Hello friends! We are Drs. Albertina Lopez (she/her) and Chera Reid (she/her) from the Center for Evaluation Innovation (CEI), where we partner with philanthropy to provide changemakers the space and resources needed to advance racial justice and create an equitable future. We guide and support strategy, learning, and evaluation efforts that aim to advance racial equity and justice. We are here to share with you how our liberatory practices are opening up multiple ways of knowing.
Evaluators are knowledge workers. We ask powerful questions and gather information systematically to answer those questions, often with the intent of contributing to social change that advances a more equitable and just society. The industry standard says our work is valued for what we know at an intellectual level. This standard creates a hierarchy of knowing, situating cognitive knowledge at the top.
Yet we are whole humans. How do we create the conditions to draw on multiple ways of knowing? In our work, we are practicing awareness of how our minds and bodies work in tandem to allow us to see and sense context and nuance. We are exploring somatic practices that invite us to feel into what is happening in our bodies as we interact with people and take in how the environment responds. We are slowing down so that we might feel into what is present in our bodies.
At CEI, we have been working with our Artist in Residence, Kate Morales (they/them), founder of As The Crow Flies, whose practice includes Somatic Scribing–a social art that surfaces latent wisdom of bodies and minds in a social field. Kate facilitated our team’s first cultural somatics workshop that was focused on generating knowledge through thoughts, feelings, and sensations. Kate’s work is informed by a lineage of Black, Brown, and Indigenous somatic leaders and practitioners such as Resmaa Menakem.
We can access our somatic systems, ways of knowing that are held in our bodies. Everyone has their own level of connecting with their body, and every place is the right place to start. On our team, we have people who range from having a regular somatic practice to those just being introduced to it. Setting up the context about why it’s important and what it can look like is important for inviting people into a space where they can be vulnerable and authentic.
As we continue to dismantle oppression in our evaluative work, we cannot forget to do so in our bodies. We are undoing generations of marginalizing our bodies in favor of our minds. Liberation requires us to embrace our whole human knowing. Remember to be kind and gentle with yourself and others as you do so.
Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to email@example.com. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.