On Sacred Ground
By Katrina Browne, Sacred Ground Coordinator
Welcome to the Sacred Ground space for stories, musings, opinions, best practices, invitations, etc. Each installment will be written by a different guest writer: a facilitator of, organizer of or participant in the dialogue series, or an ‘outside expert’ with wisdom to share. Please be in touch if you have something you would like to write about!
Sacred Ground, for those not familiar with it, is a film- and readings-based dialogue series on race, grounded in faith that launched in early 2019. Small groups/“circles” (whether virtual or in person) are invited to walk through chapters of America’s history of race and racism, while weaving in threads of family story, economic class, and political and regional identity. The 10-part series is built around an online curriculum that focuses on Indigenous, Black, Latino, and Asian/Pacific American histories as they intersect with European American histories. The series is open to all, and especially designed to help White people talk with other White people. Participants are invited to peel away the layers that have contributed to the inequities of the present day – all while grounded in our call to faith, hope and love. It is one tool in the Becoming Beloved Community toolkit.
For this month’s column I’d like to report briefly on the progress of our summer evaluation efforts. We have been soliciting input on what works and what doesn’t work about the series and the processes surrounding it – via surveys, focus groups and input from key stakeholders. We were so happy to have surveys filled out by 2,236 circle participants; 518 circle facilitators; and 134 circle organizers. Context: 1831 circles had been registered as of July 15, 2021.
The average age of respondents to the participant survey was 68 – prompting me to think “racial reckoning retirees unite!” The age range was from 24 to 91. Participant respondents were 70% White people in “White work circles”; 25% White people in inter-racial circles; and 5% were People of Color in inter-racial circles. Five respondents were People of Color in POC circles.
For those of you just starting circles it may be useful to know that the most popular circle size was 10 participants, followed by 8, followed by 12.
Evaluation consultant Christina Pacheco of Indígena Consulting is busy crunching numbers and making them accessible and ready for analysis. And thanks to a Becoming Beloved Community grant, we are working with the Union of Black Episcopalians to look at results through the lens of best practices in relation to Episcopalians of Color. Please stay tuned here and on the Sacred Ground web pages where we look forward to sharing results and updating some of our core documents based on findings.
Lastly, we are progressing well in our efforts to re-license the films and book excerpts for the next triennium, as well as to secure expanded licenses that will enable non-Episcopal entities to access the series and organize circles. We will announce those new licenses at some point this fall.
In faith in the walking,