Gathering, Stories, Equity

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The current WISE Book Club book is The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker. I’m listening via Audible, and taking notes on my Google Keep app. It’s been a good system since I learned this spring that I’m not the best at keeping up with reading books despite having a healthy hold list at the local (closed) library and several waiting for my eyes on my phone and iPad Kindle app. I gave in to my “elder millennial” tendencies, and took up a friend on her offer to send me an Audible book to try, and it’s been my go-to method of reading since then! I successfully finished the previous WISE Book Club book, Range, in the same way, but failed to take notes. After learning those lessons, reading Priya’s book via Audible has been enjoyable and educational.

Today, I received Priya’s weekly email, and it struck me. Her book has already encouraged me to think about gatherings I’m responsible for in a different way. This week’s email tells a story of a “Zoommorial.” You may be able to guess what this refers to, or maybe you’ve had to gather awkwardly online to celebrate the memory of someone lost during this time of physical distancing. Even though I’m not planning a funeral or memorial, today is the day my family mourns the loss of my mother in law, Sharon Ferri, who passed away 7 years ago today. Now that the hairs are standing up on your neck too, let’s continue because I did not set out on this blog to pull at your heartstrings for my family’s loss, which you can learn more about here.

The main idea of Priya’s email today was how paying more attention to the “who” of a gathering can bring more meaning to it. The Zoommorial a person planned for their family member ended up being very meaningful because it allowed more communication, as Priya called it “A democratization of who owned her memory.”

This statement brought me to a Hamilton song (of course), “Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?” Go listen, if you’re a Hamilfan, you’ll cry (“the orphanage…”) then come back.

Now, I want to shift to the living, and how we can mindfully and intentionally approach any gathering we are individually responsible for to ensure we make space for the “democratization” vibe. It may not be appropriate for every gathering, but it will be an improvement for most to enable more voices and stories. It’s often the missing perspectives that we discover too late that end up being the difference-maker in solving problems. 

Even if you don’t read her books, sign up for Priya’s email list, it is very thought-provoking and relevant for safety pros and others responsible for training and meetings.

Send me an email if you’d like me to send you The Art of Gathering via Audible when I finish it, you would need to be a new Audible listener for this to work! On the flip side, if you’d like to gift me any of the books on my Wishlist, check out my ever-expanding list here.

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