This past week and a half some from Schoharie County (rural Agricultural basin outside of/on the edge of the Capital Region of Upstate NY) sought to organize a protest. Here, like elsewhere, not helped by the media nor our current leadership, people are having a hard time distinguishing between protest and riot. As news got out, the immediate response of some was to threaten violence (there were talks of guns, ammo, and sniper positions that people would be posted to "protect themselves")... This was unsettling and very discouraging. The initial plan was cancelled and some of us tried to re-group to make the gathering still happen. Law enforcement were involved with helping plan (some were not happy about that), the location chosen did not make some happy (rural, not in any of the villages), and yet the event still went on.... I was one who was working to find a location and was denied by many potential locations. I had a community leader seriously tell me that "there is no racism in Schoharie County" with the "we have no need for that here." This of course, is surprising as more and more Confederate flags are flown throughout the county, let alone the stories I have and continue to hear from the very very minority people of color in the county. Anyway, the gathering happened. We had asked a well known musician to sing a song and he opted not to. He did give a prayer of lament though, and it was powerful. After the gathering, he made this and I offer it to you as inspirational!
I do believe that acknowledging and recognizing grief is very important work right now. Here is a workshop I helped facilitate with Albany Synod folks that tried to help others acknowledge the layers of grief we are experiencing in all of the changes and losses across roles, systems, and intrapsychically... https://drive.google.com/file/d/1kVapbawiXmX0jS7_QWRc8vdNas0g_b3q/view?usp=sharing Here are the handouts that went with it, edited with things participants added: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1GAoREasH8DQ0JcJqQMVHHB9PNMQ7FjlN/view?usp=sharing And here is a summary of All Our Griefs, All Our Losses mentioned during it: https://drive.google.com/file/d/12jeKGMBg8vQe-DuprvoFSGlbqXFn7bQ1/view?usp=sharing I also pointed folks to some great podcasts, including the Unlocking Us (Brenebrown.com) podcast with David Kessler: https://brenebrown.com/podcast/david-kessler-and-brene-on-grief-and-finding-meaning/ And Dr. Carol Bechtel's brief and powerful video about writing a lament: https://vimeo.com/414825525 I noted the Gottman Institute has a course on grief for kids that is discounted right now. I want to do that, but have not yet. What are you finding helpful?
The article, "The Psychology Behind Effective Crisis Leadership" discusses the need for Holding Environments, especially in times of uncertainty. I found this particularly helpful in thinking about some of the aspects of communicating plans for re-gathering. https://hbr.org/2020/04/the-psychology-behind-effective-crisis-leadership Holding "describes the way another person, often an authority figure, contains and interprets what’s happening in times of uncertainty. Containing refers to the ability to soothe distress and interpreting to the ability to help others make sense of a confusing predicament."
"To face difficult circumstances, master new conditions, and develop in the process, we need holding from leaders and organizations. And we need to hold each other."
The author provides prompts that can help you shape the holding of your organization. I've summarized them here:
1. What information can you share? What practical and detailed pictures of the future can you provide? What are the key priorities?
2. What rumours can you dispel?
3. Encourage and protect people's participation in the discussion and include "interpersonal holding" by creating space for people to express their feelings and their wonderings (such as using our container conversation techniques). "It is tempting to resort to command and control in a crisis, but it is leaders who hold instead that help us work through it."