Life hack

How to Create a Safe Place

You’ve plugged the outlets, gotten rid of the poisonous cleaning products, and locked up the alcohol and medications. You try to do everything you can to keep your child healthy and out of harm’s way.

But have you considered all kinds of safety? The examples above are all about physical safety, which is where we tend to focus. It’s easier to understand physical dangers and also to come up with solutions to avoid them. Emotional safety is just as important, but it’s something we don’t always think about. Just like keeping knives and dangerous items out of your child’s reach enhances physical safety in your home, there are steps you can take to provide emotional safety in your home.

When people (of any age) trust that their feelings will be responded to with sensitivity and respect, they feel safe. They will be more honest and vulnerable with you if they know they are in a safe place. Think about how you act with the people you trust the most. You feel free to share your deepest thoughts and feelings and you value the feedback you get from that person. It works exactly the same with your kids or teenagers. If they feel safe with you, they will express their thoughts and feelings more, be open to conversations with you, and listen to your feedback.

However, if a child feels even a little bit unsafe, they may be more fearful of criticism or rejection from you. Again, think about when this has happened in your own life. Has someone created an environment where you felt unsafe expressing yourself? How did you handle this? You probably stopped sharing your true thoughts and feelings with that person.

If your child feels unsafe, they will not want to share their true thoughts and feelings for fear of being criticized. They may just tell you what they think you want to hear because they think this is the best way to keep themselves as safe as possible. Their feelings may come out through their actions since they don’t feel safe opening up to you using words. They will likely behave more defiantly, act more defensively, and seem more uncooperative. They also will probably not be as open to talking with or listening to you in general.

By providing a more emotionally safe environment, you can have a stronger connection with your child, and at the same time, improve their behavior.

The following points are some guidelines that are intended to make your home more of an emotionally safe place for you and your family. These are rules that parents and kids should both be expected to abide by. Everyone in your family, including parents and kids, deserves to feel emotionally safe at home.

What makes a home a safe place?

  • There is no physical violence.
  • There is no emotional abuse.
  • There is no shaming. Shaming someone makes them feel bad about who they are as a person. They get a sense that your view of them as a person is negative. Examples of shaming statements might be, “You are such a bad kid,” “You are a selfish person,” or “You never do anything right.” These tend to make your child feel bad about themselves and feel unsure if you truly like them as a person.
  • Apologies are given sincerely when someone feels hurt by something someone else said or did.
  • Everyone treats each other with respect. This means that there is no name-calling or sarcasm. Everyone feels like they are truly listened to by the other family members. Think about how you show respect toward other people such as your boss, a friend, or even strangers. Why would you show your child any less courtesy?
  • All thoughts, feelings, and opinions are acknowledged as real and treated as important. No one tries to change or invalidate another person’s feelings. Statements such as “You’re not really sad” or “You’re just being too sensitive” can make the other person feel as if their feelings are wrong. (Note that this does not necessarily include actions. For example, your child should be allowed to feel angry and think “I’m angry but that does not mean they are allowed to hit someone else.)
  • Physical and emotional boundaries are respected. For example, if your child doesn’t want a hug, you don’t force him to. Or if they ask a sibling for some space, the sibling respects that request.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on emotional safety. Have you had any personal experiences where you felt unsafe? How have you tried to make your home an emotionally safe place?

Do you know how to develop a safe place? Recently my therapist and I began EMDR for PTSD (EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy). We started by building a safe place–a place for me to go to when traumatic memories become overpowering. This taught me how to develop a safe place–something every mental health consumer should have.

Step One: Visualize a Safe Place Location

While I, personally, believe it is best if one’s safe place is an actual location, not everyone is fortunate enough to have a location they associate with safety. It depends entirely on the person’s history.

For me, my safe place is a Native American sweat lodge I prayed at frequently when I lived in Texas (I am Native American-Caucasian mixed blood on my mother’s side). Your safe place may be a church, a beach, or another planet. What is important is how it makes you feel. Your safe place must make you feel safe.

How to Create a Safe PlaceMy safe place also makes me feel warm, cared for, and close to God. In my safe place, it is dark, warm, comforting and I can hear chanting in the sacred language. I can feel the presence of all my relations and my Creator.

There is a very real power in my safe place that enables me to stand strong. Ideally, your safe place should be something like this. It may not be something you can put into words; it may be something that can only be felt. What’s important is how your safe place makes you feel.

If you do not have a location you associate with safety, you may create your own safe place with visualization (good for psychiatric disorders) Incorporate elements of your spirituality, your treatment plan, and your life. Visualize a non-threatening location. My ex used a beach even though he’d never seen the ocean. I heard one case in which a young boy’s safe place was the pitcher’s mound at Yankee Stadium.

