Working at KBOO offers many unique and exciting opportunities to contribute to and participate in our community both inside and outside the station.
Foundation's 21st annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast found KBOO represented with a table of ten staff, volunteers and board members. DiversityInc's Luke Visconti
was the keynote speaker. Mr. Visconti offers a compelling message to large corporations as to the financial impact of diversity, but in this setting, he could clearly address the ethical and moral imperatives as well. It was a stirring speech and the event raised money for college scholarships.
During these types of events, I have to pause and reflect, “Wow, I am paid
to do this,” and I had to make the same consideration when we recently brought in Monica Beemer from Sisters of the Road Café
to work with the KBOO staff on the practice of nonviolence. Sisters serves meals for $1.25 or by trading volunteer time. The heart of the organization’s work is not providing meals however. Rather, it is building authentic relationships with love. Sisters integrates nonviolence at every level of the organization. A key component is that humiliation and violence are never accepted. When anyone acts in a humiliating or violent way, that behavior is stopped. Failure to stop has consequences, but it is always confronted with love and respect.
Most interactions at KBOO are wonderful, but a small number of problems can take a lot of time and emotional energy. Our work is to build community radio, and adversarial attitudes take an emotional toll on individuals and prevent the station as a whole from moving forward. We’ve seen positive changes the last few years, and there has been a particular shift in the last 6-9 months towards ensuring that everyone here is treated well.
Nonviolence is a big paradigm shift though, and such a big change can seem challenging. For example, we may agree on the face of it that it’s never all right to yell at others, intimidate them or call them nasty names, and yet we may feel that “it’s the only way to get through” sometimes. Furthermore, we may feel that acting nonviolently will let people off the hook: if we’re too nice, they won’t change their behavior. And the idea of interrupting violence (including verbal violence) is intimidating; sometimes it’s easier to just “smooth over” the situation and hope that everyone calms down. Finally, treating others “in a caring manner, with love” may sound like a job for Mother Theresa--maybe we just aren’t cut out for it.
Happily, we can be nice and at the same time maintain clear boundaries and expectations. Indeed, I have seen firm boundaries—when applied with care—stop bullying behavior at our station on a number of occasions. Also, nonviolence depends on people acting in concert, so we don’t have to be superhuman. In real life, this may be as simple as not letting someone interrupt the meeting agenda, checking in when someone just said something that might be hurtful, or letting someone know that they have to stop yelling or leave.
This practice affords us the opportunity not only to stop bad behavior but to cultivate positive interactions. Deep listening, building relationships, staying calm, supporting fellow employees and volunteers, being humble and humane are all key aspects of nonviolence. This indeed is the work that can make community radio nourishing, and this is one quality amongst many that makes me proud to work at KBOO.