I offered to facilitate the first women’s meeting at the 2015 RTR because I knew I could do it. In a past life (and by “past life,” I don’t mean a life I was living in a different physical incarnation before I was born into my current body), I facilitated many meetings on a variety of topics.
Before the meeting, a couple of women approached me at different times and asked me about my plans for the meeting. I was told about a past women’s meeting where a women new to van living took over the meeting to talk about how hard this new life was to her and how scared she was. I was determined not to let anyone hijack the meeting, even if the hijacker really needed assistance and support. I was certain we could help anyone who needed it and still have a meeting where everyone who wanted to could participate.
I opened the meeting by saying that anyone who wanted to facilitate the next week’s meeting was welcome to do so, but there were no takers.
I then suggested that each women introduce herself by telling the group three things she wanted everyone there to know about her. I thought asking each woman to share three things would give some structure for folks who wouldn’t know how to respond to “tell us about yourself” and would limit folks who would otherwise never shut up.
At every meeting, there seem to be people who just don’t want to talk. It seems like a gun to their heads wouldn’t get them to join in, but something about being in a group must appeal to them because they show up and continue to sit there…quietly. Maybe these people are exceedingly shy. Thankfully, everyone at this meeting managed to say at least a few words about herself.
Of course, on the other side of the coin are the people who can’t seem to stop speaking. There were a few women in that circle who probably would have talked for two hours straight, never noticing all the glazed eyes and drool dripping lips. Did these women perhaps receive no attention as children? (I’m making jokes, but the sad truth is that a lot of people didn’t get enough attention as children and have barely recovered as adults.)
As the facilitator, it was difficult to know when someone’s introduction had gone on long enough. It was even more difficult to know how to hurry along a rambling biography. On the one hand, I didn’t want to be rude or hurt any feelings, but on the other hand, I wanted everyone to get a turn.
I think the coolest part of the first women’s meeting was when someone asked how many of the women sitting there were single women traveling alone. Out of the 30 or so women at the meeting (unfortunately, I forgot to get a count of women in attendance at both meetings), I believe about two dozen of us raised our hands to answer yes to the question. I seldom meet single women traveling alone, so to have so many in one place was really exciting.
After introductions, talk turned to toileting techniques. I think folks new to rubber tramping will always want to know how to take care of their bathroom needs. I feel grateful for people willing to speak/write candidly about such matters. I think some of the women who have been living on the road for a while were bored with this discussion.
We also talked about safety, a topic all women should be discussing. The following are some ideas that were shared:
One should carry herself so she looks alert and in control. If a woman doesn’t look like an easy target, someone looking for an easy target is less likely to bother her.
Be ready to leave an area at the first sign of trouble. Have a clear path to the driver’s seat. Know where the keys are. Park so the vehicle can easily exit.
Think about what items on hand can be used for self-defense.
Next we talked about…I don’t remember. Honestly, I don’t remember if we wrapped up the meeting here or talked about other things. Perhaps this means that whatever was discussed wasn’t all that important to me. Or maybe I was busy facilitating, and couldn’t pay good attention to the discussion. In any case, at the end of the meeting I suggested we think about what topics we wanted to talk about the next week so we could set an agenda at the beginning of the meeting.
This post wasn’t very much fun for me to write. I think it seems more like a school report than an interesting story from my life. Sorry, kids. I guess they can’t all be winners.
Read about the second women’s meeting of the 2015 RTR.
Read about my first week at the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous.
Read about my second week at the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous.
Read about how I decided to go to the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous.
Image courtesy of https://openclipart.org/detail/282925/sixties-groovy-female-symbol.
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Which is more difficult to moderate, anarchist meetings or RTR Women’s?
The RTR women’s meeting was harder. In most of the anarchist meetings I’ve facilitated, most folks attending knew the conventions of meetings (don’t interrupt, raise your hand if you want to be recognized, be respectful). I wasn’t sure if the women at the RTR had ever been to a meeting somewhere between Robert’s Rules of Order and a free-for-all. At the RTR women’s meeting, there wasn’t any kind of agreement about how to have a meeting, while at anarchist meetings, folks were typically on the same page as to how to do it. At the RTR women’s meeting I felt a bit like a benign despot, steering the meeting in a way I thought it would work without asking anyone else for input.
Of course, any meeting has its own sort of individual vibe. I’ve facilitated really awful, angry, aggro anarchist meetings.
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