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S1E2 Episode Notes | Community Ground-rules: Tools for Love, Life and Leadership

Updated: Jul 25, 2019

TWWL provides full audio transcripts to ensure that our show is accessible to everyone. Please consider becoming a monthly Patron to help us keep this service available to everyone. Heads up: we do curse occasionally. 🤷 Some research says it means we're intelligent or creative, but we mostly do it because we're being our full authentic selves and we don't want to filter our thoughts on these topics.

Episode Notes:

We're both convinced that our relationship wouldn't have made it through the trials and tribulations of growing up over the last 15 years if it hadn't been for the tools that we learned in an after-school program called, "City at Peace." In this episode, we outline the community ground rules for The Way We Lead and give you a look into the experience that first provided us with these tools which have served us well, not only in our relationship but also in our work and every day lives. 

For a simplified version of our agreements, visit our blog post here.

  • 00-1:00: Intro

  • 1:14 : Our community ground-rules for how to relate to and talk to one another and have productive conflicts!

  • 3:45: Agreement 1: believe best intentions first (while understanding impact).

  • 5:51: listen to understand rather than listening to respond.

  • 9:44: use "I" statements.

  • 12:34: share concerns but help us grow closer together rather than pushing us apart.

  • 18:21: respect one another.

  • 22:44: City At Peace, the program that taught us to use agreements and gave us the conflict resolution tools that made us who we are today.

Reference Links:

City at Peace, nationally known as The Possibility Project.

Episode Transcript:

Jenelle: (00:00)

These agreements have changed the way that we not only talk to each other, but also argue with each other, which I think is really important. All couples fight and all couples have disagreements and all couples will go through difficult times and we absolutely have gone through those and we have always stood by these ground rules in order to help us through.

Gaby: (00:29)

Hola Hola, it's Gaby Acosta.

Jenelle: (00:30)

And me, Jenelle Acosta

Jenelle: (00:32)

We're high school sweethearts on a journey to be better allies.

Gaby: (00:35)

You're listening to The Way We Lead where we talk about inclusive leadership, allyship, and advocacy with folks across identities, industries, and experiences.

Jenelle: (00:45)

If you're new here, Welcome! You can follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter using the handle @thewaywelead.

Gaby: (00:52)

We're glad you're here. Let's jump in.

Gaby: (01:00)

Hey everybody.

Jenelle: (01:01)

Hey friendships.

Gaby: (01:02)

I've got my lovely foxy wife over here.

Jenelle: (01:06)

Ooh, I'm foxy? Oh like this.

Gaby: (01:08)


Jenelle: (01:09)

This is fun.

Gaby: (01:09)

My foxy wife.

Jenelle: (01:11)

You can call me foxy.

Gaby: (01:14)

And today we're talking about agreements! Agreements, and also what we're calling ground rules or rules for engagement. This is the episode where we're talking about how to set the tone for the conversations that we're going to be having on this podcast, which are, I would say challenging at times. We're going to be talking about some sensitive topics, identity, power, privilege, complex issues. And in order to do that, just like making sure that we have trust with one another in a relationship, in a romantic one or in a friendship, we have to have a foundation that we can all agree upon so that we can understand how to relate to one another and talk to one another and have conflicts in a meaningful way so that we can move forward rather than get stuck and move backwards and break things apart.

Jenelle: (02:12)

mmhmm, I was trying to think about how to explain this to other people and I think the best way to do it is we all have very different expectations because of the way that we grew up or the way that we were, you know, sort of the environment that we were around. And if we don't state our expectations of each other out loud, then we don't know how to hold each other accountable. And so this is us stating our expectations not only of ourselves but of our guests and hopefully you all as our audiences as well.

Gaby: (02:47)

Yeah. If you think about it, this podcasting journey is building a relationship with a whole community of people. So we're taking what we, you and I, put into practice in our relationship and applying it to our community of folks and we hope that all of y'all listeners will join us in participating in these agreements when we have conversations. So we're going to break them down. Um, and later on what we're going to do is talk about where these agreements came from because we built this foundation from an experience that Jenelle and I had back when we were in high school that really set the tone for who we are as people and in our relationship. And we want to share a little bit of our backstory with y'all.

