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Brave Spaces vs Safe Spaces

When reflecting on the definitions of safe and brave spaces, I took some time to reflect on my life where I experienced Brave spaces or where I experienced Safe spaces. AND some spaces I experienced were neither safe nor brave. The difference between a safe and a brave space is that a safe space aims to foster comfort, a brave space encourages mutual learning and accountability.

  • Safe space - is a space that doesn’t incite judgment based on identity or experience, where the expression of both can exist and be affirmed without fear of repercussion and without the pressure to educate. While learning may occur in these spaces, the ultimate goal is to provide support.

  • Brave Space encourages dialogue. Recognizing differences and holding each person accountable to do the work of sharing experiences and coming to new understandings. These spaces require courage, requiring one to be ready for the hard, and typically uncomfortable.

The reality is: they’re different spaces, providing different outcomes. AND on alternative breaks, we should be finding a solid balance of both. The push for Safe spaces has been strong but doesn’t leave room for people pushing past their comfort zone to allow the really hard conversations to happen. Creating a brave space allows individuals the freedom to admit that there are things they don’t know, but that there is room to ask questions. It opens the floor for growth while addressing the heavy and the real. The goal is spaces in which we are both supported and challenged; Spaces in which we are both teaching and being taught. Brave and Safe spaces when implemented correctly, complement and strengthen each other.

Suggested Norms when encouraging Safe + Brave Spaces:

1) Speak from the “I” or Address the topic, not the person

2) Speak from a place of love and respect. Start your comment with phrases like “Thank you for sharing!” or “Tell me more about_____”

3) Give everyone the opportunity to speak

4) Ask yourself if sharing your thoughts will contribute to the conversation in a positive way

5) Assume everyone in the space has good intentions

6) Give everyone time to think about a response before raising your hand

7) DICTIONARY: Raise your hand and say, “dictionary”, if you don’t know what a word means or would like clarification

8) Confidentiality: What is said here, stays here. What is learned here, leaves here.

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