Staff Feature: Steve Peacock

Steve Peacock

Get to know the Sabo Center!

In each Staff Feature installment, we ask members of the Sabo Center staff to share about what they do, along with some fun facts. 

This post features Steve Peacock, Community Relations Director

What do you do at the Sabo Center?

My work involves connecting Augsburg to the community by building strong relationships that support positive opportunities for engagement around issues that are important to our neighbors.

What’s one social issue that is most important to you right now?

Climate change.

What’s your favorite place on Augsburg’s campus?

The Augsburg community garden!

If you could recommend one book, movie, or podcast, what would it be and why?

The Moth podcast because personal stories are such a powerful way for people to connect and to find common ground.

What’s your favorite thing to do outside of work?

Outdoor activities – biking, hiking, canoeing, camping

What’s your favorite place in the world?

The Boundary Waters.

What’s the coolest thing you working on right now?

A shared recreation and wellness facility on the east end of campus.

Name one spot in the Twin Cities that you would consider a “must-see”?  

Cedar Cultural Center

Have any last facts/favorite quotes/advice/etc. that you would like to share?

“We all do better when we all do better”  (Paul Wellstone)

UNDOING WHITE BODY SUPREMACY PILOT PROJECT

The Sabo Center is convening the Undoing White Body Supremacy Pilot Project in partnership with Augsburg’s Equity and Inclusion Initiatives. This pilot is a cohort of white faculty and staff learning to undo the ways white supremacy shows up in our bodies, not just in our minds. Selected applicants will meet and learn together throughout the 2019-2020 academic year. This is body-based racial justice work, informed by Somatic Experiencing®  and Interpersonal Neurobiology. Applicants should be open to both intellectual development and also to the opportunity for tracking the body’s physical responses to racialized experiences.

APPLY HERE

Applications are due by 5:00 p.m on Monday, May 13, 2019. All applicants will be notified by Friday, May 17, 2019.

Contact Rachel Svanoe or Allyson Green with questions about this opportunity.

 

ABOUT THE PROJECTImage of My Grandmother's Hands cover

COHORT COMMITMENT

OUTCOMES

ABOUT WHITE BODY SUPREMACY

 

ABOUT THE PILOT PROJECT

Racism has been foundational to the United States, and the patterns and implicit beliefs that sustain racism are baked into our culture, political systems, and ways of engaging with one another. Changing the narratives that rationalize racist systems is necessary, and there is much to be learned (and unlearned) through education. Many of us at Augsburg are doing exactly that through the Diversity and Inclusion Certificate and other learning opportunities. However, as long as there exists a gap between our intellectual commitments and the impact of our action, something we’ve heard from students time and time again, intellectual work alone is insufficient.

The Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship, in partnership with Equity and Inclusion Initiatives, seek to complement current racial justice efforts on campus by creating a deliberate space for white faculty and staff members to address white body supremacy in ourselves, our classrooms, and our community. This is a nine-month program that begins in September 2019 with a series of three foundational training sessions specifically designed for white identified staff and faculty members. Following the foundational workshops, we will convene seven monthly cohort practice sessions (November – May) for a cohort of 21 people (14 faculty members and 7 staff) to deepen this learning. This is not an all-white group making plans for racial justice work on campus without our colleagues of color or group therapy for assuaging white guilt, but rather an intentional space for strengthening skills and deepening accountability for undoing white body supremacy.

This cohort model is being developed in direct conversation with the work of Resmaa Menakem MSW, LICSW, SEP (“My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies”) and Rachel Martin M.S., LAMFT. Sabo Center staff members Rachel Svanoe and Allyson Green are participating in ongoing communities of practice with Resmaa and Rachel to develop their capacity to facilitate this work at Augsburg.

Who is involved?

Rachel Svanoe and Allyson Green: Project coordinators, lead facilitators

Rachel Martin, M.S. LAMFT: Curriculum developer and facilitator of the first foundational workshop and coach to Allyson and Rachel who will lead the remainder of the program

Joanne Reeck: Project advisor

Participants: 14 white identified faculty, 7 white identified staff, others who attend foundational workshops

Why only White folks?

