We were fortunate last Saturday to have Monica Beemer and Nikki Jardin of Sisters Of The Road Café, along with our own Ani Haines, leading a workshop on nonviolence and conflict resolution. Before you hit the close button on your browser, please let me explain why this was more than just a “feel good” training.
The KBOO community includes listeners, and it reaches beyond our listeners because our impact on civic life affects a lot of folks who have never even heard of our station. Besides the listening community and the civic community, we also have a core group of about 500 active volunteers, board and staff at any given time. Part of our work is learning how to build community on the inside so that we can enjoy the work we do and share our growth with others.
Our station serves the disenfranchised. Many people come here with a cause, be it the money, the environment, ethnic or sexual discrimination or just to preserve the memory of their favorite music. Conflict comes up in any organization, but it tends to be more out in the open in a democratic, grassroots organization—particularly one with high levels of diversity and empowerment.
Sometimes it can be difficult, but it can also be rewarding. And we have choices about how we want to function as an organization and a community. The old attitude at the station was, “It’s my first amendment right to say ‘F____ you’!” After many bruising years, we started hearing from volunteers, board and staff, that it would be great to form a safe and caring environment that would support our work and our growth. It doesn’t mean that we have to shut up or not express ourselves; it just means that we need to be nice about it.
Sisters Of The Road has been instrumental in the development of our new approach. Sisters was founded on the principles of Gandhi’s Nonviolence and the Catholic Worker Movements Gentle Personalism (Sisters is not, by the way, a religious organization). After several staff trainings, discussions and community meetings, we have adapted Sisters’ guidelines for use at KBOO. And the training, by the way, did “feel good!”
This week, I’ll post a short overview of the philosophy and cornerstones of our work for positive social change (see below), and in the coming weeks, I’ll share more from our trainings.
Creating a Safe & Caring Community
To foster a safe, healthy and welcoming environment for nurturing creativity, community and opportunities for personal growth.
Building Authentic Relationships: When we’re authentic we listen and share honestly with one another. We set reasonable boundaries and also give each other a chance to change. We share our joys, our fears, our challenges, and the stories that make us who we are. We tell our truths in a way that respects ourselves as well as the other person.
Gentle Personalism: All people are good, and when given the opportunity, we display that goodness. When we treat people as whole, we give each other room to be whole.
Conflict Resolution: We work to resolve all conflicts or at least agree on boundaries that work for both parties. We aim for engagement over avoidance and collaboration over compromise.
Non-violence: We say “no” to any form of violence. This includes shouting, name-calling, belittling, physical attacks, making less of someone based on their gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age or spiritual practice as well as other forms of harassment, abuse and intimidation.. Non-violence asks us to stop verbal or physical violence in a non-violent way, confronting it with love and respect to promote the safety and well-being of all.
Community Support: It is our responsibility to let each other know when we are doing harm to another person or a group of people, and we will provide support when anyone is treated in a hurtful way. This includes learning ways to interrupt violence, learning how to help both parties see how they could de-escalate conflict and providing mediation services. Part of our support is learning how to listen, to understand feelings and address underlying needs. KBOO staff are available help. We give people a chance to change (except in rare occasions of imminent harm), but if people can’t change, they will eventually be asked to leave.
- We always treat others with love and respect…or at least respect!
- It is never OK to humiliate anyone.
- We expect everyone in our community to treat others well.
- We each have a personal responsibility to resolve our conflicts.