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Program Structure (Building the World We Dream About)

Building the World We Dream About uses a transformative approach to reach its educational goals. A transformative approach asks specific questions in order to produce new outcomes to seemingly intractable problems—specifically, how we learn to negotiate and act on values, feelings, and meanings that we have uncritically assimilated from others. This educational approach then invites an additional question: After learning what is at the root of one's experience and perception, how can one think and act differently? Participants are invited to engage in careful personal reflection coupled with action-making. Both practices—personal reflection and faithful action—are central to building an antiracist/multicultural community. Because racism is a learned behavior, disentangling it from our social fabric requires tough-minded, clear-headed, and love-filled action.

This program does not offer learning experiences in which expertise is delivered by an outside authority figure. Rather, it provides a series of first-person and group experiences, each intended to build on personal histories, Unitarian Universalist beliefs and values, and the racialized experiences of White people and People of Color and other people marginalized by race or ethnicity. Participants focus on the context and experiences that are active in their/your congregation and community. Such a process generates frank conversations and discussions about race—often avoided, but very much needed—in congregations and communities. The dialogues and conversations will lead participants to new insights about your congregation and, more importantly, to a heightened awareness of the policies and practices that make the inclusion of People of Color and other people marginalized by race or ethnicity more likely and sustainable.

Antiracism work is inherently spiritual work, and the program includes spiritual practices (worship, meditation, sharing, and truth-telling) that both support and encourage the difficult work of reaching across channels of difference. The Reverend John Buehrens said it well: "Blessed are you who know that the work of the church is transformation of society, who have a vision of Beloved Community transcending the present."

The program also pays attention to the reality that people learn and come to understand human experience and their world in different ways. Participants experience a variety of learning strategies, each of which is intended to take ordinary perceptions and turn them on their heads. The learning strategies will enable participants to see familiar things in a different light. They also provide participants opportunities to make connections to experiences that are foreign or strange.

The program recognizes too that our race/ethnicity is but one of the social identities that inform how we see ourselves and make sense of the world. For instance, a Latino can also be a middle-aged, gay Southerner who uses a wheelchair. Becoming conscious of the intersection of identities helps us build a welcoming community; it can be complicated, but it can also be glorious!

All workshops include these elements:

Introduction

The Introduction summarizes the workshop content and offers guidance for implementing the workshop.

Goals

Goals provide the desired outcomes of the workshop. As you plan a workshop, apply your knowledge of the group, the time and space you have available, and your own strengths as co-leaders to determine the most important and achievable goals for the workshop. Choose activities that will best serve those goals.

Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives describe specific participant outcomes that the workshop activities are designed to facilitate. They describe what participants may learn and how they may change as a result of the experience of the workshop.

Workshop-at-a-Glance

This useful table lists the core workshop activities in order and provides an estimated time for completing each activity. It also presents Alternate Activities for the workshop.

Workshop-at-a-Glance is not a road map you must follow. Rather, use it as a menu for planning the workshop. You will decide which elements to use and how to combine them to best suit the group, the meeting space, and the amount of time you have.

Keep in mind that many variables inform the actual completion time for an activity. Whole-group discussions will take longer in a large group than in a small group. Consider the time you will need to form small groups or relocate participants to another area of the meeting room.

Spiritual Preparation

Under Spiritual Preparation, each workshop suggests readings, reflections, and/or other preparation to help facilitators grow spiritually and prepare to facilitate with confidence and depth.

Workshop Plan

The workshop plan presents every element of the workshop. The workshop elements are:

Welcoming and Entering. This section offers steps for welcoming participants as they arrive. It is recommended that you complete the preparations in the Welcoming and Entering section 15 minutes before a workshop's scheduled beginning.

Opening. Each workshop begins with a short opening ritual, including a welcome, chalice lighting, and a reading or song. It often includes opportunity for comments and further observations and insights from the previous session. Shape the opening ritual to suit your group and the culture and practices of your congregation.

Activities. Several activities form the core content of each workshop. To provide a coherent learning experience, present the activities in the sequence suggested. Generally, workshops balance listening with talking, and include individual, small group, and whole group explorations.

Each activity presents the materials and preparation you will need, followed by a description of the activity:

Materials for Activity — List of the supplies needed.

Preparation for Activity — "To-do" list that specifies all the advance work you need to do for the activity, from copying handouts to writing questions on newsprint just before participants arrive. Look at the preparation tasks several days ahead to make sure you have ample time to obtain items and make special arrangements if needed.

Description of Activity — Detailed directions for implementing the activity with the group. Read activity descriptions carefully during your planning process so you understand each activity and its purpose. Later, when you lead the group, use the description as a step-by-step, how-to manual.

Including All Participants — Specific accessibility guidance for activities that have unusual physical circumstances or for which a reminder about inclusion may benefit leaders. Please consult Integrating All Participants in this Introduction for general suggestions to meet some common accessibility needs.

Closing. Each workshop offers a closing ritual that signals the end of the group's time together. During the Closing, you might introduce the workshop's Taking It Home ideas, offer time for brief written or verbal responses to the workshop, and offer closing words. Like the Opening, the Closing grounds a shared learning experience in ritual. Shape your closing ritual to fit the group and the culture and practices of your congregation.

Leader Reflection and Planning. Find time as co-facilitators to discuss these questions after each workshop to strengthen your skills and your understanding of the group.

Alternate Activities. Some workshops offer Alternate Activities to modify or expand a workshop. Review Alternate Activities along with the core activities when planning a workshop. Select the activities you feel will work best for you and the group.

Resources. Workshops include all materials needed to lead each workshop activity. These may include:

Stories — Text of narrative material to read aloud to the group.

Handouts — Sheets to print out and copy for participants. Some handouts are for use in the workshop and others provide additional information for participants to take home and read.

Leader Resources — Background information and/or activity directions you will need during the workshop.

Find Out More. The last page of each workshop directs you to online resources maintained by the UUA's Multicultural Growth and Witness staff group: readings, websites, films, music, and other tools to extend understanding.

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Friday, December 9, 2011.

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