Planning What to Say about a Workshop

At a summer Educational Change Workshop I led in the northeast United States, we talked about sharing RC perspectives and tools with non-RCers.

I noted that each of us would likely be asked multiple times how our summer or our weekend had been, and I proposed that we plan ahead for how to include in our answer a few sentences about the workshop. We could carefully craft the sentences to communicate an RC idea or perspective that might be useful to non-RCers and then write them down and memorize them.

In RC we are committed to thinking freshly in the moment, and we want to choose what we say to fit our listener. But I think there is also a role for carefully crafted language that will best communicate important ideas.

I offered two draft examples of my own:

1) “One of the highlights of my summer was attending a four-day workshop. All of us there were committed to treating each other with respect and appreciation, and that let us look at tough issues—like racism and how bad climate change really is—that we so often want to turn away from. We found that if we could let ourselves be openly heartbroken, outraged, or scared, we ended up more connected to each other. It was remarkable how close we got, and we ended up feeling more hopeful.“

2) “I got to spend four days at a small conference that included people of high school age to people in their seventies; Black, Asian, Latinx, and white people; people of different religious and class backgrounds; people of different sexual identities; teachers, administrators, students, and parents. Because we shared a vision of creating a society that works well for everyone and in which no one is left out, we were able to get really connected and have fun with each other.”


Three days after the workshop I was meeting with three non-RCers to talk about the connections between racism and climate change and how we could help the rest of our climate organization be more aware about racism. We did a brief go-around on our recent experiences, and when it was my turn I used example number one above, which I had taken the time to memorize. The response was remarkable.

After asking a few quick questions about the workshop, each of the other people spontaneously, without being asked, shared how many feelings they had about racism and climate change and how these feelings had slowed down or stopped their activism when they hadn’t faced them and shared them openly. One woman said that we should use part of each of our meetings to share feelings like these. Someone else suggested that we create opportunities for the members of our larger organization to talk about their feelings about racism and climate change.

Russ Vernon-Jones

Amherst, Massachusetts, USA

Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion list for leaders of educational change

(Present Time 193, October 2018)

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00