Wellness in Our Work

It can be difficult to take care of ourselves while we work towards change. Wellness needs to be reclaimed and as people working to create change we need to understand that our emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being is intrinsically connected to the sustainability of our communities and movements. We must hold spaces for healing, building accountable and authentic relationships, facing conflict and resolution, and transforming ways we work together. We must integrate collective models of wellness into our work cultures so that we can maintain wellness both within and outside our change work.

It is with this in mind that we offer this Wellness Resource Guide as a tool to help mainstream wellness into our movements and our lives.

In addition – take a look at this publicly crowdsourced google doc on various forms of self care practices – from popping bubble wrap to reading resources on dealing with power.

Please support continuing this work with a $10 suggested donation.

Leading for Change

Whether it’s bringing a more social justice lens to your work and activism or whether it’s working with more compassion, empathy, understanding – this type of of thinking requires constant evaluation.  Ensuring that diversity, equity, acceptance, and fairness fosters better culture and communities which in turn creates your organization to be more effective.

What are the roots of your leadership? Is it inclusive enough? Does your leadership team carry the same values? Are you prioritizing creating change in your work as a leader? Are you recognizing different types of leadership? Take a look at “Characteristics of Social Change Leader”, to learn what it looks like to lead while centering social change.

Perhaps you notice at your organization, people are not taking the time to recognize everyone’s different backgrounds and different lived experiences. You find that it affects their team building capabilities. Do they understand how they interact with their communities and how their communities interact with them? This exercise here explores race, ethnicity, spirituality, socio-economic class and ability, and evaluates the feelings and attitudes that are influenced by that identity. Take a look at this handout here: “CULTURAL KNOWLEDGE” and see if you can facilitate this with your team to have them explore their identities in relation to others. 

Power – Who Has It?

The distinctions between authority, power and influence can be unclear. Having clarity on the differences between them can help us understand our working relationships better. How does authority impact how I interact with a co-worker? What does power look like on my team? How does influence play a role in our decision making? Understanding how authority, power and influence inform our interactions strengthens our ability to work well together as a community. It also helps people reclaim power who might never have known they had it. To learn more download, “Who Has the Power?” 

There’s also power in language. Giving people the terminology to speak to the different ways that privilege and power has affected them is another means to empower individuals.Download it here: “People and -Isms Terminology

Facilitation Best Practices

Whether it’s leading a big or small meeting at work or hosting a community forum – developing facilitation skills are important. If you are going to be facilitating conversations to get them into actions, learn ways to navigate people through an agenda to reach goals in the most effective way possible. Remember, there’s a difference in leading a meeting and facilitating one. 

For example – a good facilitator doesn’t feel the need to talk all the time, but allows for group input to be discussed and for it to be charted through appropriately. 

Facilitation is a process that guides discussion but doesn’t always provides the answer – they help the group reach the answer in their own process. You help members explore their opinions and help them reach points that they didn’t know they were even making. Learn more about what it means to be a good facilitator!

What happens when there are different personalties on the team and it becomes hard to navigate? Here is a worksheet to guide instances in Dealing with Challenging Behaviors – 

What is an ally?

LDIR defines an ally as someone who understands the many layers of oppression, can identify positions of privilege that they hold, and actively works to rectify inequity. This includes people who mutually understand and recognize each others’ oppressions and work towards building coalitions in order to address inequity. Download the PDF version of “What is an ally?”

The Safe Schools Coalition’s glossary defines an ally as “a member of a historically more powerful identity group who stands up against bigotry.”

The Anti-Racist Alliance describes a white ally as someone who names racism, recognizes unearned privileges and makes them visible, dismantles internalized dominance and the belief in the racial superiority of self as a white person, interrupts collusion with other whites who seek to maintain their power and privilege, takes personal responsibility, acts intentionally and overtly behaves as a change agent against white domination.

The Gender Education Center defines allies to the transgender, lesbian, bisexual, and gay communities as “people who support us who may or may not be a part of our community. These are people who believe in the human rights of all people. They demonstrate that belief through their presence, actions, acceptance and celebration of diversity among people.”

People who experience some type of oppression also have ways to acknowledge privilege. Anyone can become an ally. Being an ally is not just for straight, rich, gender-normative, white, Christian, able-bodied men. It is for anyone who has any kind of privilege and understands that individuals and/or collectives can challenge systems of oppression that are used against other human beings.

Only allies can challenge oppression from a place of privilege; only people who are targets of oppression can do the work of resisting and challenging it from that place. Although they are not the same, both are vital.

Becoming an ally can be difficult. It’s more than just calling yourself an ally; it is an on-going process and life commitment. The following four practices help describe this process. Choosing to be an ally is a responsibility to honestly engage in these four ways; each one is closely connected to the others.

1. Self-Awareness

  • Awareness of self as well as issues of oppression, and how these two are interconnected.
  • Noting your assumptions and asking how these assumptions formed.
  • Examining the personal characteristics and perspectives that make allyship easy or difficult.
  • Finding ways to self-reflect without requiring oppressed people to do the extra work of providing education.

2. Self-Education

  • Many types of oppression have been documented or written about extensively by the people who experienced them. Accessing these resources will provide the foundation of your allyship.
  • Familiarize yourself with the issues and histories of oppressed groups according to those groups and how these issues and histories relate to your own.

3. Creating an Open and Supportive Environment

  • Acknowledge, appreciate, and celebrate differences among individuals and within groups.
  • Encourage and promote an atmosphere of respect and trust – speak openly about the challenges and opportunities that differences between people can bring.
  • Be open to criticism of yourself, organization, workplace, family, etc. And actively create safe space for them.
  • Listen carefully and thoughtfully.
  • Taking it upon yourself to figure out what you can do to move things forward, instead of expecting marginalized people to take the lead.
  • Practice and be gentle on yourself. Make mistakes and learn. Then practice all over again.
  • Do not speak or do things for someone or instead of them. You are not a placeholder, speak from yourself.

4. Action

  • Once you start becoming an ally, help support others to become allies
  • Share knowledge – work with other privileged people to help them understand your framework.
  • Build partnerships with other privileged people and develop plans that promote cultural and structural change.
  • Stand up in everyday ways.

***Portions adapted from Metro State LGBT Ally Training Program, the University of Utah LGBT Campus Resource Center, and Santa Clara University