Jenelle: (03:33)

Yep. Some of this is something that we use every day in our relationship. And some of this is things that we think are appropriate for this audience. So you, want to jump in?

Gaby: (03:44)

Yeah, let's do it. Okay.

Jenelle: (03:45)

So agreement number one, believe best intentions first. How would you describe that?

Gaby: (03:54)

I think this one is about intention. It's about knowing that we're here to have meaningful conversations and we're not always going to get it right. Sometimes our unconscious biases, which we all have, are going to show themselves and our conversations. We're going to slip up, we're going to say things that aren't quote unquote perfect. And we're, we're navigating some complicated questions and we're gonna do our best and, and use the language that we have and start where we're at now, right? And our goal is to have a journey. So right now our intention is to learn, it's to participate, it's to engage, and then let us grow and learn as we go. So if we slip up, we're sorry. Know that we do not mean to hurt or harm anyone and that we hope that you recognize that we're not perfect, but we're, we're doing our best and we're here to learn and, please give us room to do so.

Jenelle: (05:01)

And also call us out. Um, I think one of my favorite things that we're trying to do is we're going to asked you all to talk to us back about what are you feeling, thinking, what have you tried on, where do we need to improve? Um, and so if we're using the wrong language or thinking of things in a way that you might believe is wrong or incorrect, let us know and we can start to talk about that. Because the point of this is for us to learn, to learn from our guests, and then also to help the audience learn as well.

Gaby: (05:33)


Jenelle: (05:33)

So we're always going to go with our best intentions and sometimes our best intentions will be wrong and we want to fix that.

Gaby: (05:39)

Absolutely. And when you share your feedback with us, we'll assume the same of you. We want to have positive intentions with the comments that we're hearing from our listeners.

Jenelle: (05:49)


Gaby: (05:51)

All right. Moving on to agreement number two: listen to understand rather than listening to respond.

Jenelle: (06:00)

So this is one of my favorite agreements that we have. It stems from something that we've had in our relationship for a long time, um, which is the idea that you need to listen even if it hurts. It's not that if it is hurting you for some reason or if it's triggering you for some reason, you're allowed to take care of yourself and step away. But sometimes we might be talking about something that's difficult for you to swallow that you may not, you're sort of fighting with internally because you either believe it or you don't believe it or you're, it's a struggle of your own identity. And the goal should be to listen, to try to understand what they're saying. Because I think a lot of the time the, the first feeling is to get upset or be angry. Or hearing it. And it triggers you in a way that you, you want to respond to that you want to defend yourself. But the point isn't to defend yourself. The point is to hear the other person's perspective.

Gaby: (07:08)

Yeah, and I've been thinking about this one a lot actually recently. A lot of the time what someone is saying isn't the words that they're saying. It's the intention or the meaning behind those words. And that takes deeper listening instead of making an assumption based on what words are coming out of someone's mouth, it's important to me to try to understand and listen harder to what's going on behind that initial message.

Jenelle: (07:38)

I have a real life example of this.

Gaby: (07:40)


Jenelle: (07:41)

So you were having, I would identify you as an, uh, an introvert. I think you identify yourself as that as well there.

Gaby: (07:49)


Jenelle: (07:50)

And we were in a time where, um, you didn't have introvert time. And so I was being my normal, annoying, obnoxious self with you and asking all these questions and you were like googling something on your phone and I was like, what are you doing? What are you looking at? And you finally turned to me and just what? Why you always gotta ask me questions. Why can't I just live my life? Like what's going on? Like why do you got to bug me all the time? I don't understand. And I laughed so hard because I just went, you need alone time, don't you? This isn't about me. This is about your needs. And you were like, yes it is. And like we have learned to do that over time because we're in a relationship. But I think that that's an example of you were in that moment technically attacking me. You were saying like you're messing everything up. Like why do you do this to me?

Gaby: (08:37)

Okay, I didn't use those words.

