COMMUNITY PARTNER SPOTLIGHT: CENTER FOR COUNCIL
Step Up has been working with the non-profit organization Center for Council for over a year to promote communication and enhance well-being. Center for Council has supported staff training that fosters recognition of our shared humanity. It has enabled individuals to give voice to their stories and to strengthen well-being and resilience in themselves and beyond.
Council is a practice that brings people together in a circle to have real conversations. It encourages participants to pause and take a breath, to listen without judgment and to speak authentically. Council values every voice, reinforces respectful communication, and reveals our commonalities and connectedness.
ORGANIZATIONAL WELLNESS PROJECT:
In Spring of 2019, Step Up applied for a grant from the Center for Council’s Organizational Wellness Project designed to bring the process of council to social justice nonprofits in the LA area. Seeking to create more cohesive teams and build inter-office compassion and collaboration through council, Step Up was one of 10 sites selected for the grant starting in July 2019 and has continued to work with the Center for Council to this day. An introduction to council was initially offered in the fall of 2019 for around 23 Step Up staff from a variety of departments. A smaller group then elected to be trained as council facilitators who would envision how to implement council across Step Up. These staff have continued to meet with Center for Council facilitators and have taken steps to share council practice with upper management teams.
COUNCIL DURING THE PANDEMIC:
During recent months, council practice has been adapted to the new virtual environment via Zoom. Step Up staff across Southern California as well as the Southeastern US have been able to attend virtual councils. Council has supported individual team connection during the pandemic as well as larger agency conversations around Race and Racism. This practice has provided a container for sincere reflection as well as a space to listen to the lived experience of others, offering tools and structure for people to have honest conversations that lay the foundation for genuine understanding. Fundamental organizational change cannot be engineered through policies, edicts or imposed on staff through outside experts. Council invites employees to engage in topics deeply, including those that can be challenging like bias, racism, and power differentials.
Center for Council is offering a full slate of pay-what-you-like “Social Connection Councils,” facilitated by veteran Council Trainers, throughout the week — to sign up for these, here is the link. Additionally, “The Bridge” is a six-month distance learning course offering a deep dive into mindfulness and advanced council training for those who have already attended a Council Training workshop — information on that course is here. And Center for Council will resume offering public council workshops (Level 1, 2 and 3) in 2021, full schedule is here.