Last day in Labenbachhof!

By Sidris 

Friday morning, goshhh…feeling really exhausted. The last day today. It has been a very intense but inspiring week. It was a privilege to be surrounded by all those wonderful people in Labenbachhof, Rupholding.   So…let’s get up and start. I heard that there was even a yoga session by Helga. For the first time this week I walked into the dining room as one of the first. Only Mike sat there, very relaxed enjoying his breakfast. Mike is the best first person to run into in the morning. His jolly and enthusiastic attitude is contagious. As always breakfast was wonderful, the fresh bread….hm hm hm Slowly the group walked in one by one and there is always, always something to talk about.

After breakfast everybody went on their way up to our hall and it was time to get to work. The facilitators for today were Katrin and Iman. To wake up and get energized after breakfast we did the wrestling exercise led by Niko. Pushing one another in a way not to run someone over but to find the balance between the two participants. It was a great way to wake up the body and mind. To turn our concentration switch on Lorraine took us to the next level of the rhythm exercise from yesterday. Steppin’, clappin’ and singing go back and forth not to forget the fun and laughter within this moment.

After this it was time to start working on the intellectual outputs. Writing down exercises, writing on the Thursday blog and some worked on the book. Rob, Akila and Helga were walking around to help where needed.

Mike enlightened the group with an excellent workshop ‘the Art of Facilitation’. It was really distinct and educational to learn about the differences between being a trainer and a facilitator.

Rob’s exercise The Cover Story was exiting. It was wonderful to see al the dreams and plans made for the future. The different ideas but basically all with the same outcome. The very reason we where all there to take part in this project of ‘Can do Empowerment’: with each other, world wide, making this world a better place for everyone to live in.

Inspiring were the compliments rounds ‘Why am I great’ (Loraine) for those who wanted to take part and writing an empowering postcard to one selves (Katrin). Personally I can’t wait to receive it in the mail.

Then the remaining administrative tasks, week evaluation on paper, reflecting round with the imaginary match burning, a group/team and individual photographs.

Closure of the week with a nonverbal communication exercise where one participant leaves the room. The others decide about one or more tasks for the volunteer to do. When the person comes back in the room the group has to guide the volunteer without speaking or facial expressions trough the task(s), by clapping hands loud and fast or slow and soft or even silence. Niko and Sidris volunteered. Niko had to pick up the pen and give it to Helga, Sidris had to pick up the pen, pick up the paper, write down chocolate, pick up the chocolate, walk out of the circle and around it.

So far the daily program. This Friday night an acquaintance named Yusuf and partner came in to perform improvisational theatre about reflection, hard work at the office, Rob’s homecoming after this week and a human puppet show.

And finally….like I said before, it was an inspiring but very intense week, there happened a lot, we did a lot, we said a lot, we felt a lot, we learned a lot.

So we closed off with a master blaster party where we danced like it was 1999!


Blogger of the forth day in Labenbachhof!

Cha Cha Cha

By Charo & Arun 

Lorraine a multi talented dancer, musician and facilitator with the magical touch started the day with beat of the Cha Cha Cha. As we tapped our feet and clapped our hands in unison we realized the dance of life “inside and outside”. This vibrant enerDSC_0259gy introduced us to the intense day ahead.

It was really exciting to be introduced to Hano a graphic artist who spent the day drawing on participants insights on empowerment.

Akila shared a healing moment with the group that gave thanks for our shared humanity.

The nature collage was facilitated by Helga and Akila this opened up the space to show “what makes me feel good” using natural and symbolic materials. We created a living museum with the following exhibits:

Mind of/or the heartDSC_0262

A lot of things to do

Free the mind Free the world

Genesis & Neogenesis

Hippy as a way of live

My boots are also for flying….

