025: Embracing Diversity and Inclusion with Crystal Byrd Farmer

Posted on February 12, 2024 by

Embracing Diversity and Inclusion with Crystal Byrd Farmer

Inside Community Podcast — Ep. 025

There’s a rich opportunity to push the needle forward when it comes to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, but navigating Race, Class, Privilege, Ability, and all the ways folks face different levels of adversity can be vulnerable and uncomfortable.  Sometimes we need support to know what to ask for, how to be better allies, and to push us to grow in our capacity to accept others… and recognize our own blindness to our priviledge.  In this conversation with Diversity Consultant, Crystal Byrd Farmer we cover code switching, how to have safe conversations, microagressions, call out culture, hidden diversities, tools and resources, and how to create communities and spaces that are welcoming to all people.

In this episode

  • Race, class, and privilege in intentional communities. (0:06)
  • Privilege and harm reduction in intentional communities. (5:38)
  • Inclusive communication and avoiding assumptions. (14:04)
  • Race, identity, and education. (20:13)
  • Discomfort, privilege, and inclusivity. (26:23)
  • Diversity, inclusion, and accessibility in community settings. (31:09)
  • Emotional labor and community support. (37:09)
  • Inclusivity and diversity in intentional communities. (42:25)
  • Empathetic communication and personal responsibility. (49:28)
  • Call-out culture and inclusivity in society. (53:16)
  • Empathy, inclusivity, and respectful interactions. (59:59)
  • Diversity, identity, and community building. (1:04:04)

About Crystal Byrd Farmer

Crystal Byrd Farmer is an engineer turned educator, organizer, and speaker. She attended University of South Carolina and received dual degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Russian Studies. After working in engineering for six years, Crystal became a freelance technical writer and eventually found her way into the world of self-directed learning and intentional communities. Crystal has been active in the intentional communities movement for over six years and serves on the board of the Foundation for Intentional Community and Co-President of the BIPOC Intentional Community Council.  She is the former website editor for Black & Poly and is active in her local polyamory community. In 2022 she served as the committee moderator for PolyamProud.

Crystal’s day job is as owner and facilitator of Gastonia Freedom School, an Agile Learning Center for children with disabilities. She lives in Gastonia, NC and has one daughter.

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Show Notes

Books and Resources We Mentioned:

Super Awesome Inside Community Jingle by FIC board member Dave Booda davebooda.com

ICP theme by Rebecca Mesritz

Thanks from Rebecca, your podcast host

Episode Transcript

Crystal Byrd Farmer 0:06
The idea of being uncomfortable is is like a bad thing. Like, it’s like we can’t be uncomfortable, we have to demand that other people make us feel comfortable. And when that comes to raise, that means white people are often avoiding the topic of race and avoiding the idea that they do have privilege. So just like you said, having privileged doesn’t mean that you’ve had a perfect life, it doesn’t mean that you haven’t had these challenges or things that you’ve had to overcome. It just means that there’s some challenges that you’ve never encountered that you’ll never have to face. And those will be different based on you know, the specifics of your identity. But in general, people with privilege have somethings easier than people who don’t have privilege.

Rebecca Mesritz 0:55
Hello, and welcome back to the inside community podcast. I’m your host, Rebecca Mazur. It’s February is Black History Month. And as I continue with this season’s theme of looking at some of the more messy and complicated aspects of collaborative culture and community life, I thought this would be the perfect time to explore some of the complexities of navigating race, class privilege and ability, and the real opportunities for communities to trailblaze how we work with equity and inclusion. Like many of the topics I’ve covered so far this season, this is one that can be kind of provoking and feel awkward and unwieldy. Even though the subjects of race Diversity, Equity and Inclusion have been in the forefront of public consciousness for several years now, it still feels really tender. As a society, we’re still struggling to be able to talk about these things in an open way. And particularly for communities and collaborative culture organizations that really want to be at the forefront of some of these shifts and changes. It’s easy to sometimes run out of steam or start to feel exhausted by how big the mountain is of what we actually need to look at. So I hope that wherever you are on your journey of growth and deeper compassion and understanding around this topic, that today’s interview with my guest, Crystal bird farmer, reinvigorates you and inspires you to continue to search for ways that you can be an ally, that you can ask for what you really need, and that you can work to create a more inclusive and just world. We’re gonna have a few words from our amazing sponsors and then jump right into this conversation with crystal bird former. co host coho us is the hub of the cohousing movement, convening individuals and organizations with a shared vision for intentional community living. expert led courses and forums on the cohousing Institute, provide the skills and expertise to build and sustain your community. Available both live and on demand. Join coho us for the commons, a monthly gathering space for the cohousing curious the 10th of every month at 10am. Mountain learn more@www.cohousing.org. For more than 50 years, communities magazine has been a primary resource for information stories and ideas about community living and collaborative culture. Over the course of the magazines history, communities has published essays and articles from community all stars, future thinkers and wisdom keepers on virtually every topic related to forming, maintaining living in an even leaving community. You can gain access to all back issues in digital form. Plus receive current print or digital issues by subscribing now, at Gen hyphen us.net/subscribe. A complete Article Index, community index and issue theme list are all available online to help you find the inspiration you’re looking for.

Rebecca Mesritz 4:13
Crystal bird farmer is an engineer, turned educator, organizer and speaker. She attended University of South Carolina and received dual degrees in mechanical engineering and Russian studies. After working in engineering for six years, Crystal became a freelance technical writer and eventually found her way into the world of self directed learning and intentional communities. Crystal has been active in the intentional communities movement for six years and is in the board of the foundation for intentional community, as well as a co president of the bipoc intentional community council. She’s the former website editor for black and poly and is active in her local polyamory community. In 2022, she served as the committee moderator for poly am proud, Crystal’s day job is as owner and facilitator of Gastonia Freedom School, an agile learning center for children with disabilities. She lives in Gastonia North Carolina, and has one daughter. Crystal bird farmer, welcome to the Inside community podcast. Thank you for being here.

Crystal Byrd Farmer 5:17
Thanks. I’m happy to be here.

Rebecca Mesritz 5:21
I usually like to start my conversations with people by asking them about the community that they live in, and their community experience. And I know that you’re also on the board of the foundation for intentional community. So maybe you can tell us a little bit about that.

