The City has engaged the services of two experienced facilitators to host a series of community conversations on race, gender, class, equity and other important topics. “Dialogues Across Differences: A Community Conversation” will be hosted by Tanisha Arena, executive director of Arise for Social Justice in Springfield, and JAC Patrissi, an internationally known trauma clinician and author. The three sessions will be held virtually via Zoom on the following dates and times:
“My hope is that this series will facilitate substantive and frank conversations on difficult topics that have the potential to bring the community together, rather than create divisions,” said Mayor Roxann Wedegartner. “I invite the community to join in the dialogue as we explore these important issues guided by experienced facilitators.”
"It is possible to navigate the most difficult, racially sensitive topics in a way that increases deep understanding,” said Arena. “We can practice talking to one another and solving problems in a way that moves us forward as a community."
"In this series of three meetings, community members will be invited to learn and practice a set of dialogue skills as we talk in real time about issues of deep import to us all,” said Patrissi. “Each session will build on the next. Please plan to attend all three if you can."
Members of the community who wish to take part in the dialogue can access all three conversations online at bit.ly/GfieldDialogues. Log-in information is also available on the calendar on the City website at /calendar. There is no charge to attend these sessions.
About Tanisha Arena
Tanisha Arena serves as executive director of Arise for Social Justice in Springfield. She holds a master's degree in non-profit management from Bay Path University. Arena is an experienced educator at Growing A New Heart, where she trains regularly on Dialogues Across Differences, Compassionate Accountable Conversations, Undoing White Supremacy and Holding Space for a wide range of social justice and community based organizations. She has deep roots in the field of anti-violence work, specializing in community advocacy and responses to intimate partner violence within the LGBTQIA community. Arena is a published author whose current projects include an award-winning podcast called "Unapologetic," where she discusses current racial activism and politics in a way that explores racial realities with courage, clarity and humor.
About JAC Patrissi
JAC Patrissi facilitates anti-racism/anti-oppression work within a social justice consortium of Black, Indigenous, People of Color. She is founder and principal at Growing A New Heart, a group of leaders in the healing arts moving us towards profoundly respectful relationships. Patrissi is an experienced educator in the tradition of Popular Education trained by Paolo Freire. She is a trained mediator, communications and design consultant, specializing in facilitation, instructional design and ethical supervisory approaches for a wide range of social justice interventions. Patrissi is the author of three books on discerning destructive relationships and has been in the anti-violence movement for 33 years. She is co-founder of A Call for Change helpline and was founder of Proteus, Western Massachusetts’ largest community-based intervention program for people who cause harm in their intimate partnerships.