While colleagues of color have power, agency, and essential roles to play in racial justice work, the intention of this pilot is to focus in on the part that white bodies need to play, and the dynamics of whiteness which too often evade the spotlight. White bodies, because of our conditioning, tend to lack the capacity for holding discomfort in racialized experiences and, in multi-racial settings, we tend to lean heavily on colleagues of color to ease tension, soothe our anxieties and make things feel okay again. This can be wounding and exhausting for colleagues of color, and it inhibits the development of individual and collective capacity among white bodies to hold our own (and each other’s) discomfort and move through it together. We will build culture, community, and capacity among white bodies to show up more fully to the work of dismantling white body supremacy and creating a more just world.  

If you wish to discuss this choice further, we welcome conversation.

 

COHORT COMMITMENT

Three Foundational Workshops (Fridays, 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.)

September 27, October 11, October 25

Monthly practice cohort meetings (Fridays, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.)

November 8, 2019

December 13, 2019

January 10, 2020

February 14, 2020

March 13, 2020

April 10, 2020

May 8, 2020

***Cohort members will commit to attending all ten sessions when they apply. The first three foundation workshops will also be open to other white colleagues at Augsburg.

OUTCOMES FOR PARTICIPANTS

  • Shared language and practices for staying engaged through moments of racialized stress and discomfort, creating a container for the institutional evolution that is underway.
  • A co-created culture of loving accountability among white colleagues, helping us stay connected rather than shutting down or cutting each other off, shifting our mindset from “I have to figure this stuff out on my own, so I don’t make mistakes” to “I can learn and grow, and I am part of a community that will love me through my mistakes.”
  • Increased capacity to 1) understand racism and its impact, 2) address racism when it happens, and 3) cause less harm to students and colleagues of color, responding to their call for us to do our work.
  • Greater collective capacity among white colleagues for undoing white supremacy in our institution, decreasing the burden carried by colleagues and students of color, creating more space for them to be and to lead.

ABOUT WHITE BODY SUPREMACY

In My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies, local trauma specialist, trainer, and author Resmaa Menakem writes, “only a small fraction of white supremacy lives in our conscious mind.” Much of the patterns and reflexes that sustain racism are unconscious and manifest in our bodies. This manifestation informs the term white body supremacy and calls for racial justice work to include a focus on the body, not just the intellect.

Each of us who has been shaped by life in the United States carries in our bodies wordless stories about who and what threatens our safety, along with reflexive responses to protect us from those threats. These protective responses to threats (to our physical safety but also to what we do, believe, and care about) are for our survival and yet, our nervous systems cannot differentiate between threats that are real and those that are perceived. Because of our history and socialization, white bodies’ nervous systems predictably mobilize to protect us in the very presence of a black or brown body and even to the mention or thought of race. In these moments, whether we intend it or not, our nervous systems often go into fight, flight, freeze or collapse, taking us out of social engagement, causing harm and impairing us in the face of each others’ racism.  As long as our nervous systems experience the mere awareness of race as a threat, they will predictably respond to protect us from experiencing our racial reality and thus, leave us with very little capacity for tolerating the discomfort of race and racism, keeping us from the work that we need to do. If we lack awareness of these nervous system patterns and practices for staying engaged and moving through them, we will continue to look to Black and Indigenous people and people of color (BIPOC) to soothe our racialized stress, and shoulder the burden of dismantling racism.

Fortunately, our bodies also have tremendous capacity for awareness, connection, and resiliency, and this is what we aim to cultivate through this effort. In this work, we learn to notice the physical sensations that accompany nervous system responses and develop practices for staying present and connected as they occur. For example, when we begin to notice a racing heartbeat, constriction in our chests, shallow breathing and a narrowing focus, before following our gut reaction, we can practice looking around and expanding our focus to the space that we’re in, moving our bodies in ways that ground us and making eye contact with a familiar face for support. As we learn to experience nervous system energy for what it is, simply our bodies trying to protect us from real or perceived threats, we learn to recognize when our bodies’ reactions match reality and when they are responding out of unhelpful conditioning. Against a backdrop of often-paralyzing white guilt and shame, we can learn to separate feeling bad when we continue to cause harm from thinking we are bad.