Jenelle: (08:38)

You you didn't. But like the idea was...

Gaby: (08:40)

I said, "let me live! Can't you just let me live?"

Jenelle: (08:44)

But the point was like you were, you were having an emotion and it was aimed towards me and I was able to look at that and know that it wasn't about me. It was you.

Gaby: (08:55)


Jenelle: (08:56)

and that takes a lot of time to know how to do on a regular basis in practice. But it's a good example of sometimes things will be talked about that may feel like it's about you or to trigger to you, your culture, your identity, your group. Listen to understand what they're trying to say first.

Gaby: (09:19)


Jenelle: (09:19)

And then the next step is to respond.

Gaby: (09:22)

Absolutely. It doesn't mean that you can't get upset because something was said in a way that that hurt you.

Jenelle: (09:29)



But it does mean trying to hear what the other person's intention was first and then with kindness and love. Respect. Which leads us to....

Jenelle: (09:44)

Agreement number three: use "I" statements.

Gaby: (09:49)

I love this agreement. This is an important one. And I think especially in the beginning when I was learning to navigate the world of social justice and conversations around power, race, privilege, et Cetera, it felt really difficult to...I had a hard time not making generalizations or statements that I was like, well, we all feel this way, right? We all make assumptions. I made a lot of assumptions at that time about where everyone else was coming from, but in fact, it's really important to talk about your own experience and your own opinion and call it out as your own. My own. if I have a thought about a topic that we're discussing, I need to be able to own that, that topic [inaudible] and my opinion of that topic and my personal experience. So it's important that I share my story because it's mine and that influences my opinion. So when I'm sharing a story or a reaction for why I feel a certain way, I'm going to say I experienced this, which led me to believe that. And for me, this means that when I'm listening to you, Jenelle, talk about your experience being more of a masculine appearing queer woman, I'm going to also assume that when you're speaking for yourself using I statements that it's not you speaking for your entire community. And I hope that everyone would do the same for me and us individually. So as a community, I hope that our listeners engage with us using I statements and I will do the same as much as I can. And I hope that we can keep each other accountable to that.

Jenelle: (11:54)

Yeah, this is, this is a hard one to do. It's a hard one to get into the rhythm of to, I have to stop myself a lot and I'll say like, well, when you know, when you do blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And I mean actually when I do this, so let me talk and I statements and make sure that I'm talking from my own experience. So I think we'll, I know that I will need a lot of help remembering to do that because it's really hard for me to do that and I try my best to, to catch myself. But I also ask you to help catch me and when I need to correct myself as well. So I'm not making statements of generalization.

Gaby: (12:34)

Same. And I think it's just, it's common. It's something that's used so often and so frequently in conversation and it's assumed that it's easy to say like, oh well we're friends, therefore you feel this way too. But when talking about sensitive issues like these, I think it's important to take a step back, like you said, and say, okay, let me talk from my own experience. So that's using I statements. Next up we have the fourth agreement, which is share concerns but help us grow closer together rather than pushing us apart.

Jenelle: (13:16)

MMM. Yeah. So, one of the things that we're going to ask of all of you as our audience is to, we said it before, like call us out when we're thinking about something wrong or there's, we're using the wrong language or there's a place for us to need that we need to grow in some place and we're going to ask you all to submit voice memos to us on what those are. And we will inevitably disagree with you or you will disagree with us. And it's important that when you deliver your feedback to us that you delivered it in a way that we can understand and that's trying to help us. It's language that is trying to help us grow. It's believing intentions, but also being able to call us out. We might not always agree. In the end we might get to a point where we can agree to disagree, but if you deliver it with the hope of trying to educate and trying to educate the entire audience that we have versus taking it as a— I don't know how to put this exactly, but I guess like posing it more as a slight or or assuming wrong intentions I guess like calling us out rather than educating us.

