Urte Berri On!
Merry Christmas &
Happy New Year!
Feliz Navidad y
FACILITATOR / SUSTATZAILEA
Related links: Report to NABO delegates
Current Facilitator activities
The Opportunities & Challenges
of the Facilitator position
By John M. Ysursa
The position of
NABO Facilitator is somewhat of a "Catch-22" predicament: no matter what
one does, you run the risk of ending up on the wrong side of things. It is true, as some have noted, that a significant problem with this position
is that too much might be centralized into the hands of one person. This
is not good for the facilitator (the demands will quickly become
excessive and the person will quickly burn-out) nor is it good for our
organization (NABO loses its most valuable asset of volunteer workers &
because others think that someone else will do the work. With an eye on
this the title "Facilitator" was proposed, because it implies that
this person is there to assist but not necessarily direct/solely control
Serving as NABO
facilitator is a "Catch-22"
(term coined by Joseph Heller in his novel Catch-22)situation: hang back and allow
others to step forward to seize the initiative and you risk being seen
as ineffective (i.e, not doing your job); step forward and take the
point and you risk being perceived as trying to take control and run everything.
As NABO facilitator one
must demonstrate that they are doing their duties; i.e., you have to
show that you are at least doing a few things otherwise why have a
facilitator? Sometimes, this means that one
must take an active role in directing a project and making sure it gets
done, especially when there is little outside support. But it
involves working behind the scenes to assist others as they bring a project
So one challenge is
finding a viable balance between working directly and indirectly on
various initiatives. Others are raised by critiques such as this
from a forwarded email:
"This is my suggestion: The facilitator should not be
one of the "usual suspects", one of Lakua's [supposed reference to the
Basque Government's central office building] "little darlings." It
should be someone that has always shown a tendency to think "outside the
box." When you get a facilitator that thinks that the only place
in the world where change and ingenuity can take place is the USA and
that therefore nothing new can come from the Basque Country you are up
for a rotten start for that guy does not think as a Basque, he thinks as
an Ann Coulter-Rush Limbaugh type American and he won't facilitate
nothing despite having been the "best dantzari" outside Euskal Herria.
My 22 cents." - Agur, Alex.
be easy enough to dismiss these comments (if
I'm not mistaken this guy I don't know has never been at a NABO meeting but he thinks he knows me
and what NABO is about).
Furthermore, it's never enjoyable to read things such as this about
oneself. But this
negative becomes a positive because it helps to clarify several key
aspects of the Facilitator position that include:
"only place in the world" charge of a US-Basque centric approach is
both right and wrong. Frankly, I'm not really sure what he's talking
about (i.e., some NABO initiatives are the product of contact and
collaboration with various Basque communities from around the
world). Nevertheless, that some of these initiatives are specific to our local
concerns is a given because the Facilitator should have as a
priority what NABO directs.
facilitate nothing" charge makes it crucial that people remain
informed of Facilitator activities so as to decide for
themselves if what is going on is worthwhile. This is
regularly posted at
Report to NABO delegates
Current Facilitator activities.
The "think outside
the box" comment raises several issues. One is where the facilitator should
come from: the Facilitator should be someone very familiar with the
inner-workings of NABO on a personal and institutional level.
Therefore it should be someone from "inside the box" of NABO.
However, the facilitator's role does include the task of articulating a vision and a
plan for realizing objectives, and if there are some good
outside ideas then they need to be incorporated. You'll find "boxes"
of thought at 2006 Opening Statement,
Helburua: Mission Formula
and more recently at
where you can make your own assessment.
It is tricky matter
when one charges another of "not thinking as a Basque." This
can be correct or incorrect depending upon the context. Benito Lertxundi
wrote a song entitled "Zenbat Gara." The song laments the fact
of internal conflict. Why do we do this to
ourselves? The chorus of the song declares Hori ez ("Not
that")! The fact is that in the Basque world we oftentimes
don't get to chose our friends; i.e., minus the fact that someone is
interested in "being Basque" doesn't mean we might otherwise chose
them as a friend. So we have to find ways of getting along.
There are many ways of being Basque, and since we are not that
many, it becomes self-defeating to quarrel among ourselves.
This is further
addressed in an earlier Astero at
That's Not Basque
appreciate the best dantzari comment but that too isn't accurate. It
isn't false humility; I know of better dancers. (PS--that's
not me in this picture below)
What is most
important, in contrast with the sentiment of the critique above, is
that all of these statements are open to discussion and amendment.
The guiding sentiment is that "no one is as smart as everyone."
Thus together a common, shared path can be found without the
necessity of resorting to name calling or labeling. The
Facilitator is just that, a facilitator.
There is no "one-size-fits-all" approach for the NABO facilitator.
The hope is that overall a greater good will nevertheless emerge,
and what will make it not just possible but more probable is civil, steady communication.
Thus the email door is always open at
Facilitator Application every fall meeting NABO delegates select a
facilitator for the year.