5: Wireframes & Sessions

wire·frame [wīr′frām′]

n. a sketch or graphical representation of the layout or structure (of a website or app)

adj. of or relating to a visual representation of the layout or structure (of a website or app)

After articulating our vision in a design guide (Section 4: Envisioning & Design) we were ready to develop a wireframe for each retreat, mini-intensive and virtual meeting. In simple terms, a wireframe is a facilitator’s guide that lays out everything our team members needed to know about what was planned for the space and experience, along with the specific goals that were linked to the primary program objectives in order to instill a practice of Transformative Organizing (See Wireframe Components).

Each wireframe comprised a series of sessions and depending on their complexity, were either incorporated into the wireframe or were on a separate document linked to it for easy online access. Foundational activities such as the welcome or closing do not require much detail because they are facilitated at every gathering. A session on internalized racial oppression or strategic imagination includes information, discussion prompts, instructions for activities and possibly handouts, all of which cannot fit in a wireframe. By providing essential information (what to do, when, and by whom), wireframes ensured our team was prepared and on the same page.

A wireframe is ultimately just a tool. A plan on a piece of paper is never as substantive or procreative as what transpires among the women; the work is what happens when we come together. What unfolded in the room, therefore, took precedence over what we planned as centering the women necessitated we welcome them with open hearts and minds and were responsive to unanticipated needs, trauma, and arising issues. When issues arose we regrouped to rework the wireframe as necessary by identifying the “must-do” sessions and those we could save for another time.

“Rest is a great thing. Rest is resistance, it’s reparations.”

Nikole Hannah-Jones, What is Owed in New York Times Magazine (June 24, 2020)

Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

Audre Lorde

The Arc of our Programs

Typically, each gathering was bracketed by a half-day long welcome and a half-day closing, between which were two to three full days of activities. Both the arc of the program and each gathering had a similar rhythm that became very familiar to the women. Like the various parts of a song, each element brought forth a particular energy and signaled what was to come (See the Excerpted Wireframe Agenda and Snapshot of a Week-Long Gathering which reference program elements).

Before each gathering our first task was to decolonize the space by creating the physical, emotional and spiritual conditions for deep engagement. Every “day one” (of the year or gathering) accordingly focused on building or deepening relationships to create the conditions for the women to practice interdependence in real time, to take risks and to challenge their thinking. The women came to know they would land in a space of nurture and principled struggle.

Using the metaphor of song, the flow across the year and within gatherings is outlined below. Activities in bold can be found in Session & Tools and other sections in this guide are referenced or linked to provide more detail.

INTRO = Welcome & Land and Housekeeping

To help the women transition into our communal space, our first coming together was always about welcoming the women to land in our decolonized space. This intentional act disrupted white dominant cultural ways of engaging and indicated that our space would be one of healing and belonging where the women could bring their whole selves, know they would be taken care of, and be helped to detach from all that is pulling on them outside of our space. Our goal was make them feel as though they arrived at a good friend’s home after a day of travel and could rest, eat and release in a beautiful space chosen for their comfort, enjoyment and growth.

Allocating time for housekeeping kept the women informed while modeling transparency. Each gathering and every day opens with announcements, Q & A, addressing participants’ needs, reviewing the agenda, and transitioning into the day’s activities.

HOOK = Creating the Conditions

To create the conditions that enabled us to receive the offerings of the program and each other, we always began our first full morning together co-creating a liberated zone (then recommitted to it every morning and at each subsequent gathering). The objectives were to: 1) define how we will be in community, 2) identify barriers that prevent us from leaning into each other, and 3) ground us in purpose and interdependence. Reviewing our commitments amplified them and allowed us to continually assess our progress toward achieving our shared objectives. It was tempting to skip this process because we too are subject to being time-focused, but making the investment strengthened our community and pushed each of us to show up as our best selves.

VERSE = Political Education

Sessions on transformative organizing or that fostered a shared political analysis were facilitated in 2 to 3 hour-long blocks. Topics were initially selected based on the program objectives and from assessing the unique interests and needs of a cohort. As we came to know the women well, we recognized growth edges or opportunities and incorporated their preferences.

