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Featured D&D Story: Facilitating Dialogue Circles at the Mixed Remixed Festival

Today we’re pleased to be featuring another example of dialogue and deliberation in action. This mini case study was submitted by Angelo John Lewis of Dialogue Circles via NCDD’s Dialogue Storytelling Tool. Do you have a dialogue story that our network could learn from? Add your dialogue story today!


ShareYourStory-sidebarimageTitle of Project:

Facilitating Dialogue Circles at the Mixed Remixed Festival

Description

Last June 10 and 11, I and four other facilitators participated in the annual Mixed Remixed Festival at the Japanese National Museum in Los Angeles. The festival bills itself as “the nation’s premiere cultural arts festival celebrating stories of the Mixed experience, multiracial and multicultural families and individuals through films, books, and performance.”

I and my colleagues saw our role as giving the festival participants and opportunity to share their stories in an audience of people whose experience was similar to their own. We did this by facilitating two dialogue circles and an additional workshop which gave participants an opportunity to write about and share their stories.

We were overwhelmed by the response! All told, about 125 people participated in our sessions and many said it was the first time they’d had an opportunity to reflect and freely share their experience of being biracial, bicultural, or other. The audience included people of mixed race heritage and people who were children or parents of mixed race kids. At the conclusion of our sessions, we challenged participants to declare the next step in their journey or what they planned to do differently after participating in the workshop. Some said they planned to organize similar discussions in their communities, while others said they’d now more freely proclaim their identity as “mixed” as opposed to a member of one cultural group; still others vowed to write about their experience.

Because the groups were so large, everyone didn’t get an opportunity to share their stories. We are now talking to the conference organizers to remedy this by offering teleconference dialogue sessions.

At the end of the day, our conference participation renewed our belief in the power of dialogue and our particular approach, which integrates personal storytelling.

Joining me were Roxanne Kymaani, Zachary Gabriel Green, Cindy Franklin, and S.Y. Bowman.

Which dialogue and deliberation approaches did you use or borrow heavily from?

Bohm Dialogue

What was your role in the project?

Primary facilitator

What issues did the project primarily address?

  • Interfaith conflict
  • Race and racism
  • Economic issues
  • Aging / elder issues
  • Youth issues

Lessons Learned

We learned several lessons:

  • The power of storytelling for breaking down barriers between people.  The focus on personal storytelling is a unique feature of the dialogue circle method and was particularly appropriate for this group.
  • Many people of mixed race heritage have insufficient opportunities to share their stories with others. They often feel that others expect them to choose ethnic or cultural sides despite their dual heritage and don’t truly feel comfortable when questions of identity are raised.
  • The importance of using large group dynamics in a setting when groups are particularly large. So while 15 or 20 participants would have been ideal, these particular groups were much larger. Therefore, we asked participants to raise their hands when they heard a speaker share something that mirrored their experience. This allowed for greater participation among our two groups, one of which was about 40 people and the other consisted of about 65.

Where to learn more about the project:

www.dialogue-circles.com

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Roshan Bliss
An inclusiveness trainer and group process facilitator, Roshan Bliss serves as NCDD's Youth Engagement Coordinator and Blog Curator. Combining his belief that decisions are better when everyone is involved with his passion for empowering young people, his work focuses on increasing the involvement of youth and students in public conversations.

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