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Quarterly Newsletter, Compassion

Updated: Jul 10, 2021

How are you, really? This is not an empty question. As Fall 2020 arrives, the season's familiar rituals are competing with too many uncertainties and outrages to list. With this quarterly newsletter, we are focusing on one of MindOpen Learning Strategies' core values, Compassion.

In the work of social change and human services, the idea of compassion is often misunderstood as a soft stance, too close to pity or saviorism. The compassion that is the bedrock of MindOpen’s approach is a muscle that strengthens with training, allowing stamina for long-term empathy in a high-conflict world. It is the reason that we pair transformative group learning experiences like Factuality the Game with personal and institutional action planning. The need to fight to undo racism and all forms of oppression in people, organizations, and systems is nothing new and, frankly, has me rethinking the use of the term “new” in MindOpen’s tagline: “New ways to work in order to better serve social justice.” This summer provided me with challenging opportunities to walk the walk of compassion in tandem with accountability, through facilitating conversations with a number of organizational leaders in the very early stages of racial equity work. While my vision for MindOpen has always been as a vehicle for collaboration, I am its White small business owner, responsible for showing the receipts and results of showing up for racial justice. I am grateful for the connections, criticisms, invitations, and compassion I have received from those with whom I am building in community-- including you reading this! Below, we are honored to share highlights of MindOpen’s recent and upcoming work, along with resources that we hope will energize you. And for all those amplifying access to voting and to completing the census this crucial season: thank you. With connection, compassion, and courage,           Elizabeth Speck & the MindOpen Team


This quarter we spotlighted the process and the results of our Trauma-informed Advocacy partnership with the Children’s Law Center through an interview with its Executive Director, Karen Simmons. The attorneys, legal staff, and social workers who ensure children’s voices are heard in high-conflict family custody cases operate in a relentless, crisis-driven environment. This project focused on building a realistic culture of self- and community care, in order to sustain compassion for CLC's young clients and their caregivers.

As COVID continues to wind through our communities, exposing unjust disparities, we are holding necessary space for frontline responders to catch their breath and mutually support one another. Through our longstanding partnership with Vibrant Emotional Health, we recently facilitated workshops on managing vicarious trauma for doctors and medical clinicians within the NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation, and for youth development professionals in programs funded by the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development.

Like so many, we are embracing the boundary-spanning nature of virtual conferences. Our Fair Chance Employment training initiative with M.A.D.E. Transitional Services is being featured at industry-leading events. Please view and share this one-minute video, and stay tuned for our new Fair Chance webpage that will make it easier for organizations to find these training offerings!

In team news, we thank and congratulate Courtney Ng, who originated the Project Management and Communications role with MindOpen and joined Wayfinding Partners as a full-time racial equity consultant. We welcome Dylan Wong into this role, bio here, who brings expertise in media for social impact.

Join Us for BeCon: Claiming and Creating

The Belonging Conference from Dawn Christian, on October 24, could not come at a better time. We're proud to be among a game-changing slate of speakers for this inaugural event. BeCon's theme, "Creating and Claiming" is about elevating the concept and practice of IDEAS in the workplace: Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access, and Social Justice. We hope you will join us for a powerful day of perspectives and pathways. Register

Learn with Us

Zoom Virtual Backgrounds: Equity, Trauma, and Cameras

For many, virtual meetings bring a new form of stress and fear about the ways bias creeps into our work. Read this brave and instructive post by Taharee Jackson about ways to make your virtual workplace more inclusive. Check out this site for Zoom backgrounds as one tool to minimize the video classism and video judgment she describes.

Black Lives Matter Meditations

Racial trauma exacts a physical, mental, and emotional toll. Dr. Candice Nicole, a counseling psychologist at the University of Kentucky, developed these meditations to support healing racial trauma for people of color, as well as cultivate anti-racism amongst White people. Teaching Hard History Podcast: The Civil Rights Movement

The current season of Teaching Hard History, the podcast from Teaching Tolerance hosted by Dr. Hassan Kwame Jeffries, replaces the whitewashed version of the Civil Rights movement taught in too many of our schools with the real stories, strategies, and stakes of resistance that link to this moment. A must-listen for educators and parents-- and it even has a playlist!

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