Describe what it looks like. Listen to how it sounds. Notice how it smells. Feel the physical sensations in this place. Then do what you can to bring it to life. Practice going there when you’re safe, and it’ll become easier to go there when you’re in mental or emotional danger.

Step Two: Visualize a Protector of Your Safe Place

When I was in the Army, the mental health professionals developed a new strategy for treating traumatized combat veterans with PTSD. The therapist would play a combat scene on a video, then stop when the patient began to relive the trauma. The scene would then change to the patient’s safe place, and a figure they associated with protection would appear. A popular choice was a Buddhist monk. One non-veteran receiving this type of treatment chose me because I’d been in the Army and she felt safe around military people.

I, personally, am still trying to find a protective figure. You may be like me and not associate your parents with protection–that’s okay and that’s not that uncommon for people with posttraumatic stress disorder. Think of someone who makes you feel safe–it does not have to be a real person. If Superman or Batman makes you feel safe, then take them to your safe place.

Your protector should be a nurturing figure who can, as my therapist put it, “comfort your vulnerable child.” Your therapist may make a good person to take into your safe place as a result. The important thing about the protective figure is the nurturing aspect–you need to be in a safe place with a safe person in order to work your way through the traumatic event and avoid the fight-flight-freeze response.

Your protector does not need to be a person. It can be an animal. I find great strength from certain animals; I can’t say more than that because it’s not culturally appropriate to share one’s spirit animals. If you have a dog or a cat or a rat or whatever that makes you feel safe and nurtured, then bring it with you to your safe place. As we said in the Army, “If it’s stupid but it works, it isn’t stupid.”

Step Three: Remove Any Negative Aspects from Your Safe Place

Sometimes there are negative aspects associated with one’s safe place. In this case, one should remove the negative aspects by replacing them with positive ones.

I feel sad sometimes when I think of my safe place because I’ve been torn away from it physically. So I remind myself of the power and love I felt while I was there, and I find myself receiving the sacred medicine even though I’m half a country away. I remind myself that I am still a warrior and that I am still connected to God and my loved ones, even if I’m not physically there. I may in time find another, closer safe place, but for now I’ve got one that works.

And in the end, that’s all that matters.

You can also find Becky Oberg on Google+, Facebook and Twitter and Linkedin.

Call for a free 15 minute consultation: 919-881-2001

How to Create a Safe PlaceAn internal safe place is a tool that you can create to help you manage stress and the busyness of life. It is a place in your head where you can retreat to take your attention away from the feelings you are having in the present moment. It is all yours, designed by you to be safe, soothing and calm.

10 steps to create a safe Place

1.Find a comfortable place and set aside have 15 minutes of uninterrupted time. Sit in a chair that can support your back and where you can put your feet firmly on the floor. Get comfortable. Let your eyes close, or focus them on something that is pleasant.

2.Breathe slowly. Breathe in to a count of 5, hold that breath for 5 counts, and breathe out for 5 counts. This will help your body relax and bring your attention inside of yourself.

3.Create a picture in your mind of a place where you feel safe. This may be a place you have been – the beach, mountains or some other place you enjoy. It can be a place you make up or somewhere you have heard of and want to visit. It can even be a fantasy land you create just for you. In some cases, it may be an activity that feels calming to you, such as yoga, Tai Chi, or running.

4. Describe in detail what you see in your safe place. First, describe what it looks like. Are there trees, grass, sand, rocks. What are the colors you see? Are there other people there?

5. What sensations are you feeling in your body? Is it hot, cold or somewhere in between? What are you wearing? Do you feel a breeze on your skin?

6.Are there any smells? Food cooking, aromatic plants or flowers, earth smells?

7. Are you hearing sounds or is it silent?

Take all the time you need to fully develop your special safe place.

8. Now, place yourself into the scene. What are you doing? Are you sitting in a chair, lying down, walking around or doing something? What are you wearing?

9. Take a mental photograph of what you are seeing.

10. After you have your safe place developed, chose a cue word or phrase to represent this place. It could be “beach, sunny day, Hawaii, running”. Use the word or phase that describe the place to you. Say the word as you imagine the scene you have created for yourself. Do this 5 times. This will enhance the effectiveness of your cue. When you want it or need it, use this cue word to evoke the memory of your safe place.

When you feel you have developed your safe place and your cue, turn your attention to your current surroundings. Let your mind and attention be fully on where you are in the moment.

