Starting a Study Circle
Download our introductory materials to learn more about the goals, content and logistics of the Roots of Change program.
- Introduction to Program and Materials. Includes introductory material, the curriculum outline, synopsis and reading list.
- Introduction to the Group Process
Step 1: form a group
Here are a few ideas to consider:
- Invite friends and family and ask them to invite others in turn.
- Post on social media.
- Invite members of groups you already belong to or that you’d like to join (such as church or work groups, neighborhood councils, book clubs, or activist groups)
- Ask the organizers of your local farmers’ market if you can set up a recruitment table at the market.
- Post Roots of Change recruitment flyers around your community (download below). You might start with local co-ops, churches, schools, community centers, coffee shops, credit unions or your place of work.
- Contact your community radio station. Find out how to record a Public Service Announcement inviting people to join your study circle.
- Submit an announcement to local newspapers or newsletters.
- Contact local universities, colleges or community centers to see if they have continuing education programs that you can partner with.
- Organize a film screening on a topic covered in the curriculum, for example Local Futures’ films Planet Local: A Quiet Revolution or The Economics of Happiness. These films nicely complement the material in the modules, but other films work well too (see our Films for Change list).
Step Two: Organize the first gathering
Once you have managed to attract at least 6 individuals to join your study circle, you’ll need to organize the first gathering. During this meeting a designated facilitator (this will probably be your role in the beginning) will introduce the program and distribute the introductory materials.
How you run the meeting is entirely up to you. We have found that the following format can work well:
1. If you haven’t already shown one of Local Futures’ films during the recruitment process, you might begin the meeting by showing either Ancient Futures or Paradise with Side Effects as an introduction to the issues. Be sure to allow some time for discussion following the film.
2. Hand out the following documents to each person (note: these are downloadable above):
- Introduction to the Program & Materials
- Introduction to Group Process
It’s a good idea for the facilitator to have read these thoroughly before the meeting. You may wish to summarize the information for the group and then give everyone ten minutes or so to sit and read the documents.
3. After the group has read and discussed the introductory materials you can assess everyone’s interest. Hopefully you will have a core group ready to commit to starting the study circle. There may be a few people who want to think about it more, but as long as there are about five or six ‘definites,’ you are ready to go.
4. Hand out the following documents to those ready to commit. It’s a good idea for everyone to read these before the first official gathering dedicated to Module 1.
Before you end the meeting, you’ll need to discuss the following questions:
- When will the next meeting be held?
- Who will act as coordinator (if you do not wish to do this)?
- How often, where, when and for how long will your study group meet? You may choose to be flexible about this.
- Will you have a fixed or rotating discussion facilitator at each meeting?
- Will the group be open or closed to additional members?
- How will you organize the distribution of the reading materials?
Most groups spend one meeting discussing each module or sub-module. You will need to decide how many articles you are prepared to read for each meeting (remember, there’s no rush). If certain individuals in your group have limited time, they can choose to read one of the abridged ‘tracks’ through the curriculum that better suits their needs.
Fee. We do charge participants a small amount to join the program in order to help offset some of Local Futures’ production, administration and mailing costs. The fee (US$50/£30 for the full group) can be paid by you individually, or divided among group members. Note that we are willing to consider reducing or eliminating the fee for those unable to cover the cost. Please send an email explaining your circumstances.