Gaby: (14:46)

Yeah. I think this kind of came from some conversations been having recently with a lot of folks in this space is the problem with shaming others when, when we are trying positive intent, when it comes to learning and growing and supporting others. It's so easy to make mistakes but it's very common place for folks to shame that individual attacking that person and saying you're using the wrong language. You're doing the wrong thing. You don't belong as part of this group of allies and advocates. You can't be one, but it's my intention in this community to start first with saying, okay, I recognize that you are trying here and I want to help you get to the next place where you can learn and grow and you can take a step closer to being a good ally and a step closer to being a good advocate. So I recognize that you are trying, but this is how I would like you to adapt in order to be a better ally or a better advocate.

It's my intention in this community to start first with saying, okay, I recognize that you are trying here and I want to help you get to the next place where you can learn and grow and you can take a step closer to being a good ally and a step closer to being a good advocate.

Jenelle: (16:06)

Yeah. It goes back to agreement number one, which is believe best intentions and then also, uh, agreement number three, which is use I statements. And I think it's important for us to know also that sometimes when receiving feedback from our audience, they may not, they may have a lot of emotions about this so they may not be able to practice everything that's on here. And so we will try really hard to follow agreement number two, which is to listen to understand rather than listening to respond. Right. Rather than if you, if, if an audience member does share with us that they are very upset about something we said or did and there's a lot of emotions behind it, we will do the best to try to hear through those emotions. But we don't want to assume things for you, which is why we're creating these, that if you do respond, it's better to the best that you can practice using I statements, practice believing best intentions first and then practice sharing your thoughts or your concerns with us in a way that'll help us come together rather than pulling us apart. And I know all of these things are really hard to do, so we will always give the benefit of the doubt and believe best intentions, but we ask that you try to fulfill these as well.

Gaby: (17:23)

Yeah, there are a lot of dark corners of the Internet where

Jenelle: (17:26)

There are?

Gaby: (17:28)

Well, trolling and escalation can happen so quickly in an anonymous world. And so I think understanding that, when we disagree in this is especially in this polarized political climate, when, when I make a, when I share a story, I hope that rather than attacking me, that you will share your perspective and your experience with us to help me try to understand in a way that maybe at the end of the day we don't completely agree and that's totally fine, but help me have as much information in a way that I can process it so that we can come to, to make the best decision for ourselves.

Jenelle: (18:21)

I think that lends well into our final and fifth agreement, which is respect one another.

Gaby: (18:30)

Yeah. This is what it comes down to at the end of the day is it takes so much vulnerability to be able to talk about these issues and these topics that are very sensitive. Um, and we hope that all of you, our listeners will engage with us in a respectful manner on all of our platforms. That that means on social media as much as it means being respectful to us in the real world. And that also means us being respectful to us are your hosts, us to one another, Jenelle and myself, and also means us being respectful to our guests. And then also anyone who is willing and able to share their comments, their voicemails or opinions on our podcast. So please, just in general, we asked that, that, that community that we're building, those who are listening, those who are engaging with us start from a place of respect and we can move on from there.

Jenelle: (19:38)

And I also want to make the statement that I, I use a lot of these agreements actually. I use every single one of these agreements in my personal life and as a leader at work as well. Um, and if you can practice them and become good at them at, at following these agreements and these rules, these ground rules, it will change a lot. Um, in how you view people, on how you can handle difficult conversations. Um, it's, it's really a game changer once you start to, to take these on. So I would even argue outside of this podcast, in the community of this podcast, if you're out with your friends talking about what's on this podcast or talking about a similar subject that you've heard from this, that you try to follow along with these agreements as well as you listen and interact with other people. And um, I hope that'll not only be helpful for us in this community that we're growing but also in your personal life as well.

Gaby: (20:39)

Yeah. I think as we go through this journey together of trying to determine and define better allyship and advocacy, not only for us but as a community, I hope you also just understand that these agreements, they're gonna work for us to start and we might need to adapt them along the way as, as we change. As our opinions change, as our community shares with, with us their opinions. And, um, we are going to be different people tomorrow. In fact, I, I hope we are. The whole point is that we are going to grow. So what we say today is going to be different 10 years from now and it means that we're going to need to adapt these as we go along. And what we're gonna do is we, we're going to post these up on our blog, we'll share them on our website and on all of our social pages and if you have thoughts and ideas about other agreements that we should add, please share them with us. We want to know, we want to add them and we'll add to our agreements page as we feel necessary.