Crystal Byrd Farmer 5:38
Yeah, so I’ve been on the board of fic since 2020. And for a short time, I’ve been the interim co director. So I’d stepped off the board until leadership just to help the fic with some reorganization, and reprioritizing. And then I went back to the board. So I don’t live in an intentional community. Actually, I live in like a pseudo community. It’s a very close knit neighborhood, historically, black neighborhood here in North Carolina, I live next door to my mom, we know all the people across the street and down the street. And it’s just that type of community that’s kind of grown up itself, instead of being labeled an intentional community. It’s just his own community.

Rebecca Mesritz 6:22
Well, you know, I, I’m excited to talk to you, I am going to admit that I’m a little nervous about talking to you about our topic today, because I really want to talk to you about privilege. And you’ve led some courses and trainings with the fic around diversity, equity and inclusion and privilege. And yeah, just want to take a moment to acknowledge that this is a tough conversation to have. And it can be really triggering for people. So for for any of our listeners that are having a moment of trigger or process, I just want to invite everyone to take a nice deep breath and and open your heart and your mind a little bit to dive into something that can be a little bit uncomfortable.

Crystal Byrd Farmer 7:18
Yes, a difficult topic.

Rebecca Mesritz 7:22
Yeah. Why? Why is it important to talk about privilege.

Crystal Byrd Farmer 7:25
It’s important because it’s something that we have, even though we don’t always know we have it, or we’re not consciously using it. What happens is that when we don’t acknowledge our privilege, we move through the world, possibly hurting people, taking advantage of people and continuing this system of oppression that we all live in. And it is creating harm in the world and to to acknowledge and own our privilege means that we can reduce some of that harm.

Rebecca Mesritz 7:55
Can you talk a little bit more about about harm reduction? And what does that even mean? Really?

Crystal Byrd Farmer 8:00
Yeah, so the harm that marginalized people and I call them marginalized people, those are people who don’t have as much privilege based on their identity. So marginalized people experience harm, everyday being in this world that doesn’t cater or isn’t built for them. So for instance, if you’re disabled, you know, if you use a wheelchair, you know, we have some curb cuts in the sidewalks. But what if you need to go up the stairs, or down the stairs, or you need to go, you know, a couple of floors up and there’s no elevator, the world isn’t built for them. And so that’s causing harm, because that person in a wheelchair can’t access the same things that other people can. When we talk about race, there are ways that our system is built to benefit white people or people who passes white. And that means that they are able to get better jobs, that are housing, they have more income, they have more privilege as far as like going to school, getting a good education. And that means that the people who don’t have those benefits are losing out on some of the economic benefits. That means they are not as able to take care of their family. And you know, some of them are living in poverty, which means that they they can’t have the same opportunities and the same advantages that people who have wealth can.

Rebecca Mesritz 9:14
So when it comes to community, how do you see these ideas folding into into that? And like the role of harm reduction, when

Crystal Byrd Farmer 9:29
it comes to intentional communities, I think they’re a great place to reduce harm on marginalized people because it’s so much built on collaboration and supporting each other that in an intentional community, you could actually treat everyone equally and I know that’s the goal of everybody in the world, but intentional communities, there are ways that you can actually live that out. For instance, talking about Twin Oaks in Twin Oaks has a labor system that includes all types of labor, so not just a I’m doing the accounting or working on the farm but also taking care of children and cooking. So you know, instead of considering some types of labor, just you know, kind of women’s work or something that is built into the system, they consider all types of laborers labor, and that equalizes the genders and equalizes the people who would not have the same skills that more privileged people have. And that allows everyone to contribute equally to the community.

Rebecca Mesritz 10:27
I feel like that’s a good start. But like, I feel like there’s something under that, to like, beyond just the desire to, to be equal, you know, I’m wondering if there’s other other things that communities should be tuning to or be aligned to, so that they can embrace diversity in in a better way. In a way, that’s not just like, oh, we have a, you know, we’ve got these accessible spaces for people to come into. But like, I think for a lot of communities, especially what I’m aware of, is that much of the community’s movement is white, white, and bodied people. And, of course, race isn’t the only type of diversity but you know, how, how can? How can communities that are largely white and want to be more diverse? How can they start to open themselves up to deeper levels of diversity?

Crystal Byrd Farmer 11:26
Yeah, part of it is acknowledging that you know, you do you have a majority white community, or that your community has a lot of privilege, and then seeking to understand the perspectives of people who are not in your community. So when it comes to race, it is true that most communities are very white and have white founders. And, you know, it’s not anybody’s fault that there’s not as much diversity. But it does have realistic implications to it. And so part of those implications just to go off and attend a tangent is just the history of how we use housing segregation, and how we have kind of set up the mortgage industry and neighborhoods and all of that to exclude certain people based on things that they may not be able to control, such as their socio economic status, or how they were born, where they’re born, who they were born in, what kind of family they were born into. But when communities want to be more diverse, what they have to do is recognize that there are people who have distinct experiences that are different from white people’s experiences, for instance, so you know, people who grew up in my neighborhood, for instance, are black, they grew up lower income, they don’t have the same education level, and that’s going to impact how they interact with the world. So you know, they may not say things in the same standard English, or they may not have as good skills, managing money, they may have never gone on a vacation to Europe or something like that. So they’re gonna have different experiences, different needs. And when they come into a community, they want to feel like they are equal and the same as everybody, they don’t want those differences to be picked upon. They don’t want microaggressions, they don’t want people making assumptions about them based on their needs, or based on who they are presenting as. And so part of what the community has to do is recognize that when people come into the community, they are carrying their own kind of history and traditions and culture of who they are. And they want to feel like they can explore that. And they can be themselves in community. But a lot of times when we come into a majority white community or communion with a lot of privilege, you have to do code switching. So you have to kind of pretend that you are exactly the same as the community that you, you know, for instance, that you are middle class, or that you did have a college education. And that can be exhausting to go through and kind of just try and fit in with the community. Instead, we want the community to be able to accept somebody as they are. So you know, maybe they don’t use the right language. They’ve never heard of NVC nonviolent communication, but you can still be open and welcoming to them and support them in what they want to do with the community.

Rebecca Mesritz 14:03
One thing that you just said about not making assumptions about people based on how they’re presenting. And I feel like that’s can be kind of tricky. I mean, I think we’re all we all kind of deal with not making assumptions about people. But also, a lot of times when we make assumptions about people who are quote, unquote, like us, or we think are like us. Our assumptions are kind of right, like we do have a shared history, a shared background. And I think there’s some, sometimes a little bit of like when someone is different or other, whether it’s racially or ability or your gender and sexuality. It’s like, we don’t want to make assumptions about them. But also there’s a taboo around asking point blank about what their experience might be, because it’s like, oh, you You’re different. Can you speak to how you’re different? And I feel like that would also be exhausting? Yeah, you know, that’s also kind of like, a tough, a tough way to approach somebody. You know, I’m wondering if you have some suggestions about how people might navigate that kind of interaction, you know, because we want to be inclusive. We don’t want to make assumptions. But then again, we also don’t really know. And for a lot of people it might feel rude or imposing to, to like to ask, really, they just ask.

