Passing the Talking Piece: Building Foundation for Our EDI Work 

By Staff & Board Participants, April 30, 2021 

Beginning this year, as part of our commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI), members of the PNA staff and board have worked with Huayruro. This group guides organizations in transforming communication and understanding at individual and collective levels.

Huayruro is teaching us how to build equity into our foundation by creating new decision-making communication patterns. It’s difficult to not sound vague because this process takes time and reveals itself through practice. For change to last, it cannot be rushed. Our foundation will be built from honest reflection and true accountability.

Our bi-weekly Peacemaking Circles are building internal capacity to hold necessary conversations. This creates a transformational space for engaging dialogues on everything from power structures to organizational inequities. Participants, some who have known each other for years and some for only a few months, are creating a unique experience for our organization.

The circle process works through four quadrants: 1) Introductions, 2) Building understanding and trust, 3) Arriving at issues, and 4) Seeking solutions.  Too often, people or organizations move right from 1 to 3 without a relationship of trust, potentially exacerbating the issue at hand.

Sitting in circle is creating a space for participants to be bold. Participants show up fully, unedited, and genuine. We take turns responding to a prompt question before passing on the Talking Piece to the next person. This structure compels authentic sharing and the oft-underutilized practice of listening–forging the essential communication element of trust.

Difficult conversations are had, risks are taken, tears fall, and we are learning. Contributing perspective and listening as the Talking Piece is passed to others, we gain more perspectives on a topic. When we approach EDI issues, these multiple perspectives will be essential in change that serves all in our community.

It was difficult at the onset to envision what we would accomplish through this work as an organization. The twelve sessions are not yet complete but outcomes are becoming more evident. Participants have difficult conversations while building strong relationships. This is the foundation of equity, diversity, and inclusion work. We are primed to make real, meaningful, and impactful changes to PNA structures and culture.

 

graph of peacemaking circle process as described in paragraph 4