This year's Scattershot Café event offered small conversation and peer networking circles across the Twin Cities. A few highlights from some of the discussions:
Where do you work?
On a scale of lemon juice in a paper cut to root canal, job hunting ranks smack in the middle. "Where Do You Work" discussed the travails of job hunting while you're already working full time, how to determine a work environment is a correct fit in the interview process, and how to make a successful transition into previously unchartered waters. The vital ingredient? Courage: courage to ask for help, courage to volunteer your free time and courage to take on every new challenge one step at a time.
#yesallwomen explored the limitations of organizing in online spaces. How do you connect with community? How do online spaces open up dialogues that might not happen in real life? How does this anonymity also create unsafe spaces - so how does it perpetuate violence against women and misogyny?
How has feminism historically excluded certain communities of people? What does it mean that "women" is a central part of the #YesAllWomen hashtag and who does this exclude (like gender nonconofrming people), or how does the insistence on the universal "women" invisibilize the experiences that specific groups of women have? Suey Park's article on Hashtags as Decolonial Projects was particularly helpful here.
Another major point we talked about was balancing our online selves and our professional selves. What does it mean for us (as mostly young women) to engage in online activism on public platforms? Does this delegitimize our professional voices? How do you balance that?
Some further reading, for those interested:
Everyone at Event Planning came from organizations putting on very different events — from capacity-building conferences to fundraising galas to charity rides — yet each person was able to share expertise, ask questions, and really get hands-on with resources. It was a great experience to be able to talk with other nonprofit event planners about a variety of topics that apply to every event (program evaluation, incentivizing participation, staff anxiety, speaker time management, software options, free space options, and engagement).
LOCUS: Affirming Authenticity
For individuals whose cultural and traditional identities lay outside the mainstream, there is great value in gathering together in safe spaces for self-reflection, reconciliation, and healing. In these places, we again affirm our diversity as a powerful asset, which urges us to step purposefully into our identities for the benefit of ourselves and our communities.
The common vocabulary of StrengthsFinder created immediate connection: rather than needing to spend time asking basic questions and getting to know each other, we focused on "So what?" and "What now?" Every person shared openly about why StrengthsFinder speaks to them: they love of being valued for the way they process, think, and perceive things. Having a common language for specific, similar traits meant the group could value not only shared Strengths, but differences, and problem solve together.