It is important to reinforce your cue word and safe place. Take time everyday to say your cue and visualize your safe place. This can be done quickly by closing your eyes and saying or thinking your cue while letting your mind’s eye see your safe place.

In the next few weeks, we will talk about times when you might go to your safe place, and ways you can use it to help manage the rest of your life.

The environment itself plays a significant role in their development.

The importance of building safe learning environments for your learners is something that cannot be overstated. While it’s true that every student learns a bit differently from the next, the environment itself plays a significant role in their development. Safe learning environments translate into comfortable learning environments. They are places where learners feel at home.

In surroundings where students are willing to open their minds and actually listen to what you have to say, you can empower them to achieve their highest potential.

The key to achieving this goal will require you to keep a few important things in mind.

It’s About Students

In your quest to foster safe learning environments, your biggest ally along the way will be your learners themselves. Are your students feeling uneasy about the environment that you’ve already created? Your first step should be to ask them what you could be doing to help them:

  • Are you moving from one lesson to another too quickly? Too slowly?
  • Are they disengaged from one particular topic?
  • Do they like to work by themselves or are they more comfortable breaking down into teams?

No question is too small to ask and no topic should be off the table. Take steps to change yourself to fit in with how they want to learn first and foremost.

Work on Yourself as an Educator

You can create safe learning environments for children if you also lead by example. If you show kids how important kindness is by taking every opportunity to be kind yourself, they will follow. The reverse is also true, however.

If you’re quick to lose your temper, this will set a negative example that will eventually become hard to break from.

Show your students that you yourself are comfortable in the environment that you’ve created. Then before you know it they will begin to grow more at ease themselves.

Celebrate Achievements

One of the major benefits of safe learning environments is that students will begin to take pride in their work and in themselves. One of the best ways to help your kids along on this goal is to skip right to the end result and celebrate their achievements as they are happening.

By celebrating all students, you foster an open environment filled with happiness and creativity.

If a student writes a particular essay you’re really impressed with, read it out loud for everyone else to hear. If a student draws a particularly striking image, post it in public so everyone else can enjoy it. The student may not be comfortable with this, though. As such, they’ll feel a sense of trust if you ask them first.

Build a Judgment-Free Zone

If you ask most adults why they’re afraid of public speaking, one of the most common answers that you will get is that they’re afraid of being judged. The same concept is true of young students.

If they feel like any time they open their mouth to answer a question they might get judged negatively by their peers, they will stop opening themselves up.

To combat this, you need to go out of your way to create an environment free from judgment. Let them know that differing opinions are a great thing and that being “wrong” isn’t a bad thing. Remind them that failure is a learning experience. Even something as simple as this will put you on your way to creating the safe learning environments your kids always dreamed of.


Here is a quick list of some suggestions and tips to help you out:

  1. Keep a clean and orderly classroom.
  2. Allow students to be openly expressive and encouraging to others.
  3. Celebrate student work in different ways.
  4. Create a list of guidelines that are “law” (ex: no name-calling, bullying, etc.)
  5. Stay calm and in control always.
  6. Practice useful failure and turn mistakes into learning opportunities.
  7. Model kindness every chance you get.
  8. Move around and interact with students, and create a connection.
  9. Be patient and smile.
  10. Feel free to laugh with your students and be vulnerable.
  11. Give kids choices on how they can do assignments.

How to Create a Safe Place

1. Get your team to show appreciation for each other

One easy and rewarding thing you can do to create a positive working environment is to actively show appreciation for your team, and encourage them to show appreciation for each other. This can be done in an unstructured way, by just encouraging your employees to be thankful to each other. Alternatively, this can be done in a more structured manner by using tools such as Mentimeter to create and hold reflection sessions with your team where you can share feedback. Test out this template with your team:

2. Make space for equal and open discussions

The workplace should be the perfect place for open discussion. Discussion sessions can be a great opportunity for brainstorming and generating new ideas. When conducting group discussions, you may find that some team members will dominate the discussion. In order to promote a safe and positive environment for the whole team, develop a system where everyone gets the chance to voice their idea or opinion. Try out this discussion template to encourage a fair and open discussion with your team:

3. Learn about different personality types

If you find that there are some tensions between team members in the group, you should tackle this proactively. Usually, any tensions between members are down to lack of communication and different personalities. Therefore, you will want to consider holding a workshop or presentation that looks at different types of personalities. This will help your team to get to know each other and understand how to work with each other better. A team that understands each other will definitely have a positive impact on your working environment.

