“In an ideal world, we would ask for 100% of what we want, 100% of the time, listen to what others want, and negotiate to agreement.”
– Finding Your Voice, Nancy Shanteau
At Thursday’s goal-setting workshop, the first in a series for the Network’s Direct Democracy pilot, we exercised a strategy-building practice centered on asking for 100% of what we want in a Brigade or on a project team. If, like me, your head starts swimming with thoughts of all the things! you want as a Network community member – don’t worry, the exercise limited each of us to one idea. But, just one idea is more than enough to get me started.
For the exercise, I chose radical inclusivity as my 100% – if we’re talking ideals, if we’re pushing 100, my top priority is fostering a radical level of inclusivity in every space I share. And as necessary as it is for me to center this as my starting point in all the things!, it’s much easier for me to say than do. I have limits; those limits will naturally exclude the needs of another at some point.
The very concept of inclusivity (and if it’s not a radical kind, is it any kind of inclusivity at all?) often seems like it’s asking us to circle each other’s needs in a never-ending chain of “Yes, and…” with an overabundance of caution. It can certainly play out like that.
In reality, radical inclusivity becomes a practice of saying “No.” to one another clearly and fearlessly.
The trouble with trauma is that it’s predictably unpredictable; what activates a trauma response can change daily, a mystery solved only through hindsight sleuthery. Clear connections between what happened and what… happened are always easy to make after-the-fact. But, recovery from trauma easily resists plans built on moments already past.
Trauma can manifest into a kind of rejection sensitivity, which responds to saying or hearing “No.” as a threat of something worse to come, or as itself a kind of unfair indictment of mine or another’s character. The act of exchanging even one “No.” to get to a mutual “Yes.” requires a calculated effort to make it through a gauntlet of internalized trauma responses.
I don’t often make it out the other side of that gauntlet gracefully. It’s hard to be clear – it’s hard to be fearless – in moments like that. Practicing saying “No.” isn’t simple in a highly motivated, action-oriented community like ours either! We say “Yes.” to a lot around here! Offering a “No.” can feel like an unwelcome disruption to all that yes-powered energy.
How safe do we feel finding our own voice when we want to say, “No.”? How can we create a sense of safety for someone else finding their voice when they want to say, “No.”?
We’re developing a Code of Care together as a Network; we’ve started with this community care (co)pilot to increase awareness and strengthen trauma-informed skills within our community. Co-practices in this pilot invite individuals and small groups to join me, a peer support specialist, for a conversation around how we define care and harm for ourselves and navigate those experiences with others.
Sign up today to join me in a co-practice!
And keep an eye out for the Direct Democracy pilot’s meeting schedule, it’ll be published soon. You can contact Sierra Ramírez on Slack or through email (Sierra.firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information and training about how to apply direct democracy practices in your Brigade or project team. Brigade leaders can also sign up for strategic consultations – learn more here.