As white colleagues develop greater collective capacity to lean into the discomfort of racialized experiences and the resilience to bounce back from our own stress responses, we will be better equipped to walk through the transformation that our community and institution are beginning to undergo. White colleagues can develop the capacity to hold our own and each other’s discomfort, seeking less comfort from colleagues of color and creating more space for them to work, influence, lead and be. Not only that, but we experience more authentic relationships, greater ability to take imperfect action, and the resiliency to seek repair and move forward.

Summer Intern Reflections – Food and Community

Campus Kitchen hosted two high school interns through the Minneapolis Step-Up program again this summer. Davonte returned for a second year, bringing confidence to share his previous knowledge and to ask brave questions in staff meetings, and Rahma for the first year, bringing lots of Cedar-Riverside neighborhood knowledge and incredible baking skills.

This summer I’ve had the pleasure to work with Campus Kitchen. Over the summer I participated in meetings where complex ideas were discussed and I had the liberty to share my own thoughts and ideas within an inter-generational group which was a knowledgeable experience for me. I had the privilege to learn about vegetables that were unfamiliar to me at first and then figure out how to use these vegetables to make healthy and creative foods such as zucchini chocolate chip muffins, zucchini chocolate chip cookies, and cucumber brownies. My cooking skills grew very much this summer as I had lots of opportunities to practice thanks to Campus Kitchen. I’m also much more comfortable in a garden setting now. I got to work in the campus community garden a lot which strengthened my agricultural skills and knowledge. Throughout the summer I participated in many garden activities such as watering, trellis building, plant identification, harvesting, checking the soil and some landscaping. On Saturdays, I participated in the weekly gleaning where we received donations of produce from farmers at the Mill City Farmers Market who were willing to give. After this we sorted through and bagged the produce to give to The Cedars, which are low income apartments for the elderly in Cedar-Riverside. There we would have to communicate with the elderly whom often didn’t speak english. Usually we’d have leftover produce from the Saturday gleaning which we used to make a delicious and healthy lunch every Tuesday in the aforementioned garden. On Thursdays we prepared meals for about 50-60 elderly people who live in the Ebenezer Tower and Seward Towers East/West. Some Fridays we’d prepare and serve dinner for some of the residents at the Ebenezer Tower. Campus Kitchen allowed me to grow my knowledge of food desserts, positive/negative food environments, food oasis, ugly vegetables, school lunches, food rights in our community, fast food, food insecurities, the food process (where food comes from/how it gets to us), and composting. We did many projects and research to further our knowledge on these subjects such as making a food glossary, conducting a market basket survey, a research project on food desserts, and a presentation about school lunches. I’m now much more aware and conscious of food waste thanks to Campus Kitchen. I thoroughly enjoyed my second summer of working with Campus Kitchen and I’m thankful for the experience.

-Davonte Hall (South High School, class of 2021)

Hey, My name is Rahma Farah and this summer I worked in for the Campus Kitchen as an intern.The Campus Kitchen at Augsburg is an on-campus student program that is a member of a national nonprofit organization. We did all sorts of different things such as work in the community garden to help the gardeners’ plants grow and build many trellis so that their tomatoes could grow on them. We also got a lot of donated fresh produce from the Mill City Farmers Market that we give out to The Cedars, which are a low income apartments for the elderly in Cedar-Riverside, and the Campus Cupboard, which is a food shelf for Augsburg students. Every Tuesday we’d use some of that produce to make a garden lunch where anyone could come grab a bite to eat. On every Thursday we go to Ebenezer Tower, Seward Tower East and West and prepared about 60 meals in total. And every other Friday we go back to Ebenezer Tower and serve and eat dinner with them.