4. Celebrate team wins

A team that celebrates together, stays together. You will discover that most successes you have in your work are not down to one person, but a whole team. Be sure to celebrate wins in the workplace, no matter how big or small. This will not only help people to feel appreciated but also make them understand that they are having an important impact on the organization too! Get your team to decide on how they would like to celebrate their next win. This will help them feel more invested in their goal. Try out this interactive Mentimeter template to decide:

5. Spend time together not working

Your employees are human, not resources or man-hours. Take some time to do a non-work related activity together. This can help to rejuvenate the team and also help them to see each other beyond their job title. If your team feels relaxed and comfortable in each other’s presence, this will create a positive and safe working environment.

6. Use anonymity where appropriate

You can create a safe discussion environment by using anonymity where appropriate. This can be useful if you need to discuss sensitive topics or need to ask for very honest opinions or feedback on something. There are a number of ways of doing this, for example by using an anonymous feedback form. You can also use Mentimeter to collect anonymous feedback.

7. Reflect back on the week together

Take time to reflect on what you and your team have achieved during the week. This is something that we do each week at Mentimeter. On Friday afternoons we set aside 15 minutes and use our tool to reflect on the past week. We look at a different area each week, but try to keep the discussion positive and focused on our learnings from the week, so that everyone has a great feeling when they leave the office on a Friday! Test out this Friday reflection template and take a look back on the week:

8. Trust your team

As a leader, it is essential that you trust your team. Avoid micromanagement, or taking over tasks that others should be responsible for as this will cause your team to harbor negative feelings. Instead, nurture an environment of trust and give your team freedom (with responsibility, of course) and this will spread positivity throughout your employees.

9. Set boundaries and expectations together

Create a positive and safe environment together by conducting a workshop where your team can set boundaries and expectations together. By creating these commitments together you will avoid team members from feeling that something has been ‘imposed’ on them, and instead they will feel more committed to the team’s boundaries and expectations as this is something they have created together. Test out this template to find out what your team thinks is important so that you can create rules and boundaries:

Creating a positive and safe environment in the workplace is important for the well being of you and your team and it can be easily implemented and managed. Try some of these tips and see if you feel a difference. Good luck!

A safe and supportive school climate can help prevent bullying. Safety starts in the classroom. Students should also feel and be safe everywhere on campus—in the cafeteria, in the library, in the rest rooms, on the bus, and on the playground. Everyone at school can work together to create a climate where bullying is not acceptable.

Create a Safe and Supportive Environment

In general, schools can:

  • Establish a culture of inclusion and respect that welcomes all students. Reward students when they show thoughtfulness and respect for peers, adults, and the school. The Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports Technical Assistance Center can help.
  • Make sure students interact safely. Monitor bullying “hot spots” in and around the building. Students may be at higher risk of bullying in settings where there is little or no adult monitoring or supervision, such as bathrooms, playgrounds, and the cafeteria.
  • Enlist the help of all school staff. All staff can keep an eye out for bullying. They also help set the tone at school. Teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria staff, office staff, librarians, school nurses, and others see and influence students every day. Messages reach kids best when they come from many different adults who talk about and show respect and inclusion. Train school staff to prevent bullying.
  • Set a tone of respect in the classroom. This means managing student behavior in the classroom well. Well-managed classrooms are the least likely to have bullying.

Manage Classrooms to Prevent Bullying

Teachers can consider these ways to promote the respect, positive relations, and order that helps prevent bullying in the classroom:

  • Create ground rules.
    • Develop rules with students so they set their own climate of respect and responsibility.
    • Use positive terms, like what to do, rather than what not to do.
    • Support school-wide rules.
  • Reinforce the rules.
    • Be a role model and follow the rules yourself. Show students respect and encourage them to be successful.
    • Make expectations clear. Keep your requests simple, direct, and specific.
    • Reward good behavior. Try to affirm good behavior four to five times for every one criticism of bad behavior.
    • Use one-on-one feedback, and do not publicly reprimand.
    • Help students correct their behaviors. Help them understand violating the rules results in consequences: “I know you can stop [negative action] and go back to [positive action]. If you choose to continue, then [consequence].”

Classroom Meetings

Classroom meetings provide a forum for students to talk about school-related issues beyond academics. These meetings can help teachers stay informed about what is going on at school and help students feel safe and supported.

These meetings work best in classrooms where a culture of respect is already established. Classroom meetings are typically short and held on a regular schedule. They can be held in a student’s main classroom, home room, or advisory period.

