When I became a Doula, it was almost as random to me as it was to my friends. How did I—an educator, facilitator, and trainer—come to support families as they prepare for and undergo birth? My canned answers seemed to satisfy those who asked, but my heart and brain continued to work subconsciously to better articulate the connection.
The answer became profoundly clear in my recent facilitation work with New Dream staff—and I hope you, as New Dreamers, consider undertaking a similar “birthing” experience.
As a facilitator, my main focus is on issues of equity and diversity—how to ensure that all people, from all backgrounds and experiences, have access to the opportunities they need to better their lives and the world. One thing I love about this work is that I get to explore these ideas with people who are excited, engaged, and invested in the outcomes. Any of you who have anticipated growing your family know what that’s like.
New Dream is in this same season of anticipation and investment, as the organization looks seriously at its commitment to employing an equity lens in its work, and to engaging youth more fully. As is true with expectant parents, the New Dream staff have a vision of the world they want to see in the future and what route they want to take. They invited me to help guide the process of learning and exploration.
In many ways, our kick-off visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. paralleled answering the question of “where babies come from.” We entered the museum viewing artifacts and reading perspectives about the origins of race and inequity in the Western World. Traveling through the exhibit spaces, we saw how racial inequity grew to become the full entity that it is today. This visit and related discussions served as the backdrop for our broader explorations during the weekend.
Part of the beauty of being a Doula and a facilitator is that I get to hold space for the birth experience. My role is to offer timely and needed information and to celebrate and encourage endurance through the necessary hard work. With New Dream, as in my work as a Doula, I found myself invested in the best possible outcome for all, offering input and asking questions in service to that desired outcome.
I work as a facilitator in the world of equity and diversity because I have yet to find a place where consideration of these issues doesn’t expand the possibilities for a more just and equitable world. New Dream staff are aligned in the pursuit of an equity lens for their work, as well as in the broader work of questioning consumption of all types—not just how we consume at an individual level, but how the wider systems in our society reinforce and create inequitable outcomes related to our consumption.
Just as parenthood is an unfolding experience, so too is understanding and developing an equity lens in your life and work. Our current social and political climate presents all of us with a unique and irresistible opportunity to engage proactively, even though it may feel like we’re late to the game.
"Our current social and political climate presents all of us with a unique and irresistible opportunity to engage proactively, even though it may feel like we’re late to the game."
Your potential unfamiliarity with the connection between questioning consumption and considering equity may lead you to think that this work is not useful or necessary. However—to go back to the parenting metaphor—not understanding the needs of the child does not make those needs go away. It is important for you, for your children, and for the future you wish to see that you seek the information and support that both you and this future need.
What might that journey look like for you? Does it make you uneasy to take a hard look at how you consume, and what the impacts might be on your neighbors, community, or people on the other side of the world? Do you struggle to find ways to tackle the big challenges related to inequity and inequality in our world? Do you have someone to support you on this journey—to witness, encourage, and educate you along the way? Like a Doula, New Dream can be that for you.
Selena Cozart, Ph.D. (pictured third from left) is an educator, facilitator, and coach with over 25 years of helping people identify their learning goals and make plans to reach them. While she is exercising those superpowers, you are very likely to meet her helper pup, Indigo.