Like the wireframes, every session employs the POP process (see Wireframe Components) to assure program alignment and focus on immediate outcomes.

Using Vertical Development as our core pedagogy, we introduced heat through discussions and experiences that would awaken long held, under-examined perceptions. We were always mindful to 1) remind the women that the vertical development process (awake, unlearn/discern, advance) is not one they need to do on their own—they have their sisters to lean on—and 2) always facilitate a cooling experience in the session that followed.

To support the women’s meaning making about the sessions, we used pair-ups, journaling, group reflection, and TeachBacks (wherein participants use their own voice and experiences to revisit a core concept with their peers).

BRIDGE = Grounding & Centering and Healthy Breaks

Grounding and centering invited the women to practice authenticity and living in purpose toward incorporating transformative ways of being into their leadership and daily lives. It set them up for a day of deep learning or slowed them down to breathe together and strengthen our container. After the first day of each gathering, this space is provided for the women to share their emergent thinking. Pairing women up to do embodiment practices also elevates grounding and centering.

Healthy breaks emphasized that rest is reparation from and resistance to white dominant norms of perpetual production or busyness. We did not want to overwork the group or ourselves, leaving us with limited energy to take in information or be fully present. Throughout the day we built in several mini breaks for pause and processing and scheduled a 2-hour lunch break, breaks that offered hard laughs and supported the women mentally, physically and spiritually. They included healthy meals and snacks, outdoor time, movement or walking, space for napping, and dance parties.

OUTRO = Closings

Closings are very important because they “seal” the container after each day or gathering, helping participants shift to meaning making about what they learned, are feeling, and have been challenged. It transitions them out of a full day of engagement into the evening’s activities, or out of the gathering into their return home. We used closings to remind the women of the agenda or any tasks before facilitating a cultural or reflective moment (see WoC Centering & Healing Practices) that were offerings of inspiration, forgiveness or affirmation through poetry reading, chanting, singing. We often incorporated journaling or debriefing. On the last day of a gathering we facilitated the Packing Our Medicine Bag activity to remind women of the grounding practices they carry with them outside of our liberated zone.


No matter what, EVERY FULL DAY of a gathering we:

  • Reaffirm our commitment to a liberated zone

  • Take care of logistics letting the women know they are being cared for and what is expected

  • Ground ourselves in mindfulness practices

  • Engage in political analysis in 2-3 hour blocks

  • Have healthy refreshment, movement & pause breaks

  • Close with reflection & offerings of appreciation

  • Meet as a team to make sure each of us has what we need, for real time reflection on gathering POP and our design guide plan, and to formally debrief (using Like, Wish, Wonder)

Session Matrix

The Session Matrix displays our program curriculum by the outcomes outlined in Section 4: Envisioning & Design.

  • Transformation of Self (Grounded in Purpose, Grounded in Strength, Grounded in Centering & Resilience Practices)

  • Transformation of Organization & Community (Interdependence, Reflective/Reflexive Practice, Shared Political Analysis, Development of Vision & Strategies)

You will notice that some sessions were specifically designed for Power 50 or the women’s fellowship. This information is noted to acknowledge the history of our work but does not mean the session is only relevant for a specific group of WoC. For example, although the women’s fellowship works with formerly incarcerated and/or immigrant WoC (or those directly impacted by these systems) other WoC can benefit from the content or experience. Hoping our pedagogy inspires the development of new sessions, we have included a session template to support your curriculum development.

For additional resources and examples, you can view Wireframe Component with Example Content, an Excerpted Wireframe Agenda, and a Snapshot of a Week-long Gathering

Accompanying Journaling Prompts & Coloring Pages:

Journaling Prompt: Let’s apply the Like Wish Wonder framework! As you browse through the session guide chart:
Like: Pick one session you already know you’re going to love
Wish: Is there a topic you were hoping to find a session about that’s missing?
Wonder: Which session are you unsure or curious about?

Coloring Page: Native American Thunderbird, a symbolize used by various tribes, generally power and strength.

Journaling Prompt: Sketch! Create a symbol or image that represents the power of Women of Color in leadership.

Continue onto SessionS & TOOLs OR