploring his bio-region, being with friends, sipping a coffee at dawn, and going to bed about 8.30pm (yes, he’s a lark, not an owl).

At this present moment he is also:

  • Director/consultant at Community Praxis Co-op;
  • a P/T practitioner at Hummingbird House;
  • a Custodian of Camellia Centre for Reflective Practice; and
  • a Visiting Professor, University of the Free State, South Africa.

Check this out to listen to Peter:

Rachael Donovan has worked in community development and environmental management across the public and not-for-profit sector in Australia and India for the past two decades. Utilising a framework of being, connecting and transforming she has worked at the intersection of environmental issues and social justice and is passionate about protecting the rights of both people and the planet.

Rachael works from the edges of communities and groups in solidarity with those whose voices are most marginalised or silenced. She has worked across many disciplines such as health, sustainability, education, youth, gender and economic development to support and ensure people's voices are heard and used to influence change in their own lives (at the personal/community level) or inform government policy and practice (at the systems level). She has worked both as a grassroots practitioner and in various management and leadership roles in a range of government and non-government organisations including - EduCARE India, CREATE Foundation, Queensland Family and Child Commission and Nambour Community Centre. She is currently a member/social practitioner with Community Praxis Co-op.

Refund Policy

Refunds up to 60 days before the event, Full refund minus $50 (admin fee) up to 60 days pre-workshop. From then 50% refund available up until 30 days pre-workshop starting. Transfer to another participant is possible at any time up until the day before the workshop.

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Campfire in the Heart Alice Springs NT 0870 Australia

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Peter Westoby
Community Praxis Co-op

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