Open Lens Learning Journey
The Open Lens Learning Journey is an invitation to anyone holding space for learning and growth. We want to collectively explore and reflect on the meanings of diversity, inclusion, identity, power, and privilege for ourselves and in relation to the different bodies in the spaces that we hold.
WHAT IS THE OPEN LENS LEARNING JOURNEY, AND HOW DOES IT WORK?
The Open Lens Learning Journey is interactive online learning and development co-created and organised around different themes under the diversity and inclusion umbrella.
It is offered in five-week cycles using live online sessions, each focusing on a specific theme. These sessions are facilitated by an external practitioner who specialises in the overarching theme.
WHO IS IT FOR?
The learning journey is open to everyone who supports the learning and growth of others and wants to reflect on the intersection of diversity and inclusion and their practice. Those can be facilitators, teachers, mentors, support persons, coaches or whatever you call yourself.
We welcome both folks already working on the core topics in relation to themselves and their practice, and those at the beginning of their journey. We believe that un- and re-learning inclusive and reflective practices is a life-long adventure.
Open Lens Learning Journey is an emergent process that runs up to three times a year. Check out what is coming next or take a look back in time below.
We are currently running a cycle. If you want to know more about the topic, check it out below.
Discover all the topics we explored in the past.
The general flow of a cycle is the following:
- Week 1 – Arriving: Together with the external practitioner, a member of the Open Lens Collective will facilitate a getting-to-know-each-other, establishing group rules and opening the cycle’s theme.
- Weeks 2 to 4 – Diving deeper: The external practitioner will lead the group through exploring and reflecting on the theme, ourselves and our practice.
- Week 5 – Moving further: The last session of each cycle serves as space to close the theme, and connect learning.
The sessions are live and will not be recorded to allow the group to explore the theme in a safer, brave space. The concrete dates and times of the sessions will be available before the application. Each participant is responsible for their own learning and growth.
Each cycle will have a dedicated Slack channel, which will be the primary way of communication in between the live sessions. The external practitioner and the group are in full ownership of this channel. So, it is up to them to choose how to use this space (sharing resources, reflections, and beyond).
VALUES & VISIONS
To fulfil our intentions around decolonialisation, anti-oppression and accessibility, we aim to bring the following values and vision to reality in everything we do.
Safer Brave Space
‘There is no such thing as a “safe space” –
We exist in the real world.
We all carry scars and have caused wounds.
seeks to turn down the volume of the world outside,
and amplify voices that have to fight to be heard elsewhere.
This space will not be perfect.
It will not always be what we wish it to be
It will be our space together,
and we will work on it side by side.’
Inspired by this poem, we aim to create a safer brave space – a space in which you feel safe enough to show up as your fullest self and brave enough to push the boundaries of your being and thinking. We want to hold this space through truth and love while acknowledging that we are all on an ever-changing journey of learning, un-learning and re-learning.
Co-Creation and Shared Responsibility
The Open Lens Learning Journey was dreamed of and thought into existence by those who stepped up when the idea was first raised. This moment was sparked by concrete discussions and work around diversity and inclusion in facilitation. We believe that this does not give us ownership of the themes and spaces created within the framework of this initiative. We don’t understand ourselves as leaders or experts in this space and are aware of the limitations and biases our own backgrounds bring with them.
We don’t perceive ourselves as leaders or experts in this space and are aware of the limitations and biases our backgrounds bring with them.
Based on that, we want the Open Lens Learning Journey to be a truly co-created space in which the future of the initiative is shaped by everyone taking part in it. We hope that the organisation, development and themes will be carried by whoever in the community feels called to it and be rooted in the learning and reflecting of everyone involved. That also means that people can step back from organising to just participating at any point along the journey. This initiative will exist as long as folks commit to holding this space for each other.
De-Centring Culturally Dominant Voices
To this day, both spaces of education and learning and the work around diversity and inclusion, are shaped strongly by culturally dominant ideas and practices. Those are often rooted in Europe and Northern America. The experts are often white, cis, formally educated and able-bodied.
With the Open Lens Learning Journey, we commit to actively reaching out to knowledge holders in affected, marginalised and/or minority communities to join us as external practitioners. We seek to prioritise voices from the Global South. We encourage those practitioners to lead the group using whatever tools and resources they deem appropriate, exposing us to diverse approaches and knowledge and challenging our comfort.
Compensation of Actual and Emotional Labour
Holding and organising spaces of learning and growth are demanding a huge amount of actual and emotional labour from everyone involved. That gets amplified if those people come from affected, marginalised and/or minority communities. To honour and compensate for everyone’s contributions to this space, we adhere to the following principles:
- Providing just compensation for the external practitioner sharing their knowledge and skills.
- Waving/reducing the fees for those volunteering to organise and handle the logistics of a cycle.
- Reimbursing those providing infrastructure for the learning journey (e.g. platform subscriptions, payment system, hosting).
- Allowing members of affected, marginalised and/or minority communities to reflect on their likely emotional labour of contributing to the learning of others when choosing their participation fee.
Accessibility and Sustainability
Spaces of learning and growth are often only accessible for a small group of people. The barriers to them are as diverse as the learners interested in them. To account for those while creating a sustainable format, we actively enforce the following principles:
- Accessible language – The working language of the learning journey is English, but we do our best to keep it as simple as possible. External practitioners are guided to reflect that in their facilitation. We also are cautious of the barrier of academic and conceptual language, terminology, and concepts.
- Participant driven approaches first – Even though we are encouraging the external practitioners to use the methods and approaches that they see fit, we also challenge them to create interactive and experience-driven sessions instead of lectures or similar formats.
- Just participation fees – We are aiming to make the Open Lens Learning Journey a financially self-sustaining initiative, while also being aware that participation fees are the main access barrier. Therefore, we decided to give participants the power to self-determine their financial contribution to account for both the privilege and oppression they individually experience.
- Pay it forward – At the end of each circle, we will share the actual costs and revenue of the cycle, as well as give the opportunity for participants to contribute an additional amount to the sustainability of the Open Lens Learning Journey based on the value and learning each individual participant got out of the session.