Gaby: (21:50)

Up next. Jenelle and I are going to share a story about the life changing organization, that taught us to use agreements when we first started dating back in high school. These tools have served us incredibly well in our relationship. We hope they'll serve the way we lead community as much as they've helped us.

Gaby: (22:09)

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Gaby: (22:44)

I think the fact that we're still together is partly because we both continue to invest into our relationship and partly because we kind of started with this really strong foundation with city at peace.

Jenelle: (23:00)

Yeah. So in high school you came to me with a flyer or booklet or something, um, and said, I think I'm going to join this thing. It's called city at peace. And I was like, okay, like what is that? And so you were explaining it to me, you're like, it's about diversity and learning about, uh, how, how to be an ally and they do theater and I want to try out for it. And so,

Gaby: (23:33)

and you looked at me like I was fucking insane

Jenelle: (23:36)

a little bit. Yeah.

Gaby: (23:37)

When this person spoke about city at peace, I just felt this pull, it was like one of those moments in my life that like completely changed my life. And at the time I remember grappling a lot with not only my sexuality because you and I were, we had just started dating that year, but also my identity as a mixed Latina. Like I was still like, well but I lived in El Salvador, I grew up there, but I also grew up here. I'm not from there, I'm not from here. And I felt like I was also grappling with this whole idea of I'm an, I'm an immigrant but I'm also a child of a true immigrant, but I have citizenship. And I also felt like a lot of complexities around like having white privilege because I'm really light skinned and because my mom is white, I can pass for white.

Jenelle: (24:31)


Gaby: (24:31)

So I was trying to figure out and I was like navigating all these complex identities and like what this meant for me. Like what is privilege? What does it mean to feel a part of something but not look a part of something? What does it feel to like, have you lived experience that not everyone can see?

Jenelle: (24:51)

Yup. And so you came and you talk to me about it and

Gaby: (24:56)

you weren't sure about it.

Jenelle: (24:57)

No, I wasn't sure about it, but, so I, I had a lot of issues as a kid and, and you know, you talked about like the space that you, I gave for you to learn and to grow and everything. But I as a kid felt really lost and I always looked to you for, for guidance and you, you have helped me grow in my understanding of the world, in my understanding of myself, in my understanding of what it means to be a good person, a good friend. Um, and in a lot of ways how to love yourself. But I think we've both learned to do that over time. Yeah. And in the very beginning, and, and I would even argue up until even recent years, like we loved each other more than we loved ourselves a lot. And so when I was that age, I loved you and you were part of my identity. And so the idea that you were going to go do this thing that I didn't quite understand was what was scary to me.

Gaby: (26:08)

But I think what we ended up doing is like there were tryouts like you had to get it. Yeah. And you know it was probably a low bar to get in and it was like, are you willing to try?

Jenelle: (26:18)


Gaby: (26:18)

Right. Like are you willing to show up every day and are you willing to try? And you just came along with me thinking like I'm going to sit and watch the tryouts and you can do your thing and then like all decide if I want to do it later. And we show up to city obese in DC and it was at a charter school and we walked in and it was a big room with mirrors on the walls and like piano and there was there, there were so many kids there. And like the energy was just like palpable and like everyone had like a little bit of a nervous energy cause they were all trying out. And I remember Sandy,

Jenelle: (26:58)

The director

Gaby: (27:00)

The director and she, she was like, all right y'all like this is what we're doing today. Like she broke it down, we're going to warm up and then we're going to have singing rehearsals. And I remember just being like, I literally don't know songs. I don't know any song except for Las Mañanitas. That's the only song I know by heart. And I was like, what the fuck am I going to sing? And I also like, I'm a terrible singer, so I was really nervous and you're sitting in the corner. And she was like, what you, what' are you doing? You're like,

Jenelle: (27:37)

I'm just watching.

Gaby: (27:38)

I'm just going to be here to watch and she was...

