Parents Association & PLAID: Creating Community Through Dialogue

On November 15, a thoughtful group of 57 Hamlin parents came together to role play and talk about ways to further enrich our inclusive community. The event included members of our Parents Association and our PLAID parent group.

Parents were given the following scenario:

A kindergarten mom sends out an email to the class parent email group inviting fellow moms to a “Moms’ Mimosa Brunch.” The invitation reads:

Date: Wednesday, October 17, 2017

To: Class of 2026 Parents

From: Mom Host

Subject: Moms’ Mimosa Brunch

Hey Moms,

Let’s celebrate surviving the first two months of school with a moms’ mimosa brunch at The New Restaurant on Union Street (in San Francisco). The cost is $100 per person and includes food, beverage, and use of the room for our brunch. Join us Wednesday, October 24, 2017 at 11:00am. Please RSVP to me by Monday the 22nd so we can adjust our reservation as needed.

Hope to see you all there!

Cheers, Mom Host

After reading the invitation, participants responded based on the role that they were given. In some roles parents were offended, while other participants were designated to see nothing wrong with the invitation.

During the role play, parents answered the question: How do you feel and why? 

Following an initial discussion, roles were changed within the groups of four so that everyone could take on a different perspective. There were other nuances to the process, ending with group members discussing their new thinking regarding the invitation. The final step asked the groups to rewrite the email to better address all the shared perspectives.

During the debrief with the entire room, parents explained how they rewrote the email. Some changed the event to a non-gender specific potluck, others to a weekend day, while some took out the alcohol and made the venue a public park.

The conversation then probed deeply into personal perspectives related to how the wording and content of invitations can both include and exclude.

Some of the key takeaways/quotes were:

We all have to take that additional step to let people in.

We need to minimize the barriers to entry.

We need to assume trust and not automatically believe that someone is being intentionally exclusive with an invitation. 

The activity demonstrated the power of listening.

This was a truly courageous conversation that will no doubt serve as a foundation for further community building as we seek to make Hamlin a more vibrant, inclusive place for all people. 

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