Cultural Belonging and (Re)Connection Series Takeaways and Updates
Dear GrubStreet Community,
Thank you to everyone who participated in the first installment of our Cultural Belonging and (Re)Connection Series this past November 2022.
Around 100 community members, including staff, board, instructors, students, members, and more, came together to have invaluable conversations around what belonging should look, feel, and sound like at GrubStreet.
We’re writing now to share a few key takeaways from the sessions and our next steps for this work moving forward.
In our invitation to attend the Cultural Belonging series, one of the desired outcomes we articulated was to create a statement of belonging for GrubStreet. The statement’s purpose is to outline how we as community members show up in our classes, events, and meetings. By creating a clear, succinct statement of belonging, we seek to create a common understanding of what community members can expect from one another and how to address behaviors and moments that do not meet our shared understanding.
While working on the statement we realized, just like working on a piece of writing, the revision process is always more time consuming than we anticipated. We plan to share this statement early this year.
Key Takeaways from the Virtual & In-Person Sessions
Both the virtual and in-person events included organizational updates from GrubStreet senior leadership, small breakout group conversations about belonging facilitated by instructors, a large group shareback led by Beyond Binaries, a musical performance, and a look forward to 2023.
Conversation prompts were emailed out in advance of the series to registered attendees. These prompts asked about individual experiences at GrubStreet as well as about belonging at GrubStreet.
We are deeply grateful for the insights that attendees shared with us. Overall, one of our most important takeaways is that we have a wide ranging and diverse community, full of individuals who are committed to helping create a true sense of belonging at GrubStreet. Some additional key takeaways from the conversations and follow-up surveys:
- Community members have experienced a full range of emotions during their time at GrubStreet, ranging from feeling curious, uncomfortable, proud, discouraged, seen, “like you belong,” and more.
- Many community members named interactions in the classroom between students as well as between students and instructors as key moments that they felt uncomfortable or discouraged.
- Participants recommended improving course structure (e.g. the diversity in (writer) backgrounds; perspectives and approaches within a syllabus) and classroom management (e.g. instructors facilitating shared air time, addressing problematic comments in the moment, and exhibiting curiosity to understand a student’s work) as moments that can contribute to a deeper sense of belonging.
- Our community often finds that acknowledging uncomfortable moments or difficult interactions as allies and moving forward together can lead to deeper connection and sense of belonging.
- Many community members expressed their excitement to do this work together. We hope more of our community is inspired to join us for future conversations, and we look forward to what’s next.
In addition, participants shared many suggestions about ways to increase a sense of belonging within GrubStreet, including:
- Continued mandatory instructor training around creating representative reading lists and facilitating classroom spaces that encourage curiosity and engagement.
- Orientation and training for students around how to contribute to an inclusive and equitable classroom space, the policies and systems in place to support them if a situation arises, and how their feedback about classes is utilized.
- More opportunities for connection and involvement.
Next Steps for 2023
As we look to 2023, we are planning to integrate our cultural belonging work into our programs and events, which we know will ultimately be more meaningful and sustainable over the long term. We plan to share these initiatives with the statement of belonging.
We look forward to continuing this important work together. Please feel free to reach out with questions, comments, or feedback.
If you would like to read the organizational updates shared at the November 2022 Series, click here.