Jenelle: (27:40)

She's like, no.

Gaby: (27:42)

She's like, no, we don't do that here. Like you're going to have to participate or you got to go and you were like, oh, and you weren't ready to go. So you literally like stood up and took part. And by the end, both of us were like, I want to get in. And we both got in and I hope that she and the rest of the team know how transformative that year was for both of us.

Jenelle: (28:05)

Yeah, very much so.

Gaby: (28:07)

Like it was if you could take a diversity workshop and stretch it out six months and then give everyone a chance to talk deeply about their own experience and where they come from and their identity and, and the traumas that have happened in their lives and getting to hear from a whole range of humans across the spectrum of identity. And it was like the combination of like suburb kids, inner city kids and like all of us meshing together and talking about our lives. And it was like we were different classes, different races, different ethnicities. We were different sexualities. It was like, and we got a chance to talk about it in a super safe space and a super safe way. And like we learned the foundation for how to talk about these things in a safe environment

Jenelle: (29:02)

in a, in a place where you could mess up and it would be explained to you why the, why, what you said or what you did was wrong or bad or needed to be adjusted.

Gaby: (29:13)

Yeah. And like you were never shamed for not knowing something. I think that was the most important part of that space. It was like we're all here to learn, we're all here to grow and we're all well intentioned enough to stick around and try to work through the shit that is talking about these really difficult topics. Um, but the intention is that we're all going to try to help each other figure it out.

Jenelle: (29:39)

And through that I came, I grappled a lot during that time with my own privilege and, and

Gaby: (29:49)

I think we both did

Jenelle: (29:49)

yeah, I got angry at a certain point going through it about my own privilege and then was able to sort of work through that a little bit more.

Gaby: (30:00)

It was almost like going through the stages of grief. I remember talking about privilege.

Jenelle: (30:04)


Gaby: (30:05)

Felt a lot like, like at first denial, like literally saying like, no, that's not me. Like I had a hard life, so that's not me. And then like what are, I don't remember what all the stages of grief are but, but then like moving through like anger and then acceptance, right. There's more of them. But I remember the anger stage and shame stage of privilege stuck around for a minute, but then learning about how, how white guilt, right? Like having white guilt or privileged guilt is actually incredibly unproductive both for you and for everyone else.

Jenelle: (30:50)

Yeah. Yeah, definitely. I mean, I had that and it made me angry and it just made it hard for me to listen and understand the people on the other side. And so I had to get over my own guilt and anger around it in order to actually be able to hear other people. Right? Because, because we were listening to stories of like inner city kids talking about being neglected, talking about the realities of, of the dangers of them with police. Right? Like talking about the realities of, of sexual assault.

Gaby: (31:29)

addiction, abuse. But like the thing is, it was interesting because that though I think there was a higher concentration of those things for the kids who lived in the inner city DC. There was also an interesting dynamic between those of us who came from the suburbs and identified as folks of color or folks from underrepresented backgrounds in other ways and our experience of of trauma and then trying to make sense of it because it was like I have, I have some trauma and it's pretty significant but it's different than yours. And acknowledging that we like, even though it was different, it didn't make it any less valid.

Jenelle: (32:13)

Yeah. That's the important part because, because I had very similar experiences, and we'll talk about this at some point, but like I had very diff, similar experiences to other kids who were very different from me, but they were, they were similar in the, the nature of what happened, but different in the fact that they were our own experiences. Right. And, and different in how that manifested for them. Right. So it was interesting to be in that world where I say like, you and I are very similar but also so different.

Gaby: (32:42)


Jenelle: (32:42)

And we can bond on the similarities, but I also need to recognize the differences.

