Peer Facilitation Sample Questions
Feel free to change/drop/add or in any other way edit/personalize these sample questions. If you find them helpful, great. If you don’t, feel free to disregard them.
Recommendations for the Facilitator:
Define the Space: (3 Circle-Up Rules)
[First, get everyone into a circle, facing one another]
[Next, you can welcome people saying something like this]
Hi folks. My name is ____ and I'm going to be facilitating an eco-justice-oriented discussion circle called a "Circle-Up".
"To facilitate" basically means "to make easier," so my role as a facilitator is basically to make this discussion between us easier.
There are 3 rules to a Circle-Up discussion that I ask you to follow along with me:
- First: only one person speaks at a time (which means: no interrupting, interjections, or cross-talk, even if what you have to add to what someone is saying is really fantastic. Please wait until it's your turn to speak.)
- Second: Everyone has a chance to speak before you speak again. To make this easier, I'm going to ask that we move the conversation clockwise around the circle, starting with me. When it's your turn to speak, you can feel free to pass, or to ask for more time to think about the question. Your turn to speak is just an opportunity, not an obligation, to speak.
- Lastly: In a Circle-Up you can speak freely, but also remember to keep it respectful; respectful of other people's time, and respectful of our diversity.
- As the facilitator: If in the rare case someone isn't following the rules, goes wildly off-topic, begins to dominate the air time, or loses their civility, I'll step-in and play referee to get us back on track.
- So to sum it all up:
one at a time;
cycle through everyone before it's your turn again;
and be respectful of each other.
Let's do this!
Possible 1st Question: (Introductions)
First, let’s go around the circle and introduce ourselves. Let’s say our name and preferred pronouns and, if you are a student, tell us which school you attend, or if you're part of an organization which organization you're with. I'll go first...
What has shaped your perspective on climate justice? Is it a result of how you were raised? Your family connections and stories? An experience in nature?
Let’s take a moment and reflect on what comes to heart and mind when we ask ourselves that question: what is it in my life story that has given me the eyes to see the environment the way that I do?
Tell us something about yourself that others might not guess just by looking at you.
I’ll start. (Pass the talking piece to the person next to you after you are done.
If a superpower genie came out of a bottle and: "I will give you one superpower, and only one, to make right something that's currently wrong with the world." What superpower would you wish for, what would you make right, and why?
Why? What's your "why"? What motivates you to come to events like this one?
Please take a moment and think of a place in nature that has special meaning to you...[give folks time to think of the place]
Would you tell us about the place that came to your mind and why it has special meaning to you?
Possible Middle Questions: (Bonding Over Shared Experiences, Struggles)
Have you tried to tell others how important climate justice is to you? What has been your experience trying to share with classmates and family members?
Have they been open to hearing about different ways of living that are sustainable and good to the earth?
Many people who care about eco-justice talk about the need to disrupt “more of the same”, “business as usual” and “the status quo”. What represents “business as usual” in your life?
If you have attempted to change “more of the same” and “business as usual” in your life, what did you do and what happened?
The adult world and “business as usual” has a lot of advantages: money, the vote, and the laws on their side. Even so, youth movements have often been at the forefront of successful social change movements, from labor rights, to the women's movement, to the civil rights movement, all over the world. How is that possible, especially in the era before the internet? What tools do the youth have, that are unique to them can’t be stopped, in any era?
The 15 year old, black poet Aniya Butler from the Oakland, California group "Youth vs Apocalypse" tells us that to heal the planet we need to open more space for each other in our circle and keep widening the circle to young and old; black and white; female, male, nonbinary; heteronormative and gender expansive. She says that we must be about belonging or else we will be about othering.
Do you agree? Do we, as eco-justice activists, need to send a message that our relationships matter that much?
Is there anything that came to your mind as you marched today, participated in the theater, movement, and/or music that you may have participated in today, that you would like to share?
Many climate-justice oriented youth have expressed that school isn't preparing them to face the world we've inherited, or to change that world into the one they wish to see. If you could design your ideal school curriculum, what kind of classes would you want? Where would the classes take place? Who would be there? Who would teach? Can you give us a window into what you see in your mind’s eye?
Possible 3rd-to-Last Questions: (Applying Peer Facilitation to Eco-Justice Activism)
How often would you say you engage in conversations like the one we're having right now, in your life? [give folks a chance to answer]
Do you think that if conversations like this were happening at your school, that more kids might possibly warm-up-to and join the youth eco-justice movement? [give folks a chance to answer]
Members of two youth-led organizations: Fridays For Future Utah, and Utah Youth Environmental Solutions (aka UYES) want to bring Circle-Ups into schools as a recruitment tool for the youth eco-justice movement, to give us space to have conversations like this, and to get more youth voices heard. If they won't listen to us, we'll listen to us. We want to increase our numbers so much by the next time we come to the Capitol, that they're gonna hear us and address our concerns, whether they want to or not.
Would you be interested to learn peer facilitation, and if you find you're into it, to later consider bringing it to your school? [if folks say yes, move on to the Last Question, below, where they can sign-up to find out more]
Next month is Earth Day. We're not exactly sure yet what we're going to do for it yet, but we want to make it awesome. Will you help us brainstorm ideas for what we could do? We're having a meeting tomorrow night, Saturday, the 26th, with free Indian food, and we'd love to have you there!
Do you have a climate justice event that you would like to bring to our attention?
2nd-to-Last Question: (Keep in Touch)
If you're not already plugged-in to the youth eco-justice movement we want to keep in touch with you! Please scan this QR code and share your contact info with us:
LAST QUESTION: (paper chain)
Please take one of these pieces of paper, and take a moment to write down any question or any commitment that you're coming away from this circle with. When you're ready, please make your way back to the terrace and if you feel like it, we'd love for you to get on the mic and share the question or commitment that you've written. Whether you choose to share on the mic or not, we'd love for you to add your paper into a "paper chain" that we're making: a symbol of how all of our voices are not only connected, but they add up.