Frequently Asked Questions
ASG is both a noun – an entity – and a verb – an activity.
As a noun, it is kind of “fluid.” There is no a specific organization with written policies and hierarchies. Instead, there is what we call an association of people who use conversations to create (quoting “founder” Peter Block) “a future distinct from the past.” This association is a new entity formed every time people come together at an ASG event or an event that uses ASG principles.
As a verb, ASG is a way of holding “conversations that matter.” The conversations are built on the following principles:
- Initiate conversations by asking “powerful questions”
- Speak from your heart about what has meaning for you
- Listen to understand
- Replace certainty and fixing, saving, or rescuing with curiosity
You can also think of ASG as a way of being that is based on these principles.
We take the name A Small Group from quotation from the anthropologist Margaret Meade:
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
Leadership is also kind of fluid.
Those of us who participate in ASG think of Peter Block as the “elder” because he formulated the process. He lists and describes the conversations and the powerful questions used to trigger those conversations in his book, Community: The Structure of Belonging.
Other leaders are individuals who are invested in sharing the ideas and structures of belonging that are practiced during ASG events. Each event is designed and facilitated by individuals who volunteer to hold space for these practices.
ASG is currently led by a group of volunteers who have been involved for more than a decade; it is not a non-profit organization.
The purpose of ASG is to encourage conversations that allow groups and individuals to work together as citizens committed to change to make this the world a better place to live. Just having a conversation can change a lot for the better.
To think of that in another way, we are an association of associations. We equip everyone that shows up to use these principles to shift the conversations in their existing organizations and where ever they show up in the world.
Members are anyone who shows up and engages. There is no formal membership. We do keep a list of names and email addresses to share newsletters and announcements.
Anyone can “join” by showing up at events. You will create your own level of engagement, driven by:
- How valuable an experience you plan for the event to be
- How participative you plan to be
- How much risk you are willing to take
- How invested you are in the well-being of the whole
We hope to offer A Small Group Learning Intensives 3-4 times per year. Check our calendar for any upcoming dates.
There is a fee associated with the Learning Intensives to pay for room rental and catering. Currently, the registration fee is $38, though we hope money would never prevent participation in our gatherings. Please reach out to learn more about scholarship support.
The ASG Intensives are designed to help people go deeper into the principles of ASG. At this time, there is no other formal training for learning how to use the ASG approach.
However, at ASG events, Peter and others who are experienced will model the ASG approach and describe the purpose of activities that take place. To use one example, we break the large group into small groups, usually with three of four people in them, as a model for the structure of belonging in the world because the small group is the unit of change. Inviting participation in small groups creates opportunity for every voice to be heard.
We encourage people to use the principles wherever they show up. Start meetings by asking a “powerful question” such as, “Why is it important for you to be here today?” Speak from your heart about what has meaning for you, listen to understand, and set aside your certainty and fixing, saving, and rescuing.