Gaby: (32:49)

Yeah, Yeah. And I think at the end of the day, I think the most significant piece of city at peace was learning all of these different terms and like understanding, like getting, like doing the like man in a box and woman in a flower activity. Like trying to understand like sexism and like expectations for people from various genders and like understanding like heteronormativity it's like it was like a baby sociology class. If you think about it, like,

Jenelle: (33:18)


Gaby: (33:18)

But like on a super practical scale, it wasn't heady at all. It was like, let's learn about some of the like shared language that we can then use to talk about our own experiences. And then everyone would share their own personal stories. And once they've shared their personal stories, like we had, like people would share their own poetry, their own music, their own, um, monologues and things like that. And then we would turn people's stories into a play, a musical. And that was probably the coolest experience because when we were turning it into a play, we could never play ourselves. We had to play somebody else's identity. And it's like you get to step into someone else's world and like complete and total empathy, right?

Jenelle: (34:04)

Yeah. In order to act out that role, you had to empathize with it to understand.

Gaby: (34:10)

Yeah. You had, you had to be able to put yourselves in that person's life and that person's shoes and then walk it on stage and like you wanted to do their story justice.

Jenelle: (34:22)

Yeah. Because you were doing, you were essentially doing somebody else's story in the room.

Gaby: (34:27)

Yeah. And they were probably doing yours. And so by doing that, it forced us to step outside ourselves and look at other people's experiences in a completely different way.

Jenelle: (34:39)

Yeah. Also I am not an actor. So it was like, and most of the kids weren't right. Like this was, this was a theater thing and the point of it wasn't for it to be amazing, but it was for the experiences and the stories that we could make.

Gaby: (34:55)

Yeah. I would say that the plays were powerful. They weren't like technical in our acting, but they were powerful and none of us were singers. Like some of us, like you and like some other folks who were like just really good singers, got a lot more solos. But the group of us still, it was a musical. So we had to sing, but we sang it together and it was again, like the words and the lyrics that meant something. And I just remember every time afterwards that we would go to see a CD at peace play, it felt equally as powerful to me as the first time that I played in one. Right. And it was, it was just like something super special that to me, laid the groundwork for our relationship because we learned to, um, have a foundation of what we called agreements at city at peace about how we're going to talk to one another,

Jenelle: (35:58)

how we're going to talk to one another

Gaby: (35:59)

and engage with one another

Jenelle: (36:00)

Yeah, how we're going to talk to one another, how we're going to listen to one another.

Gaby: (36:03)

Yeah. And also how we deal with conflict. Like when conflict arose, which it arose a lot, like there was some intense shit that went on in that room and like, we didn't just let it fester and linger. Like sandy would literally like pull two people out from the circle. I'm be like, you too now in the middle, talk to me about what's happening. They'd call it out. It was like, oh, like in order to deal with problems you actually have to

Jenelle: (36:31)

deal with problems

Gaby: (36:32)

Hash them out

Gaby: (36:34)

Yeah. And it was just really interesting because we learned conflict resolution. Like I remember learning the iceberg model about like how a conflict, what you see of a conflict is the like little peak above the water and it's barely any of like what's happening in your, like, visibly in the conflict is actually probably only the beginning.

Jenelle: (36:57)

Yeah. Whether it's deep of like a misunderstanding or whether it's deep of your own trauma and why it's upsetting to you. Right? Like what's the psychological sort of thing that's going on behind this of why the conflict is what it is, right? Like whenever you have a conflict, whenever we have a conflict, it's never about the other person. It's about us. Right? Like something about that is, is triggering something in me.

Gaby: (37:23)


Jenelle: (37:23)

And that is why it is upsetting. Right? Like either I can't get over something about it and because it hurts me in this way because of my experience with x and it makes me feel y. And if you don't learn those things, if you don't understand, I think the iceberg images is a really great, right. Like, and you all have probably seen this as listeners, you've got the tip of the iceberg sticking out, but the iceberg is actually huge underneath the water.

Gaby: (37:52)

Yeah. It's much more likely to be like the more significant piece of what's going on.

Jenelle: (37:57)

Right. And it's very similar in psychology to a very Freudian mindset of sort of what you see is the, the Id, right? Sort of like what you present and then everything else underneath is sort of the, the ego and different aspects of who you are. And so the conflict itself is, is such a small portion of what's actually going on.

Gaby: (38:20)

Yeah. So we're like, what, 16, 17 at that point?