  • Establish ground rules. Kids should feel free to discuss issues without fear. Classroom meetings are not a time to discuss individual conflicts or gossip about others. Reinforce existing classroom rules.
  • Start the conversation. Focus on specific topics, such as bullying or respectful behaviors. Meetings can identify and address problems affecting the group as a whole. Stories should be broad and lead to solutions that build trust and respect between students. Use open-ended questions or prompts such as:
    • Share an example of a student who helped someone at school this week.
    • Without names, share an example of someone who made another student feel bad.
    • What did students nearby do? What did you do? Did you want to do something different—why or why not?
    • If you could describe the perfect response to the situation what would it be? How hard or easy would it be to do? Why?
    • How can adults help?
  • End the meeting with a reminder that it is everyone’s job to make school a positive place to learn. Encourage kids to talk to teachers or other trusted adults if they see bullying or are worried about how someone is being treated.
  • Follow-up when necessary. Monitor student body language and reactions. If a topic seems to be affecting a student, follow-up with him or her. Know what resources are available to support students affected by bullying.

How to Create a Safe PlaceCategory: Workplace Safety

Creating – and maintaining – a safe work environment should be a high priority for organizations. Indeed, under Occupational Health and Safety (OSH) law, employers have a responsibility to create and maintain a safe workplace – and comply with OSHA regulations. But putting up a few safety posters and running safety training sessions once a year is not enough.

Organizations need to actively foster and promote a strong culture of safety, year round, so that safety becomes a part of the enterprise’s DNA. This means not only making safety one of the organization’s main values, it means taking concrete steps to make sure employees have a safe work environment and are constantly striving to improve safety in the workplace. In order to improve safety culture in an organization there must be an ongoing commitment to communication. One popular method of promoting safety awareness is through workplace digital signage, which harnesses visual communication to promote messages.

Following are six ways to ensure a safe workplace and promote a strong safety culture.

Eliminate potential hazards.

Keep the workplace free from recognized physical and chemical hazards and make sure it is in compliance with OSHA standards, rules, and regulations. Use your digital signage systems to remind employees about proper body mechanics, forklift safety, safe backing, what PPE is necessary, and ways they can avoid slips, trips, and falls. Encourage workers to identify and report potential problems and safety violations and take immediate steps to have those issues resolved.

Make sure all workers are properly trained.

The organization must provide all workers with safety training using language they can understand. This training should be given to all new workers, with refresher courses offered to (or required) for existing workers or when workers change jobs (within the company). Use your electronic message boards to reinforce safety training, serving it up in bite-sized messages.

Ensure workers have the proper equipment.

Make sure employees have and use safe tools and equipment and properly maintain this equipment. Workplace digital signage is an effective tool for reinforcing injury prevention. Raise awareness around proper handling of hazardous materials, lock-out tag-out and machine guarding.

Provide visual safety aids and messages.

Use color codes, posters, labels and/or signs to warn employees of potential hazards. Additionally, place OSHA posters in all work and recreational areas – and use digital signage to broadcast important safety information, updates, and messages. For example, employers can display their safety recordables using automated counters. This visual aide displays real time data and reminds employees to stay safe.

Digital signage can be incredibly helpful in emergency situations as, unlike static posters, you can use it to instantly warn or notify workers of a situation in areas where mobile phones and computers aren’t allowed. You can also use digital signage to post daily or weekly workplace “Safety Tips”, recognize employees who have demonstrated outstanding safety awareness, and keep employees up to date on new rules and regulations.

Create a safety committee – and hold monthly safety meetings.

Establish a workplace health and safety committee made up of workers from different departments, from senior management to shop-floor-based employees. The committee should meet at least once a month and keep employees and senior management informed about safety topics, inspections, injury and illness statistics, and other safety-related issues. Use your digital signage systems to share key safety updates to the entire workforce.

Similarly, hold departmental or company-wide safety meetings once a month or quarterly to solicit employee feedback. Getting regular feedback from employees is helpful because it opens managers’ eyes to potential hazards that may have gone unnoticed, lets managers know how employees are doing/feeling, and makes employees feel valued, which improves mental health and productivity.

Make safety fun.

While safety is no game, one way to help incorporate safety into company culture is to make learning about safety fun. Use your workplace digital signage to create safety-themed trivia, quizzes, and videos of safety dos and don’ts. Friendly competition including prizes, and chances for company-wide recognition are great motivators. By adding a little fun, there’s a higher chance that employees will stay engaged, retain the information and therefore help prevent accidents.

By Brigitt Altwegg, Trustbuilding Programme Manager at Initiatives of Change Switzerland

A safe space is key to dialogue and trustbuilding. Yet I have been at many events which claimed to be safe but where I did not feel at ease. So what is a safe space and what is needed to create and maintain one?

