We want to eliminate as many barriers to connection as possible and cultivate a container for healing. To this end, we are prioritizing and funding efforts to 1) build relationships, train, and certify more facilitators of color; 2) Create policies and procedures for more emotionally safe handling of racial stress episodes at practices; 3) Develop and implement activities to build connection around vulnerable self-reflection about enacted social hierarchies, including race; 4) Actively recruit board members and program staff of color.
Our loftiest vision is to someday host containers where everyone feels free to be real, to see each other, and be fully seen. There is no manual for this practice, especially in an environment where getting real is the point and non-judgment is a priority. We and our participants are in many different places on our racial awakening journey and we are aware that harms will happen. We continue to experiment, reflect, and improve the way that we facilitate Connection Practice Meetings and all our program elements so that we can integrate them with our commitment to anti-racism.
We recognize that this may mean privileging the expression of voices that systemic racism usually silences during moments of tension, and that this might create emotional stress for others in the space. We are iteratively updating how we balance space-holding with individuals in public (i.e., groups) and private (i.e., 1-on-1) settings during difficult moments in order to balance our value that people feel seen and heard with our commitment to minimize harms to group members. As facilitators and staff, we commit to improving how we model vulnerability and humility with our own experiences of racial stress.
We also know that we will make mistakes, and we are eager to learn from these. Because we care about continuing to improve, we gratefully welcome feedback from anyone with whom we connect, in our Asheville place-based community and beyond, about how our behavior impacts the experiences of People of Color. Feedback can be submitted in-person or online directly to facilitators or Space Owls, emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, or through a phone conversation with one of our equity champions (please email to schedule).