Living Cities has learned that to do racial equity work with authenticity, we have to embrace a new way of working. It has to start with us, at the level of individual staff and project teams. As we set about creating a new network to advance anti-racist practices in local government, we are seeking to intentionally defy the norms set by white supremacy culture through our process. Through this post and a series of related resources, we are sharing the ways we are practicing antidotes to white supremacy culture so that we can continue to learn as we support your capacity to also design work in defiance of white supremacy culture. The first piece in this series can be found here: We’re All in this Together: Ending White Supremacy Culture Starts With Us. The second piece can be found here: Ending White Supremacy Culture: A Resource for Reckoning with History.
The inequitable systems that we live under were designed by people, so it must be through the day-to-day choices and behaviors of people within the systems to change them. For us at Living Cities, this means practicing our anti-racist values. One of these values is working with an abundance mindset and an openness to possibilities. In the first co-design session we hosted with partners who are contributing to the design of the Closing the Gaps Network, we went through a collective process of imagining how resources could be redistributed in the future, and what work we would have to do to be equipped to influence the redistribution strategies. We hope this resource will allow readers to adapt our agenda to enhance your own ability to imagine abundant possibilities, particularly as you design new work or evolve existing work that seeks to close racial gaps in income and wealth. If wealth building is not the focus of your work, you can replace “Reparations Council” with a dream 10-year outcome in your field. We hope this resource will allow you to adapt our agenda to enhance your own ability to imagine abundant possibilities.
Purpose: The purpose of this exercise is to support an abundance mindset for thinking about our work by starting with the future we desire and building the roadmap to get there.
Timing: This agenda is designed to be about 1.5 hours, but can be adjusted based on the number of people and amount of time you have.
Grounding the Conversation: Prior to this imagination workshop, it is important to ground your meeting with a check-in that prepares the group to reflect on their personal and collective histories. We recommend you do this as an exercise for all such conversations. Check out this resource with the check-in we used to ground this exercise.
Start by breaking people into groups of 3-5.
Start with the Future: Invite the participants to imagine that it is 2030. The philanthropic community has decided to pool their $1 trillion of resources to give reparations to Black people in America. Your organization has been invited to join a Reparations Council that will decide how to disburse reparations.
Each group is being asked to write a pitch as part of the process to join the Reparations Council. In your pitch, tell the story of what you’ve done over the past 10 years (2020-2030) to make you eligible to create a reparations plan, as well as the story of what you want to do going forward.
[15 min] Groups develop their pitch
[3 min each] Groups make their pitch to each other about what they have done between 2020-2030 to make them eligible to join a Reparations Council.
What Had Happened Was…: Once pitches have been made, participants come together as a larger group, assuming they are the people who make up the Reparations Council.
[~20 min] Group discussion: Now we’re a council responsible for co-designing a reparations plan. Tell the story of how we learn to leverage our individual and collective power to make the following visions a reality by 2040:
- A reparations plan is implemented
- Our council is considered legendary
- Our council has led to the normalization of deep partnership between communities of color and public sector
- Our council has created leadership opportunities for community members to be active in government decision-making roles
- Our council has sparked regional collaborations that are beginning to disburse reparations locally
Some questions to consider in the creation of this plan include:
- How should we create norms in this council to prepare us for the next 10 years?
- What activities should we do to prepare us for the next 10 years?
- In 2040 once our plan is executed, how will America feel? What will we do with our powers then?
Dreams Become Reality: After you go through this activity together, give people space to process how it applies to their work today. If you knew a Reparations Council would exist in 2030 and you were preparing yourself for having the power to radically redistribute resources, would you change the way you’re working today? How might this exercise inform the ways you can make those changes and lean into the possibilities?
This resource is a template that you can adapt to your organizational needs. We hope that it helps you build your practice of defying white supremacy culture. If it does, or if you want to learn more about anything we’re sharing, let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image by Favianna Rodriguez, from Just Seeds