Goal of the meeting: To offer an opportunity for all doulas in North Dakota to be present in the same room and share their concerns. We are urban, suburban and rural, White, Native, Asian, Latinx, Black and African American. We represent underserved communities and people of privilege. We are trained in traditional cultural ways as well as correspondence courses or by trainers representing the big six organizations. We serve laboring people, women, and their families in birth and postpartum. We are diverse but we equally understand the truth about the powerful nature of Birth and the parent-baby unit. We are doulas and we support those who cross our path by truly caring about them.
Who Can Attend: If this truth resonates with you, and doulaing is the primary activity of your heart and contributes to your household financially (or you are a longtime volunteer), you belong here. I want to be inclusive of those who know doulaing is their primary path, rather than excluding those who are also midwives, nurses, and physicians. I ask that those who identify with those roles be our allies as we doulas have this conversation.
Structure of the meeting: (1) Welcoming statement and purpose of meeting; (2) Pass the talking object - 3-4 minute statements where each person can state their concern or question - we will make notes on large posters around room. This may take a few hours but this is crucial! Everyone gets their 3-4 minutes. People who don't want to speak in front of a large group can write it down and have someone else read it for them. (3) Individual time reading the notes on the large posters, taking in people's truths and concerns. (4) Discussion groups of identified issues (4) Highlights of discussion groups made to large group (5) Action items and follow up - to keep moving forward (6) Networking time and snacks, follow up with people you want to know better. (7) Closing
Facilitation: As a meeting facilitator, Amy Gilliland, Ph.D. utilizes her excellent communication skills to listen for the need underlying a question or behavior. She has the knack of teasing out the essence of a speaker's message so others can also hear it. Dr. Gilliland understands that conflict has the potential to create deeper connection and empathy even when the process makes people uncomfortable. She strives to create an atmosphere where participants are willing to risk to being heard and authentically listen to others, especially when presented with a viewpoint that is challenging for the rest of the group. She understands the power of coming together as a circle - especially for people raised as women. Raised ethnically White, she is aware of the multiple privileges her role entails and challenges herself to strive for peoples of all cultures to be heard in settings she is responsible for.
Possible Outcomes: Every large meeting I've facilitated has had different outcomes. Some people started regional doula groups; others start programs that benefit families; one started an action plan for health care policy changes; and everyone appreciates the support and validation that come from spending a few days with people who "get it". It's very different from interacting with doulas on social media.
Cost: $5 for snacks and meeting supplies. My facilitation and the meeting space rental are my gifts to the growing community of doulas in North Dakota.