Creating BRAVE Space

Dear BRAVE humans, happy, happy weekend! Welcome back to Living BRAVE!

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Sending peace and love from the BRAVE family.

I want to take a moment at the start of this post to recognize and honor the courageous students, educators and families of Majory Stoneman Douglas High School community in Parkland, Florida. All of us in the BRAVE family extend our most sincere condolences.

#Enough is enough. We support you and we stand with you and all those impacted by school shootings and other gun violence.

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For today’s post, I am going to focus on how the BRAVE ideas and theories that I have shared in earlier posts can be employed to create what I like to call, BRAVE spaces. I believe that in the absence of a shared BRAVE space it is not possible to truly achieve our mission and bring it to life. Without BRAVE spaces it is not always possible to inspire, challenge and discover our best selves and ultimately realize our highest potential. In BRAVE space all of us are better able to fully develop our human and leadership identities through access to authentic and organic opportunities for learning, teaching and growing together. In order to create such space, we all need to be committed to doing the work.

Before moving forward, and explaining how to create such a space, I first want to say what a BRAVE space is and what it is not. How is BRAVE space different from "safe space"?

When we talk about space, we hear the language “safe space” a lot. For me, this can be problematic because too often when we are trying to make “space safe” it is typically through silence and redirection of certain ideas and topics. “Safe spaces” often lead to decisions that omit SUPER important topics and issues (health, race, gender, sexuality, violence etc.) with the excuse of it being vital to maintaining a “safe space.” When we leave these SUPER important topics and issues unexplored and untouched we can actually create unsafe spaces, especially for certain human identities. Sometimes “safe space” are advantageous to the privileged.

In a BRAVE space all humans feel safe and respected. A BRAVE space will also, always be a safe space. If it is not, then it is not truly a BRAVE space. However, in a BRAVE space, even though the priority is make all humans feel safe and respected, it is not always a priority for all humans to feel 100% comfortable. BRAVE spaces work to create opportunities for humans to be BRAVE; brave enough to be vulnerable and uncomfortable, brave enough to respect humans who are different from you, brave enough to admit that you are wrong, brave enough to learn something new, brave enough to listen, brave enough to share a personal experience, brave enough to say how you feel, brave enough to talk real talk about real issues and topics. In BRAVE spaces we can grow and improve and (re)discover our best selves together. In BRAVE spaces we can work together to teach, learn and create truly safe spaces for all humans. BRAVE spaces are built and live in humans hearts, minds and soul. BRAVE spaces are not tangible, physical spaces. BRAVE spaces take a lot of work. BRAVE spaces are possible. BRAVE spaces are beautiful and important. We need more of them.

Here are some of my strategies for leading the creation of a BRAVE space:

  1. What does a BRAVE space mean to us? What expectations for we have for ourselves and one another? What do we want to accomplish in this space?

    1. Be deliberate and create time within the first meeting session to discuss what a BRAVE space is and what it might look like for the group and context and hand.

    2. Next, develop a structure within which you work together co-create expectations and strategies for accountability between and among ALL humans for the shared space.

      1. ALL voices must be included. The process must be intentional in its inclusion.

    3. Be transparent with all those in the shared space about the significance and purpose of ALL voices being included and of the shared accountability and responsibility in the space.

    4. It is also helpful to create something physical/visual, with these expectations outlined. You may even have everyone review and sign a document with these expectations. It is best to have this with you at each session, as a reference and to share with new members who may join after the first session.

    5. At each meeting and session, revisit this guide as needed for accountability, amendments, welcoming new members, and more. It can help create a common language for the group as well. This is really helpful for the most effective and efficient communication.

  2. How do we sustain this awesome first day vibe? How do we continue to produce and reproduce and improve our BRAVE space?

    1. Develop and implement group routines, specifically at the beginning and end of each session, for every session. This will prioritize the visibility and inclusion of the established expectations and actively support the sustainable development of a respectful, positive and brave culture.

      1. Some of our routines include “rockstars,” “MOGs,” “BRAVE statements” (with power poses =]), “goal buddies,” quotes of the week, journals prompts, and more! Please shoot me an email mdavis@girlsarebrave.org if you want to learn more.

    2. Employ the common language and build it into the regular routines of the space.

    3. Always include all voices and respect all humans.

    4. Always provide space for revisiting the expectations and the shared value of the BRAVE space.

    5. Always provide space for accountability and responsibility.

    6. Always provide space for validation and support.

    7. Always walk to walk as the leader of the space and practice accountability for yourself.

    8. Actively inspire and challenge everyone to meet/exceed expectations and hold one another accountable with respect.

      1. Build in messaging for all members be their best self and intentionally build avenues for change, growth, and accountability as needed.

Check out some of our BRAVE spaces:

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Are you part of any BRAVE spaces? How were they created? How were they sustained? What tips or tricks can you share? What does a BRAVE space mean to you? Do you think you could create a BRAVE space? Please share your responses in the comments below.

Remember, in BRAVE spaces we can grow and improve and (re)discover our best selves together. In BRAVE spaces we can work together to teach, learn and create truly safe spaces for all humans. BRAVE spaces are built and live in humans hearts, minds and soul. BRAVE spaces are not tangible, physical spaces. BRAVE spaces take a lot of work. BRAVE spaces are possible. BRAVE spaces are beautiful and important. We need more of them.

Here is hoping that you have some time within a BRAVE space and among BRAVE humans this weekend and beyond! Stay awesome, y’all!

Peace and love,

Meaghan