Community Care Letter

Dear Common Field Convening Attendees,

As we re-collect ourselves after the convening, Common Field’s board and staff are processing the expansive learning, experiences and knowledge that was shared and generated. In this context, we are also learning from what challenged us and how we can best be accountable as an organization responsible for creating the container and web of relationships that create and maintain the convening and the network.

An example of how we try to learn from our experience regards direct feedback we got about ways that power dynamics showed up in break-out sessions. The board took this feedback seriously and engaged in a robust email dialog that resulted in several actions, one of which is this letter to you and an invitation to help us all learn together and strengthen the ways we care for each other.

We acknowledge that power dynamics are always present and that they are experienced very differently by each of us. These dynamics are filtered and formed into systems and ways of moving through the world by both a historical and contemporary context defined by white supremacist hetero ableist capitalist patriarchy. bell hooks helped begin to give words to this system when she wrote, “I began to use the phrase in my work “white supremacist capitalist patriarchy” because I wanted to have some language that would actually remind us continually of the interlocking systems of domination that define our reality.”

At the closing all together session, many voices from many geographies offered visions, aspirations and actions of our field that can lead toward dismantling this system through the organizational structures, budgets, processes, spaces and programming we do. This is ongoing work we are also committed to as Common Field.

The board and the staff have been working on a multi-prong approach to ways we can hold ourselves accountable to the values of Common Field, respond directly to feedback we receive and ensure that we have both preventative systems and ways to hold ourselves accountable when harm is done. In any community, network or gathering of people it is never a matter of if, but a matter of when. The work of doing this within Common Field and with your help is an integral part of the work and aspirations for justice that we aspire to as a field.

Common Field published a statement of principles of community care in our materials (which you can read on our website and in the convening booklet you received). These principles aim to work both as a means to prevent harm and also to provide a scaffold for holding all of us accountable for harm.

We invite you to review the principles, share your own insights and challenges as you face these concerns yourselves, and be part of helping us all be stronger as we care for each other.

Dana Bishop-Root
Common Field Board Chair
on behalf of the entire board and staff