Each person has his own safe place – running, painting, swimming, fishing, weaving, gardening. The activity itself is less important than the act of drawing in your own resources. – Barbara Gordon
Recently, I facilitated a virtual workshop on Unconscious Bias. The group came from across the world, in three continents, Asia, Europe and North America.
We emphasised and ensured the virtual workshop was a safe space. A safe space is where people feel physically, psychologically and emotionally secure with others. People can be themselves in safe spaces, knowing that they will not be criticised, punished or isolated.
The thing about safe spaces is that they can become a place for sustained dialogue where it helps to reduce tension, stereotyping and discrimination. People take turns sharing their experiences while others listen empathetically. The act of mutual sharing and listening means people can heal together.
In the real world, safe spaces can help to heal years of conflict. For instance, Mayan women in Guatemala struggled with the effects of the civil war from 1960 to 1996. The legacies of war permeated into society and manifested as the community and domestic violence, exclusion and poverty.
Over multiple intervention sessions, including safe spaces for sharing, Mayan women learned and understood the violence in their community and homes. Most importantly, they learned to accept themselves, and their personal agency and activism grew. Recently, five former paramilitary patrolmen were sentenced to 30 years in prison for the gender-based violence inflicted upon the Mayan women. A victory indeed!
While the virtual workshop only lasted a few hours, the participants left the session glowing with joy. It made me wonder... if safe spaces are so powerful, why aren't more people doing this?
I've begun reflecting on my own safe spaces; perhaps you can reflect along with me.
- Where is my safe space? (My personal safe space is with family and close friends, as well as cooking, yoga, and meditation.)
- Am I creating safe spaces for others? (Yes, especially when it is an important conversation.)
Safe spaces are an act of inclusion. A place where you are welcomed, no matter who you are or what you believe in. The articles shared below focus on inclusion in the virtual world.
May you find your safe space and create them for others,
7 Dec 2021
How To Cultivate Inclusion in Virtual Teams?
Cultivating inclusion in the workplace is hard enough. What happens when your team is remote?
21 Oct 2021
How To Connect Effectively Across Different Cultures Online?
Online, people miss out on rich environmental and non-verbal cues. This makes building relationships challenging. What can be done?
Culturally Cool Stuff
If you've got a site or link about culture, society, psychology, or anything culturally cool, please reply!
- Trevor Noah — Alex Grigg animates the comedian’s ideas on safe spaces, interactive, Alex Grigg, WeTransfer.
- Safe Spaces Explained, article (10 min), Emily Crockett, Vox
- re:Work Fostering Psychological Safety, tool, Google Team
You can check out previously shared culturally cool stuff on our Pinterest if you've missed it.
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