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By: Aparna Rajagopal-Durbin

01 JulFrom the knapsack of privilege to the backpack of bias


When we ask workshop participants whether they have done an activity called "the privilege walk" before, hands inevitably shoot up, accompanied by furrowed eyebrows, skeptical glances, and other hallmarks of concern. I can almost see the thought bubbles above their heads: Are these women going to make me do the privilege walk . . . AGAIN? The sin qua non of every diversity trainer's repertoire of activities, the privilege walk, has a long and storied history. It builds off of Peggy McIntosh's touchstone 1988 essay, "White Privilege: Unpacki...

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12 MayWhen in doubt, ask “in service of what?”


In one of our early workshops, I was considering whether to share my personal experience of taking the Implicit Association Test. In short, I discovered that I actually have unconscious biases that really surprised me, left me feeling dismayed, and quite frankly, a little horrified. Nevertheless, I thought it was a great anecdote to share with workshop participants to describe what it's like to have an uncomfortable "aha!" moment, and how to move forward. The night before our workshop, I casually mentioned to Ava that I intended to talk about ...

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30 MarA guide to building DEI bridges


  As diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) professionals, we envision ourselves as bridge builders. Each person is in a different place in their understanding and experience, so we can't expect everyone to magically comprehend the complexities of privilege, oppression, and colonialism (let's be honest: we're still trying to understand all the complexities). So we first tease out the knowledge and mindsets people already possess, and then figure out how to build a bridge to meet them where they are so they can continue to move forward i...

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03 MarChanging Mindsets With Mad Facilitation Skills


I teach at Montana State University's Department of Education, which educates the next generation of teachers. But what I've found is that teacher education programs don't really teach teachers how to facilitate--they teach them how to teach. Teaching and facilitation are two very different things, and in our work, facilitation is much more crucial for achieving truly transformative learning, building bridges across difference, and creating coalitions for change. For years, I've been figuring out how to facilitate the hard way. And it's tho...

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03 FebWhy engage in equity, diversity, and inclusion?


Most organizations that reach out to us what to know how to proceed with equity, diversity, and inclusion  (DEI) efforts. They are hungry for best practices, toolkits, checklists, and training on how to tackle the elephant that is DEI  ("How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.") But focusing on the "how" and "what" takes us away from the more foundational question of "why." The success of DEI work is predicated on organizations being able to clearly articulate why equity, diversity, and inclusion should be prioritized. If you canno...

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07 JanWhat Does Cultural Relevancy Mean Anyway?


This post is dedicated to Vu Le at Nonprofit With Balls, whose bold nuggets of gold we can only aspire to produce, and who has inspired us to fearlessly “go there.” Disclaimer: For those of you engaging in cultural relevancy work without a working definition, this blog post is intended to call you in, not call you out. “Cultural Relevancy” is a phrase that is being bandied about in the outdoor and environmental sector. But the more I hear it, the less I believe we’re all on the same page as to what it means. Try Googling "cultur...

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