Crystal Byrd Farmer 15:35
Yeah, it’s a fine line. Like you, we all make assumptions. So that’s just automatically going on in our brain. But we don’t want those assumptions to be hurtful to people. And so when it comes to interacting with new people, and trying to understand who they are, what they are, like, the biggest thing that I understand for marginalized people is that they don’t want questions about their race or their, their profession, their family, you know, they they want to be seen kind of as a as a person who is similar to everybody else. So instead of asking questions like, Oh, where did you come from? Or What languages do you speak? Or, you know, Are you new to the US things? Questions like that, instead of asking those questions, you can ask more deep questions about like, what drew you to cohousing, for instance? Or what is your family’s values, things like that, that kind of go a little bit deeper than the surface level? Because when you’re asking upfront questions about like, Oh, you’re somebody different, that can be harmful. And that can be annoying to people, especially if you do come into a community and you’re the only one who looks like you. If one person asks you, well, you know, where are you from? That’s, that’s okay. But if you have like 15 people asking, Where are you from? That really does get exhausting.

Rebecca Mesritz 16:57
It’s so it’s so interesting, because I feel like in some ways that, you know, as a white person I was I’m relating to other white people. And I often like that’s often what we talk about, like as sort of introductory conversation. That’s sort of how we’re acculturated is like, oh, who are you? Where are you from? You know, where, you know, I had, I met somebody out to dinner at dinner last night, who’s sitting next to us at this long table. And within five minutes, I knew Oh, their family’s from Georgia. They’re Swedish immigrants. You know, like all this stuff. That’s exactly the things that maybe are less appropriate or less comfortable to be asking about, or talking about if someone was of a different ethnicity than than you. Mm hmm. It’s, I liked this point, though, about getting into that deeper level of questioning. And, yeah, can you offer some more suggestions about other questions? I know, it sounds kind of basic, but like, what are some other what, like, what are some other good icebreakers? Because that’s, to me, it almost feels like prying in some ways, like, Oh, what are your family values? That’s a pretty deep question.

Crystal Byrd Farmer 18:18
Well, maybe maybe on Tuesday when I when I introduced, but it really is like, like you just said, you know, when you’re talking to people who are like you, those questions are normal, but marginalized people have a sensitivity to those type of questions. Yeah, it feels like they’re being interrogated, or they’re being there, you know, somebody’s trying to figure out whether they belong or not. Right. So some other questions you can ask is, you know, you know, what’s your family? Well, you don’t want to ask what their family like where they come from, or anything like that. But you know, as like, you know, what is your family enjoy doing on the weekends are you can say they have pets, or you can ask about, you know, you can ask about their job, but it’s kind of you want to be open to whatever answer they have, instead of assuming that they may do manual labor or they do you know, unskilled labor, or that they are a doctor or something like that. You just don’t want to make assumptions based on you know, the ethnicity of certain people. You don’t want to ask about religion or politics. Those are like the, you know, forbidden subjects, but you can ask, how did they meet their partner? You know, what’s their favorite place to go do a vacation on what kind of movies and TV shows they enjoy? Questions like that that are kind of like part of normal life and then you want to ask you like when it comes to cohousing, or intentional community, it’s really interesting just to see what brought people to a community, what they know about intentional communities, whether they’ve lived in one before, what kind of processes they enjoy. I mean, you know, some you can ask if people enjoy sociocracy or not, I don’t know anybody, like really excited about it, but You know, you can talk about what your community does really well, and what some, some, some places for improvement are in your community and get their thoughts on that.

Rebecca Mesritz 20:13
And then, like, at what point? Or I mean, is it something that’s more subtle, I guess I kind of want to pick this apart a little bit. Because I feel like as you grow in intimacy with someone, you know, whether they look like you or they don’t look like you, or they’re, they’re, you know, neurotypical neurodivergent, you know, or anything else in the, in the wide variety of forums, people come in, at some point. As you become more intimate with each other, I feel like you should be able to talk real talk about some of these things, or am I mistaken on that? I mean, is there a time when you can, when, when that would be a safe conversation to have of like, what’s your life? Like? Like, who are you underneath of those things?

Crystal Byrd Farmer 21:05
Um, you know, it’s very sensitive, because there are friends of mine, that I consider friends, that people that I, you know, enjoy being around, but that I wouldn’t want to have a conversation about race with, you know, they may be white, and they would want to say, hey, let’s talk about, you know, can we talk about your race? And I’d be like, no, because even though you get some intimacy with people, and you feel comfortable with people, there’s sometimes just a lack of knowledge that people bring to a conversation like that. And them explaining their lack of knowledge, or them talking about the assumptions or ideas that they have that could cause that could be harmful, that could cause harm, and feel really bad on my end. So I’m, yeah, very sensitive to the idea of talking about things with people who are a different race. And I think that happens with a lot of marginalized people. But the good news is that a lot of people feel comfortable with people after a while, you know, they they take time to understand and to get to know people, and they feel safe. And so they may volunteer that information, or they may welcome a conversation about it. So I think it’s just a person to person thing there, whether they feel comfortable bringing that topic up.

Rebecca Mesritz 22:22
Yeah, I mean, it’s hard for me to imagine having a conversation with someone where I was like, Hey, can we talk about your race for a minute? It feels like, kind of awkward. I don’t know, that’s, maybe that’s just me. But I, I’ll just say, I appreciate you being willing to be here with me to talk about this topic. Yeah. And I, what I’m hearing also inside of what you’re saying, that I’m aware of, from my own kind of work, and learning around this topic is that it’s important for the people who are not in the marginalized community are not who are who are in whatever like the common, the most common is, so if it was like, the white, the white folks with a with a black folk, a black person, or an Asian person, or a Hispanic person, or a bunch of straight people with a gay person, or gender non binary person, to not go to those people and expect them to educate us or on on the topic, like, that’s actually not their job. Like, that’s the work that the people who are holding the privilege should be taking on their own. There’s tons of resources out there. And maybe you can speak to that if people are interested in getting themselves educated and learning more about how to approach these topics, without going to their, you know, their friend and saying, Hey, can you like, what is this really like for you and expecting them to, to be your teacher somehow?