Throughout this experience I gained many skills. By going to the Friday dinners, it boosted up my communication skills because I would talk to a different person every time we went. By working out at the garden, I gained knowledge about plants such as how to identify them and take care of them. I also learned how to manage my time, since some days we were given a list of tasks that had to be done and we’d get it done with time to spare. We did all sorts of different projects like learning about food deserts in our neighborhoods and food securities in the elderly community. We did a market basket survey about the grocery stores in the area and their prices for certain items. I also became more aware about food waste and compostable items. This summer has been full of great experiences and I want to thank the Campus Kitchen team for an amazing first job experience.

The first photo is us learning how to build a trellis.

The second photo is of us brainstorming a food system.

-Rahma Farah (South High School, class of 2021)

students build a garden trellis

students brainstorming

Auggies Engage

 

Student leaders in front of the Christensen Center.Auggies Engage aims to co-create a shared vision of civic and campus life with fellow students, problem-solving for the benefit of the whole community. Do not underestimate the power of your voice. We don’t.

Throughout September and October, incoming first year and transfer students meet with a student leader on campus to build a relationship and explore your power and purpose at Augsburg University. Your student leader will reach out to you via your Augsburg email account to schedule a time to meet.

As an incoming Transfer or First Year student, you will have the opportunity

  • To connect with current student leaders with whom they may not necessarily connect to create understanding around shared interests, values, goals, and passions;
  • To begin to inform students’ sense of agency and community on campus; and
  • To ask any questions or share any concerns they have regarding their first few weeks on campus.

Engaged Student

Engaged Students operate from a mindset that campus and community change is a possibility, and that new realities can be realized. They build relationships and alliances with fellow students, staff, and faculty; and attempt to build their capacity by understanding others’ values, cultures, backgrounds, and experiences (adapted from Strom, 2006).

Contact Auggies Engage

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to your student leader or to the Auggies Engage team at auggiesengageprogram@augsburg.edu.

Marina Christensen Justice Award

Every year at Commencement, one graduating senior receives the Marina Christensen Justice Award for demonstrated dedication to community and working in solidarity with marginalized people. This award recognizes work that is in keeping with the personal and professional life of Marina Christensen Justice.

Nominations are submitted in the spring with nominations for other Augsburg Leadership Awards, and are judged on the following criteria:

  • The depth and breadth of community involvement
  • A strong commitment to addressing the systemic roots of the issues
  • A personal and professional commitment to work with marginalized communities
  • Bold and courageous leadership
  • Authentic and sustained engagement with community and issues.

 

Minnesota Campus Compact Award Winners

Each year Minnesota Campus Compact presents awards at their annual statewide summit. At this year’s summit, an Augsburg student, staff member, and community partner were recognized for their leadership and collaborative work. The 2018 award recipients were:

Student Leadership Award: Janet Nguyen

As the student food shelf coordinator this year, Janet built a base of committed volunteers, increased participation and donations, and even navigated a successful recovery from a small fire. Janet brought a bold, equity-focused lens to the food shelf by diversifying offerings and working to destigmatize food insecurity.

Civic Engagement Steward Award: Jane Becker

Jane Becker, Augsburg’s Head Volleyball Coach, organizes more than 500 athletes and their coaches each year to engage with youth in the Cedar Riverside neighborhood and beyond. She has created new summer sports clinics, an on-campus homework help program, and an alternative spring break program for young people.

Community Partner Award: Cedar Riverside Community School

Cedar Riverside Community School is the only school in the Cedar Riverside constantly adapts to best serve the educational needs of an ever-changing population. School leaders and teaching staff are committed to deep, reciprocal partnership with Augsburg, so that CRCS and Augsburg students are prepared successful futures.

 

 

Interfaith at Cedar Commons Fosters Connection, Understanding

People sitting around tables in Cedar Commons sharing a meal.
Attendees at an Interfaith at Cedar Commons event share a meal and conversation.

Twice a month, students and community members gather in the Cedar Commons space adjacent to Augsburg’s campus, intentionally coming together to build relationships across faith and non-faith traditions and learn from each other’s experiences, stories, and convictions. Coordinated through the Sabo Center for Democracy & Citizenship, Interfaith at Cedar Commons is one of many initiatives based at the Sabo Center that connect the Augsburg campus and the wider community. Gathering around a topic and often a meal, participants discuss subjects ranging from Islamophobia to religious holidays, human rights, political activism, and creation stories. The inter-generational group involves faith communities from the Augsburg campus and the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, and integrates the Interfaith Scholars program, cultivating student and community-based leadership.

