Retreat Success: Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust

“We had a great retreat. All of the staff were really happy.” –Beverly Keefe, Director of Operations, Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust

Organizations grow. They hire new staff. As they grow, they need to bring everyone up to speed so they can effectively work with each other.

Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust is one of these expanding organizations, working to create needed parks and community gardens in neighborhoods with the least access to green space. Just within the last year, the Land Trust more than doubled their staff. They asked me to facilitate the first day of a two-day staff retreat, with day one focusing on having staff get to know the organization better and building a stronger team. We hosted the retreat at the Audubon Center at Debs Park, a fantastic location that gave us the opportunity to conduct portions of the retreat outside.

We started the day off with some interactive introductions and then transitioned to creating a shared history timeline for the organization.

I asked each staff members to share a memorable moment they had at the Land Trust, whether they have been there for seven years or seven weeks. These stories brought the organization’s mission to life.

After that, the Land Trust’s dynamic Executive Director, Alina Bokde, gave an engaging presentation filling out the other parts of the timeline and laying out a vision for the organization’s future. To add some creativity to the day, I asked each staff member to draw a picture representing their individual role in making the organization’s mission reality. Each staff member shared their drawing. Not only did this help clarify everyone’s role, it also formed a beautiful collage representing their collective work.

Things got even more engaging in the afternoon as the group reflected with each other ways in which they depend on each other, and could support each other. We created a spider web showing our connections. Then came out the balloons! This team work activity gave folks the opportunity to work on a common goal in an ever changing environment. We then harvested that experience and translated it into some best practices for moving forward. We wrapped up the day with prioritizing values to guide their work moving forward.

This retreat was awesome! We had a great mix of activities with a talented, committed and diverse staff. It was fun, energizing, engaging and productive. I walked away not only inspired by the organizations work, but deeply impressed by the people at the Land Trust who do the work. With staff now all on the same page, they have a much stronger chance of moving forward more effectively to accomplish their goals.

I want to also give a special thanks to Kelly Martin, one of my Associates that helped me make this retreat such a success. She took all the pictures, typed up the notes, assisted with set up and break down, and helped ensure the day went smoothly.

If your staff needs an engaging and energizing retreat, please contact me and we can discuss the possibilities.

About Ron Milam

I work to build the capacity of organizations and collaborative change initiatives in Southern California through facilitation, training and coaching. I specialize in the areas of organization development, collaboration, strategic planning, team building, board development and fundraising. Since 2005, I have served over 145 organizations.
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