Jenelle: (38:24)

Uh, yeah, I think so.

Gaby: (38:25)

And we were a group of maybe 50 kids between the ages of, you had to be at least 13.

Jenelle: (38:30)

I think it was between the ages of 13 and 19 yeah.

Gaby: (38:33)

It was just so impactful for how I ran my life. It like our relationship, my relationship with my parents, how I dealt with conflict outside and at work later on in life, how I dealt with my friendships. We still use it in our marriage like all the time.

Jenelle: (38:52)

We have also used this as a foundation for how we have built relationships with other people, how we uh, how we lead, how we have friendships, how we, it has set the foundation for who we are in a lot of ways.

Gaby: (39:08)


Jenelle: (39:09)

And we would practice what we were learning, right? Because we, I mean we were dating while we were going through all this and we had conflict and so we had to practice, and you would have to call me out on things to where you're like, remember to listen even if it hurts.

Gaby: (39:25)

Yeah. You use I statements like you're not using I statements. Like, don't tell me you do this when in fact it's what you do.

Jenelle: (39:31)


Gaby: (39:32)

I'm just hoping that we can continue to use that foundation to have these really difficult conversations because we're always, I think City at Peace the way that they structured things. I would really like to kind of have those same types of conversations on this podcast now as an adult about, you know, what identity means, like creating a communal language, creating a space that is safe to discuss these topics that aren't always easy. And then also to look at examples of people who are doing it really well, who are being inclusive leaders who are talking about, um, and doing and actively supporting folks by leveraging their own influence and helping other people rise up. Initially when I left my job I thought, okay, I'm going to go freelance, I'm going to do some freelance marketing, I'm going do some freelance consulting, which I am doing. Um, and I'm, I want to do a lot of a focus on social impact organizations so that I can continue to talk about these things. But in reality for me, where I want to drive my life is to, to find a way to talk about inclusivity and help other people build inclusivity into their lives, into their environments and workspaces and organizations and, and communities. Because it means so much to me. And it's just really fun being able to like use these tools to continue to investigate and like be curious about each other and, and the world and like also the people around us.

Jenelle: (41:06)

One of the things that city at peace taught me was how to be open to other people and not necessarily vulnerable to other people. Um, even though I think that that's important, but how to be open to other people's stories. And that's a really hard thing to do because as humans, I think we're in an inherently selfish and think that the world revolves around us, right? Like we, it is, I can't read other people's minds, right? So I have to live in my own world, but there's so much going on outside of our ourselves in our own experience. And so for me, my hope is to help other people just inch closer to wanting to understand other people. Learning to take a pause when you're looking at a situation just from your own perspective and, and learning to take in and ask the question of the perspective of those that are around you. Yeah.

Gaby: (42:08)

That's my hope too.

Gaby: (42:11)

Thanks for joining us on this week's episode about our community ground rules. We hope you enjoyed learning about where they come from and how we use them in our lives. We'd love to hear from all of you. Visit our website and share a voice memo on our contact us page.

Give us your feedback. Let us know what ground rules you think we might be missing while you're on the site. Subscribe to our newsletter for some additional behind the scenes material. It comes out every other week alternating with our episodes. If you want to get Super Meta, I hear additional behind the scenes conversations between Jenelle and me about our fears, excitements, and backstories as a couple, sign up to become a monthly patron by clicking our Patreon button on the top right of the website.

This episode was produced by me, Gaby Acosta and co-hosted by my lovely wife Jenelle Acosta. Our music was written and produced by the Fabulous Emily Henry. Special thanks go out to our #30for30accelerators who made this all possible.

Here's Jenelle singing this week's list of seed fund sponsors:

Jenelle: (43:13)

Adrienne and Stephen Inger-Goss, Allen Stairs. Hi Dad! Barbara Acosta.

Gaby: (43:19)

Hey Mom!

Jenelle: (43:22)

Ben Posner, Brigette Fine, Brittany Witcher. [Dog Barks] Every time.

Gaby: (43:27)

I'm Gaby Acosta, and I'll see you next time.


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