The Weekly Word – Community Diversity

College students visit L'Arche Boston North
Vanessa Henry, right, with the students from Stonehill College. Back row, from left: Sam MacFarlane, Julia Adams, Michaela Brown, Mackenzie Mayes, and Emily Rowland. Front row: Allison Faraclas and Karyn Cotter.)

“A small circle of limited duration that is intentional about its process will have a deeper, more life-giving impact than a large, ongoing community that is shaped by the norms of conventional culture.”
Parker J. Palmer,A Hidden Wholeness

Last week we were given a short lecture on diversity from our very own Vanessa Henry, our Community Coordinator here at L’Arche Boston North. While most of us are aware of diversity and welcome it, sometimes it can be a bit difficult to fully understand the depth and range of diversity. Diversity is not only skin color, religion, gender, or orientation. It consists of relationship dynamics such as monogamy and polyamory, age, political beliefs, personality types, life experience, education, socioeconomic backgrounds, and as we at L’Arche all know and embrace, disabilities and abilities. This list is small and does not encompass every last diverse quality a person can possess, but it is a good place to start.

What can be addressed in your community?

The Circle of Trust® Touchstones were addressed during our meeting and it was a wonderful experience to learn how to trust and respect those around us. Sometimes we may not be aware that were are hurting somebody by saying or acting in a certain way. Refer to the Touchstones to define how you can honor the integrity of the individual and build relational trust.

During our gathering we discussed “Safe and Brave Space”. The “Safe Space” movement has been a rocky one, to say the least. Here at L’Arche Boston North we are passionate about creating an environment where our community can feel safe and brave. We want our members to be who they are and say what they need. Our activity went like this:

  • Take time to think about each word (Safe, Brave) silently, then look at the materials before you (objects/pictures/pictograms…, or the art supplies to draw something) to select/draw something that relates to Safe for you and something that relates to Brave for you
  • Return to your small group, where each person shares without cross-comment their thoughts or “unpacking” of words “Safe” and “Brave”. Recognize that some may choose to use few or no words – all is invitational
  • Plenary- consider these questions:
    • When do I feel safe? Where do I feel safe? When/where don’t I feel safe?
    • When do I feel brave? Where do I feel brave? When/where don’t I feel brave?

Remember to continue enlightening not only others but yourself as you take the long journey through diversity. It’s a beautiful world we live in and it would be a waste to not embrace it.

Alexis Boyens-Hahn
Monday, September 9th, 2019