By: The North Carolina Partner Praxis Group
The North Carolina partner praxis group is a fierce, loving, and caring community. We are a group of Resource Generation members who are partners of young people with wealth. We come from poor, working, and middle class backgrounds and are currently in a cross-class relationship with someone with wealth. Many of us have found a sense of grounding in Resource Generation because of this unique branch of our chapter. We’ve been going strong for 4 years, and we think that’s kind of amazing.
Our first few gatherings were during chapter meetings, where we’d split up between partner and non-partner groups, and address any topics the chapter was discussing through the lens of being a partner. Eventually, our partner praxis evolved and started to shift in a more formal way when a few local partners emailed each other. Our idea was to gather in a completely separate environment than the chapter meetings, and be in the company of other folks who identified as not coming from a background of wealth or class privilege, yet who were dating, in a serious relationship with, or married to a young person with wealth. This was the start of the partner praxis we now know and love. It felt important to have our own independant meetings from the chapter so that we could be included in chapter conversations while they were happening, while also reserving our own space as partners in a time frame that felt right for us. This set the stage for getting to know each each other on a more intimate level. We decided to meet every 4 to 6 weeks for about 2 hours and divide the time we had by how many people were in the group. The focus was, and always has been, to listen, connect with, and support each other. Over the years, we’ve developed a strong bond that supersedes regular RG functions. We hang out, and invite each other to birthdays, weddings, and community events. We know each other’s stories, and fully lend our hearts and ears to our fellow partners. It’s been rewarding to say the least.
“My partner recently commented, ‘ya’ll have really become close!’ I raised an eyebrow of surprise and said ‘yea, we meet once a month and talk about deep stuff about our lives; of course we’re close!’ The partner group has been a discussion group meets therapy meets friendship. We laugh and we cry, we challenge one another and we are gentle with each other.” – NC RG Partner
As partners shift and move around from state to state, we’ve been able to keep the partner praxis alive by inviting newcomers into our space, and giving a thoughtful, appreciative goodbye to partners leaving the area or group. We’ve seen a flux of 3-7 attending partners when we gather. Right now we strike a great balance at 6 active partners. Much love to all who have been with us over the years: MMH, LH, SM, BK, MH, EKH, LS, SSS and VG!!!!
After a few years of honing in on how to build an ongoing praxis group, we laid some guidelines down that gave us a stronger structure. There are two roles that are essential for our praxis meetings: host and facilitator. The host is the person who commits to organizing the date for the next meeting, and offering their home-space as a place for us to confidentially meet. The host also usually offers some snacks, but everyone is encouraged to bring things to eat (srsly, y’all should see our food sitch!) The facilitator is the person who calls the meeting to order, and keeps track of time to make sure everyone gets equal air time to speak. It works for us to rotate the host and facilitator – whoever hosted or facilitated the most recent praxis doesn’t have to take up those roles the following meeting. We decided this was a more egalitarian structure than having a partner-praxis leader, while also helping to spread the responsibility amongst us all.
Each gathering is about 2.5 hours long. After chatting, catching up and receiving people as they arrive (ie. lots of hugs), we settle into a group and divide the remaining time by how many people are present so that everyone gets a chance to speak their mind. This individual speaking time varies anywhere between 8 – 15 minutes. One rule we really like to practice is making space for the person who volunteered to go first to speak again at the end in case they have anything else they might need to say or remembered as the group went along. Another ground rule is that everyone is allowed to determine what kind of listening they want: advice, questions, & sharing stories that are similar, and sometimes people request to only have listening.
This summer, we gathered for a retreat at a secluded farmhouse hosted by one of our partners’s families. Located in a rural town, we arrived with packed bags, snacks, drinks, an amazing agenda, and a mindset to breathe and soak up the next 24 hours of partner company.
On the first night, we cooked dinner and shared around the table things we would normally share at a praxis. The following day we had scheduled ‘workshops’. We talked about jobs, careers, workplace dynamics, family, in-laws, hopes for how we might handle things, gave advice, and of course discussed cross-class relationships. We also made space to discuss the political landscape in our country, honor Alton Sterling and Philando Castile (whose deaths occurred earlier in the week), and we recognized and honored the people who had come before us and occupied the land we were standing on. In addition, we found it super important to just have fun, let go, and play. It was such a release to laugh, swim, hike, and be in nature. It was all needed to process our topics and time together.
“At the end of a week full of senseless shootings of black men in the media, I left work with my shoulders tight, and on the verge of tears. I was looking forward to the RG partner retreat all week. We gathered outside on the porch rocking chairs and shared how we were feeling, our anger and frustration, fear and sadness and our thoughts for improving society. After an hour I was able to release the tension in my shoulders and feel a sense of community that inspired me.” – NC RG Partner
This group has been incredibly important to all of us. When we bare our messy and unscripted thoughts, it’s an amazing and rewarding experience to have space held by such loving, compassionate, and empathetic people. We share an identity that we don’t feel like we can share with just anyone, and we know how rare it is to be able to talk openly about class, race, and all the detailed intersections of life we face on a daily basis.
“I am one of the only people of color in the group, but I am not from the poorest background nor the wealthiest future. We are half gay/straight and half married/unmarried, half in our 20’s and half in our 30’s. We are all different and the respect of difference and the realization that everything is relative has made a big impact on my understanding of who wealthy people are and the choices that they may make in how they live their lives. Most of the things I share and discuss I only talk about in partner group, there are no other friends or family members I can freely discuss these things with without risking judgement.” – NC RG Partner
“I started out with frustration and pre-conceived notions of wealthy people. I could only come to truly respect wealthy people because of this partner group. Learning and processing with each other as we encounter decisions and crossroads in our lives when it comes to acquiring wealth and class privilege has helped my relationship to stay strong and my love for humanity to grow.“ – NC RG Partner
We sigh a breath of relief to be in company with other folks who get it. Who get being in a cross-class relationship. We value this space, and each other like we do our own family, which we hold with great reverence. Whether we leave the area, or leave the group, we’re friends beyond our identities, with a bond that won’t shake. We hope other chapters can and will create space for partners of young people with wealth as well!