Since September, I’ve been working on the national Leadership Development Team, planning for training weeks at Summer of Solutions programs around the country. We’ve done a lot since we got started, reviewing and editing old trainings as well as developing new ones. I have been excited to discover that the members of our team are all really motivated to make Grand Aspirations an organization that works against oppression. This past weekend, I turned the anti-oppression workshop that we did during the Twin Cities program in 2010 into a replicable template that other programs can use. As I was reading over the notes my co-facilitator Hannah had sent me, it really brought me back to the experience. I was reminded how powerful of an activity this was. By talking about our own identities and the way that we experienced those identities, we were able to begin a practice of speaking honestly from our own experiences. For me, there was the added value of learning how to facilitate a conversation about deeply felt identities that builds towards trust and openness rather than closing people off from each other.
As I was discussing with Hannah the best way to attribute the work that had gone into creating this workshop, I realized all the different perspectives and experiences that had gone into making this template the way it is now. While we will do our best to capture the people who contributed directly in the sources listed at the top of all Grand Aspirations templates, it got me thinking about all the people who it would be impossible to cite who contributed. Conversations that I have had and articles and blog posts that I’ve read shaped the way I wrote the template, and I’m sure that there is a web of connection and learning back from every person in every organization who worked on this training. As different facilitators give this training in the future, they will bring their own personal experience to the way that they facilitate it.
To me, this diversity of experience and opinion is one of the most important reasons to work towards an anti-oppressive organization. People with homogeneous identities are different people — I am different from my sister, for example, despite our identical class background, race, ethnicity, geographic location, religious upbringing, gender, and parents — but we can’t create solutions for a heterogeneous world based on only our experience. I am excited to work with Leadership Development Team to see how we can recognize and expand diverse leadership in the organization and our programs.