Crystal Byrd Farmer 24:02
Yeah, it’s really important that you don’t use your friends as educators or ask them to be like a diversity consultant. So I’m a diversity consultant. So I can, like help educate people. And you know, there’s a really good YouTube channel called the cut. And they do these videos where they take a random person in front of a group of random people and they’re like, Okay, find out or guess what this person’s sexuality is, or guess who has a disability. And it’s kind of like a really comical little short video, but it really drives the point home and that you can’t look at people and always know who they are, what they are, and those conversations can be really sensitive. But when people are open to educating you and talking to you about it, it’s a really great place for learning. So, if you want to learn you know, find that find those people who are being the educated Those who are standing up and saying, hey, I can tell you about this, you know, if you live in a community, there may be people who are willing to kind of give you the resources that you need to find out things. So I always say, you know, you can use Google and just type in any search thing like, how are how are people bisexual? Or, you know, why do people who can walk use wheelchairs and questions like that? You know, those are really easy questions so that you can, you can find on the internet or finding a good book, I have a list of resources that I send out in my courses and my classes that you know, are just kind of like the basics. For race, there’s a whole, there’s lists of lists about race and how to do it. I call it the Black Lives Matter bestseller list. So if you look at books, like stamped from the beginning, or white fragility, do the anti gang, what is it called? The white supremacy handbook, I think it’s called by Leila side. But anyway, you know, if you just if you just kind of look on online, you can find a lot of good resources. One of my favorite resources is racial equity tools is just racial equity tools.com, and it has a glossary, it has all kinds of different exercises and worksheets and things that you can use in groups.

Rebecca Mesritz 26:23
I also I really enjoyed a book by Rasma minicam, called my grandmother’s hands, which is kind of more about the, like, the somatic experience of racism and privilege and, and how it has affected how it affects all people. And gives a lot of really great tools, especially I think, for everyone, but as a white bodied person. It’s really uncomfortable. It’s physically uncomfortable, and like how, and I mean, we can talk more about comfort and, and ideas of right to comfort but it makes it sometimes like, Oh, am I really going to really going to push into this? Am I really going to look at the ways that I’ve, I’ve benefited or I’ve turned a blind eye or I’ve basically been a party to systematic oppression of other people, even though I’m, I feel like I’m a good person. And I don’t necessarily feel like I’ve had I mean, I’ve had obviously a lot of privilege, but also not as much privilege as a lot of other people. And I’ve also faced a lot of adversity, and I’ve got a whole like backpack full of reasons why that doesn’t apply to me. Until like, really, like open up that backpack and look inside and be like, oh, oh, no. Oh, no. is tough. It’s tough. And so like getting some tools and resources for looking at those things, I think is really helpful. Really helpful. Yeah,

Crystal Byrd Farmer 28:02
it’s, it can be very uncomfortable. And you were talking about right to comfort, you know, we all are a part of this, this western culture and white supremacy culture and, and the idea of being uncomfortable is is like a bad thing. Like, it’s like, we can’t be uncomfortable, we have to demand that other people make us feel comfortable. And when that comes to race, that means white people are often avoiding the topic of race and avoiding the idea that they do have privilege. So just like you said, having privileged doesn’t mean that you’ve had a perfect life, it doesn’t mean that you haven’t had these challenges or things that you’ve had to overcome, it just means that there’s some challenges that you’ve never encountered that you’ll never have to face. And those will be different based on, you know, the specifics of your identity. But in general, people with privilege have something’s easier than people who don’t have privilege. And facing that and looking at it. There’s actually an exercise called unpacking the knapsack, and it’s about privilege, but, you know, basically, great. Yeah. Basically, that can be really uncomfortable. And it’s something that people who don’t have privilege have faced a lot, you know, they often get told no, their needs aren’t being met. So they’re living in a lot of discomfort already just being marginalized. And so for privileged people just to have a little bit of discomfort, just kind of unpacking that knapsack and looking at themselves. I think that discomfort is worth worth it to achieve the goal of being accommodating and inclusive for everybody.

Daniel Greenberg 29:48
2024 is sure to be a doozy of a year with the election, violence and the planet all heating up. Where do you find solace and sanity? Where do You find community in these days of division and consumerism? The answer of course, is that the fic check out our directory and other resources@ic.org and add a slash donate if you’re able to support us to help build a more just resilient and cooperative world. Thank you.

Rebecca Mesritz 30:20
Catus is not your everyday architecture firm. Their interest in regenerative and community supportive design has cultivated an expertise in intentional and cohousing communities, with a focus on rich and healthy human experiences. Design, excellence and pragmatism are at the core of their work, as is an ethic of service to the client and natural or urban environments. Qantas is a leader in sustainable design, Zero Energy homes, passive house and delightful neighborhoods, they are experts in grassroots community engagement, and apply attention sophisticated design and creative solutions to every project. If it’s worth building, it’s worth building it well find Catus on Facebook, and Instagram, and it Catus pc.com. That’s CADDIS pc.com

Rebecca Mesritz 31:19
There’s certain types of diversity, you know, obviously racial gender, that are that are really obvious. But there’s others that can be very hidden. You know, and I’m thinking specifically about class and economic diversity, I’m thinking about, in particular ability, which comes up a lot. It’s coming up more and more for me these days, my sister is autistic. And I’m, I have ADHD that can be very debilitating and really affect my capacity for executive function. And these are things that are, you know, I don’t lead with that, you know, when I don’t think anybody, I mean, I don’t think anyone’s trying to like, I am this person, like, here’s me in a nutshell. But it can be hard to see some of these ways that people are marginalized. And even harder to understand what that really means. Sometimes, as well, like, what does it mean, if someone is from a different socio economic background? What does it really mean in terms of how they might experience any given situation? Or what they have access to? And I guess my my question is, you know, how can how can communities in particular, really help themselves to be more sensitive to all kinds of diversity? And in particular, hidden types of diversity? And also, whose responsibility is it to make people aware of differing needs? And I think, for me, in particular, again, around this hidden diversity, you know, is it my job as, as the person that has ADHD or whatever to come and be like, actually, I can’t do this? Or is it? Should I expect other people to say, hey, we know that you’ve got this thing? You know, we’re who, whose job is it? Really?