The Oxford Dictionary defines a safe space as ‘a place or environment in which a person or category of people can feel confident that they will not be exposed to discrimination, criticism, harassment or any other emotional or physical harm’. Here are 10 insights on creating a safe space that I have gained in my trustbuilding work at Initiatives of Change Switzerland:

1. Choose the physical space carefully. It must guarantee the participants’ physical safety, be in neutral territory and be appropriate to their cultural standards. It should also be set in an inspiring natural environment which helps people to relax and connect with themselves and others. The Caux Conference and Seminar Centre, which is located above Lake Geneva with view of the Swiss Alps, is an example of such a space.

How to Create a Safe Place

2. Tune your welcome and hospitality to the individual. Care for participants in a way that makes them feel at home and allows them to concentrate on the dialogue at hand. At the annual Caux Forum, for example, there is a whole team who meet participants at the station and take care of their special requests, including those related to food.

3. Make sure that the group is inclusive and diverse in terms of gender, age, race, religion, political views and whatever else is important for the people in the room, so that a wide range of perceptions can be shared and acknowledged. It is helpful to find out ahead of time where the participants are coming from and what their expectations or hopes are, and to have trustworthy local representatives, teams and partners who can support your work. Initiatives of Change Switzerland, for example, has access to a locally anchored global network through Initiatives of Change International.

How to Create a Safe Place

4. When designing the event or dialogue, plan the opening carefully. It should be free from bias, using understandable, accessible and inclusive language and concepts which speak to the participants at a human level and actively include them from the start. The beginning sets the tone and provides the ground for participants to build resilient relationships which will stand up to storms. Initiatives of Change often uses diverse teams of facilitators who have already gone through a trustbuilding process together. This enables them to respond to the different individuals in the room and demonstrates that trust between people of different personalities and backgrounds is possible.

5. Make sure you set ground rules or guidelines that are owned by the group. It can be useful to keep four broad categories in mind: the mode of mutual interaction and communication, the way in which information is shared outside the group (particularly the understanding of confidentiality), practical aspects which will ensure an effective meeting, and the rules for decision-making.

6. Make sure that you provide enough time for your dialogue or event. Time is needed for human relations to unfold and trust to be built. In a period when programme and budget constraints tend to make meetings, events and trainings shorter and shorter, the one-month residential Caux Peace and Leadership Programme and Caux Scholars Program allow participants to make deep connections which last for years if not a lifetime.

7. Bring conversations onto the personal level to avoid generalizations, allow for empathy and build awareness of human interconnectedness. By focusing on the relational level, trust can be built which can later help to reach breakthroughs on the issues level. Initiatives of Change uses the tools of silent reflection and story sharing to create understanding and trust.

8. Create space to acknowledge history and accept responsibility for the future so that participants do not get stuck in old paradigms and can move forward. It is important to give space to what participants want to say, and to paraphrase or ‘translate’ when participants express themselves in a way that could hurt others.

9. Ensure individual accompaniment of the participants before, during and after the event. This means walking alongside another person over some time, creating space for them to reflect on their experiences and learning and to share feelings, ‘holding them’ in their struggles and celebrating successes together.

10. Last but not least, be aware of your own posture and approach to facilitation. This is not about skills, methods, or personal ambition or motive, but about the capacity to be fully present and holding the space with love, in full service of the participants. It is about being rather than doing, and requires a high degree of self-awareness and selflessness which can only be developed over time. In addition to the four core values (honesty, purity of intention, unselfishness and love) which can serve as a guide, one key tool of Initiatives of Change for doing this kind of work is silent reflection.

If you want to learn more about facilitation, check out the upcoming Facilitation Training on 28-31 October 2019 in Geneva.

This article is contributed by Michael Ferraro.

Living in a pleasant community is something that many of us take for granted but for many individuals and families, even their own neighbourhoods are far from peaceful places. The only real way to ensure that your own community is a safe place to bring up your family is to dedicate your own time and efforts into creating something special. This article takes a look at several ways in which you and your friends and family can do your bit to make your neck of the woods a thriving and pleasant place to live and to visit.

Community Affairs

If you have one of these already established in your locality, do the right thing and get in touch with them straight away. These guys and gals should know all about the ins and outs of your community and will be happy to help put your mind at rest. See if there are any relevant programs that are in place and offer your own services to help things run smoothly. Look for neighbourhood watch schemes and any church run organisations that will be useful to have onside.

Check Online

Do an online search for any community orientated programs that include safety training, restoration projects and youth support schemes. The best way to awaken the community spirit is to have something in place to attract likeminded citizens to come and join you. Explain that all you really want to do is give something back to the community and the responses may well surprise you!

