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s.t.a.r.t Leaders Present for Creating Resolution

June 20, 2013

s.t.a.r.t Leaders Present for Creating Resolution

s.t.a.r.t. Leaders Elek Harris-Szabo, Kyra Hood and Loren Towle presented the history of s.t.a.r.t. and s.t.a.r.t.’s philosophy to adults new to the race dialogue in a workshop entitled “Courageous Conversations for Nice Minnesotans.”  The workshop was hosted by Tom Esch, President of the consulting group Creating Resolution, whom the students met at the Macalester College Social Innovation Lab, “From Conversation to Transformation.” Tom’s company supports people in having conversations that result in resolution and a stronger bottom line. Tom’s master thesis for his masters in Conflict and Organizational Change was on the topic of “Rank Awareness and Conflict in the Workplace.”

During the workshop, Tom shared with participants 12 tools for courageous conversations with anyone about almost anything:

1) Know thyself;
2) Address the conflict inside of you;
3) Be clear about your intent;
4) Grow your emotional intelligence (EI);
5) Know your hot buttons and those of your dialogue partner(s);
6) Break through the false choices of silence or violence;
7) Know your own signals and double-signals (for ex., if you’re trying to be open but cross your arms across your chest);
8) Be knowledgeable about your rank and rank in general;
9) Slow down and take a break;
10) Say “ouch” or a cultural equivalent when there is wounding in the dialogue;
11) Step out of the conversation and return if you need to; and
12) Practice the art of apology and forgiveness.

The students detailed their efforts to influence constructive activism with their peers and school community. Kyra shared how when members of the group spoke of African Americans, they often glanced at her for her reaction. She wanted the group to know that she has Mexican, Irish and Norwegian blood in addition to her African American heritage. One of her “hot buttons” is when people tell her she doesn’t have a right to be Mexican! Elek talked about s.t.a.r.t.’s community work including the workshop that he and Loren co-presented on “The U.S. Student’s Colonized Mind” for the Overcoming Racism Conference. and our annual participation in the YWCA’s Annual Time to Talk Dialogue about Race. Loren described how our school is still segregated, but how s.t.a.r.t. allows students of all different backgrounds to come together, be themselves and work it out.  Following their stories, all workshop participants talked together about the challenges of the race dialogue, including such hot topics as reverse discrimination, the fine line between cultural conflict and personal conflict, and how inherently racist we are just living in America.   We also discussed the impact of our body language, tonality and rank (social, contextual, psychological and spiritual) on all our discussions.

This is just the *s.t.a.r.t.* of a budding collaboration with Creating Resolution. Following the workshop, Tom wrote to the students that “they added so much, and the written feedback indicated that the group learned as much from them as me…(maybe more!!).” “You South students ROCK,” Tom added. He also shared with them a message he posted on LinkedIn: “Had an amazing conversation today on race at the YWCA in Mpls at the “Courageous Conversations for Nice Minnesotans” training. It was led by some students from South Mpls, from S.T.A.R.T. who are doing some really bold and beautiful work helping people learn to communicate with others from different cultures.”

In turn, Elek, Kyra and Loren were greatly inspired by the opportunity to share their stories with adults who are moving beyond their comfort zones to talk about race!

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