The Group

Staff at State Service Commissions who were attending a conference and used this session time to talk about the work they are doing and where are they going.


The participants embraced the reading and discussion questions. I was nervous about the reading choice and if they could make the connection, but they stuck with it and were participatory


The session time was not long enough and there were a few participants that joined the session that were outside my originally intended group, but I made sure the questions I asked could be applicable to all audiences and was able to bring them into the discussion.

Opening Activity

Have participants first think individually and then turn to a partner to discuss:  Think of something in the national service world that you think needs to change. Why does it need to change and how could change be achieved? Share your thoughts with a partner.

Discussion Questions

Clarification Questions: 1. Why does the narrator repeat the phrase, “This is the year”? 2. What do the different events for which this is the year have in common, if anything? 3. Why does the second-to-last stanza introduce the word “if,” and repeat it? 4. What are the qualities or characteristics of this year he describes – can we just try to name a few? What does it look like? 5. Which of these events or changes are you drawn to and why? Try to draw out a few and explore them. 6. Re: the events or changes you're drawn to, who is benefiting? In what way? Is it a good or desirable change? What's unclear? 7. "Darkskinned men return to sip coffee quietly." How does this scene compare to the ones before it? 8. Are there common threads running through each of these events/changes? Differences? 9. What is needed for these changes or transformations to happen? Are they possible? Does it matter? 10. How does this poem leave you feeling? 11. Is there a call to action here?

Significance Questions: 1. Is this the year for national service? If no, why not? If yes, why? 2. What is change? 3. Do people experience change differently? 4. How should we respond to change? 5. What change do we need to make in national service? In our own work as state commissions? In or work with our grantees? In our work with CNCS? 6. What does transformative change look like in your work -- who or what is being transformed? You? Your grantees? CNCS? Others? 7. How long does it take to make transformative change? 8. Thinking about your own work... is an imaginative vision needed to make this kind of change? What purpose does it serve? 9. Does it need to be "possible" to be valuable?

Implication Questions: 1. What kind of change are we experiencing? 2. What kind of change do we need to make, knowing our current realities and opportunities? 3. What kind of change does the national service world need? 4. How should our community of commissions respond to change? 5. What do we hope our work accomplishes?

Closing Activity

Thinking about your own service and work, name one change that is possible this year and one question that this discussion raises for you.

Final Thoughts

All of the activities and questions I used I got form your website so thank you for the great resource.

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