The Approach

The Welcome Table

The Approach

Estrus-facilitating-outdoors-croppedThe Welcome Table is a process designed to help create relational trust, unity, teamwork and cohesiveness in a group of community members who have already expressed interest in improving racial relations and addressing other problems in their communities. The process shares with these community members better ways to communicate with each other, and, by extension, other people from different ethnic groups in their communities as a whole.

We cannot travel everywhere, meet everyone, and experience everything. That is why we have stories. Stories, our own, and those of other cultures and experiences, are central to the Welcome Table process. They allow us a glimpse into each other’s experiences and hearts and thus create a space for deeper learning and cooperation based on our common humanity. As communities express interest in addressing inherited racial and ethnic division, the Winter Institute supports the creation of a local group to address local issues. As participants indicate a readiness to engage in a long-term process of local engagement, education and training, the Institute offers a retreat to deepen the process.

The retreat component is used demonstrate and model behaviors that the participants will later learn to replicate. More importantly, it enables the participants to experience the safety that is necessary for truly open and honest communication, and development of relational trust. Participants practice the skills necessary for open and honest communication as laid out by the retreat touchstones through storytelling.

By the end of the retreat, participants will begin to develop closer relationships and expand their ability to access the human capital in themselves and in their communities by learning to see beyond cultural and ethnic barriers to tap the resources that are already present.

While it is not the purpose of the retreats to address specific issues in the community, it does seek to prepare the team members to address those problems as a unit open to all possibilities when they return home.

After the retreat, the teams are offered additional education and training in community building. But it is up to them to set the pace and accept or decline the offer.