Be Neighbourly

How to Create a Safe Place

Introduce yourself to the neighbours you don’t already know and see if you can arrange some kind of meeting over at your house. Ask them for their ideas and remember to offer some ice drinks and snacks in return for their attendance, because this could be the start of something really worthwhile.

Involve Yourself

If you happen to find a community program that is already up and running, get involved and see what you can bring to the table. Be enthusiastic but try not to take over because that will only prove to alienate you and defeat the whole purpose.

Be Proud Of Your Community

If you go about your business with passion and determination, this will rub off on the other neighbours and your community will soon be far healthier as a result.

Security Matters

How to Create a Safe Place

One of the biggest problems that modern neighbourhoods face today is the fear of violence and the only way to beat this scourge is by taking suitable security measures. You can help to achieve this objective by asking for better lighting systems to be installed as well as looking into setting up a community centre. Liaise with the local government and run a campaign to ask for extra spending for all security aspects to be upgraded in your neighbourhood. Speak to the local police and ask if they can reinstate a community officer to show his or her face, the difference that this type of action makes can be pretty amazing.

Good Luck!

If only there were more citizens like you, the communities around our country would be far safer so give yourself a big pat on the back!

Author Bio: Michael Ferraro is a freelance blogger, currently writing for Brotherhood of St Laurence, leading op shop in Melbourne. Michael is an art lover and is frequently seen at various exhibitions on weekends.

Veronique James is a member and former president of Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO)’s Arizona chapter and CEO of The James Agency, an integrated agency specializing in consumer advertising, public relations and digital marketing that has been honored locally and nationally for its excellence in workplace culture. We asked Veronique how she created a nurturing and inspiring workplace. Here’s what she shared:

No matter the industry or profession, in today’s fast-paced business age, you undoubtedly spend the majority of your waking weekday hours at work. A lot of us spend more time with our colleagues than with our own families, and some weeks, the office feels more like our primary residence. As a mother and wife, I understand how difficult this reality can be. So, how do we make it more tolerable?

The benefits of a positive work environment are well-documented: Creativity, productivity and happiness go up while–like a counterweight–stress levels sink significantly. As a business owner and leader, that’s the kind of workplace I strive to create. Since I’m going to spend most of my Mondays through Fridays at work, I want it to be a place that inspires and nurtures my team–and myself!

Here are seven tips I’ve used to build a work environment where my team and I can thrive:

1. Begin with gratitude.

I strongly believe that it is a privilege, not a right, to work together. In our agency, we begin each week with a 15-minute all-hands team meeting where the first item on the agenda is team kudos. Giving people a vehicle to express appreciation for one another in a public forum raises the morale of the entire group, establishes a positive tone for the week and helps people feel acknowledged and valued. Starting with gratitude in any professional situation sets the intention of appreciation, which will permeate throughout the organization.

2. Create a safe environment.

There is nothing more damaging than toxicity in a professional environment. It stifles new ideas and inhibits collaboration. Creating a safe work environment means eliminating negative personalities and respecting every idea–whether it’s from an intern or a tenured senior team member. Lead with honesty, integrity and vulnerability to help your employees feel safe.

3. Don’t leave your dirty dishes in the sink.

This metaphor essentially means, “Don’t leave a mess for someone else to clean.” There is nothing more frustrating than picking up a project where someone left off to find that files are missing, the work is a mess or someone saved a crucial document to their desktop moments before boarding a flight for a two-week vacation to Paris. Not leaving a mess is the functional interpretation, but the emotional definition is, “Respect everyone’s time.” If someone has to duplicate your efforts or take time away from their daily responsibilities to hunt for a missing document, you are basically saying you don’t care about their time. Time is our most valuable currency. When we aren’t respectful of our colleagues’ time, we are contributing to a negative workplace environment.

4. There are only opportunities in business, not problems.

When emotions are high and stress levels skyrocket, even the smallest workplace issues can seem like towering boulders. I tell my team that what we’re experiencing isn’t a problem; it’s an opportunity to reflect, analyze and evaluate so that next time–and there’s always a next time–we’ll do better. Also, I try to find irony or humor in every situation. Making your team smile by bringing perspective to the situation can quickly lighten a very emotionally charged room.

5. Consistency is key.

There are so many new trends in company culture: flex hours, team building, open workspaces, unlimited paid time off, bringing pets to work–and the list goes on. It’s easy to be tempted by what may seem like worthwhile workplace perks or try to replicate what competitors are offering. However, the same tactics don’t work for every company. Above all, my team has found that consistency is key for us, rather than being distracted by the latest professional culture craze. Although change can be healthy, disrupting a good thing can be detrimental and affect the cultural balance of your organization.

