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Monday, May 29, 2023

Opinion: Powerful Conversations on Race series returns in 2023

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As you approached this new year, maybe you developed a list of resolutions or a vision board, which may include trying something new, stepping outside your comfort zone or simply exploring the world around us with a new set of eyes. Perhaps you’re looking for an opportunity to circle up with others to explore how we can work and grow together as a community. How can we use our voices as a vehicle of transformation and change? If you’re looking for a place to begin taking those first steps or the opportunity to head in a new direction, please join Spirit & Place’s Powerful Conversations on Race series, a monthly community dialogue on race, racism and the resulting impact.

We’ve created a space where community can develop “our chops” for difficult dialogues. We begin 2023 with a four-part viewing and discussion on the docuseries “Exterminate All the Brutes.” These sessions are free and will take place virtually at the following dates and times:

Through the utilization of this docuseries, attendees each month will examine the historical context of white supremacy and whiteness, challenging themselves to think differently about how history has been taught and written. Exploring the root of ideas and themes that are often “talked” about, but seldom given the space to dive into together and unpack as a community.

Attending Powerful Conversations on Race, often referred to as PCR, is open to individuals from all backgrounds — local and beyond. Here are three key points that might help to inspire you to sign up for your first PCR session.

PCR was inspired by the community and continues to grow each year.

Launched in 2017, PCR was truly created from requests and feedback coming from the Indianapolis community. People really responded to the opportunity to come together, using poetry, music and more to create spaces for difficult discussions. However, it changed when COVID-19 occurred.

What was once an in-person dialogue was moved to virtual meetings. One beautiful outcome generated from this transition to a virtual space was the ability to create new opportunities to expand the audience and access to the dialogues. It opened up session participation to include more than those living in the greater Indianapolis area, allowing for individuals from across the country and beyond to pull up a seat and join us. This is especially critical as half of the dialogue really comes from what participants bring to the table. Individuals from different backgrounds have different experiences and perspectives to share.

Dialogues are guided by trained community volunteers.

PCR is a major priority for Spirit & Place and is rooted in a community co-creative process, where we work with our cohort of more than 36 trained community-based facilitators to develop and facilitate each dialogue. Both facilitators and the community have input in the topics that are chosen each month. Facilitators are trained in the Civic Reflection Dialogue methodology and work to guide the conversation to create a space for open dialogue.

Everyone can learn something by participating in PCR.

Talking about race is hard and there are few opportunities for community to come together and dive into these deeper dialogues. Too often we are trapped in debates, shouting matches or simply do not know how to enter these complex spaces.

In a time when “alternative” facts are being pushed and the teaching of hard histories is being challenged in schools, it is important that community spaces create opportunities for these much-needed dialogues. As we know, so many continue to live with the ramifications of these difficult histories. So many still do not really understand how we got here. PCR opens the floor for these dialogues, allowing participants a “brave space” to systematically unpack these histories, learning new information and perspectives and more importantly opportunities for self-reflection.

LaShawnda Crowe Storm is community engagement director for Spirit & Place.

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