Crystal Byrd Farmer 33:33
Yeah, to begin with, like, when you’re part of the minority in a community, like you have ADHD, sometimes you have to do is called self advocating, sometimes you have to be the one who says, Hey, this is how I’m showing up in community, and I need support. And that can be really, really hard at the beginning, you know, it doesn’t matter what your identity is, being in the minority means that people are gonna think that is not as important or it’s just you. So we really don’t need to do anything, or you’re asking for too much from us. You know, I just spoke with a community that is dealing with it until the intellectually disabled member, and you know, she is a great community member, but she needs a lot of support. And this community wasn’t built around supporting people with disabilities. And that means that, you know, she may need some type of outside support in order to continue living in the community. And that’s kind of the unfortunate thing that happens with with disability and with people who are in the minority is that they’re not always going to get the support that they need from a community if that community wasn’t set up from the beginning to give them that support. So it is your job to be the one to say I need support, I need accommodations but as the community’s job to say, Okay, we’re going to do what we can to create that support and to give you the the accommodations that you need. Now there’s always a range of what the community He can and can’t do. And that’s just based on the people in the community, you know, they have their own lives, they have their own capacities to do things. And you know, that’s just a fact of life. But what we want to move toward is that all communities are able to recognize that people have differences. So for the different types of disabilities, neurodiversity is a big thing. A lot of people are starting to understand that they’re neurodivergent, they’re starting to understand that they may need certain needs certain accommodations to, to live in community, and for the community, the community’s job is to start recognizing that and start saying, How can we expand our capacity? How can we put those things in place? Talking about socio economic status? You know, there is a lot that a community can start thinking about in terms of what what are the assumptions that we make about people who live in community, you know, what about our HOA fees? What about the, you know, the cost of having certain meals prepared or having a community garden? Are there ways that we can equalize or create some equity in the things that we’re asking people to pay for? One community I know has kind of like an emergency fund, that people you know, who have extra money can donate to that fund, and then if it needs, if somebody needs it, then it goes to that person without a lot of questions being asked. So that’s a good way of creating some equity. I think it’s really important that community start to think about whose needs are we not meeting? And how can we meet those needs. So there’s all kinds of diversity, you know, so like, so it’s gonna be hard to meet everybody’s needs. You know, there’s in architecture, there’s a term called universal design. But even universal design doesn’t meet every person’s need, you know, it might help somebody who’s using a wheelchair, but it may not help an autistic person, because they’re being designed for completely different things. And everybody has different needs. So we can’t accommodate everybody’s needs, but we can start thinking about whose needs are we not accommodating? And how, you know, with what we have, how can we create some more inclusivity?

Rebecca Mesritz 37:09
Yeah, I had a conversation in the not too distant past, again, with with my sister who’s really into these kinds of conversations. And one of the things that she pointed out to me was just how sometimes being in like a party or a social situation can be really overwhelming. And just, so recently, when we had our Thanksgiving, I was like, okay, so this area down here is just going to be like a kind of a quiet chill out zone. So if anybody’s feeling like it’s too much up here in the fray of food, and people like we’re going to have a movie playing like, you can just go chill, you don’t have to talk or you can if you want, but like this is sort of the Chill Zone. And I feel like those kind of small, I mean, it seems like such a minor thing to do to have a create, like a safe mental space for somebody can retreat to. But even something so simple as that, especially when you’re dealing with community. What was great is that she wasn’t the only person that used it. Multiple people over the course of the event were like, oh, yeah, this was awesome. I was feeling really overstimulated. There is a lot of conversation. I did want, I didn’t want to leave the party. I just wanted a moment of like psychic space to realign to myself. And I think there’s something beautiful about just starting to ask the questions like, well, what would you need to feel more supported here? Or what would you if you could have whatever you wanted? What would it look like for you to feel comfortable here? And I think those kinds of conversations, especially in community, where you have a level of intimacy, where you’re you’re connecting with people on a more human scale, it’s not like othering them. It’s like, welcome, welcome. How can I make you feel even more welcome? What would make you feel even more supported? Yeah, I just think there’s a beauty to that.

Crystal Byrd Farmer 39:17
Yeah, definitely. So it’s really important that you, you know that a community kind of looks at who they have in the community and think about how can we support this person in feeling more safe and more comfortable in the community?

Rebecca Mesritz 39:35
You know, another thing that kind of comes up around this conversation is around emotional labor. And I know that this is a thing that can be really difficult to, to understand and much less quantify. And I’m aware that it’s come up a lot over the years, and that’s not even in the context of D and iron. You know, anything related to inclusion, just the emotional labor that might be taken up more by women than by men, for example, as like holding some kind of, you know, social emotional container. That was something that came up a lot in our in our last community. And it’s hard to put your finger on it, because it’s, it’s not like you punch a clock for emotional labor, and maybe you can help us to understand and offer offer some advice about how to navigate emotional labor as it relates to communities and inclusion.

Crystal Byrd Farmer 40:33
Yeah, so I’ll define emotional labor as the amount of work someone has to do to help others feel comfortable and knowledgeable about whatever is going on. So when you talk about women doing emotional labor, they’re often the glue of a community, you know, if it’s a forming community, they’re the ones who are organizing the potlucks, you know, whereas the men, the people who are socialized as men might be more interested in, like designing the garden spaces or, you know, designing the layout of the buildings. So there’s this kind of unspoken assumption that the women will do the social working and helping everybody to get along, and the men will do, you know, the building and all the physical work. And so when we think about emotional labor, it is something that’s unacknowledged in the work that people do. Another way to think about emotional labor is when you are in a marginalized person. You know, there’s this this expectation that you do, educate people about what your identity means and who you are and what people should be doing to help you. And so that work can be very tiring, and it can be unacknowledged. So yeah, what was your question?

Rebecca Mesritz 41:51
Yeah, well, I guess it Yes, it can be tiring and unacknowledged? And how, how do we acknowledge it? How do we account for it? I mean, where does it fit in the scheme of, of things? You know, it’s like to someone, does a woman get a pass on something else? Because she’s doing the emotional labor to hold the, you know, to hold the glue does? Like, how do we figure this out?

Crystal Byrd Farmer 42:16
Well, you know, there, there was an idea. And one community that I was working with, have the idea of saying, okay, marginalized people do more emotional labor. So that means that their work credits can be reduced. And that can be really challenging for a community to implement. But it does kind of make sense in that you are doing some work, that is taking your energy, but it’s improving the life of the community. So that means that should be acknowledged for that. And that should be accounted for in some type of way. I don’t know that, you know, putting it as a part of the work system will work for everybody, but just acknowledging it. And especially when people have multiple marginalized identities, for instance, black women, or a disabled person, who’s trans, you know, when they have multiple of those identities, you can’t you have to think, Okay, what work are they doing just to exist in the community? Yeah, I talked about code switching, I talked about trying to fit in, talked about educating people, you know, they’re doing that work, whether it is acknowledged or not. So I think it’s important to at least say, how can we help you be in this community and account for all the work that you’re doing to educate us, and still not feeling comfortable, you know, and safe in this community. So it’s kind of like a balance of like, we want to acknowledge the labor but we also want to take away some of that need to do that emotional labor.

