Building Healthy Work and Everyday Communities: The Sound Bites of Our Times and How They Work Against Us
Sarah Hobson, Ph.D.
In our Honoring Stories and Integrating Curriculum™ workshops, we deconstruct how we can avoid falling prey to sound bites and histories of political messaging that frame people through deficit lenses, pit us against one another, and recreate the same inequalities. Uninformed sound bites about key issues of our times keep us pointing fingers at one another and operating out of fear that people who don’t think like us are evil or against us. (i.e. Defund the police in most contexts does not mean get rid of police. It means distribute resources such that a broader array of people in social services can help prevent community violence so police have more support and less crime to manage.)
This does not mean that we give up what matters to us. It means that we learn how to hear what matters to others and why. It means we listen for where and how what we all care about is situated in ineffective labels for the issues of our times. We engage a systematic method for how to build relationships and research processes that help us realize and accomplish together our mutual goals.
For example, you may be for or against masks. If you are for masks, you might label people who don’t wear them as “anti-maskers”. You may think of them as uninformed and you may think of them as putting you and your children at risk.
When given opportunities to meet a host of people who don’t wear masks and to learn their why, you just might find out they too want to save lives, and they too have been tracking with scientific and medical data that is worth examining together.
There will be a need to explore the different kinds of data you and others are drawing on to make your case for or against masks. And a grounding principle we follow is that every data set is marked by specific schools of thought and biases that need unpacking. So we also explore those biases and how the labeling of the data itself (I.e. medical = accurate and scientific and reliable, non-biased; anecdotal = non-systematic and uninformed and biased) can hinder us from the kind of relationship building that would enable us together to see solutions right in front of our eyes.
When we explore masks from a broader data set that includes our stories, recognizes different schools of thought, and a broader array of perspectives than just for or against masks, a fuller richer picture emerges - of COViD, of the pros and cons of masks, of disease, its spreading patterns, and its broader social and economic impacts that also need accounting for as we together address it.
When we step outside of our political camps and open ourselves to this kind of learning stance, a broader array of approaches to addressing COViD and other diseases while also addressing social and economic impacts becomes more apparent.
That is what ethnodrama does for us. It gives us a fuller data set, from a wider array of sources and schools of thought, including our own stories, on the many facets of any issue. We receive a fuller historical, cultural and current picture of any issue we are facing and can think on multiple layers towards needed solutions.
Companies, schools, universities, governments, and non-profits that take the time to build this kind of cultural orientation through investments in healthy team community building systematic methods like these find themselves on the cutting edge of innovative solutions to our most pressing issues, products and services of our times.
They are beginning to contribute to relationship building among colleagues that decreases division and increases an openness to those who don’t look, talk or think like us as incredibly valuable to our own growth and abilities to impact communities with what we offer.
They are having an easier time paving the way for people in their companies and schools to seek out more diverse talent and to listen for how that diversity adds value to their lives and to their department and organization’s success.
Sarah Hobson, Ph.D. specializes in supporting teams, departments and schools, businesses, and government agencies in building inclusive innovative change-making communities who understand how to connect well with and join diverse populations in providing needed sustainable resources for all youth and families.