Transformative Relational Space: Gotta be protainer savvy!

At AR+ we use video meetings. A lot!  These are the next-best thing to face to face meetings. But with a tiny fraction of the carbon footprint. 

However for them to feel like a great use of time, we need to feel we’re in a safe – not necessarily always comfortable – space.

Best is when each of us pays attention to the quality of our shared relational space – what we also call the “protainer” (not container, protainer, a term inspired by Tavistock, UK, thank you!). Sensitivity to the quality of the space among us is the secret sauce in helping co-create transformative learning spaces from which collaborative action may arise. This starts with some shared guidelines. And tech savvy.

Read: AR+ProtainerSafeSpaceGuidelines

The key ingredient in the AR+ relational sauce (yes we like cooking metaphors!) may well be the practice of mutually transforming power. In some ways that is as simple – and as profound – as being interested in the other for the sake of the other. We place emphasis on speaking from the heart and honoring generative silence. Video spaces require us to be tech savvy too.  Some tech hints are covered below. After a little more context (that we may take for granted).

No cute saber toothed tiger cubs?!

The more philosophical among us may consider that it doesn’t come naturally to humans to use electronic media, much less to use it well. Perhaps that’s because we evolved as a species on the Savannah who spoke face to face with people we’d known since birth. (Awww, no instafeed of cute saber-toothed tiger cubs). In other words, our use of electronic communication is a really new thing in our social evolution. All sorts of issues of trust and discomfort naturally arise. But so too the much more exciting possibility of connecting with new friends and co-creating tribe across continents and timezones, with a low carbon footprint.  Let us dare to turn the anxiety into learning…

Tech pointers for the protainer savvy.

We use zoom technology.  Click the link the facilitator provider when you’re ready to join. Expect that all AR+ conversations start with a brief settling in, in silence, with a few guidelines to promote a robust protainer AKA safe space. Best is to arrive a bit early and say hi to those gathered. This is specially important if this is your first meeting with a group.

If you can’t avoid being late, enter gently and silently. Wait for the facilitator to greet you when it’s timely.

Next, let’s assume that the following technical etiquette pointers are known in advance. Here goes:


  • It’s best if you are by your computer. Smartphone works even in your car, but not as well;
  • Hooked up to a robust internet connection;
  • In a quiet location;
  • Head-phones help reduce background noise;
  • Sit in  a well lit space (with light in front of you);
  • Mute on to start – unmute to speak. We also like to use gestures for simple communication.
  • Video on — so we can see one another. (Video off if connection becomes weak.) 

OK, We’re not wanting to be super rigid here. Our intention is to honor the quality of a shared space. So, please, if you must move, or if noise happens around you, just do your best to minimize the disruption. We will all thank you for being mindful about how you show up.

  • If you can, please arrive 7 minutes early. (Because 7 is a lucky number!) That will allow you relax. Like with the puppy in your lap in the photo above.

We’re looking forward to sharing relational space and practicing mutually transforming power. Mostly we’re looking forward to learning what we can accomplish together — in service to co-creating a more beautiful world. 

More advanced features

SPEAKER VIEW OR GALLERY: You can toggle between speaker and gallery view using buttons located in the upper right corner. You might do this occasionally (hey, it’s fun to have different perspectives).

• CHAT. Use the chat! It’s most powerful use is as a channel to record what resonates for you in the shared conversation. Writing in the chat helps co-document the collective experience.  Note the default chat is set to “public/everyone.” (Yes it was painful to see our silly private note
ended up not being private after all, ouch.)

• BREAK-OUTS. At AR+ we like breakouts in small (often trio) groups. Expect that entering/ exiting the breakout room takes a minute or so. The facilitator will coordinate you just click accept to enter the breakout. If your internet links fails and you “fall out” of a group, simply come back to the main space (click the zoom link), the facilitator will retrieve you.

• use the chat in break outs too – but copy the break out chat before you leave so you may share it into the plenary chat for others to read too.

• SCREEN SHARE. When/if material is shared on screen you can choose to look at the speaker and minimize the powerpoint. You do this by clicking on the speaker’s video image. You might find that doing this occasionally helps you remain “in conversation” with the live person rather than the inert material. (That’s super relational practice). And generally speaking we try not to have presentation-heavy meetings.

• If you are invited to screen share: have your material, e.g., photo, open on your own desktop. Use the green button at the bottom of the screen. You will select the screen to share from your desktop. Remarkably easy!

Intellectual Property

We’ll uphold scholarly practice of honoring people for their intellectual property, i.e., not taking IP that is not given, citing the sources we use. And rest assured, we won’t use recordings without explicit permission.

Welcome to the AR+ protainer.  See you soon!