Living in LoveAugust 16, 2013 2 Comments
We worked with a national network of mostly white social change activists. We supported members of the network to increase the number of people of color at their annual gathering from 5% to 40% in a single year.
To engage people in the midst of palpable tensions, we designed self-organized dialogues, storytelling, social time and outdoor time to build relationships, explore one another’s work and discover new collaborative possibilities. We even took advantage of a power outage to have an intimate candle light dinner.
Some of the principles that guide this aspect of our practice include:
- Honor the value each person brings. We facilitate cultural sharing and use visuals, processes and materials that reflect participants’ diversity.
- Design for whole people, not “brains on a stick,” as one of my colleagues says. We make connections between body, mind and soul in the physical, emotional and intellectual spaces we create, integrating movement, poetry, art, self-reflection and more.
- Leverage the power of narrative to engage hearts and minds. A well-placed story can transform a person’s perspective more than a mountain of data.
- Shift the binary race discourse (either I am a racist or I am not; either I’m good or I’m bad) to one where our goodness is not impugned and our daily practice to transform racism is what matters.
- Recognize the power that people of color bring to the table. Don’t rely exclusively on white power. Facilitate spaces where people of color can transcend the trauma of racism and become self-determined actors whose course is not guided primarily by responding to racism.
- Celebrate accomplishments large and small.