Hollyhock 2020: Equity Learning Lab

Equity Learning Lab: A deliberate practice and growth space for white folks
Offered at Hollyhock, Cortes Island, BC June 21-24, 2020
A course of study, introspection and socialization to set a new standard of equity practices and anti-racist action among a cohort of white conveners, facilitators and leaders. An invitation into the conversation in the spirit of directness, compassion and courage to make real change. A chance to “start where we are” in learning and practice – an intentional and intensive first step in being self-responsible and accountable – moving ourselves and the collective forward in a good way for those interested and committed to creating a more just world. APPLICATIONS OPEN

Territorial Acknowledgement: We acknowledge we will gather on the traditional ancestral territories of the Klahoose, Tla’amin, and Homalco First Nations
(Cortes Island).

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“Let us find a way to belong to this time and place
together. Our future, and the well-being of all our
children, rests with the kind of relationships
we build today.”
~ Hereditary Chief Dr. Robert Joseph
Gwawaenuk Elder

*Special Note about this Learning Lab:
This is not an advanced training in equity. This is an introductory course designed to deepen the participant’s relationship with learning about themselves and how to create a more equitable world through moving from unaware to more aware. Participants will also be creating action plans to continue the work after the onsite gathering. Stina will act as a guide through this process (vs teacher), with support, resources and guidance from both “BIPOC” (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) community members, white folks doing this work, and available resources already published. She will be joined by several colleagues “holding the space” onsite as we move through the 4 days on Cortes.

For more advanced equity trainings, please check out: Shakil Choudhury and Anima Leadership’s trainings in Toronto here, Inner Activist’s trainings in the Lower Mainland here and Reverend angel Kyodo williams and Suzanne Hawkes’ Radical Dharma Camp this summer at Hollyhock (here). For decolonization resources, workshops and advising, please check out Perception Consulting, Reconciliation Canada and Courage Consulting.

Also – this course is not group therapy, a place for woke-ness competition or a congregation of self-congratulation. This is a learning lab. In labs, we experiment – we learn, test, gain new understanding and take certain precautions to make sure experiments don’t blow up or harm anyone. We design the space to approach the learning with reverence, patience and courage.

Learning Lab Intention
This in-person immersion at Hollyhock June 21-24th 2020 is an invitation to beginning an intentional community of practice (CoP). The longer term vision is to create community/relationships in which white leaders, activists, facilitators, hosts etc. can deepen their awareness and practice, commitment and courage – not just in 3 days, but over time. This “Equity Learning Lab” has a before – during – and after component. The idea being that any “one-off” event will have a limited impact, whereas entering a course of study has the potential to lead to a longer deeper relationship with the learning and embedded accountability: supporting the conditions for transformation – which begins in the individual but must move into community, into relationships with our diverse communities and the systems we are a part of.

As this is the first course Stina is offering with this content, it is a prototype, a laboratory. It is meant to be an intentional growth and learning space and as such, there is room to test and challenge ourselves, to study and reflect, and to integrate what we discover. Stina is learning too. The group size will be under 24 people with trusted co-hosts and colleagues supporting the facilitation and helping support the group during the Cortes dates. The facilitation style will be responsive – able to adapt to the needs of the group.

From February to May 2020 you are invited to apply to be a part of the 2020 co-hort! Once you are registered you’ll be asked to respond to a brief survey. There will be several hours of pre-reading prior to your arrival on Cortes. Stina will be reaching out to each participant before we all arrive onsite with a phone or zoom call to hear in more detail about your priorities and how this course of study can support your learning and your actions in community.

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NOTE About the Approach of Working with the Self vs the Collective:
by Melanie Matining
While self-awareness/doing self-work is a huge tenant of social change, centering on just the self can also be a tool of colonialism, whereas returning to a decolonizing/indigenizing lens centres the collective. Collective responsibility requires us as individuals to do our personal work so that we can move towards re-balancing spiritual, emotional, mental, physical, etc. ways that colonization has unhinged us. This unhinging is what creates trauma at a personal, environmental, cultural, social level. When whiteness centres the self, it removes itself from environments that has/continuously harms. With groups I’ve worked with, sometimes there’s that hesitation to not do anything until you feel “ready” to join the collective. In reality, we work in fractals – our personal is inherently collective. What would it look like to step away from self and move towards the collective from the get go?

NOTE About the Term Decolonizing: by Dr Amie Wolf
One of the best definitions I know is in the compilation, For Indigenous Eyes Only: A Decolonization Handbook. Drs. Waziyatawin and Michael Yellow Bird state that “decolonization is the active resistance to the forces of colonialism that perpetuate the subjugation and/or exploitation of our minds, bodies, and lands for the ultimate purpose of overturning the colonial structure and realizing Indigenous liberation.”

Indigenous peoples were, and still are, politically autonomous nations with the authority to make decisions independently. This autonomy means decolonization is about restructuring in order to restore the Indigenous and non-Indigenous relationship to one of equal power. Decolonization is not a struggle for equal rights, but for the equal right to sovereignty.

