I thought it might be helpful to break down a few terms and words that get used a lot in our learning, our conversation and connection gatherings, and other places. They sometimes seem hokey, or overused, or code words for something else.
But if you lean in real close, I’m going to whisper you a secret.
All these words, they’re pretty average, nothing too kooky, I promise. Trust me, I don’t do hokey.
And these words don’t mean anything sneaky, or tricky, or strange and they don’t lead to burning incense or kumbaya sing-a-longs, unless you want them to. (I’ve only twice attended something where incense was used… and both times were with Canadians in CANADA for Pete’s sake!)
And if you don’t get tied up in the sometimes “weirdness” of these words, and if you give up the fact that no one really cares if you’re cool or not, you’ll get a lot out of showing up and letting go of the “cheese” factor sometimes associated with them.
So let’s review some vocabulary, shall we?
5VE or the Five Valued Experiences — Dr. John O’Brien’s work outlining a good life (see “good life” definition) the 5VE or Five Valued Experiences include: experiencing respect, making contributions, making choices, sharing ordinary places, and growing in relationships
“Starfire bases its work on the Five Valued Experiences.”
authentic — don’t fake it. Be honest. Say what you know.
“When you answer, be authentic with your response.”
circle — people who support you in your life; may include family members, friends, paid staff, and people you know you in various roles. Circles may also advocate on behalf of the person’s best interest in times of difficulty. Circles can be built intentionally [see intentional definition], and they can occur naturally.
“Andrew and his circle are going out to dinner this Thursday to celebrate his 25th birthday.”
community — 1. literally, a group of people; A group of people who care about a greater good of inclusion, where people are recognized by their gifts and talents as opposed to labels; 2. the city of Cincinnati, or your specific neighborhood.
1. “We want the collaboration projects to bring together a community around Kasey and work on the kindness project together.”
2. “We want to host the Brew Review close to or in Michael’s community.”
connect – 1. find time to talk about something another person knows about and see what happens after that 2. find others who have things in common with us or bring together other people who we’ve met that have things in common and see what happens after that
1. “I’d love to connect with you, Craig, about the best laptop I should look into buying.”
2. “Katie, I need to connect you to my friend, Cal. He makes short films and would be interested in helping with editing some of these videos.”
good life — different for each person depending on interests, passions [see interests, passions definition] but includes a variety of ordinary citizens, family, and friends and one in which a person can live the Five Valued Experiences through meaningful ways
“We’re going to host a PATH to talk about what a good life looks like with Ari.” [see PATH, circle definition]
harvest – bring it back to everyone else
“Alright, everybody! Let’s go ahead and harvest what was said and heard.”
invitation – 1. an opportunity to get deeper, if you want. 2. Sometimes literally, an invitation to RSVP to attend an event. We’d like you there, but it’s your choice. We’ll probably keep inviting you, though, to lots of different things, based on your passions, skills and interests. [see passions, skills and interest definition]
“We’re making an invitation to Joe’s committee to spend time with him outside of the history project, too.”
“I’m sending you an invitation to the Final Four Flyaway let me know if you want to go with me again this year!”
intentional — do it on purpose, have a reason for it, and mean it.
“Inviting Master Korchak to Kyle’s PATH was intentional. We needed a martial arts expert in the room.” [see PATH definition]
interests–stuff you like or like the idea of; things you find interesting
“What kind of interests do you have?”
Ex: motorcycles, abstract art, antiques, couture fashion
ordinary places– places that are not separate, segregation-based, specific to disability, or exclusionary
Ex: a community recreation center fitness class instead of a disability fitness group
“We’re looking for ordinary places where Michelle could share the community journals.”
PATH — a visual, future-mapping conversation where people and their circles discuss what is most positive and possible with and for the person of focus
“In my PATH I talked about wanting to move out and learning how to build things with my hands like bookshelves and chairs.”
passions — things you feel strongly about or stuff you love
“So, what are some of your passions?” or “What are you passionate about?”
Ex: literacy, LGBTQ rights, inclusion, veteran affairs
people you know the least — people don’t know well or at all. Having to introduce yourself is preferred
“Sit with people you know the least.”
Ex: not your significant other or best friend
skills — stuff you’re good at, things you can do.
“What unique skills do you have?”
Ex: web design, grant writing, cooking, hair braiding
small group — less than 5 people makes up a small group. 4 is preferable.
“Let’s break up into small groups.”
SRV or Social Role Valorization – big stuff here. In a really oversimplified definition SRV is about how someone can be seen as different and that difference is seen in a negative way; It also talks about what not to do, how to bend over backwards to make sure labeled people aren’t seen as criminal, holy innocents, forever children, burdensome, objects of pity. (For more info google “social role valorization.” There are a ton of scholarly articles written about it. If you’d like to attend a Starfire discussion on SRV, drop a line in the comment section and we’ll keep you posted on the next one we host, usually every August.)
“I went to an SRV training a few weeks ago and it really has me thinking about how some people we know still talk to Sarah like she’s 8. She turned 31 last January! She not a little girl anymore.”
valued role — things that give us status; positive roles that we can be known by, roles that others hold in high regard
Ex: Mom, uncle, coach, assistant teacher, musician, chef, event planner, writer,
“Margot has a valued role at Interfaith Hospitality Network where she works with the after-school program.”
Now that we’ve covered some of the words used, let’s work on mastering the vocabulary. I know you can do this!
“This is your invitation to be authentic with a small group about the questions you have right now.”
Translation: If you want, get in a group with 4 or so people, talk about what you know, honestly about any questions you’re thinking.
“At Zak’s PATH we talked about finding ordinary places in his community where he might be able to connect to train enthusiasts.”
Translation: In the neighborhood of Mack, where Zak lives, we want to find where train enthusiasts meet that are not segregated places specifically designed for people with disabilities who like trains.
“DaMarr just hosted a community event where he connected to other people interested in Zumba. It was a great to see all of the Five Valued Experiences working at once.”
Translation: DaMarr planned an event open to a bunch of people where he met people who also liked Zumba. While there, he was respected by leading two Zumba dances, met some new people with those who attended, gave back to his neighborhood by opening it up to whomever wanted to attend and had it at a recreation center instead of Starfire. He got to make choices as to what day it would take place on, who to send it to, and what songs he would like to lead.
Other “Oddities” You Should Know:
What’s with the name tags?
We want you to know people’s names. And we want to remember yours. There are a lot of people in Cincinnati. Let’s give each other a break if we don’t always remember. No one likes that uncomfortable “Hey…(elongated pause)…you!!” when you see someone you should know but draw a blank on their name.
What’s with the markers? Why is she drawing?
Listening is sometimes hard. By giving visuals, people can see what was said. Pictures give life to the conversation, and not everyone can read.
Why do you care what neighborhood I live in?
Because place is important to all of us. If you live in Harrison, you probably don’t care too much about what Loveland is up to. Also, if you live in Mt. Healthy and sit in a small group with someone else from Mt. Healthy, you’ll be excited that you have that in common
and who knows where that conversation can go from there.
Sure this seems like a long list to learn. But it’s not really. We already know what these words mean. You know what “authentic” means. You know what small + group means. This is just a cheat sheet to make showing up to Gatherings and hearing this stuff feel a little less weird.
And we’ll never burn incense, I promise. Unless you intentionally ask me over to your community to do so as we connect over authentic conversations where we harvest our interests, skills, passions, and we sit in a small group and find out what a good life means for you.
I’ll wait for that invitation, though. Until then, I’ll see you at the next Gathering. I’ll be the one wearing a name tag.