“The realities of class are so pervasive and yet so taboo to talk about and expose. It is so valuable to learn more about its structures and roots and feel empowered to break the silence.” - age 36, raised middle class, currently poverty class
The class divide in the US is growing and yet class is rarely talked about. Cross-Class Dialogue Circles are a powerful way for people across the class spectrum to come together to talk about their experiences with class, listen to each others' stories and perspectives, and to work together as change makers for economic justice.
Twice a year Cross-Class Dialogue Circles bring together 10-15 community members from a diversity of class experiences, ranging from being homeless to living in mansions, and everything in between. With courage, depth, humor, and sincerity we dive into topics like cross-class relationships, the economic divide, equitable cost-sharing processes, and questions such as: how much is enough. Many people express relief at finally being in a place where it is ok to talk about their life experience related to money and class identity.
Engaging with each other across class is empowering, healing and liberating. People of all class backgrounds have a role to play in the movement for social and economic justice. The disconnection and isolation between people from different classes hurts our communities and movements. We in Southern VT can be better equipped to work effectively for the just society we want and need when we can create trust and understanding across differences of class and power.
Here’s what participants have to say…
“Everyone should participate in this course. Our community would be a better place.” - age 37, professional class
“Oh my gosh, I didn’t grow up middle class. We were working class or maybe even poor. That realization helped free me from shame. I never knew why I felt so awkward growing up - we were working class, but were trying to fit into middle-class culture.” - Matt Miller, age 32, working class
“Because of this course I’m more frank about money and it feels good. People often say, ‘We’re in the same boat.’ Now I can say, ‘No, actually we’re not. I still like you, but we’re not in the same boat.’ ” - age 64, raised working class
Davey Shlasko, of Think Again Training, and Angela Berkfield, of ACT for Social Justice, co-facilitate the Circles which are held at The Root Social Justice Center in Brattleboro, VT. Davey is an educator, author and consultant, of mixed class background, who has been facilitating group learning about and in the context of social justice movements since 2000. Angela, who identifies as middle class with owning class privilege, works with non-profits and schools to better understand class and other social justice issues, so that we can work together for a world where all people can thrive.
The Circles are funded by contributions from the community (You!), small grants, and participants from each circle. This combination of fundraising makes it possible to cover the costs of facilitation, publicity, outreach, childcare, food, and materials.
We want to thank Post Oil Solutions - a project partner and active participant in the circles. Check out their work for sustainable communities at www.postoilsolutions.org
We also thank Marlboro College for co-sponsoring the circles. We are currently looking for more co-sponsors. For more information about the Circles and to apply for the upcoming circle visit http://www.act4socialjustice.com/cross-class-dialogue-circles/