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How did this project begin?


At the beginning of our shared ministry, JT and I knew very little about what we were going to do. (To be honest, at this point, we still don't. Much of our work, and where it will head, is a mystery. But the beginning was particularly vague!) We knew that we each had a passion for healing, and for energy work. We knew that we each cared about faithfulness. We began to see how our gifts complemented each other as we started work in small circles.

As we discussed working together , we learned that we each had a personal list of people that, someday, we'd like to interview. We combined lists and saw there were many of the same names listed. We reached out to a few of these close Friends for interviews. At the time, we weren't sure what we were listening for or exactly what we were doing, but we knew it had something to do with young people, and Quakerism, and that it this was its beginning.

 

What were the first steps?


The first few listening sessions were a bit awkward. If I remember right, we were pawing around for our purpose, and not really sure where we would land. Our friends were gracious with this awkwardness. They agreed to be recorded, and we talked together about being Quaker. We reflected on our mutual experiences of worship, and the FGC Gathering, and about what kind of Quaker culture we yearned for, in the future.


Later, we reached out to more Friends, especially to those who were "fully aflame." We looked for people who were leaders within their yearly meeting, or at the FGC Gathering. These Friends recommended additional people to us, and our list began to grow.

What did you learn?

From these early listening sessions, we noticed a few patterns begin to emerge. We found many people who were looking for peers. There were Friends who chafed at the loneliness they felt. We met people who wanted to move beyond the topic of Quakers, and talk about other things that inspired them more. These included mutual aid networks, building an emerging community, the power and simplicity of going to sweat lodge, and the passion they had for playing music inside a local band.

We talked about our "inner wild" – that part of us that yearns for freedom and space to grow. Is it alive? Is it well? What feeds it? We talked about "living flat" – which is how we described the culture of white supremacy. "We've lost the power of our faith," a Friend in their 50s told us. They went on to say: "White supremacy and capitalism dull us, and they tell us that we're small." It is striking to me, how many interviews include a mention of white supremacy culture and how it keeps us small.

In time, we began to get more familiar with the questions themselves.
Click below to learn about the nuts and bolts of a session, or about our research.

THE LISTENING PROJECT:
ORIGINS