Community Practices

What are the Fellowship's community practices?

We are curious, open and respectful.

This is a space to learn, share and grow together while showing respect for one another’s basic personhood. We practice inner inquiry. We ask questions. We are open to observations of our behavior, and we are open to sharing feedback with others regarding their actions. We help each other learn and grow by “calling in” (to conversation) instead of “calling out” (with blame). We stretch our willingness to be uncomfortable.

We honor confidentiality.

“What is shared here stays here, what is learned here is shared widely.” If something is communicated in a specific space, we don’t share it beyond that group without permission from the person who shared it. If something is communicated that changes the way that we think and process, we share the benefits of that new awareness. Ex: We share themes and takeaways with the wider Zoom group after a breakout session and we give others control over what they want to share of their personal experiences.

We are generous. 

Being mindful of the wellbeing of the group means taking care of ourselves and each other. We celebrate our progress and find a sense of play in our work. We forgive ourselves when we make mistakes and embrace that, while we all want to strive to improve ourselves, we are also enough as we are. We ask for what we need and offer what we can.

We speak from our own experience. 

We make sure we’re not generalizing to entire groups of people or presuming anything about someone else’s experience. We speak with “I” statements and questions (I believe, I wonder, I struggle with, I was hurt by, etc) and we reflect on the social identities we carry that impact our experiences.

We are better together. 

No one knows everything and together we know a lot. Each person is coming to any given conversation with different levels of lived experience and embodied expertise.

We believe that each person has something to contribute. We practice being humble and looking for what we have to learn from each person in the room. We share what we know, as well as our questions, so that others may learn from us.

We make space for each other. 

We contribute to the creation of spaces where everyone can be seen, and so we strive to both share generously and listen deeply. If we tend not to speak a lot, we consider sharing our voice with the group. If we tend to speak a lot, we practice making space for others. We work to create a welcoming environment for those who are less vocal if and when they choose to share. In both experiences, growth is happening. (We don’t go “back” by learning to be a better listener. On the contrary, choosing to learn how to listen moves both us and the group up).

We can’t be articulate all the time.

As much as we may wish we could! We can feel hesitant to participate in a workshop or meeting for fear of “messing up” or stumbling over our words. We want everyone to feel comfortable participating, even if we don’t feel we have the perfect words to express our thoughts.

We can disagree without shaming or blaming.

Disagreements are natural, and can foster growth. When we attack, shame, or blame ourselves and others, we are less likely to take in what others are sharing and less likely to problem-solve across our differences. We make space for multiple realities and practice “both/and” thinking. We are willing to accept a lack of closure and agreement. We can disagree and stay connected.

We are mindful of jargon, acronyms, and institutional language.

We use inclusive language that is accessible for people with varying inside knowledge. We acknowledge the difference between intent and impact. 

We embrace the inevitable messiness of stepping into courageous work. 

Often, when we do or say something that causes harm or supports the values of oppressive systems, it is not our intention to do so. But when we use our good intentions to deny (or avoid being accountable for) the harm, more harm is caused. We each do the work to acknowledge that our intent and the impact of our actions are two different things, and we take responsibility for any negative impact we have. (This can be as simple as apologizing.)

We listen to the "song beneath the words". 

We understand that non-verbal signals are part of the exchange, and we also listen for what is unsaid. 

We attempt to see the big picture and encourage multiple interpretations.  

We will see the world through the eyes of many colleagues and we respect the contradictions and paradoxes that arise from diverse perspectives. 

Inspiration for these Community Practices comes from Akimbo, AORTA and Visions.

Dr. Elmer Soriano, Managing Director Civika Asian Development Academy

Dr. Willie James Jennings

Dr. Sharon D. Welch After the Protests Are Heard: Enacting Civic Engagement and Social Transformation (NYU Press, 2019)