SUMMER SEARCH COMMUNITY AGREEMENTS
These agreements were adapted from Erica Woodland and the East Bay Meditation Center.
Liberation as a Focus:
We aim to create a space where people can show up fully in who they are, how they are. Embracing and accepting all identities are essential to this work. We commit to healing, self-awareness, and service to each other.
Practice Presence and Self Focus:
Do whatever you need to be here, in this present moment, as it is. Focus on how you can integrate this work into your learning for personal development. Pause to check in with thoughts, feelings and body sensations, tuning into self.
Commit to Learning and Growth:
Understand the difference between overwhelm and discomfort. Know that discomfort is the root of all learning and growth. Overwhelm is not. Understand how your feelings and experiences relate to larger systematic issues and push beyond discomfort to expand your thinking.
Center People of Color:
We deliberately take action to acknowledge and center people of color, especially black people, and the diversity that exists within spectrum in our present-day work. Our history is rich with the contributions of people of color and we give reverence to that strength, resilience, and talent without appropriation.
Equity ensures that everyone has access to what they need to reach their full, healthy potential. In a truly equitable society, no one person would be more or less likely to experience social privileges or burdens based on their social identity. To achieve this vision, we actively bring in, fully resource, and value members of our most marginalized communities so that they have the power to make decisions and changes that benefit their needs. For those who benefit from our social structures, it is important to cede power to re-tip the social power scale back into balance. Centering and fully supporting our most marginalized members maintains justice and fairness.
We openly acknowledge the history of oppression in the U.S. and the world and how those events, stories, and experiences are present for people today. We consciously prioritize the leadership of people of color, queer and trans people, people with different body sizes, people living with disabilities, and poor people. In naming and practicing this, we make the invisible visible to maintain awareness and create space for us to collectively heal through reflection, repair and liberation of all people.
Practice the Difference Between Impact and Intent:
Try to understand and acknowledge impact first. Denying the impact of something said or done by focusing on intent is often more destructive than the initial interaction, as this places emphasis on the doer of the statement/action rather than on the person impacted.
We acknowledge that there are multiple and concurrent truths everywhere, all the time. Using the both/and framework, we recognize that all truths can exist, support, and be in conflict with each other in the same space. We deeply acknowledge these truths, especially in our stories. This practice honors multiple realities and does not diminish or negate one’s perspective.
Try it On:
Be open and be willing to “try on” new ideas or ways of doing things that might not be familiar, entirely comfortable, or what you prefer.
We're All Students As Well As Teachers:
We honor each other’s experience, voice, and presence as learning opportunities for us all.
Hold Space for Each Other:
Practice giving skillful feedback in response to statements and actions made by people rather than critiquing or criticizing people themselves. Refraining from blaming and shaming. Holding also means to practice mindful listening. Try to avoid planning what you’ll say as you listen to others. Be willing to be surprised, to learn something new. Listen with your whole self. Practice being curious and listening with your heart connected to the head.
Move Up/Move Up:
Notice your behaviors and the power you have in spaces. Actively practice behaviors that you don’t normally maintain to encourage full participation by all present. For example, take note of who is speaking and who is not. If you tend to speak often, consider “moving up” into listening for other voices. If you tend to listen often, consider “moving up” to speaking while maintaining awareness about privilege, power, and multiple identities in the room.
Ask first and respect their wishes if the answer is no. Ask for consent before speaking about another person’s experience.
USING OUR COMMUNITY AGREEMENTS
What These Community Agreements Mean to Us Collectively?
We are communicating in this way to intentionally to close the gap between expectations and norms amongst staff and more effectively bring us into community with one another. These agreements function as a whole. While one or two might stand out to you more than others, it’s important to remember to view them as parts to a whole. They work together in collaboration with each other to support the end goal of liberation.
How to Engage with Them?
Working with and practicing these new Community Agreements will involve embracing the role of learner. These agreements simultaneously ask us to look at the past, connect to the now, and reimagining the future -- to intentionally look at the toxic systems and to engage in the infinite wellness that exists with us. This can bring up a lot of feelings -- discomfort, excitement, defensiveness, curiosity, fear of making mistakes, and more. Any and all of those feelings are normal and okay. We encourage you to mindfully notice the feelings that come up for you, explore those, and find someone to support you in your journey as you grapple with them.
Because tenderness may arise with these agreements, when presenting these for the first time, it is important to build connection through political education, relationship building and mindfulness. Examples include having staff do pre-work on Implicit bias, inviting staff to practice ‘locating themselves’ socially, doing a wellness check-in prior to engagement, inviting staff to note the tensions they are feeling with supportive staff in the space, etc.
Know that we are in this work together -- we as staff are constantly practicing, making mistakes, and learning together when it comes to this work. There is no expectation to be perfect or to never make mistakes. Rather, we hope we can show up with a willingness to engage in these conversations and to practice new ways of being in order to strengthen our collective community.
Why These Community Agreements? Where Did They Come From?
While Summer Search staff have had specific values and Community Agreements guiding our work together and with students, alumni, and partners in the past, these specific Community Agreements were developed by our National Learning and Development Manager, Josie Santiago and introduced to our organization in fall 2018 for the New Program Staff Workshop. These Community Agreements were adapted from Erica Woodland (licensed therapist, facilitator, and a leader in healing justice) and the East Bay Meditation Center (renowned as a leader in creating inclusive and equitable spaces for diverse meditation communities).
By drawing from individuals and organizations who are well-versed in creating spaces for healing and healthy, diverse communities, we hope to create a foundation for the Summer Search community that is equipped to facilitate meaningful engagement and minimize harm. We use the same language for these agreements across all stakeholders for continuity and clarity, and we are starting the journey to understand how we can each practice these Community Agreements based on our own positions, identities, and relationships with Summer Search.