Shoshana Freund and Bethany Keyl are two Augsburg students who have been involved with Interfaith at Cedar Commons as current or past interns with the core team of students and community members that plans the gatherings. They described the interfaith events as open, welcoming spaces where topics and faith and non-faith perspectives are understood to be complex. For Shoshana, an atheist, the complexity of these discussions were refreshing. Speaking from her experience on the planning team, Shoshana described how the topics chosen for the events are designed to help people from all paths–including those who do not practice a religion–to find common ground through storytelling and experience sharing. Often this leads to new, profound understandings of people and communities who might otherwise have remained “Other.” Interfaith is an opportunity for students and others to see that “people of other belief systems are not antagonists,” Shoshana said. “Their beliefs don’t exist to contradict yours.” Bethany noted that the gatherings are an opportunity to find “common ground” and to “foster understanding” through the experiences and stories of people who come from different traditions.

Beyond story-sharing and relationship-building, Interfaith at Cedar Commons is also focused on building skills for inter-faith organizing. Activities such as power-mapping, one-to-one trainings, and other aspects of community organizing have been regular additions to the 2016-17 school year interfaith meetings. These skill-based sessions, along with the practice of having nuanced and complex conversations about meaning, core commitments, and the role of different faith traditions in the world with community members from campus and beyond, makes Interfaith at Cedar Commons a program that embodies the Sabo Center’s commitment to “create a culture of civic agency and engagement among students, faculty, staff, and our broader community so that graduates are architects of change and pioneers in work of public significance.”

Curious to learn more? Learn more about Cedar Commons using the following link:

http://www.augsburg.edu/cedarcommons/

Learn more about Interfaith @ Cedar Commons by using the following link:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/914923151875489/

Jane Addams School for Democracy comes to a close

After twenty years of democratic education and practice, the Jane Addams School for Democracy met for the last time earlier this month. From the beginning, its founders sought to free and cultivate the talents, cultures, and interests of people from diverse backgrounds and traditions and engage in a minimally structured, non-hierarchical way that allows participants to shape the agenda. The Jane Addams School for Democracy brought immigrant families, college students and other community members together to do public work and learning. It was inspired by the vision of democracy, productive citizenship, and popular education held by settlement house pioneers like Jane Addams, who created Hull House in Chicago in 1889.

As we consider the current state of our democracy, the principles and practices of Jane Addams School are a much needed antidote to the polarization and division that colors public discourse. We have faith that the lessons of Jane Addams School can continue to support a more just and democratic world. In 2007, the Kettering Foundation published a book called Voices of Hope: The Story of the Jane Addams School for Democracy which features 22 essays by 12 Jane Addams School participants, including non-native English speakers, and more than 75 photos.

Citizens as Co-Creators

By Harry C. Boyte

I like your question to students, “how are decisions on various levels of importance are made?” I agree that the capacity to “throw the rascals out” is essential.

But I also am convinced democracy is not only about decision making. It is about co-creation and a feeling of ownership – where “culture” comes in.

Some years ago I had an exchange with two distinguished academics, Eric Olin Wright and Archon Fung, about their “Deepening Democracy” essay, later published in Politics and Society (my response, “Reconstructing Democracy,” is also on the Havens site).

They were interested in developing “transformative democratic strategies,” larger than local experiments or single issue movements. Drawing lessons from large scale examples which they called “empowered deliberative democracy,” from habitat conservation planning under the Endangered Species Act to participatory budget discussions in Brazil, they developed a model which  could be adapted to schools.

They distilled three principles: Issues have a practical focus on specific, tangible problems; all involve ordinary people affected by the problems and officials close to them; all rely on deliberative development of problem solving. They noted three design features – decentralization of state decision making to local units; creation of formal linkages that connect local units to each other and to more central authorities; and ways to support and guide problem-solving efforts.

Continue reading “Citizens as Co-Creators”