FYI Blog

Avalon Retreat Day One: Connection

DAY 1: Connecting like Mushroom Roots

Avalon’s most recent company-wide retreat provided tremendous opportunities to gather, learn, and share with and from each other. The retreat was structured to focus on core priorities for Avalon this year: Connection, Belonging, and Collaboration.

For the first day, we grounded our connection work with a session from Jenny Phillips of JLP Strategy. The session opened with reference to the root systems of fungi (like mushrooms), called mycelium, that connect the roots, but also communicate threats and provide the collective ability to channel and receive necessary nutrients. This intertwining force is similar to how we as humans and as teams are interconnected and thrive because of each other. The session was designed to help us understand what makes us feel connected to our own lives and then see what kinds of connections we had in common with our colleagues.

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First, we were provided with various prompts that asked how we were feeling, how we got where we were. Who are the VIPs that made you the person you are now in this place? Who teaches, inspires, and challenges you? Who inspires your creativity? What do you want people living seven generations from now to have?

Grounding down, branching out

We had two minutes of heads-down time to reflect, accompanied by various music selections to help us focus our thoughts. After each reflection question, we chose a different person from our table to share our thoughts with. We’d been divided into cross-departmental pods for the retreat to enable us to be with colleagues we don’t usually work with, which enabled lots of new connections! Then we wrote one or two meaningful answers on Post-it notes and stuck them to the walls around the room.

Taking it all in

After seven rounds of questions Jenny invited us all to walk around the room, now covered with colorful Post-its on every wall in the room, and see what collective ideas these prompts sparked within the group. The notes contained a wide array of answers with some similar echoes throughout (we really love our moms!). Seeing what makes us us – mapped out in front of us – was a beautiful demonstration of our community, how we’re tied to each other, and how we need each other to build a better future. It was also an important reminder that each person at Avalon is a product of their collective life experiences and influences, and that in turn informs our work and relationships at Avalon.

Transition out

Finally, in a fun and simple way to foster team connection, Jenny led us in a rapid-fire game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. Once you lost the best of three rounds, you joined the team rooting for your opponent. As the number of competitors dwindled, the chanting and frenzied cheers increased until it was down to two competitors and a room full of boisterous whoops and hollers. It was silly and fun and left us all energized—and feeling connected to our team—as we headed into the retreat.

The exercise also left us grateful for the time together in-person and got a lot of us thinking about how we can connect better and more in our remote work environments.