Slack line as a metaphor for community outreach

I have often thought about the precarious and tentative first attempts we need to take to build new community contacts. Indeed, the journey toward building a new community is like learning to walk on a slack line; we fall off — a lot!

My co-instructor, Marion Craig, Sgt. ret’d, and I decided to use an actual slack line and “walk” our students through the learning curve of try, fall, fear, try again, doubt … until ultimate success. To help us facilitate this experience, we brought in a slack line instructor to coach our students. Students loved the activity! The following is a summary of the reflections our students made at each step of the slack line process.

Your journey across the slack line.

Reflections: BEFORE, DURING, and AFTER.

  1. Slack line BEFORE: What qualities do you need in finding supports for your line?
  2. What are your beliefs or fears about YOUR abilities on the line?
  3. What are your beliefs about how OTHERS will do on the line?
  4. What skills do you think are needed to make it across the line?
  5. Slack line DURING – Write down accurate observations about YOU: your physical experiences, emotions, thoughts.
  6. Slack Line AFTER: What were YOUR messages to YOURSELF before during and after trying the line?
  7. What skills are actually needed for you to develop competency in crossing the line?
  8. What is your plan for learning these skills this term?
  9. Write: How will you continue deepening your understanding and practicing your competency skills on the concepts covered this week in class?
  10. What will you read, watch, listen to or do to keep current and asking relevant questions?

Here is a PDF with our slack line instructions: Slack line Reflections


Dr. Jessica Motherwell McFarlane is a professional education consultant on gender, anti-oppression and social justice issues and a research associate at the Justice Institute of British Columbia. She is also the developer and director of the Life Outside the Box program that uses visual narratives as a way to SEE conflict and injustice from new perspectives. Jessica facilitates groups and schools needing to have complex — and sometimes emotionally painful — conversations. She offers workshops to at-risk children, youth, and adults on: Truth and Reconciliation, transforming bullying situations, and rehearsing best practices for self-care, inclusivity, and kindness.

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