I recently stumbled onto a project called The People’s Supper. Its aim is to bring together people of different identities and perspectives over a meal and to have conversations grounded in unconditional welcoming, kindness, and openness. Many of these suppers open with the reading of a poem called “The Brave Space Invitation” written by Micky ScottBey Jones.

Together we will create brave space
Because there is no such thing as a “safe space” —
We exist in the real world
We all carry scars and we have all caused wounds.
In this space
We seek to turn down the volume of the outside world,
We amplify voices that fight to be heard elsewhere,
We call each other to more truth and love
We have the right to start somewhere and continue to grow. We have the responsibility to examine what we think we know.
We will not be perfect.
This space will not be perfect.
It will not always be what we wish it to be
It will be our brave space together,
We will work on it side by side.

“We all carry scars. We’ve all caused wounds.” And we all have the right to be in our process — learning, growing, stumbling, getting back up. And we all have the right to start again. And again.

Imagine being part of a brave space, an imperfect space — sitting at the table prior to eating while each guest recites a line of this poem before taking a seat. Could you start your next meeting, team retreat or dare I say, Thanksgiving meal, with this recitation? Here are some ways these gatherings would be different if we were trying to invite more brave space.

1) Pace and Space: Our conversations would take on a slower pace, more silence, more time to “digest” what’s being said.
2) Accompaniment over Advocacy: We would just sit with others and hear their stories without judging them or trying to change the way they think.
3) Depth: Our questions would focus on gaining deeper understanding (e.g., Would you tell me more about why that matters to you?”)
4) Humility: Our own sense of certainty would cease being our greatest impediment to learning. Like the poem says, “we have a responsibility to examine what we think we know.”

How might you invite more brave space in the places you lead?

Photo Credit: Nadia Valko at Unsplash

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