SAGE BLOG

May 6, 2013   Posted by: sagepage

Tools for Community Care Within Organizational Culture

Tools for Community Care Within Organizational Culture

by Stacy Erenberg

For the past year and a half I have been doing workshops around self and community care within various community organizations. Some of them are social services, some of them are grassroots organizing groups of various sizes and political affiliations, all are groups that are working to make social change, all with practitioners who are exhausted and working through levels of burnout and are asking themselves the questions, “After taking care of myself how do we take care of each other, what does community care look like? How do we lift up community care and self care and still have community accountability?”

For a long time I was struggling with the answer to that question myself. I never assume to know all the answers and am constantly humbled at how much I learn from the participants in our workshops. It was hard for me to accept my position as a person who has had enough experience doing healing justice work that I just might have some concrete examples/suggestions of how to do the work.

I would do these pop-ed style workshops and always get asked the same questions I mentioned above. I was waiting for some magic answer, some magic equation tool or pedagogy that would give me the answers to all those questions. It wasn’t until last year at a healing retreat that I facilitated in Michigan with three organizers from Chicago that I realized we do have a lot of tools right in front of our noses and that many brilliant organizations, organizers, groups and individuals are employing these revolutionary ideas, practices, space and love into their organizations all the time.

Therefore I created a list (see below) of some of these concepts and tools. It’s not a static list. The list is meant to be challenged and expanded. Some of the items on this list are tools that we use internally at Sage and some of them are tools that I have heard from folks from the workshops I have facilitated over the years that seem to be successful.

They are all related to this idea of  healing justice, which is a practice that aims to collectively respond to and intervene on the impact of violence and oppression and how it manifests itself in our minds, bodies and our spirits. We can bring these healing justice community care tools into our organizations and movement work. Here is what some of that change might look like.

  • Lovingly challenging each other in collective spaces

  • Creating safe space via anti-oppression work, consensus decision making, having a grievance policy

  • Doing political education with staff and members

  • Creating organizing principles at the beginning of projects

  • Getting trained in peace circles and ethical communication

  • Having mutual accountability agreements and ways to hold each other accountable in loving ways

  • Interrupting racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, classism, transphobia and all other forms of oppression

  • Using Peace notes and peace circles as a tool for healing

  • Offering comp time and sabbaticals to employees

  • Offering child care for staff and members of your orgs.

  • Offering or doing group yoga

  • Offering group packages for acupuncture and bodywork clinic

  • Offering health care or self care packages/monies which include access to mental health services

  • Periodic group healing sessions

  • Long check-ins where staff can put themselves on the agenda when need be

  • Intentional conversations about healing from internalized oppression — recognizing it exists and naming it as trauma that affects our work

  • Integrating healing justice into the curriculum for leadership development

  • Adding a self care line item to your budget, even if it’s really small in the beginning

Each group can create what collective healing looks like for them. A lot of these things people are inherently doing all the time. These are not these prescribed, movement, jargony terms. They are just ideas and practices from people who are currently entrenched in the system that doesn’t facilitate collective healing. These are ideas I have seen and actually experienced first hand that totally facilitated collective healing, and it’s been really beautiful. I look forward to learning and sharing more tools.

What tools have you and your organization developed to promote self care and community care? Share your thoughts and ideas with us! Email us at sagecommunityhealth@gmail.com!

Stacy Rene Erenberg is a community organizer, activist healer and socially conscious musician. For the past 12 years Stacy has worked with youth and other change makers fighting for equal education, ending gender violence, immigration reform and racial justice. Through her diverse experience working with all walks of life, she has gained skills as a facilitator, participatory action researcher, youth worker, popular education facilitator, advocate and cultural worker. Stacy was born and raised on the North east side of Chicago. She dedicates her life to justice through organizing, healing arts and music.Currently, she is the co-founder and practitioner at Sage Community Health Collective. Through her work at Sage, Stacy is committed to providing affordable, harm reductionist and preventative healthcare and access to healing practices for all.Stacy’s healing practice is a mixture of Tui Na, which is Chinese Massage that includes stretching, pulling, and acupressure, Shiatsu Meridian Therapy and Reiki. Stacy is a Reiki Level II practitioner and a certified Asian Body Therapist. Stacy believes that the way people move and the chronic pain they suffer from often is a result of a collection of traumas that the body has experienced over a lifetime. Therefore, her approach to healing the body and the entire being is to incorporate energy work into her practice to address the emotional and energetic healing of her patients. Each bodywork treatment Stacy gives is unique to that particular person and their own story and needs. Because of her deep conviction that the “personal is political “and that our individual healing process is deeply connected to the collective struggle; she specializes in providing healing services to community activists, organizers, social workers and teachers who are on the front lines of fighting for a more just world.At Sage aside from being a practitioner, she is the Outreach Coordinator and Internal Development Coordinator. She facilitates regional and national healing justice movement building for Sage and works with the other Sage members to address and heal their own internalized oppressions.In her free time Stacy likes to sing and write songs, practice the guitar, do crossword puzzles, and read historical novels and memoirs. She also enjoys hanging with friends and family, decompressing with her partner by watching bad T.V, laughing out loud and dancing it out on a regular basis.All of these things, she says, “nourish my spirit and help me feel whole.”

For information on her upcoming performances and work outside of Sage, visit www.stacyrene.com

 

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