The William Winter Institute’s Welcome Table assists partner communities to:
- Understand the importance of listening, storytelling, and relationship building as prerequisites for producing real and measurable change.
- Understand the consequences of the systems we have inherited, in order to develop, together, community-specific initiatives to redress inequities.
- Become equipped with the communications tools to accomplish the goals stakeholders identify together to improve their communities.
- Share the process with members of their own community and other communities.
The Welcome Table Approach
Once a group of community members expresses an interest in working to address its divides, the William Winter Institute facilitates a process of establishing relational trust, unity, teamwork, and cohesiveness within the group. We do so by encouraging participants to tell their stories, which allows them to understand each other more deeply and thus communicate more easily and effectively.
Historically, the Welcome Table has focused on local groups of people who come together voluntarily through a common concern for their community, meeting over the course of 18 months to 2 years, in three phases:
Reflection and relationship-building, including individual self-exploration, open and honest communication with others, and the sharing of stories, in the midst of a safe, confidential space.
Learning from the experiences of others, especially concerning the ways in which race, structural racism, privilege, and discrimination have shaped all of our lives. As we begin to understand the consequences of the systems we have inherited, we begin to discern together initiatives specific to each community to redress inequities.
Looking at the community through an equity lens and identifying a way the group can have an impact on an equity issue in their community. Increasingly over the past few years, we’ve begun partnering with other types of “communities,” including nonprofits, museums, corporations, boards of directors, schools and school districts, and state legislators.
Welcome Table for Your Organization
We draw upon the community-based history of the Welcome Table to create customized experiences for organizations, including businesses, nonprofits, cultural institutions, boards of directors, government agencies, professional associations, educational institutions at every level, faith-based groups, and state legislatures.
We work with each organization to craft a timeline and structure that works for them, building every collaboration on the foundation of our Welcome Table principles of relationship and trust building through facilitated story-sharing, truth-telling and learning experiences, and equity-focused action.
We are available for deep one-time engagements or, preferably, a series of sessions over an extended time period. Many organization opt for a series of six monthly or bimonthly sessions. To speak with us about your organization’s needs, email April Grayson, our director of Community & Capacity Building, using the contact form below.