During the opening circle of the Turtle Island Art of Hosting Practitioners gathering there was a memorable moment of interruption… a disruption. It was a surprising and uncomfortable occurrence for me. When I stayed in the discomfort, I could see how our calling question was manifest and alive. We had called in disruption and tensions related to power, privilege and race with our inquiry. Why would it be so shocking that they would show up from the get-go?
The next morning we developed a set of principles for convivencia during our time together. My partner and I were curious about ways that we can consciously interrupt and disrupt dominant power dynamics when we see them manifesting in small and large ways during our days together. We were clear that we can often become complicit in reinforcing the dominant (often biased, racist and unaware) systems by simply sitting still in our chairs with our mouths shut. The principle we posited was:
Practice mindfully disrupting/interrupting power imbalances and patterns of oppression.
And we asked: “What are the mechanisms we use to practice this kind of disruption?”
This was one of those principles that just would not leave us alone over the ensuing four days. THANK GOODNESS! I kept noticing when an interruption happened. But what I noted more commonly was when there was no disruption. When all of us just sat by even if some were aware that a person with power and privilege was taking up a lot of airtime with their contributions.
When the time came on the fifth day of the gathering to look at what we wanted to harvest from our time together, I just couldn’t let this one go. About eleven of us gathered around what Lina deemed the “Loving Disruption” table. We had an absolutely fascinating, multi-faceted and deeply meaningful conversation about what it means to disrupt the dominant systems in a way that allows for learning and growth while staying present in the discomfort and difficulty. We asked questions about where the impulse to interrupt was coming from within us. We asked if disruption always had to be loving. We talked about micro-aggressions. Some people were seeking clear definitions. Others wanted to be sure that we weren’t recreating binary rules about the “right” way and the “wrong” way to disrupt. Some tended toward the mechanisms for disruptions and others toward the many powerful questions that emerged in our conversation. The dialogue continued after the gathering with another powerful call.
Except for Wendy’s exceptional reflections on Loving Disruption within the framework of the Four-Fold Practice (page 7), we haven’t distilled this harvest much but I really wanted to share our notes and questions with the larger Art of Hosting community! So, here’s the raw harvest. What are the ways you’ve found effective for disrupting oppressive behaviors and imbalances of power in AoH gatherings (or other similar settings)? What burning questions do you have about all this? What are your experiences with loving disruption? What were people disrupting? What’s worked? What’s led to more connection and openness? What about disconnection and defense? I’m very curious to hear your thoughts! Feel free to leave them here in the comments section of this post!
Aerin and the Loving Disruption Crew