Learning changing and empowering

River of life


Grow up

Autumn Bouquet


A thought provoking creative writing session set the tone for poetry, story and song writing related to empowerment. It was a challenging experience the facilitator said “don’t stop writing until the cow bell rings”. We had no idea that we could achieve this and get pleasure out of this new method

The day ended with preparation for the training manual and story writing. 

We give thanks to mother earth for supporting us through the day as we felt her presences.



Blogger of the third day in Labenbanchhof!

28th October

By Natalia and Katrin 

Today we had Rob and Nora facilitating the day, with the not-so-easy task of guiding us through our living agenda.

We started the day with an ice breaker by Rob, in which we stretched and danced with the music, waking up our minds and bodies for the day that was waiting for us.

Then we shared our reflections about the previous day, and about the creative writing exercise we had done with Akila. Other things were discussed as well, such as the idea of offering our help to a refugee camp at the border.

By my bootstraps,

First we had an activity facilitated by Sidris, reflecting our privileges in a long human chain, which in the end appeared broken by the differences between us. Deep reflections and emotions followed the exercise: what ones consider a privilege and it is seen as a right for others, what has been a reason for discrimination in one’s personal experience but has never been considered as a privilege or lack of privilege for others, and many more.

 Carthousian Walk,

Then another activity followed, which made us throw ourselves into the wild. Lead by Katrin we formed a queue in pairs, and walkedDSC_0136 together for ten minutes sharing empowerment stories. As soon as the time was over, we exchanged partners. It was indeed an amazing exercise to get to know each other, to learn from their stories and to do so in a dreamlike landscape.

After the lunch we started with another energizer facilitated by Rob, dealing with different tasks that we had to face as a group. It is not so easy to break the individualist behaviour and start thinking as a group!


Human Library

We, then, initiated the next activity of the day: the Human Library. Aurelia and Iman explained us how we could offer our empowerment stories to be read as a book for other participants, who would be our readers. Everyone who wanted had the chance to be a book, and in periods of ten minutes, the readers had the chance to know the stories they wanted to share.


Stories were powerful, shocking, empowering, beautiful, emotive, surprising… And so were the emotions we found ourselves trying to contain within our hearts. A lot of stories revealed were heavy and somehow stayed with us in the room. Some people felt they didn’t have enough energy to stand up from their chairs for the break.


Spontaneously we added a meditation led by Arun, which helped to ground ourselves and to regain peace and harmony. Facing deep stories people react differently. Some wanted to continue with the agenda, some were not able anymore. We decided to have a round with the whole group and hear everyone’s wishes about the next steps. After that round we decided to stop for this day in order to recover, everyone in his and her own space.

As a group of people working for empowerment and trying to do things different, we challenge ourselves to think outside the box. Today, we challenged the way we deal with emotions, and also the living agenda, which is alive, and is able to adapt to our needs as they change.

As a group we are more than the sum or addition of the different members. We create something new with all the things we share and give from ourselves, and we also have a responsibility with the task and with the needs of others and ours.

Blogger of the second day in Labenbachhof

Second sunny day full of autumn colours

By Niko & Mike

It allways seems impossible until it’s done“

Nelson Mandela

Challenging start!

We did a hard and challenging exercise in the morning, exploring an developing Ground Rules for our program. Establishing those rules is not easy. What are ground rules compared and related to constitutions and other democratic principles? Working within that issues, a lot of such questions arose within our group. How do we accommodate minority rights and views in a constitutional process. When does such a process finish? How far can we go? Time matters a lot. It was a hard exercise – but we definitely appreciated it and learned a lot.DSC_0129

Surprisingly we love!

Not so surprisingly we really loved the following exercise of Surprisingly I love… Creative writing“. Before the writing we consequently listened to each other and heard what we loved or liked. People said it was so good to have uninterrupted time to be heard. Surprisingly we liked many different things. The most challenging thing we surprisingly love was shared within the group, either anonymously or not.

Be confident!