Rebecca Mesritz 43:44
One of the things that my journey has shown me is that, especially if you’re in a community for a length of time, if you’re participating in a community for a length of time, the amount of work, you know, you do that’s obvious to other people, ebbs and flows. And there’s times when you are really showing up and giving it 110%. And there’s times when on the outside, it looks like you’re not doing anything. Where’s this person? Where are they been? What are they up to? And I think when you have a little bit more of a history with people and you’ve been been in it, you know, been playing together for a while that’s that can be easier to see and accept. But I think what I’ve really come to understand is that it is it’s work being in community, just work forever. It’s work for everybody. And to kind of soften our sense of requirement from people so that if someone is for example, having on mental health challenge, you know, they can be, you’ve created a culture where they can be honest about that. We’ve created a culture where they can say, You know what, like, I’m having some serious anxiety right now. And my executive function is out the door. And if you need to get in touch with me, it might take three or four times of texting before I even answer because I’m, I can’t right now. And I think it would be beautiful for communities to create a space where people can be that honest about what’s going on for them. And say, like, I feel like I’ve been doing a lot of emotional labor lately, guys, like, I’m feeling I’m maxed. I’m maxed on the soft skills, can I just go work in the garden? And not have anybody talk to me for a little bit? I just want to be, you know, and being willing to be in these conversations, you know, I guess that’s another question that I have for you really is, as a, d, and I consultant, you know, is this the type of work that communities can make a plan for? You know, and and is this deeper work, something that can be effective? And what does it even look like?

Crystal Byrd Farmer 46:18
Yeah, yeah. So I wrote a book, it’s called the token. The subtitle is common sense ideas for increasing diversity in your organization. And I kind of lay out a plan for being more inclusive, and then people have been following that plan and using it to, you know, create some more inclusion in their community. And so what it looks like is a lot of introspection to start with, you know, you have to think about what are your identities? What are the identities represented in the community? And how does that show up in in what we’ve in what we do and what we do together? And then thinking about what are ways in that we are, what are ways that we are excluding people. And that’s not to bring shame upon anybody or say that you’re you’re doing it wrong is just to say, you know, there are things that we do that turn people away. And some of that is microaggressions, like we talked about, when you’re asking a lot of intrusive questions at the beginning. Some of that is just not being built for different types of community, I mean, different types of people. So you know, I know pricing and house housing costs are kind of hard for people. But you know, a lot of people can’t live in an intentional community, they can’t live in cohousing, because it’s just too expensive. So that goes back to socio economic status. So you think about what Wait, what are we doing that is not inclusive? And then you start thinking about what are ways that we are inclusive? How can we increase our inclusivity, I have a whole thing about the different aspects of identity and how you can think about what those people need, for instance, you know, trans people, or non binary people, they may appreciate that a community is Reg, regular, what is it is a community is normalizing the use of pronouns, you know, so that when somebody goes into a community, and somebody asks for their pronouns, it’s not seen as like, oh, we have to ask what your pronouns are, because we don’t know. We know what to call you. But no, we’re asking for pronouns, because that’s what we do with everybody, everybody has a sense of like, what our pronouns are, and we respect the pronouns that people want to use. So something like that is a small change that a community can make. And all you have to do is just keep making those changes bit by bit, and each of those kind of in your inclusivity, and helps you to be more welcoming. And then after that, that’s when you want to go and start like like, how can we actually recruit people, you know, these so called diverse people? How can we recruit people to be in our community, and that’s after you’ve created the space that is already kind of welcoming and inclusive? Then you start thinking about who’s in our network, you know, what kind of activities are we doing? You know, if we are tabling in an event, what are those events? And what types of people show up to those events? You know, what are the organizations that churches, the schools that are in our community? And who are the people who go to those those organizations and those schools? And are they people, you know, how can we reach those people? How can we talk to those people and help them to be interested in our community?

Rebecca Mesritz 49:27
Yeah, something that’s just coming up for me right now. And this is, again, it’s kind of getting into that like sensitive crossover point between not wanting to pry or demand emotional labor from someone and yet still wanting to engage like how, how do we engage around conversations? Have like what people’s actual needs are. I don’t know if that makes sense, I guess what I’m trying to say is I can see that there’s a, there’s a place of discomfort or not knowing and not wanting to make assumptions about the other. And really wanting to really wanting to create a space that feels welcoming and inclusive, and is, is endeavoring, even though we can say like, we’re not going to be able to meet everyone’s needs, but I really want to help meet some of your needs. And I want you to feel safe and comfortable here. And I guess I’m wondering what the framework for that kind of conversation might be? Or if you could even like roleplay that with me a little bit? Like, what what would what would you want that to sound like, you know, if someone was asking you, Crystal Byrd pharma, like, well, if someone was going to come to you, say, Crystal, we’ve been working together for a while here on the board of the fic? And how can we better approach you like, how would you want them to ask you that question? Yeah, in a way that felt honoring,

Crystal Byrd Farmer 51:11
that makes sense. And I can understand where it’s kind of like, you don’t want to make assumptions. But we do have to make assumptions about a group of people in order to figure out what their needs are. So the way I would want to be asked is, you know, somebody would come to me and say, Crystal, I’ve done some research on black people and community, I’ve learned a little bit about autistic needs, and what that looks like for people. I’ve learned about sexuality. And I know that, you know, bisexual people sometimes feel marginalized. And so I have like the framework done, I’ve done a little bit of research. Now, can you tell me specifically how your identity shows up and what your needs are? So it would be kind of like somebody shows, instead of being, you know, fresh faced, and just excited to ask me a bunch of questions. They’ve done some research beforehand, and now they’re coming and wanting to know, you know, they want to check their assumptions against reality, and the specific needs that I have.

Rebecca Mesritz 52:11
I like that. It feels like that feels that feels really honoring. And I’m sure people who are listening to this who are coming from all different realities might have totally different ways that they would want to be asked that question, but yeah, I just, I just hope that we can all have the have that amount of personal responsibility, that comes first, to say like, Alright, I’m not just gonna jump in here and ask you all about your life and expect you to teach me about it, I’m going to do my own work in advance and still meet you on that human to human level that’s honoring you as an individual person with your own needs.

