RecognizeGood: In general, the values that you try to espouse yourself through BRAVE Communities come down to what?
Emlyn Lee: I think one of my life mottos is, no pun intended, to be brave and to get outside your comfort zones – through that, whatever that may be personally / professionally, you know you can discover the similarities and share the differences of people around you and set new goals and new standards.
RecognizeGood: What have you learned about facilitating these brave, courageous conversations between people that may not always think exactly like you?
Emlyn: I think the big thing is always to listen. We just had a showcase on Sunday with the BRAVE Ambassadors, a cohort of high school students, which means putting an event together and showcasing what they’ve done this past year and having community conversation through breakout sessions. What was really nice was that somebody, a community member, had written that we all have two ears and one mouth – that embodied the whole theme of how we all need to listen more!
I think people in power and people with more privilege have a great opportunity. The reason we had that breakout session was to allow the young girls and the young women to facilitate it. When you think of marginalized voices, it could be from different races, different genders, different faith groups, different ableism, and all the all the ‘isms’ that are out there. It’s such a greater experience to be able to listen more to those that come in wanting to hear a totally different perspective. So that’s something that we’ve been trying to do. The next generation of the ambassadors is our year long program and BRAVE Makers is our summer program. That’s really one where they can feel comfortable and confident with their voice and know who they are, identify and know their story, and be able to share their story and be able to listen.
Because for youth, a lot of times we as adults diminish and dismiss their thoughts and perspectives. Now, they see leaders listening, and when the youth become more influential leaders then they can learn that skillset to listen and empower the marginalized voices.
RecognizeGood: I know ethics is kind of a mushy word, but how do you think of business ethics when it comes to the way that you and BRAVE do what you do?
Emlyn: I think with ethics it’s really just that mutual respect, right? So, you know – you do unto others as you would have others do unto you. I feel like that’s kind of the golden rule of life. I think ethics in business is really to care for your community – employees, clients, the community at large. When you are compassionate and empathetic and you respect them, your service is going to shine. And I think your concern and your care for people will be twofold, so that hopefully they will want to be with the organization and be a patron of your organization more.
RecognizeGood: Lots of times when it comes to thinking about doing the right thing, we’re talking about not cutting corners when cutting corners is kind of the path of least resistance – especially when you’re strapped for resources. Is there a corner that you’re absolutely not willing to cut? Are there areas where you choose to invest the resources that you do have that you think stand out?
Emlyn: That’s a great question. I feel the things that we do personally, and I hope that feeds into your organization. Something that I will advocate for and will try to amplify is hearing the voices of the marginalized, so that’s something that I won’t try to skimp out on. And that really is the relational part. It’s really about providing time, a listening ear, a shoulder, an open mind, so that there isn’t this judgment of differences. It’s like “we’re in it together” – how you are experiencing something is something I want to listen and learn.
Obviously, don’t get me wrong – you have to also set boundaries. We only we all have 24 hours in one day, yet at the same time, it’s about being intentional and being mindful of love.