Purpose(s) of this Lab:
In addressing Mel’s question, “What would it look like to step away from self and move towards the collective from the get go?” It looks like people coming together to MAP OUT the system they are in, and to take responsibility for themselves, their influence on that system and create real plans to effect change in that system toward a more equitable reality.

To raise awareness about the real racism and struggles BIPOC community members face and the ways in which our privilege and apathy contribute to and maintain the white supremacist reality we benefit from – and to hear from BIPOC community members (by video or written statements) ways in which we can centre their wellbeing, concerns and priorities – taking the lead from BIPOC experiences.

To construct a course of study, introspection and socialization to set a new standard of equity practices among white folks that re-centres BIPOC community members and honours their experiences of violence, systemic oppression, racism, colonization and every-day trauma.

To invite white colleagues seeking to work intentionally into the conversation.
To “start where we are” in learning and practice
– an intentional and intensive first step in being self-responsible and moving ourselves and the collective move forward in a good way for those interested in:

  1. Being proactive in our learning and growth in this area – holding ourselves to a higher standard than the status quo – recognizing the status quo keeps us all from liberation and holds systems of racism, oppression and white supremacy in place
  2. Drawing on the best/latest research in approaches to working with our own habits, conscious and unconscious biases and internalized oppression, colonized/colonizer mindset, racism etc.
  3. Showing up as a caring and courageous witness in our own learning and creating spaces to be real, be uncomfortable, learn and grow together in a “calling-in” not “calling-out” culture of our making
  4. See with new eyes how our lives have been unequally benefited by our whiteness; understand our privilege and the systems of oppression we are a part of
  5. Integrate new ways of being, with this growth – in our bodies, evolving identities and with empathy toward ourselves and others
  6. Determine our own anti-racism plans of action to (begin to) deconstruct the white supremacy culture we are benefitting from – everyone will leave with an action plan of their own making (how you will apply this learning to your life/work)
  7. Step up as peer coaches and continue the learning with small group calls/check-ins after the training
  8. To build the community/field of white folks who are intentionally literate, responsible and proactive in their relationships, work and personal life in systems-change specifically focused on creating new equitable realities for our whole community

Design Elements of the Equity Learning Lab
The updated program design will include intake and survey results customization based on learner.

  • A group of up to 20 individuals
  • Mindfulness practices and silent mornings (no speaking until we are in sessions each day)
  • Somatic practices (mind-body) integrated into the learning, trauma-informed approach
  • Writing as a tool of practice – journaling, reflection and reading aloud
  • Appreciative Inquiry as a tool for discovery and storytelling
  • Art-based and expression-based activities – drawing etc.
  • Privacy to be as introverted as needed, to integrate at your own pace, and to rest in the midst of the learning
  • History/frameworks and systems thinking: defining language, context-setting and content introductions
  • Becoming familiar with resources currently available for further study/learning
  • Anti-racism/decolonizing action planning – students will leave in relationship with a course of action for them to take in the coming year, with a few zoom calls scheduled for the whole group after the fact and hosted led by Stina
  • Friendliness: this is a program designed to support people in confronting their privilege, their place in a system of white supremacy and to begin to see their role and their “white community”/broader context in a new way – with friendly support.

The Philosophy of the Learning Lab Approach:

  • Intentionality as a resource and compass in challenging whiteness and becoming a part of a learning collective: honouring, validating, taking the lead from BIPOC experiences, resources and input
  • Shared awareness: the group will come together through applications and a survey: students will be clear what they each want to contribute to the group/learning and accomplish by investing time participating in Cohort 2020
  • Whole brain, whole person, whole group engagement 
  • Building rapport, relationships and trust through dialogue and shared experience
  • Incubation: intentional process of growth, together
  • Divergent to convergent – trainer and participants offering information; prioritize and practice – digest and apply the learning
  • Self-regulating, self-actualizing, self-resourcing: students will take responsibility for their learning, for caring for themselves and for determining what they need
  • Collaborative outcomes – some pre-set and some emergent

Methods:

  1. Teaching: presentations on topics and skills
  2. Dialogue: using what we know and asking questions to make connections, find new knowledge and experiences together
  3. Interpersonal and collaborative learning: pairs, triads, quads and small groups: sharing experiences, ideas, practices
  4. Creativity: setting the stage for people to access vision, imagination, illumination and insight
  5. Systems Thinking: creating visual maps and frameworks for dialogue on how we make change
  6. Experiential: learning by doing, bringing examples from your life, integrating new knowledge and skill
  7. Reflective: developing in-sight, the ability to see using introspection and mindfulness
  8. Participation: offering various means of participation, with no pressure for students to be at the “same level” or to learn the same way as others. Trusting each participant to make the most of this and find the journey that is best for them.
  9. Handbook/reading material, pre-read as well as in the course: a physical binder to collect materials
  10. Recommended Books (short list) etc.:
    1. Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action (2015)
    2. United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (The government of British Columbia passed legislation to implement UNDRIP in November 2019 –  APT News)
    3. 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act  by Bob Joseph (video)
    4. The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King
    5. Deep Diversity by Shakil Choudhury 
    6. The Skin We’re In by Desmond Cole (video)
    7. White Fragility by Robin Diangelo
    8. So you want to talk about race by Ijeoma Oluo

