An important part of Wild Seeds ALC is that the young people are co-creators of the agreements we make as a community. This happens through regular Check in/Change up meetings where community members (kids and grown ups) share “awarenesses” (problems in the community, needs not being met, etc.) for the community to come together to brainstorm ideas for how to address. These meetings end with the co-creation of a set of practices we try for a week and then reflect on and change as needed until the initial “awareness” has been resolved.
In the first weeks of coming together as a community, we have frequent, short Check in/Change ups. This helps us work together, closer to in real time, to unpack, navigate, and problem solve the issues that pop up when folks come together to share space in community. It also helps us build our capacity and practice of Check in/Change up, so everyone feels more and more empowered to participate in the process. In the first couple of weeks of Wild Seeds ALC Pilot Year #2, our community came together around our Draw Wall.
Tell a story, draw a picture, write a joke. We started our Draw Wall as a venue for sharing art and ideas in a public way. To roll it out, we kept the agreements minimal (only writing/drawing on the walls, not the ceilings or floors, etc.), trusting that the agreements most needed would emerge as kids figured out how they’d most like to use the space.
Within the first two weeks, kids were sharing many awarenesses about the Draw Wall. They noticed that people were drawing over other peoples’ drawings. They noticed people were writing others’ names without their consent. They noticed some folks were taking up a whole lot of space to communicate a single idea. They noticed people were writing or drawing near others’ drawings in ways that changed the meaning of the original. The Draw Wall was fun, but it was also feeling a bit itchy. It was time for a Check in/Change up to brainstorm new agreements!
We came together as a whole community and collectively held space for individuals to share more about their experiences with the Draw Wall. Young people expressed their feelings for the entire group to hold and eventually respond to. Kids shared things like, “It didn’t feel good to see my name written on the wall without being asked,” and “People are writing the same thing over and over again, and it’s taking up all of the space,” and “People drew right over a drawing I spent time on.” There were a lot of feelings, and we held space for them all.
After folks felt complete in their sharing, we worked together to brainstorm a bunch of ideas for how things could go differently with the Draw Wall. Kids had an abundance of ideas that facilitators tracked on a white board throughout the discussion.
The ideas included:
Don’t draw on others’ drawings without asking
Leave others’ drawings alone
Don’t write others’ names without consent
Be mindful of how much space something takes up
Can draw on something if no one claims it
Don’t write the same thing over and over
Use the acronym THINK before drawing
Is it True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary, Kind?
No teasy romance things
Paint over the walls and start over
Write “The Draw Wall” in a new style each time
Everyone signs their name at the beginning
Then, after everyone felt complete in generating ideas, we voted on the ideas that were “good enough for now, and safe enough to try.” All the agreements that were consensually voted on moved to Practicing on our Check in/Change up board and are now practiced in our Wild Seeds community.
Young people helped to take photos of the first iteration of the Draw Wall so we can document its evolution. They also helped with some of the painting and with adding the THINK acronym.
A few days ago, we re-opened the draw wall, and it’s been special observing the kids taking care of the space in a new way. They’ve been freely drawing and writing while also honoring our new agreements. We’ve been hearing them kindly remind each other of the agreements, for instance, “Maybe you could practice on paper first” as opposed to practicing the same drawing over and over on the wall and taking up a large amount of space.
Facilitators will help young people continue to reflect on how our new agreements are going as we practice them together. We’ll continue modeling and making responsive shifts to meet the needs of our community. We are feeling super grateful for how kids are showing up in community to address problems and work together to find possible solutions.
Read more about Check in/Change up Processes:
Change Up Change Up by Nancy Tilton, ALC Mosaic