About the Northwest Focusers Gathering

How We Organize Our Yearly Gathering

This section is to make our planning process transparent,  so those who come know how it works, and people in other places can do something similar that would work for them.  Our Planning Committee meets in fall and winter to send out publicity and registration fliers.  We organize the Gathering using the following modifiable guidelines we have developed over years.  


Participatory Principles

  • Use consensus for decisions, with Focusing and listening used for resolving differences
  • Keep it simple
  • Keep it fun and easy for the planning committee

Our Planning Process

About 6 months ahead of time, let area Focusers know the dates to hold, a weekend, from Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon.

Send out registration materials and start registration 3-4 months before gathering.

We have collected the money before or at the retreat. Now we are collecting before, through checks sent to the registrar.

Registrar sends acknowledgement when registration check is received.

Have hard cut-off date of 10 days to 2 weeks before Gathering, in order to have final numbers for the retreat center’s planning.

Email is sent to Gathering participants about schedule, what to bring, directions.

By 4 months pre-gathering, we invite a Focusing Trainer to run an inexpensive Beginning Focusing class during the gathering, so people can come and start their focusing journey if they want. We always have 3-5 people taking that class, and often it’s taught by a Trainer-in Training or a new Trainer, who gets to practice running a group. That class takes place simultaneously with the rest of the program, and the beginning students integrate by having meals and focusing fun night, focusing practice times and evaluation with the whole group.

We do minimum advanced program planning, just sketching an outline for weekend.

We cooperatively structure the weekend on the first afternoon, using “open space” process.

Lowest cost possible for Gatherings

We keep the lowest possible cost for the Gathering in whatever venue we use.  We have no difference in cost for people’s different dietary needs, or for volunteers who do the planning and the rest of the Gathering participants.  If the venue operates on different costs for different housing options, we will try to arrange fees the most economical way for all.

Cooperative Scheduling Meeting

First session (usually 4:00 – 5:30) is for welcome and scheduling

Who: Everyone, or at least everyone who wants to be involved

Materials: large papers and markers, large sticky notes

Preparation: pre- rule the schedule papers with 4 breakout rooms across the top, and the time schedule for the weekend down the side.

  1. Someone from the committee leads a group attunement and sensing into what people want to share with each other, or what they hope that someone else will share.
  2. Go around the circle with people introducing themselves with names and where they are from, and a few sentences about what they want to offer or wish to receive.
  3. Everyone rises to write their offerings on post-it notes and post them in the available spots on the prepared schedule. Often some juggling is done after posting. When the schedule seems stable, people copy or take pictures of it, to use in finding their way to sessions.
  4. We then have a wonderful time

Typical Base for building our Cooperative Schedule

(Beginning Focusing Class scheduled as teacher arranges.)


2:00 pm First Arrivals

3:00 pm Registration begins

4:00 – 5:30 pm Welcome, General (Planning) Meeting

6:00 – 7:00 pm Dinner

7:30 – 9:30 pm Changes Group with triad Focusing


7:00 – 7:50 am Available for workshops

8:00 – 9:00 am Breakfast

9:00 – 10:50 am Available for workshops

11:00 – 12:00 pm Partner or Triad Focusing

12:00 -1:00 pm Lunch

1:00 – 2:50 pm Available for workshops

3:00 – 4:30 pm Available for workshops

4:30 – 6:00 pm Free time and Partner or Triad Focusing

6:00 – 7:00 pm Dinner

7:30 – 9:30 pm Focusing Fun: cooperative games, music, skits, poetry…


7:00 – 7:50 am Available for workshops

8:00 – 9:00 am Breakfast

9:00 – 10:50 am Available for workshops

11:00 –12:00 pm Partner or Triad Focusing

12:00 –1:00 pm Lunch

1:00 pm Check out

1:30 – 2:15 pm Closing Gathering What we liked, what we might change


Whole Group Activities

First evening – Changes Group

We evolved a triad focusing session for the first evening, and before starting, we generally talk about changes groups, how they started, and some guidelines for focusing with people you haven’t met before. We stress that the focuser gets to decide what kind of process they want, and ask for the companioning they would like. The companion can let the focuser know what the companion is able to do and not feel pushed to do anything they don’t feel trained for.

Second evening – Focusing Fun

We do a participatory fun night, with a facilitator. Anyone who wants to introduce an activity can. We like to cross group fun and focusing and see what comes out. We enjoy group games, impromptu skits involving everyone who wants to be involved, cooperative story telling, writing a felt sense poem together and reading it. We may bring instruments and sense and make sounds together.

Last day, last meeting – evaluation

We gather after lunch as a whole group and share what we loved about the weekend, and what would make our gathering even better. There is a facilitator and a note taker. We use these suggestions to improve the gathering.