At Gould Farm, fostering an inclusive and anti-oppressive culture is a priority of the organization. In the spirit of continuing our journey toward this goal, we recently organized a community-wide event called "Queering the Community." Drawing inspiration from the work of DEI consultant and psychologist, Dr. Nathalie Edmond, who previously led our anti-racism training, we gathered as staff and guests to explore and discuss the nuances of queerness, diversity, and inclusion within our community.
Building a Foundation
The event kicked off with a training video provided by Dr. Nathalie Edmond, which delved into the essential concepts of "Queer 101." This laid the groundwork for the discussions to come. Just as we had done with anti-racism training, we aimed to create a safe and respectful space where everyone could engage in open dialogue. Our purpose was clear: to learn, to challenge our assumptions, and to discover actionable ways to embrace the principles of queerness and anti-oppression.
The Dialogue Unfolds
Following the training video, participants broke out into smaller discussion groups, each facilitated by a member of our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee. Equipped with a talking object and a shared commitment to respectful discourse, each group engaged in 45 minutes of exploration and conversation.
Three Rounds of Conversation
The dialogue within each group was structured into three rounds, each lasting around 10 minutes:
Round One: Sharing Insights
In this round, participants introduced themselves and shared what they had learned or what resonated with them from the training. This initial step set the tone for a collaborative and introspective conversation.
Round Two: Exploring Harmful Assumptions
Participants examined the ways in which harm can be inadvertently caused by acting on assumptions. This round encouraged honest self-reflection and consideration of our behaviors and attitudes.
Round Three: Imagining a Queer Community
The final round invited participants to discuss concrete ideas and practices that could "queer" our community—disrupting binary norms, promoting anti-oppression, fostering co-conspirator relationships, and embracing accountability. The top ideas from each group were noted for future consideration.
Sharing and Learning
As the dialogue in each group wrapped up, it was time to come together and share the key takeaways. Each group reported back to the larger gathering, highlighting their top three ideas for queering the community. This process not only facilitated the cross-pollination of ideas but also showcased the collective commitment to transformation.
Conversation Café Agreements
Throughout the event, participants adhered to Conversation Café agreements, fostering an atmosphere of respect, understanding, and openness:
Suspend judgment as best you can.
Respect one another.
Seek to understand rather than persuade.
Invite and honor diverse opinions.
Speak from the heart and with meaning.
Prioritize honesty and depth in dialogue.
Action and Change
As the event drew to a close, it was evident that these discussions were just the beginning. The ideas generated and insights shared would serve as a foundation for future action items and commitments. The journey toward creating a truly queer, inclusive, and anti-oppressive community at Gould Farm was well underway.
The event provided practical steps to "queer" the community:
Normalizing introductions with pronouns.
Learning and using others' pronouns respectfully.
Cultivating safe spaces for sharing stories and learning.
Celebrating differences and checking assumptions.
Encouraging curiosity and embracing discomfort.
Correcting misgendering and celebrating growth.
Exploring concepts through the Gender Unicorn model.
Planning more training and accessible book groups.
Implementing Restorative Justice for addressing harm.
Infusing queerness into our cultural expressions.
Anchoring all actions in love and respect.
A More Inclusive Community
"Queering the Community" was a hopeful step toward fostering a Gould Farm that embraces diversity, challenges assumptions, and works toward an anti-oppressive future through open dialogue and intentional action!