Real self defense opened up the afternoon session. Little things can make a big difference and challenge violent forms of aggression. An example: When you are assaulted you should call not call for help to an anonymous mass but for a concrete person, or shout: fire! to make people aware that something is wrong. Don’t just call for help, be confident. Especially confident appearance can make you less vulnerable to attack or abuse.DSC_0098

Questioning normality and masculinities!

We were introduced to ProCC Methodology by being asked how do we describe family life to an alien and then act it out? The „Normality and Masculinity“ activity brought out the actors in all of us. Nonetheless it was deeply political and sociological activity as great roleplays would be followed by a model-methaphor of a movie- production, that was representing current roles and scripts we are bound to within capitalistDSC_0125 reality. A video “El silencio roto” which captured the (often hidden) trauma of man, who became unemployed during the Spanish crisis of 2008, made clear how ruptures of male role models affect real mans lives. It was very interesting to see a short documentary of how positive a small community group influenced the health and well being of men who were united in a group. A particular note is how the documentation of this project has driven institutional change of this project into the future.

Taking it to action!

The method of Action Support gave us the opportunity of sharing ideas, visions and strategies related to the question of „how to deal with the rise of hostility against refugees within Europe“. One important conclusion, was to relate closer to current direct refugees support initiatives and to collect real life stories. Out of this collaboration we can establish programs and content together with activists and concerned refugees.

Peer consulting in practice!DSC_0021

This process allowed members of the group to tap into their collective strengths to resolve the complex problem presented in an empowering way. You can use this method to establish within around 40 minutes supportive peer relationships within colleagues or project partners.

Now we are tired but full of new insights and impulses. Informal eventing talk is about to come as the full moon rises over Labenbachhof.

Blogger of the first day in Labenbachhof!

By Nora, Akila and Lorrain

Today was our first day and we woke up to a spectacular scenery looking at the Alps with the autumn forest.

Picture 1

We are staying at Labenbachhof, which is a beautiful converted Barn and other building with traditional fittings of wood and white washed walls

IMG-20151030-WA0003The Director, Maid Alic, gave a history of the place, the area and the work that happens there. Labenbachhof work with traumatised young people from diverse background as well as taking in guests for conferences, hiking, cross country skiing.

As part of getting to know each other we did our first Exercise called ‘WPicture 2ord for Word’ led by Katrin – one of the facilitators – that involved the group standing in a circle and where each person stated one word creating a sentence together. We got to know one another better with ‘two true statements and one lie’. This was fun and also challenged stereotypes.

The participants are from various countries and diverse backgrounds  with varying levels of past involvement in the project. We explored this in the morning. By lunchtime two more colleagues from Spain had arrived and we were the whole group!

Iman – another facilitator – introduced the Parking Lot which was used to park activities that we could do later on…

We then moved on to exploring ideas of ‘empowerment’, by thinking individually about times when we have felt empowered personally. We worked in groups to identify some of the key ingredients and elements that are present when we feel empowered. We shared these, and then grouped them by themes.DSC_0032

With these key components of empowerment in mind, we moved on to the task of planning our agenda for the week. Each person developed two offers of activities that they would be willing to share with the group, working at an individual, group, community, or institutional level, and aligned with the key themes of our empowerment exercise. We then voted on these in a ‘marketplace’

Picture 4

 to select which activities would be delivered from within the group, for the group, for the rest of the week.

Part of the day was spent outside in the sunshine, we have been so lucky with the weather so far! Animals, plants and the mountains are all around us and so immediate. A horse interrupts our discussion with its neighing, a cat asks to be allowed in to join us, and the cow bells lull us to sleep at night.

Picture 5

We had time to start with the exercises chosen from the marketplace before we broke for dinner, so we began with Niko’s ‘Stop’ exercise where we explored non-verbal cues and communication and personal boundaries.

Our evenings are spent discussing politics, social justice, culture and ethics, and we feel so lucky to be meeting so many interesting and passionate people from around the world.