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Oakland, CA 94607
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deliberateLIFE engages today's globally-conscious citizen in building a better tomorrow. We believe choices matter – so we vet ideas, products and organizations to make it easier for today's busy professionals to live well and do good.

 

 

 

 

 

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Filtering by Category: Events

Through Discomfort to Connection

Fay Johnson

Fay M. Johnson, Editor-in-Chief | Yesterday I headed to the airport and hopped on a plane to Burbank. Our first event in Los Angeles, a dinner discussion (part of our Deliberate Discourse series) was to be held that night in Los Feliz. Upon arrival to Southern California, I headed to the store, picked up last minute items for our evening and began preparations with our host, Davey, and the chef for the evening, Scott. We set up tables and chairs, cleaned and placed flowers on the tables.

An hour later we kicked off our 5th dinner on the topic of race in America. Just as we have started each dinner, I welcomed our guests and asked them to reflect on their intentions for the evening. Participants expressed the following: they were there to learn, to be present, to increase in understanding and to connect with others. I then asked them to express in one word how they were currently feeling about the issue. They expressed feeling: Frustrated. Hopeless. Stuck. Angry. Isolated. Overwhelmed. As they shared how they were currently feeling, the conversation naturally shifted into talk about recent events from the last six months. I noted how similar their feels were to those expressed by other Deliberate Discourse attendees in Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose. Many of us are unsure about how to deal with racism, institutional injustice, and other harmful divisions.

One thing that has surfaced over the last five dinners is how much discomfort keeps us from connecting and potentially learning from one another. There is a high level of fear associated with talking about race. Euro-Americans expressed high levels of 'white guilt' and a consequential fear of speaking up because they don't really know where they fit into the conversation. Some expressed fear of stepping on toes, saying the wrong thing, or having their intentions misunderstood. Our African-American attendees have spoken frequently about not wanting to be perceived as the 'angry black' woman or man in the room. Sometimes they hesitate to speak out against racist comments in a desire to 'keep the peace'. A few black, Caribbean and African-born guests shared how they have had to navigate their relationships with black Americans that they do not share a common history (but do share a common reality) with. At every dinner someone has admitted that they almost didn't come because they were fearful of how the night would go.

I have admitted at each dinner how I too have to push through my fear of saying or doing the wrong thing, or asking the wrong question, to fully engage. Having had the privilege of being at most of our dinners, it is getting easier to sit with this discomfort. Every time I have asked a question, despite my fear of coming across as potentially offensive, I have been met with a kind and thoughtful reply. This has encouraged me to sojourn on into deeper conversation and understanding. At each dinner we divide attendees into groups of 5 or 6 to maximize everyone's participation. At this dinner, my group discussed terminology that wasn't common to everyone in our circle. This topic, in a different setting, might have been glossed over. I am grateful for those who asked honest questions and for those who shared their perspective within the group.

The structure of our LA dinner was just like the rest – provide good food, a safe space, a few questions and time. By 10:45 pm (we were scheduled to end at 9:30 pm) we had all gathered around the fire to share how our separate group conversations had gone, what we had learned and how we felt. Every person present had a different experience with race, racial identity and the diversity of social interaction. Sisters who attended shared how one had no black friends and the other had no white friends despite having grown up in the same home and both being black. Books were suggested. Movies were analyzed (leave it up to LA to be the only dinner that brought in a film critique to make a point). And encouragement was given.

A big take away? Everyone needs to participate. Black Americans only make up 12.6% of the US population, as one black guest pointed out. Creating changes at a national level will require white participation. Those unsure of what role to play were asked to actively participate in taking off their own blinders and to work towards countering white dominance in their environments. Though it is not always an easy task, naming and talking about racism also removes a portion of the power it has in a given situation. The best next step for conversations like these, and for this issue in general, is to continually push through the discomfort created by the unknown, to talk and to engage. 

Our next conversations will take place in Portland on the 15th and Chicago on the 25th.

Around the Table

Fay Johnson

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It's in our name – we believe in fully considered action. To help foster this considered choice, deliberateLIFE is launching a series of events to facilitate face-to-face discussion between community members, providing an opportunity for deeper engagement on topics that affect us all.

Reasoned discussion where points of view are made clearly and received freely is hard to find in our current world. We believe it's sorely needed, so we're bringing the conversation offline and surrounding it with food, film, poetry, motion, and more.

Dinner Series 1: Race, Justice & Equality

In the wake of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin and countless other deaths that haven't made the news, our first Deliberate Discourse series will focus on race, justice and equality.

It only takes a quick skim of one's Facebook feed or the nightly news to know we have come to a tipping point. The status quo is no longer acceptable and complacency isn't an option. No U.S. citizen wants to live in a country where a particular group of people have to fear those charged with serving and protecting them. Nor do we want to live in a society that ignores the injustices of bias, privilege and racism.

With no particular prescription in mind, we are inviting you, our community, to join us for some deliberate discourse on a topic that can be difficult to navigate. By hosting dinners where friends and strangers alike can meet, in a safe space, we hope to foster a deeper dialog than the one we are afforded online.

If you are interested in attending an upcoming dinner, check our events page or contact us to request a dinner in your city.

San Francisco Launch Party

Fay Johnson

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On November 6th, we celebrated the launch of deliberateLIFE and our iPhone app with a little party at The Stable Cafe in San Francisco. It was a lovely evening filled with laughter, good conversation and amazing food provided by Savoy Events an Oakland-based sustainable and eco-friendly catering company. The food was really something else, and we love their business model, so please consider using them for your next event!

Photo by Twenty Twenty Studios

Photo by Twenty Twenty Studios

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If you loved Ken's cocktail at the party, try making it at home. He was kind enough to share the recipe he designed for the party. Named 'The Perennial' the drink is a nod to both our belief in sustainability and a well-wish that deliberateLIFE Magazine will have many seasons to come. Enjoy!

The Perennial 

  • 2 1/4 oz. Distillery No. 209 gin
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. Meyer lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. Cointreau
  • 1/2 oz. Quince & Apple brand tart cherry grenadine
  • approx. 1/4 oz. yellow Chartreuse

Shake all ingredients except Chartreuse in an ice-filled shaker.  Strain into a cocktail glass, and float Chartreuse over the surface of the drink.  If you are inclined toward adornment, garnish with a brandied cherry.

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View the full gallery of photos of our beautiful guests here. If you haven't yet, download deliberateLIFE Magazine for your iPhone!