Language Equity Statement - feedback invited!

Hey there
GC consented to this Language Equity Statement. We’d welcome comments on how it lands on you.
Some context (from the Helping Circle’s write-up):

SoFA is a global organization that operates in English as the main language but has members from a diversity of languages and cultures. We identify a need coming up in different SoFA circles to have more tools for language equity in order for everyone’s voice to be heard and needs to be met. General Circle consented to creating Language Equity Helping circle (LEHC) on November 30, 2021. The result of their work - the consented statement along with recommendations that are still being looked at - can be seen in here.

Language Equity Statement
Individuals and circles in Sociocracy For All (SoFA) have needs related to language use: to be included, to learn, to contribute, and to challenge English as the dominant language in a global organization. We notice that a dominant language can lead to equality — offering a common language — or inequality — limiting access and power; and hindering self-expression.

We recognize the harm that has resulted from language colonization. It is important to maintain cultural diversity in the face of ongoing globalization, as the words we use construct our world.

For every voice to truly matter, people need to communicate in the language that best meets their needs. This is language equity. Further, if SoFA is not exclusively for people who are proficient in English, then we need to reimagine our circles as multilingual spaces.

Therefore, to promote language equity we make the following commitments:

  • As peers, we seek to understand each other across any language divide.
  • We share power by working with people in the language of their choice or ability.
  • In our circle work, we commit to practices that increase language access.
  • We celebrate language diversity across SoFA.
  • We provide support through SoFA’s International circle, language-locale circles (LC), and the localization guide role.
  • We support content generation in any language and transferability across languages.

A multilingual approach is a powerful way for SoFA to put our words into action and reach more people. In conclusion, we affirm that enabling a person to speak the language of their heart is well worth the effort.

We’re curious to learn your reactions. Comment on this thread!
Thank you, @Andrew.Grant @lea.shani @francine.proulx-kenz @ania.micinska @alma_gisela.garcia_g for working on this topic! :pray:

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Here are some questions that have come up as Mission Circle is reviewing the statement on Language Equity:

  • How can SoFA commit to creating multilingual spaces without going broke?
  • Why might it be essential to challenge English as a dominant language?

On the first point, practices such as turning on CC during meetings have no additional cost. Flowing text can assist non-native speakers with tracking spoken words. By contrast, simultaneous interpretation is a more specialized and costly service that can be offered by request but not universally.

Regarding the second question, I have been told that challenging dominant forms is essential to psychological safety. Wondering what others know about this…

Even if it wasn’t the main theme, I think that this podcast episode explains something important about (American) English as a dominant language: https://bit.ly/3RQh0aV

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