Crystal Byrd Farmer 53:00
Yeah, it helps take away some of the emotional labor, there’s still going to be an emotional labor. But by doing your research beforehand, you can be more sensitive and, and knowledgeable about what that person may need or what may feel difficult for them to talk about.

Rebecca Mesritz 53:16
Yeah. One other thing that I kind of wanted to, like pivot in and talk about, which is, I don’t know, it’s a little bit of a spicier topic, which is really about call out versus Colin. And I think, for a lot of people, and I’ve seen this in communities that I’ve been a part of. Part of the fear of engaging in these conversations is not I mean, for me, it’s for like my own discomfort at my own culpability. That’s where I start to get all like, Oh, no. But I’ve I’ve seen for others, their real fear is at the threat of being called out and being publicly shamed publicly humiliated. Even if they might deserve it, quite frankly, they might or need it in our opinion. Yes, me that’s exactly what you need sir. Or ma’am, or whatever. But it’s a Yeah, it’s a it’s a touchy area. And I’m kind of curious about what you think, you know, are there are there good ways quote, unquote, good ways to talk to people about when their actions or their policies are there jokes or ablest or racist or homophobic and I know that you’ve talked about a couple of times microaggressions and I feel like that’s even like that word is something And that feels so dangerous. It’s like, because a lot of times you don’t even realize that you’re doing it, it’s just and it’s my grow. It’s like, what’s the big deal, but at the same time, it can be really impactful and hurtful to someone, especially the cumulative effect of a lot of little cuts, right death by 1000 cuts. Um, and, you know, I know that there’s a lot of that puts a lot of pressure on to the person that might be marginalized, but even as like another privileged person to another privileged person when we see it happening, or when we hear somebody saying something that’s racist or ablest or economical list, like classist? classist? Yeah. Like, how do we do that in a good way that invites people to growth as opposed to just completely shut down, because they’ve been called out in a way that feels threatening

Crystal Byrd Farmer 56:04
the way, the world that we live in is all about calling people out and cancel them, canceling them and saying, you know, you did something wrong, you’re a terrible person, and I need this appear from society. But in community, what we really want to do is say you’re human, you made a mistake, and you can change. And we’re going to help you change and support you in changing. So it’s really about calling in people. And there are different ways you can do it. But the best way to do it is to just cut to approach somebody in private or with, you know, a couple people a small group and say, hey, you know, you said this X, Y, and Z, I know that this, you know, saying that word is offensive to this group of people. And I really like it if you didn’t say that word anymore. And that’s something where the person can say, I don’t understand, you know, I was just joking, they can have that kind of reaction that happens when you call someone out. But they can have it in a smaller context. And with people who wants to be supportive, you know, we want usually we want allies to do this work, we don’t want the marginalized person to always have the burden of saying, Hey, that was offensive, because that’s, again, that’s emotional labor. And that’s tiring to do. But when we have allies, they have the support, they have the energy to say, hey, you know, I know that this, this word is offensive, or what you said, didn’t sit well with me. And I’d like you to change and I can give you some support in changing, I know some resources, you know, you’re kind of taking away the need for the marginalized person to do that work. So it’s really important, I think that we start to think of calling out or calling in as just like, helping people to grow is not about shaming somebody or making them feel bad. It’s not about banishing them from society. It’s about helping them to be more integrated into society, so that they can kind of keep up with the changing world that we’re in where we are recognizing that there are more and more different ways of being diverse, there are more and more identities that are not kind of like mainstream majority. And we want to be respectful of that. And we want to not commit microaggressions. And so to not commit microaggressions, you kind of have to learn, what are microaggressions? What are the things that I’m going to do and when you do that, when you learn. That’s how you can be more inclusive and more accepting of people and be more of a I want to say like a culturally sensitive person. Yeah, you want to be somebody who understands that different cultures have different, different ways of being and that all of those cultures, and all of those ways of being are acceptable. And you know, that’s just the way the world is right now.

Rebecca Mesritz 58:54
Yeah, it makes me think so I grew up in Baltimore. And in a time when the way that we talked about race was we talked about colorblindness and not seeing that was that was how that was what we were taught that was actually the good way to do it. And of course, now we’re in a very different age and how we relate to race. And I think what you’re speaking to, for me really touches on the beauty of, of the diverse tapestry of people that are inhabiting the planet and whether your your privilege or lack of privilege, whether your ability or or different ability is visible on the surface or whether it’s hidden understanding that we are all coming in with very different packaging hardware operating systems access. I mean, there’s so much that are going on all the time, it’s going on all the time. And while on one hand, you might think, Oh, that’s too overwhelming to like, try and like track everybody’s stuff like, am I really supposed to keep track of everybody’s pronoun, and everybody’s neurodiversity, and everybody’s skin color and everybody’s economic background? And, and like, ah, like that kind of overwhelm that you might feel and thinking of it that way? I don’t know. For me, I’m like, wow, that is like, yeah, first of all, yes, you actually could, I think we have the capacity to do that. As humans, we have the capacity to care and not just care, but actually celebrate and make space and hold doors open. And, and coming back to you. I don’t know if people have read The Four Agreements, but one of them is by Don Miguel Ruiz, I believe his name is one of them is don’t make assumptions. And like how do we stop making assumptions about the people that are around us about their story about their motivations, and create open containers where people can feel safe and comfortable, and everybody gets access? You know, there’s a real beauty to that.

Crystal Byrd Farmer 1:01:22
Yeah, I agree, I think it’s really great to think that every individual person is unique. And, you know, that means that we can treat everyone the same way that we would treat, you know, a very special person to us, because we’re recognizing that everybody has needs, everybody has things that you know, need to be accommodated or ways that they show up in the world. And just by, you know, understanding all the different ways that people show up, we can be more inclusive.

Rebecca Mesritz 1:01:54
Yeah, and I mean, I’ve also seen, I don’t know, probably most people can relate to this, but sometimes with the people that you feel the most comfortable with, you behave the worst with. I don’t know if that makes sense. But like, you start to get kind of not not rude. But yeah, we allow our bad behaviors to come out more sometimes with people that we that we know better, which is why our most intimate partners and people that we’re close to, are the ones that can get our goat the most, and bring up our stuff the most and, you know, push into us more are those feelings of yeah, just poking the bear a little bit. And I think there’s really something that community asks for, which is that we, we, we just do better across the board, not that you can’t relax sometimes and just quote unquote, be yourself. But that we do treat the people in our lives as, as if they were respected, honorable person in our life, then we are blessed to be with all of these different people, and how do we really show up in a place of honoring with the various people that come into our lives, whether it’s just as a passerby, or someone that’s in a more deeper, more deep and meaningful relationship with us, but continuing to show up in a in a way that’s honoring them. And I like how that kind of comes back around into this, like, call out and call in idea of, you know, okay, we’re still like honoring your journey and honoring that this is a growth point for you. And we need you to do better, like this, this way of being it wasn’t how we’re doing it here. And we want to, we want it to invite you to do it in this way now. And not because we think you’re a bad person. But because we love you, and we care about you. And we want to keep playing in a way that everybody can feel safe.

