Collective Visioning Exercise 2

Published on June 22, 2020.

Dear Friends,

Below please find Collective Visioning Exercise 2 from my book Collective Visioning: How Groups Can Work Together for a Just and Sustainable Future.  I have updated the exercises to make them friendlier for online use.  I will be sharing them over the course of the next weeks.

If you would like to receive a free copy of my book Collective Visioning, email Spirit in Action with your full name and postal address and we will send one to you, one per person or organization, while supplies last.  We are only able to send them to addresses in the United States.  Thank you.

Peace, Power and Love

Linda Stout

Collective Visioning Tip

How do we get the conversation about racism, or any “ism,” started?

When we identify, acknowledge, and honor our differences, we gain a deeper understanding of each other and building trust and community. Try using Zoom, Skype or Google Hangout to speak with folks about the world we want to live in and how we hold elected officials – and each other – accountable to that vision.

I have used this exercise in many gatherings and feel it is a powerful way for people to be acknowledged in both their differences and commonalities. But most of all, it is another way to build trust and community.

This exercise can take a half hour to one hour, depending on how large your group is, how much people contribute, and how much time you need for debriefing. You can keep the debriefing short, and say you’re taking one more suggestion if you need to end by a certain time.

Collective Visioning: Exercise 2

Stepping into the Circle: Celebrating Our Differences

Start by calling out specific ethnic, race, class, and cultural identities. Ask participants to raise their hand if they believe they fit the identity called out – online you may also have participants use the chat feature, for example, to step into the circle.  Celebrate them! This can be done silently, by just looking each other in the eyes and nodding, or more dynamically by having people say, “We honor you.”

Let everyone know that people don’t have to self-identify unless they want to.

Say things like “Raise your hand if (or type in chat if)

  • You grew up poor.”
  • You are over sixty-five.”
  • You are under twenty.”
  • You are gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender/queer/intersex/asexual.”
  • Your family came to this country against their will” (for example, as enslaved people or refugees).
  • You are of African descent” (Asian descent, European descent, and so on).
  • You are an immigrant or a member of your family’s first generation in this country.”
  • You have a disability.”

Name identities you want people to notice. For example, say, “Raise your hand if you are Native American,” and point out if no one does. This is an important way to honor those voices not present, especially if they are part of your community and should be there.

After naming a few of these identities, ask for suggestions from the group. People often name identities they have in common or one you might have missed. For instance, they may ask people to raise their hand if they are a parent or grandparent, love dogs, love to dance, etc.

I personally like to add, “Raise your hand if you don’t have a college education,” and am very often the only one, or one of two, in the room when it’s a group of activists. It’s important for me to do that because I tend to feel bad about myself when people assume that everyone in the room has a college degree. This way I take power in who I am, rather than secretly harboring shame. It also supports others who might have the same feelings, especially when the leader steps in with them.

End the exercise with a debriefing and a chance for people to express any feelings that come up. Ask, “How did that feel for you?” You can ask people to do this in breakout rooms or, if time permits, among the whole group. It’s important to ask the question because the exercise can bring up heavy feelings for some people.

Read more about identity, loss and re-establishing connection in my blog, “Creating a Different Future: Changing the world through community.” You can find more detailed information and exercises for working together for a just and sustainable future in my book, Collective Visioning.

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