Always ask in advance if workshop participants have particular seating preferences. Keep in mind that some people may be uncomfortable in admitting physical challenges that could affect their comfort, such as hearing challenges, back problems, difficulty in sitting for long periods.
Activists are accustomed to living with pain and discomfort in their daily lives, so it is important to be prepared to provide as many seating options as possible, and to adapt an exercise accordingly.
Seating arrangements are important to the success of the workshop. In most traditional workshops, participants are seated behind tables, or at desks, in rows or sometimes in a circle. Facilitators are seated at the front, and also are behind a table or a desk.
At an integrated security workshop, participants should be seated comfortably in a circle – without any desks or tables in front of them. They can sit on chairs, but the chairs should be comfortable – armchairs and sofas are best. Have high and low seating options available. Facilitators are seated together, but in the same circle.
This is a very deliberate form of seating, creating connections and a safe space. Tables or desks act as strong barriers to forming a group. They are reminiscent of the traditional, hierarchical ‘school’ environment. Facilitators must be seen as guiding the process, but still very much an integral, and equal, part of the group.
Furthermore, make cushions and blankets available immediately to anyone who wants them. Some participants spontaneously take them early on and/or lay on the floor or against the wall to get comfortable. Remember that participants may not feel comfortable to speak about physical or emotional discomfort, but would be relieved to have the opportunity to sit comfortably at a three-day workshop.