Crystal Byrd Farmer 1:04:04
Yeah, exactly.

Rebecca Mesritz 1:04:05
So are there communities or organizations that you know of that are out there right now that are doing really well? You know, what is? What does success look like when when a community is actualizing some of these values in a good way?

Crystal Byrd Farmer 1:04:23
Yeah, I mean, I think there are communities that are doing the work, and it doesn’t show up immediately with like a huge increase in you know, the number of like black people, for instance, in your community. But what it looks like is a community that is caring for each other. That is learning how to do those colons and call outs and that is engaging with the community around them the wider community and acknowledging the differences that people have, and the privilege that they have as a community as community members to live in community. So it looks like a community that is kind of acknowledging who they are and how they impact the world based on their identities. And then as being more engaged with the community around them and with the people who, who may not be the same as them, especially marginalized people.

Rebecca Mesritz 1:05:14
And if you are, you’re seeing that anywhere, you see anybody doing that,

Crystal Byrd Farmer 1:05:17
I’m seeing a lot of communities engage with the idea of it, and that are going through, for instance, they’re going through my book, or they’re doing, you know, some some monthly sessions, for instance, about white supremacy culture, or they’re doing a where LA’s kind of like white caucus group meetings. And it’s really, it’s, it’s really like a person to person thing, like each individual person in the community has to go through that cycle of understanding their privilege, understanding their identity and the impact that they have on the world. And then reconciling the idea that they may be causing harm to marginalized people. So it’s an individual thing. And when a community gets to that point where everybody’s like that, then it doesn’t really, it doesn’t really matter whether they have like so called diverse people or not, what it means is that community is open and welcoming and ready to receive whoever shows up in the community. So they have this kind of this openness, this sense of, of welcome that, you know, somebody can feel when they walk into a community. So there’s this example of this church that I went to one time, and it was a gay affirming church. And this was back in the 2000s, when there weren’t a whole lot of churches like that. And just the the idea of just showing up and me just showing up and just being like, who I am, is exactly who I need to be in this space. And it just felt different. It just felt like this is the space that is going to take me for who I am, and is going to listen to my needs and acknowledge them and help accommodate me in whatever whatever I need to do. So something like that is going to be is more palpable than visible, I think.

Rebecca Mesritz 1:07:04
Beautiful. Yeah. Is there anything else you would like to share? Um,

Crystal Byrd Farmer 1:07:14
so I do have a course that fic offers, it’s called understanding diversity and community. And it goes through the specific types of diversity. It goes through age, socio economic status, disability, gender, sexuality, and race. And it kind of gives definitions for all of those, and then helps people understand how those identities show up and community. So that’s a really good way to get a primer on what it means to be a certain identity and community.

Rebecca Mesritz 1:07:44
Crystal, thank you so so much for being here to to dive into this topic with me. I’ve really appreciated talking to you and your time and also your commitment to this work. And in all the ways that that showed up, either teaching or writing your books and just being willing to talk, talk and educate people about how to how to do better.

Crystal Byrd Farmer 1:08:07
Yeah, thanks for showing up to the conversation. This is, this is a good first step for everybody.

Rebecca Mesritz 1:08:20
Thank you so much for being with me today in this conversation with crystal bird farmer. You can learn more about crystal and her work, find out about her book, and engage her for diversity training for your group through her website, Crystal bird farmer.com. I’ll have a link to that in the show notes as well as links to the books and websites and tools we mentioned during the show. She also has a lot of really great tools and links on her website that I definitely recommend you checking out. And if you are interested in purchasing her book The token checkout the fic bookstore, I have a coupon code in the show notes for 20% off. For more information about this show and access transcripts, you can check out i see.org/podcast. And while you’re there, I hope you will make a donation to the show every little bit counts. $5 $20 $5,000 all would help us to continue to produce the show and keep bringing you useful and inspiring content for your collaborative culture journey. You can also find me on Instagram at inside community podcast. If this show has been meaningful or helpful to you. Please take a moment to pop on over to the Apple podcasts and write and review the show. It really helps us to get out there to more people. I totally appreciate how many of you are out there right now sharing these episodes with your community and spreading the word. It really fills me up to know that this work is benefiting so many people. I’m sending you all so much love right now and I’ll see you next time here at the inside community podcast.

Dave Booda 1:09:57
Who left the dishes in the shed? her kitchen sink. Who helps her Johnny? When is too much to drink? How do we find a way for everyone to agree that since Can you it’s a podcast y’all

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About the Show

The Inside Community Podcast brings folks along for an inside look at all of the beautiful and messy realities of creating and sustaining a community. We provide useful and inspiring content to support people on their quest for resilience, sustainability, and connection.

Meet Your Host

Inside Community Podcast host Rebecca Mesritz is a community builder living in Williams, Oregon.  In 2011, Rebecca co-founded the Emerald Village (EVO) in North County San Diego, California.  During her ten years with EVO, she supported and led numerous programs and initiatives including implementation and training of the community in Sociocracy, establishment of the Animal Husbandry program, leadership of the Land Circle, hosting numerous internal and external community events, and participation in the Human Relations Circle which holds the relational, spiritual and emotional container for their work. 

In June of 2021, with the blessing of EVO, Rebecca and 3 other co-founders relocated to begin a new, mission- driven community and learning center housed on 160 acres of forest and farmland.  Rebecca is passionate about communal living and sees intentional community as a tool for both personal and cultural transformation. In addition to her work in this field, she also holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from San Diego State University and creates functional, public, and interactive art in metal, wood, and pretty much any other material she can get her hands on. She is a mother, a wife, an educator, a nurturer of gardens, an epicurean lover of sustainable wholesome food, and a cultivator of compassion and beauty.

The Inside Community Podcast is sponsored by the Foundation for Intentional Community (FIC). Reach out if you are interested in sponsorship or advertisement opportunities on the podcast.

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