Experimental Salons are intimate (6-8 people), facilitated discussions for industry professionals and community members to gather regularly and collectively experiment with one new program (or several) that addresses a social justice issue within their community.
Our goal for these Salons is to lower the risk of discussing polarizing topics, and to create safe spaces for positive conflict where folks engaged in different parts of a systemic problem can work towards a joint end goal.
The Experimental Salons process is an integral part of our overall methodology for creating pathways for change from the ground-up, centering those in the communities that will be most affected. We utilize findings from these Salons to create toolkits and resources, host public accountability town halls, and affect organizational and policy changes.
Frequently Asked Questions
How are these Salons different from other facilitated discussions?
While each Salon is formatted as a facilitated discussion, they are meant to move participants beyond just discussion into focused brainstorming, coalition-building, and real-time experimentation. Salons are an ongoing commitment for a period of 6 months to a year, where participants are compensated for meeting regularly to ideate and implement a social justice-based program that serves their community.
For example, our upcoming 2022 initiative, The Neighborhood's Table, will incorporate two sets of cross-functional groups working across the intersection of gentrification and hospitality (e.g., individuals, activists, community organizers, developers, hospitality business owners). Our 2020-21 initiative, Equitable Representation in Food Media, brought together different groups of freelancers, producers, editors, stylists, and partnership professionals across the food media industry.
Note: Our Salons have changed significantly since their debut for our food media initiative.
We aim to gather folks who do not often have a chance to work together and are willing to engage in blue-sky thinking as well as tactical action plans within their spheres of influence. We recognize that structural challenges cannot be solved with individual changes, and thus orient Salons around building connection and intimacy in order to realize effective collaboration. As we always say, change happens one conversation, one person, one relationship at a time.
What happens after the Salon?
After the initial set of Experimental Salons per initiative, we follow up with Salon attendees for 1:1 interviews, then compile our learnings from the process to create an educational resource that is made available to the public via our Resources Library.
After the resource goes live, we restart private Experimental Salons and plan public events (e.g., panels, town halls) in order to keep iterating on our toolkit.
Watch: Tokenization in Media: A Case Study in Food in partnership with General Assembly
Watch: Food Media in the Time of COVID in partnership with Museum of Food & Drink
Read: Recap from our Practicing Accountability: A Food & Beverage Media Town Hall
We also work with organizations who are committed to implementing the suggestions outlined in the toolkits to write formal industry white papers that detail their change process over the course of 12 months. Read our two white papers on DEI initiatives at The Kitchn and Well+Good as part of our work in food media here.
How do you decide the topics for the Salons?
We narrow in on topic areas where we believe we have an ability to affect real change. Often, these are industries close to us and communities we are already part of. As we continue to grow our organization, we dream of applying this framework to many more industries and disciplines. We are cognizant of our limitations, and are always interested in working with like-minded partner organizations to curate, moderate, and drive the thoughtful conversations at the heart of our Salons.
If you're interested in working with us on a series of Salons pertinent to your industry - be it rebalancing opportunity in the cannabis boom or dissecting ableism in architecture - we would love to hear from you!
How do I attend a Salon?
Make sure you're subscribed to our newsletter for updates on our next initiative and what folks we will be recruiting to take part in those discussions.
If you are interested in utilizing the Salon model at your organization, you can read more about working with us here.
Support our Salons
Our team is continuously working behind-the-scenes to ensure our Experimental Salons run smoothly and we are creating a space that is welcoming to all. If you've benefited from these Salons or their related resources, we kindly ask you to consider supporting us by becoming a monthly patron or with a one-time donation. We thank you for your generosity!
All contributions are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.
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