COVID and BLM expanding the impact of Walking Our Talk in our community and the world
In March 2020 Walking Our Talk was about to initiate a new step in the organization’s growth, offering a weekend immersion retreat for women from across the country to experience the impact of WOT circle culture to build inclusive and culture-shifting communities of deep support for women of all ages, races, and walks of life. But COVID-19 intervened and with travel restricted, we cancelled the retreat.
The following week, as stay-at-home orders were issued by our governor, we realized our structure of in-person circles of 12-16 women at five physical locations across Berkshire and Columbia Counties would need to change. By mid-April we launched 3 fully-enrolled Zoom circles, offering a pay-what-you-can enrollment fee for women locally and several from across the country. Facilitators who had the added burden of new technology and education for their enrollees consequently agreed to lead circles for a much-reduced income.
Many of those enrolled were house-bound and struggling with COVID’s impact of fear and isolation on their lives. Weekly Zoom circles became their life-blood, their connection to others, and brought a comforting and necessary sense that they were not alone.
For the first time since Walking Our Talk was founded in 2006, women have pleaded with us to offer a summer circle. With all cultural activities closed this season in the Berkshires and the ongoing risks of transmission for those with restrictions of age or compromised immune systems, connection is more vital than ever for their emotional health. We are instituting two 6-week Zoom circles beginning July 7, one in the evening and another midday.
After the murder of George Floyd and social media attention that has followed, Walking Our Talk will hold community-wide Zoom circles to bring awareness and a learning/listening opportunity for the women of all races enrolled in our programs past and present. We will address white privilege and racist assumptions that have long lived in our country.
It looks like Walking Our Talk circles will be forever changed. We hope to be able to hold in-person circles again someday, but until then we are confident that the circle culture that has had such a powerful impact on over 350 women in our region will continue virtually. And now with zoom circles, we will be able to reach a wider community of women at a distance as well.
We currently have two needs: to raise funds to increase the greatly reduced salaries of our facilitators AND to spread the word to a wider world about the power of WOT to enhance lives and bring much needed connection within and between communities.