I’m the Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Campbell Hall Episcopal in Studio City, California and I believe in the power of stories….
I first learned about SEED through a workshop they offered at People of Color Conference (PoCC). For years I went to PoCC and always learned a great deal, but my encounter with SEED was life-changing. After a 75-minute experience that included writing my own gender poem and having a “windows and mirrors” conversation about artwork with a group of total strangers, I was hooked. It took some convincing, but my school sent me to New Leaders Week to deepen our diversity programming. I attended in 2012 in California and I’ve been leading SEED seminars ever since.
SEED seminars are some of the most powerful and meaningful places to build connections with colleagues, engage in community soul-searching, and deepen our understanding of what living our ideals around diversity and inclusion really means. I think one thing that makes SEED so powerful is the mix of “scholarship of the selves” and “scholarship of the shelves.” All of us house important stories that help us understand and relate to the world, and in sharing these with others we find common ground where we thought there was none, and discover important differences where we may have assumed uniformity. Through scholarship of the shelves we can draw upon the wisdom of many different sources, including those not in the room. In turn, scholarship of the selves allows each person to claim agency, expertise and authorship of their personal narrative, something usually denied to those outside the “traditionally recognized” systems of power in our society. Both forms of scholarship can disrupt the human preference for gazing exclusively into a hall of mirrors or listening only to the echo of our own voices and challenges us to see that the unfamiliar experiences of others are indeed connected and related to our own.
The transformational power of SEED has been evident in every group I have ever facilitated. Whether it was faculty SEED, administrative SEED, parent SEED, or even a 12th grade elective history class that operated according to SEED principles and followed SEED protocols, the reaction was the same. Participants wanted to know, “Why aren’t conversations like this happening everywhere? Imagine the world we could create if people just learned to talk and listen to each other?” Other times people remarked, “I’ve never explored my thoughts on this topic because no one has ever asked me.” In a SEED circle, members are able to delve deeply into their beliefs, memories, and experiences while being held, supported, and seen. It’s in SEED that we discover the truth of author Barry Lopez’s words, “Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive. That is why we put stories in each other’s memory. This is how people care for themselves.”