Our Diversifying The HERD Virtual Summit at the beginning of February was a groundbreaking event. This was the first ever summit that was led and hosted by people of color in the equine facilitated space and I’m so grateful to my co-host for the event, Elizabeth McCorvey and to all our speakers and panelists for helping to create such an open-hearted and inspiring space for dialogue. Proceeds from the summit raised a whopping $5500 for the Patricia Kelly Scholarship Fund through Share in The HERD™. This scholarship fund is named after our keynote speaker for the event, Patricia Kelly, of Ebony Horsewomen Inc. A pioneer in the field of equine facilitated work, Patricia has been a role model for many people of color in our industry.
On the day of the summit, I was giddy with a mixture of excitement and trepidation of what might unfold. We had an amazing turn out, and while the technological challenges of virtual gatherings didn’t escape us, we were able to maintain a steady stream of participants in all of our live sessions. It was incredible to see so many different approaches to equine facilitated and assisted work being represented by those in attendance.
There were folks from EAGALA, Natural Lifemanship, EPI, and PATH International, as well as those who came from outside of our equine facilitated community from breed or discipline organizations, equine welfare and educational spaces, and the American Horse Council. It occurred to me as I looked at all the faces on the screen that morning, that coming together in community with all our different approaches is the essence of diversity, and I felt a sense of pride in how so many people showed up and stepped up to the challenge of addressing issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in our field.
Once the adrenalin rush of the event was over, and I’d surrendered myself to a brief moment of satisfaction with what we had collectively created, I was left with a sense of urgency. This feeling of urgency is not new to me when it comes to matters of social justice. It comes from a frustration of wanting to lift up the voices that need to be heard and knowing that so much more work needs to be done.
This time though, I felt a slight shift with this urgency. I realized that just because the work was urgent, it didn’t mean that it could be done quickly. Instead, there was a sense of needing to allow for space to rest and digest what happened, and is continuing to happen, through the summit. For those who chose the extended access options, or those who couldn’t make it to the live event and are accessing the recordings in small bite size chunks, before jumping into the “next thing”, we need to give space for people to process and experience it all at their own pace. Because that’s how the issue is gaining momentum – not from those who are mired in the struggle, but from newly formed allies who are stepping up to do the work.
So, for those of you who have been asking “will there be more?” the answer is YES, absolutely. I’m working on the next offering as we speak. Meanwhile, I want to encourage everyone to take their time to immerse themselves into the experience of the first summit, continue to engage and connect with each other, support and strengthen the work that we are all doing to build a more inclusive world. And, if you didn’t get a chance to sign up for the summit, you can now purchase unlimited access of all the recordings. Simply click on the link below and enter into the experience.
Here’s what a few people have said about the summit:
“The summit provided a safe space for difficult conversations”.
“The best Black History Month offering”.
“The most incredible experience”.
“Such a depth and wealth of information and expertise from the panelists”.
And my favorite:
“Almost a month after the event, I am still feeling the impact of what I learned every day. As a white woman, I knew I had a steep hill to climb when it came to understanding issues of diversity, but this summit has helped me put into practice the values that I hold in wanting a better world for all through how I interact with every being, human, or horse, that I am with, every moment of every day”.
My heart is full of gratitude. Until next time, my friends!