’18
Izzy
Lake Worth, FL
Art
Environmental Studies

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making stuff exploring the James being messy stompin' to live music vegan food

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Bridge Over Troubled Water

December 18, 2014

      In November, I embarked on an adventure that was a little bit more about interpersonal exploration at the enVision social justice retreat at the Roslyn Retreat Center. Despite the fact that I was just 8 minutes from campus, I felt worlds away from my day-to-day experience at UR. When I signed up retreat through the Office of Common Ground a month prior, I intentionally refrained from expectations about what the experience would be like. I was met with total immersion in the dialogue of social justice, in which I could become aware of the constructs in which my daily experience is affected.

      A couple vans of enVision participants arrived at the scenic Roslyn Retreat Center on Friday afternoon. From the moment all the participants got there, it was a hit-the-ground-running schedule where we participated in activities, presentations, and small discussion groups. A fearless team of faculty and student facilitators introduced the topics of the gender binary, privilege, and fatphobia. Work was done on my end by thinking about my personal experiences with these topics, along with the stories of others, to help piece together how systems of inequality exist.

web_activity

     The “web” activity was where we could all realize connections between our individual stories. We threw a ball of string around the room until we had created something pretty intricate based on shared connections.

       A term that was frequently used was “The Water”, which is a metaphor for the society we live in, colored with hues of discrimination and stigma. As “fish” in this water, people sometimes barely ever notice the inequity they are immersed in. The message that enVision really drove home was to become aware of the commonplace occurrences that propagate injustices in the world. Prejudice, however unspoken, affects the way that white, black, homosexual, Latino, women, and even overweight people experience the world in every facet of life. 

small groups

In “small groups”, people had the chance to talk more intimately about their experiences with prejudice. 

      The most surprising aspect of enVision was perhaps that social justice is hard work. It takes more cognitive resources than you would think to notice “the water”, and to listen and absorb people’s complex and sometimes painful stories. In large and small discussion groups, we were encouraged to dig deep and share more than what was comfortable. Powerful experiences were shared in the group discussions, and a sense of solidarity was created in the will to empathize with these stories. It was a common understanding that the world isn’t just, but at least we were beginning to understand how and why.   

energizer

Ok, this "energizer" had nothing to do with social justice, but it was a pretty good time!

       enVision was not by any means all gloom and doom. I actually found it to be invigorating in that it solidified what I had learned about structures of power and inequity in my FYS (First-year seminar.) From enVision, I feel better equipped to start tackling these issues, now that I understand their inner workings. Ted and Glyn, our enVision team captains, did an exceptional job in making the heaviness of injustice somewhat lighter with their good humor. There were several points where the group would play “elves, wizards, and giants” or dance around absurdly, as “energizers” to invigorate our brains.  I also made some new friends, jammed on my ukulele, and made connections that were sincere amongst a group of folks who were serious about making change, starting with themselves. 

group photo

Team enVision- We’re a pretty attractive and spontaneous crew. 

Photo credits: Tawyana Athey and Lisa Miles

Howdy!

My name is Isabella, casually known as Izzy. I'm a kid from the swamp (South Florida) who came to Richmond to explore- my surroundings, my academic and artistic interests, and my personal self. When I stumbled upon UR, I was a high-school senior at Dreyfoos School of the Arts who was swimming (or perhaps drowning) in a sea of college applications and presentation, unaware of where I would be in less than a year. It's exciting to be a newly born spider, one who is released upon this beautiful campus, with no other goal than to get as much out of my educational experiences as possible. As a Spider diarest, I will try to recount my adventures in their fullness as I foray across The Commons, The James River, and the downtown art scene with only a bike and a backpack. Hold on to your handlebars folks, I'm intent on chasing the opportunities and the oddities just beyond the pointed arches....