Generating ideas, connections, and action

Guest Blog Q&A With Claudia Paredes on Learning Through The Greenlining Experience

Last month, Claudia Paredes from the Greenlining Institute hosted a webinar with LLC. Many of you wanted to learn more after the webinar and Claudia has generously responded to your questions in a Q&A format. We hope you can continue to mine this knowledge and can also review the webinar or share with other through this link.

Following many of your requests, Claudia agregated your questions and answers them for all of you. We hope you will continue to mine these lessons and implement them in your own work.

  • Can we hear more about the "bringing our full selves to professional spaces"?
    • Professional spaces need to be intentionally set up to respect and receive a persons’ entire identity and range of experiences and emotions.
    • This can look like conversations that ask about intersectional identities, oppression, micro aggressions, multi layered perspectives, etc.
    • It is recommended to have a thoughtful container for this conversation so that the details don’t simply hang in the air, but instead are appreciated, discussed, inquired about, and applied to future conversations or actions.
  • How did you create the name Academy? We are struggling with the name of our program. We are in the beginning phase of our program. We do not have an application process. How has the application process for you all evolved?
  • I assume the Academy got its name because of the academic and training aspects of our programming. In its inception, there was a loose modeling after formal education spaces with a professional framing.
  • Branding of a new program should take care to consider the larger organizations’ mission and current outward facing image. Names (as well as structure and intent of the programs) should be aligned with the organizations’ goals and mission.
  • I’ve found that size depends heavily on the staffing (supervisor, mentor, etc.) and logistics (salary budget, space, computers, etc.).
  • Additionally, the size can depend on the outcomes of the program itself. A learning community is a precious resource for the participant because it offers a safe space, friendly community, peer to peer mentorship and learning as well as a thought provoking environment.
  • Questions I would ask are:
    • How long is the program with X amount of people? The length of time allows for deeper relationships and rapport to be established even if there are larger groups. 
    • What is the expectation of the group dynamics? The expectations can be on a more professional and collegial level, in which case, a larger group with less time together would work well.
    • How will the group dynamics be managed? Community building relies heavily on the facilitation and intentional programmatic components. This intentionality can make or break group dynamics regardless of how large or small the group. 
  • The nature of Greenlining’s work is applied and tangible public policy changes and successes. This requires any theoretical idea to be considered critically (with a social justice and racial equity lens) with the focus on framing a policy issue.
  • Our process of vetting applicants ensures that each participant have a baseline understanding (and many times experience) in applying critical theory to tangible policies. Many times, this can look like organizing for change within their universities, higher level research projects at recent internships/positions or at their universities. We ensure that the participants have a commitment to social justice and an idea of how they might fit into the movement towards it.
  • We have an established Greenlining Academy Alumni Association and governing board. The organization has institutionalized the importance of the alumni in: yearly and consistent funding of the association; including the association in policy, outreach, organizing efforts; relying on alumni to be network connectors and weavers, speakers at main events, and support in advocacy work.
  • Within our alumni association, we maintain a database with the most up-to-date contact information, elect ‘regional mayors’ to organize local social events, and coordinate a mentorship program that connects alumni with current participants.
  • Through our alumni association, there are continuing professional development opportunities that include: a webinar series that is facilitated to provide additional skill development to alumni, professional development scholarships for travel, conference fees, etc. to attend a variety of conferences and workshops, and inclusion in public speaking forums to demonstrate and uplift their work.
  • In funding requests, including the scope of work that each participant would work on where appropriate. It is important to include the real staff time that would be spent on their 1) Development and 2) Supervision.
  • Besides staffing or logistical constraints- how do you find a sweet spot for the size of different cohorts per academy/program?
  • I've gained an initial understanding of the tools you deliver content through; I'd love to hear more about whether there is a basic content that relates to social vision. For example, do you engage people in/through critical social theory? In the 'major debates' on gender (as content, not just sensitivity), economic equality, multi-culturalism vs national identity, etc. I guess that is, to what extent and how do you help them develop a theoretical/ideational basis for their social vision?
  • How do you keep alumni connected to the program as the years pass and they get further from their academy experience? Are there continuing education opportunities and if so, how are they planned and implemented?
  • In future, hearing how to frame/incorporate such programs in funding requests would be useful.