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Application for Equity Learning Lab 2020 at Hollyhock

Why is there an application process for this course – why not just open registration?
This application gives you a bit of a framework to think through if this course is coming at the right time for you. You – the learner – will need to want to do this learning. If we, as white folks, are to do our part to dismantle the racist/white supremacist/colonized systems we all are a part of, we will need to be determined, available and accountable to our BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) communities, ourselves and each other in a new way.

Purpose of the Application Process (for the training team)

    • To learn about an applicant’s desires, backgrounds, motivations, intentions for being part of program
    • To allow the application to provide self-reflection for applicant on their readiness for this program
    • To provide the training team a sense of range of experience and potential application of the learning

This course is intended to provide the best conditions for a cohort of white learners to enter a field of shared discipline, study, stretching and accountability. There will be a certain standard of commitment required for individuals to succeed in this course. Not because anyone is grading/judging the learning – but because the learning itself is so personal, so challenging and so necessary – if we are to co-create a more just society. There is a specific intention around creating a culture of kindness and compassion in the learning. It will take intentionality for an individual to become a part of this group and follow through into anti-racist action, applying the learning.

Glossary of Terms from RacialEquityTools.org
Racial equity is the condition that would be achieved if one’s racial identity no longer predicted, in a statistical sense, how one fares. When we use the term, we are thinking about racial equity as one part of racial justice, and thus we also include work to address root causes of inequities not just their manifestation. This includes elimination of policies, practices, attitudes and cultural messages that reinforce differential outcomes by race or fail to eliminate them.”

People of Color is often the preferred collective term for referring to non-White racial groups. Racial justice advocates have been using the term “people of color” (not to be confused with the pejorative “colored people”) since the late 1970s as an inclusive and unifying frame across different racial groups that are not White, to address racial inequities. While “people of color” can be a politically useful term, and describes people with their own attributes (as opposed to what they are not, e.g., “non-White”), it is also important whenever possible to identify people through their own racial/ethnic group, as each has its own distinct experience and meaning and may be more appropriate.” Source: Race Forward, Race Reporting Guide

Meaning behind the term BIPOC – “Black, Indigenous, People of Colour”
The BIPOC Project gives a more fulsome description: “The BIPOC Project aims to build authentic and lasting solidarity among Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), in order to undo Native invisibility, anti-Blackness, dismantle white supremacy and advance racial justice. (In the United States) We use the term BIPOC to highlight the unique relationship to whiteness that Indigenous and Black (African Americans) people have, which shapes the experiences of and relationship to white supremacy for all people of color within a U.S. context. We unapologetically focus on and center relationships among BIPOC folks.”

We believe this is also a useful distinction as we learn in Canada.

We welcome your questions, if anything is unclear or if you’d like to connect with Stina Brown (email stina at stinabrown.com) prior to filling out the application form. Thank you in advance for considering joining us in this important process of learning. Once you’ve submitted the application you’ll receive a follow-up email from Stina within 14 days.

APPLICATION QUESTIONS (Jump to Application)

  1. Why are you applying to Equity Learning Lab 2020? (Purpose/motivation)
  2. How would you describe your ethnic, racial or cultural background?
  3. BIPOC community members have seen the need for this kind of up-skills training for many years, and many of us (white folks) are just waking up to this reality in a new way. In your estimation, how would you describe your level of awareness about the issues around race equity and the role you play?
    • Not aware/No experience = 0 No demonstrated knowledge or experience in the subject matter.
    • Aware = 2 Emerging awareness; developing attitude towards subject matter.
    • Developing = 4 Developing knowledge, skills, and application in subject matter; expressed understanding, possesses skills, and demonstrated experience in the subject matter.
    • Integrated = 6 Integrated principles and approach into practice; possesses a deep understanding of and approach to the subject matter; has a record of successful implementation in the skillset as a leader.
    • Exemplar = 8 Proactive leadership In subject matter; an established leader who has successfully practiced the specified skillset.
  1. Tell us about your relationship with anti-racism/equity work. Some examples could be: equity training, lived experience, awareness of your own racism/bias, your relationship with your whiteness, etc.
  2. How do you envision applying the learning in your profession?
  3. How will BIPOC community members benefit from you stepping into a new level of learning and accountability in the area of white privilege and racial justice?
  4. Anything else you’d like to tell us?

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We welcome your questions, if anything is unclear or if you’d like to connect with Stina Brown (email stina at stinabrown.com) prior to filling out the application form.
Thank you!