Our fourth planning meeting for our community engagement efforts was a time for more personal reflection on what it means to be in community with others.
This particular meeting was a bit of a departure, as the reflections about community were highly personal for each participant. The primary question with which attendees grappled focused on where we feel comfortable, safe, able to be our whole selves, specifically around issues of race and privilege. Those personal questions included…
• What communities do each of us represent?
• Who are each of us already in community with?
• Who can each of us speak for?
From that discussion, it became clear what BAD engagement looks like. And from there, we were able to use Catalytic Thinking to articulate what GOOD would look like.
What do we absolutely NOT want to see in our engagement?
- Speaking for other people
- Extraction – all taking with no reciprocity or mutual benefit
- Lack of empathy
- Assuming what people want/need and what’s important to them
- A lack of personal awareness
- A lack of trust and relationship building
- Ignore what a safe space is for the people involved
- Clear divisions between us and them, including language
- Tokenism / a lack of diversity
- Arriving with the answer
What if we turn these around? What would GOOD engagement look like?
- Co-owned spaces
- People speaking for their own experiences
- Accepting the experiences and emotions of others as true
- Having open conversations around mistakes
- Getting permission to share other’s stories
- Be open to what you encounter
- Clarifying when there is discomfort
- Trust and relationship building
- Personal awareness
What became clear at the end of this discussion is that a big part of the decision re: “What’s Next for Creating the Future?” will be about the audience we serve. Will we continue to serve the same demographic we have served these past few years, or will we work to expand that demographic?
For now, that big question of “What’s Next” will be asked of those who currently receive the benefit Creating the Future provides. They are the ones who will be most immediately impacted by whatever next steps are chosen. With Catalytic Thinking as our guide, that first question continues to guide us: “Who will be affected by whatever action is taken, and what will it take for them to guide those decisions?”
We will spend our August meetings (August 8th and again August 30th) devising a plan to put those “good” factors into action as we touch base with our current community. What will it take for those existing community members to feel that we are one big “we,” in community with each other – in relationship with each other? What will it take for them to want to be part of this decision?
Join us on August 8th as the conversation continues!