Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Some Thoughts From 2007 Summer Workshop On Quakers and Class

I was going through my email and found these things that came from the summer 2007 FGC Gathering workshop on Quakers and Social Class with George Lakey. At the very end of the week we shared on our thoughts about promoting class diversity in our Meetings and questions we may need to ask ourselves about our class diversity.

The workshop participants agreed that these things could be shared. And here I offer them in their rawness (and I use that word because that's what this list feels to me, raw, like a newborn, like a seed burst open ready to sprout).


This is the thinking of the workshop on Social Class and Quakers held at FGC Gathering, 2007.

-Welcome diversity of foods at events
-Get your Meeting to identify its own culture in specific terms
-Support leadership and the risks leaders must take to support growth and change in the Society of Friends
-Bring class awareness to problem-solving
-Ensure that transportation, childcare, and location of Meetinghouse are accessible to working class and poor people
-Accept the likelihood that we are clueless regarding how middle class and owning class Friends come across, and make a decision to become aware and curious, including curious about how life looks to working class and poor people
-Invite emotion at appropriate times, being aware that suppressing emotion is often (usually?) a class characteristic and an imposition of class-based conditioning on the group
-Support plain speaking, an old Quaker practice that has lately been trumped by middle class niceness/politeness
-Bring to worship our need to heal from our woundedness from class society
-Be aware of the role of entitlement when some Friends speak frequently and at length, filling the space that might be left open to Friends from working class backgrounds.


This is the thinking of the workshop on Social Class and Quakers held at FGC Gathering, 2007.

-How can we welcome all classes to our Meetings?
-How can we become more aware of our own class backgrounds, with the assumptions that we take for granted?
-What's the culture of our Meeting, in specific terms?
-How can we increase the safety of the cultural mainstream of our Meeting and the margins as well, and put them in dialogue with each other?
-How did emotions get sorted into "positive emotions to express" and "negative emotions to express" in Meeting for Worship? What could we learn from taking a fresh look at that?
-How can we appreciate and embrace conflict and its gifts, including the bluntness and anger that often come with conflict?


Robin M. said...

I have read this several times, and it always seems like the advice should be so obvious. But I know that it's not obvious to many people, and that it's apparently not happening in many places. Thanks, Jeanne, for setting it out so clearly and gently.

I'd like to share this with others in my meeting. I think we are already working on many of these things, but it's good to have a list like this to focus the conversation.

Jeanne said...

I would say you're welcome, but I had nothing to do with the wording of this document. I only share it with the world.

It was created by a mostly white and middle/owning class group of people (there were a small handful of poor/working class people, but they were far outnumbered).

I posted it, in part, because I figured it would be more easily digested because the creators were more strongly middle and owning class.