Advance planning can help your program run smoothly. In this section, we’ll review key considerations for organizing your dialogues.
Create a team to handle logistics.
Planning dialogues entails too many tasks for one person to accomplish. Involve a small group of people to make sure things run smoothly.
Be sure to look for places that feel welcoming to everybody. If possible, identify a contact person at each site who will work with you. Some possible kinds of locations include:
- Schools or colleges
- Large meeting rooms in corporate or government buildings
- Neighborhood association buildings
- Churches, synagogues, or mosques
- Social service agencies
- Community centers
Think about these questions when considering locations:
- Is it easy to find?
- Is it served by public transportation?
- Is there ample parking?
- Are there public restrooms? Kitchen facilities?
- Is the space adequate if several groups are meeting at the same time?
- Are the locations “friendly” to all kinds of people?
- Are there places with elevators or ramps for easy access?
When recruiting, ask people what time works best for them to attend dialogues; use that as a basis for your scheduling. To accommodate all kinds of people, offer a range of days and times the dialogues will be held.
If it’s not possible to offer a range of choices for when the dialogues will be held, be sure the location you choose has plenty of parking and many breakout rooms. Pick a day of the week that doesn’t conflict with other regularly scheduled community events.
Consider other logistics.
Besides the location and schedule, there are many other logistical things to consider:
- Can we offer childcare? Who will provide it?
- How can we ensure that food or snacks are available during the dialogues if they are scheduled during meal times?
- Can we provide transportation or arrange carpooling if the location is not near public transportation?
- Do we need to make arrangements for hearing- or visually-impaired participants?
- Will we need translators?
Communicate with facilitators.
A system needs to be in place for facilitators and members of the organizing team to communicate so they receive needed information to help the program run smoothly.
Answer these questions:
- Who is the key contact person to work with the media? Do facilitators know how to contact that person?
- How will we distribute the materials that facilitators need before the first session? (discussion guides, recording forms, newsprint pads, sample ground rules, guidelines for each session, evaluation forms, general information about the program and its sponsors, and plans for an action forum)
- Do organizers and facilitators know who to call if they have questions or problems?
- Would e-mail be a good way to keep in touch?
- How will we handle notifying people about weather cancellations?