6. Encourage positive thinking.

Life is short. Why waste time on negative behaviors that don’t align with your business’ moral compass? I proactively encourage my team to think positively–All. The. Time. Even when things seem to be spinning out of control or we didn’t achieve the result we anticipated, positive thinking will eventually cultivate positive outcomes. Setting weekly, monthly and yearly positive intentions as a group will help to align your team and ensure that everyone is facing toward the same North Star.

7. Don’t sacrifice the important for the urgent.

It’s easy to punt team one-on-ones for an urgent client call or meeting, but that connection with your team is crucial to maintaining a positive workplace culture. As the leader, you are the cheerleader of the company and the glue that binds your organization together. Without regular connection to your people, the mission, vision and energy of the business can quickly dilute and degrade your cultural fiber. It’s okay to reschedule; just don’t let important conversations get replaced by urgent demands and deadlines.

Dependability, structure, clarity and meaningful work are all ingredients that, when combined, can culminate in a solid foundation for a positive workplace. Add your own awesome sauce and voila . you have the magic recipe!

As a freshman in college, I found out that one in five women in college experience sexual assault. Experiences of sexual assault and gender-based violence on college campuses do not fit into a single tidy narrative. Rather, it is a pervasive issue that affects our communities, and with devastating after effects. As President Obama once said “sexual violence is more than just a crime against individuals. It threatens our families, it threatens our communities; ultimately, it threatens the entire country.”

How can we as youth advocates create safer spaces, change school cultures, and demand an end to gender-based violence in our schools?

What is a Safe Space?

According to UNFPA , a safe space is a formal or informal place where women and girls feel physically and emotionally safe. It is a place free of trauma, excessive stress, violence, fear of violence, and abuse. It is a space where girls and women can seek support to fully develop their qualities, overcoming gender barriers that bar their access to education, work, and healthcare.

How to Create a Safe Place

Safe spaces look different at all levels. Creating a safe space in your community does not have to mean building a new structure. A safe space in your community can look like having a safe ride to and from school, access to a hotline to call if you have been sexually assaulted, well lit public spaces, creating a space to facilitate body positive, or a girls-only center to access healthcare and other services. As advocates, we must empower one another to create spaces where we feel safe, valued, accepted and free to express who we are.

Why should we care about safe spaces for women and girls?

Every girl, no matter her country of origin, deserves the right to live a life free of sexual and gender-based violence. School-related gender-based violence (SRGBV) is a major obstacle to universal schooling and the right to education for girls.

How can we as youth advocates use our collective voices to take a stand against SRGBV?

As the President of GirlUp at DePaul University, I envisioned a space in which students did not face, encounter, or experience sexual harassment and violation. GirlUp is a United Nations Campaign that unites girls to change the world through advocacy, service, and community engagement.

The GirlUp chapter at DePaul spent a meeting analyzing the needs of our school, community, and the environment. We involved as many different members of our campus in order to create a diverse and truly representative group of voices. As youth advocates, we actively took it upon ourselves to equip our campus with the knowledge and skills to effectively assist in the prevention of sexual and relationship violence on campus. As a campus chapter we used online resources such as the Girl Up Safe Spaces Toolkit, while community organizations such as Planned Parenthood provide educational outreach, and DePaul University is equipped with an Office of Health Promotion and Wellness.

We hosted a Bystander Intervention Training on ways the student body at DePaul can intervene in safe and positive ways when they encounter a problematic situation. A bystander is someone present but not taking part in a situation or event. Even if the situation or event appears to be problematic, a bystander may not intervene because they may or may not know what to do, may think others will act, or may be afraid to intervene. Our goal was to equip our community at DePaul with the awareness, skills, and ability to challenge social norms that perpetuate sexual violence and encourage unhealthy behaviors. We were inspired by girls and stories such as the Stanford Scary Path in which fellow youth advocates fought to make a space on campus well lit. We all play a role in creating safer communities and tackling school-related gender-based violence.

How to Create a Safe Place

How can you create a safe space in your community through advocacy?

1. Outline the advocacy issue that you will address. Define clear advocacy goals, create a strategic plan, and involve as many community members as you can.

2. Choose a space that is safe and accessible. Remember to access community-based organizations and non-profits such as your local Planned Parenthood or your school’s guidance counselor.

3. Call and write to your representatives. Create advocacy cards that define issues that are important to you and your community and mail them to your representatives.

As Youth Advocates we must make our voices heard and create spaces in which women are equipped with the knowledge and skills to advocate, mobilize, and intervene.

How can youth address gender-based violence? Have your say!