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From the Zoom seminar room: Alayna Schoblaske, Essential Practices of Equity and Agility (EPEA)

Editors note: Periodically we ask seminar graduates to tell us about their experiences in the seminar room. Southern Oregon resident Alayna Schoblaske shares about her journey through the EPEA online seminar:

Southern Oregon resident, Alayna Schoblaske

For me, 2020 was a time for, well, a lot. One theme at the front of my mind—especially after the murders of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd—was racial justice. What ways have I allowed my own implicit biases to foment racism, ableism, sexism, and more? What can I do to identify and unlearn these biases? What role can I play in ensuring that dignity and equity are central to my daily behaviors? What role can I play in promoting a culture of anti-racism in my workplace and broader community?  

Essential Practices of Equity and Agility (EPEA) helped me answer these questions by providing a brave, honest, and grace-filled container to explore my conscious and unconscious biases. Instead of feeling discouraged or shameful, EPEA’s facilitators created a space where I felt curious and motivated to make change. Meg Mitchell spoke of how important it is to make equity work real in our bodies (not just our minds), and I could feel my explorations settle in my gut, my heart, and my hands. (I could also feel the exhaustion after each day – equity work is exhausting, y’all.) Maria Underwood modeled curiosity as she led us through exercises while learning alongside us. Bryon Lambert brought humor and lived experience to the group, which allowed us to have fun and be honest at the same time. I could not think of a better facilitation team to lead EPEA!  

Two impactful exercises stand out when I reflect on my time in EPEA. The first was creating a “self-epitaph” where I examined what knowledge I inherited from my ancestors, and how that impacts my approach to daily life. It was insightful and inspired me to learn more about my family history. It’s one of my 2021 goals. I also took away practical skills that were shared by both the facilitators and the group participants. I was reminded that taking a breath before a challenging conversation allows me to be more resourceful and seek understanding. I also learned that the phrase “help me to understand” can be a powerful tool for finding connection across lines of difference.  

EPEA did not provide answers to all of my questions, of course. But it did provide tools and vocabulary—as well as a community of fellow learners—that will act as a foundation as I continue to examine my role in equity and justice. One of the best things about EPEA is that it is a sort of chameleon: a good place to learn if you are just starting to explore equity, and a good place to dive deeper if you’ve been exploring for a while. I’m somewhere in the middle—I think I’ll always feel somewhere in the middle—and am excited that Wings has created a place where we can all gather together and keep learning. 

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