by Lara Struckman
As we cross the threshold into summer we are marking both the change of seasons and a chance to check in with how Common Ground has evolved since summer of last year and where there is still much room to grow in terms of racial equity and diversity.
As many of you may know, last month Common Ground held its first racial reflection circle in order to both continue and start the conversation around race. Inspired by Juneteenth, we reflected on where the community is in terms of its racial awareness after a year of collective, national, and individual reckonings with the way race impacts our lives. The circle was facilitated by two newer members of the community- Jess Cudney and Lara Struckman as well as long time member Amy Halberstadt. We had a full circle of folks joining which demonstrated how needed and welcome this conversation was to the community.
We began the evening with a scrumptious potluck to get the conversation flowing and to hopefully dispel some tension that may have been present for folks walking into perhaps their first conversation about race. Once the “light sprinkles” subsided and a lopsided circle was formed under the barn around a beautiful centerpiece from Jane with flowers and a beeswax candle representing corn. Jess began by guiding us through a soft centering practice to get us grounded into our seats and to begin to settle into the process that would unfold. She followed up with a land acknowledgement of the Native Peoples who steward the land on which Common Ground resides- namely the tribes of the Occenechi, Shakori, Eno, and neighboring Lumbee.
With some setting of the context as to why we gathered and what the expected flow of the evening would be we dove into conversation in small groups about both the challenges and stuck places in our race journeys as well as commitments we have made and upheld to further our anti-racism practice.
After reflecting on the past we shifted into visioning work and brainstormed ideas that answer the following questions:
- As a member of Common Ground, what is important to you when it comes to antiracism/racial equity work?
- What skills/knowledge/experiences do you want to learn or acquire?
- What next steps would you like to see within the community?
Feel free to reflect on these questions and view the responses other community members generated at the event in the “Learning from Poster Sheets” tab that Amy compiled. In this way we can continue to hold ourselves and the CG community accountable for moving towards these ends.
Lastly, we ended the circle by making commitments to ourselves wherever we are in this work to continue, whether that was through having tough conversations with friends and family, joining the racial awareness book club, or cultivating a sense of openness to other perspectives and voices different than our own. We sealed these intentions with the lighting of candles from a central flame provided by Jane Meadows reminding us of the unity and strength that comes from collective commitment to a just cause- something we are no stranger to here at Common Ground.
The event was warmly received and there was much rich dialogue during and following the event. Our hope is that this conversation continues both within Common Ground and in all of our lives as we embark maybe for the first or the hundredth time on our lifelong journey of anti-racism work and continually walk towards our mission of living in justice and harmony with each other and the land. If you have interest in helping facilitate more conversation, action, or celebration around racial equity and diversity feel free to reach out to Amy, Jess or Lara.