In light of recent incidents around the country, and even in South Dakota, relationships between community members and law enforcement officials have been a focus of conversation. Leaders are searching for ways for people to have a voice and work across divides without using violent methods. Pulling together as a community interested in establishing equitable, accountable policing is complex, but may be possible with some strategies developed by Everyday Democracy.
Everyday Democracy developed an approach called, Study Circles, which SDSU Extension Community Vitality has used with many rural communities. It is a way to get several small groups together in a community to talk about a pressing issue in a structured way. The process is led by a trained facilitator and guided by a workbook. Many topic workbooks have been developed, including one that addresses racism in a very no-nonsense way.
Tragic incidents don’t happen in a vacuum – there are hundreds of years of history and policies that have shaped our communities today. The Study Circle guide: Facing Racism in a Diverse Nation can help form a conversation about a sensitive yet critical topic. The best thing about having the conversations using this structure is that it leads the groups to action. Ideas come out of the circles that can be prioritized and acted upon to improve the whole community.
For more information about the Study Circles process or Facing Racism in a Diverse Nation, contact a Community Vitality Field Specialist in your area.