Sharon Fialco, lead facilitator, brings over 20 years experience to 4th Sister. Sharon’s passion and enthusiasm for collaborative group process shines through her work. A self-described meeting junkie, she emanates humor, common sense, and respect that make meetings a joy for others as well. Largely self taught as a facilitator, she gathered skills from leadership in Oberlin College student cooperatives, communal living, and employment in social services, progressive non-profits, and co-operatives. In 1997 Sharon supplemented her eclectic expertise with a professional certification in Conflict Management at Woodbury College.
“Sharon is more than a skilled facilitator. She is also a big-hearted psychologist and strategist. Sharon came in full of ideas, energy, patience, and knowledge. She gently prodded, guided, and opened. In two days, she helped turn a disparate group of people with different agendas into a new international network.”
~ Bev Bell, Center for Economic Justice
The name, 4th Sister, grew from a metaphor offered by biologist Dr. Robin Kimmerer.* She invites us to see the Native American companion planting of the “Three Sisters” as a model for how people can work together. The Three Sisters planting of beans, corn, and squash is highly efficient, productive, and resilient due to the plants’ complementary differences. The plants’ interdependent shapes optimize their shared sunlight and water. Likewise, corn stalks support vining beans, bean roots capture nitrogen that feeds squash and corn, and broad squash leaves suppress weeds for all. Even food from the Three Sisters provides wholesome, complete nutrition.
“Only when standing together . . . does a whole emerge which transcends the individual. The gifts of each are more fully expressed when they are nurtured together than alone. . . . [The Three Sisters] counsel us that all gifts are multiplied in relationship.”
Dr. Kimmerer further recognizes the essential role of the attentive gardener, who she names the Fourth Sister. Like a green thumb tending a complex garden, 4th Sister Facilitation nurtures a group’s diversity, fosters fruitful interdependence among members, and builds the group’s unique character to bring out its best.
“. . . the lessons of reciprocity are written clearly in a Three Sisters garden. . . . Respect one another, support one another, bring your gift to the world and receive the gifts of others, and there will be enough for all.”