Startup Classroom is not about positive affirmations or positive thinking. It is truly about creating a space and the conditions for people to experience positive emotions. This is critical for two reasons:
One, in our communities such as Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan, there is the perception that not only are these communities in need of services, but that there is something inherently wrong with them that needs to be fixed. BREAD was co-founded by a group of community organizers, that knew that this was belief was a false one. As BREAD was in its foundational stages, we were driven by what was positive about our community — the connections, the positive emotions and the positive experiences within it. We wanted to create a space that amplified and stewarded what we knew to be true, all that goodness that we see and feel every day, and was a counter narrative to the typical rhetoric.
Second, we learned that there was actually research that supported our gut inclination. Dr. Barbara Fredrickson’s research shows that positive emotions create an upward spiral that ultimately lead to transformation. That is why at BREAD we are less concerned with the transaction of knowledge that entrepreneurs need for their businesses (i.e. how do I grow my social media following?) and more focused on creating conditions for positive emotions to flourish that allow for a transformative experience.
There is a harmful myth about building a space that enables positive experiences, that we can only talk about positive topics or good things. In fact, we encourage our guests to share their authentic journey and to not hold back about the realities of their challenges, mistakes and struggles. We know that those dark moments actually connect us. They create a space for attendees to feel safe, that they are not alone and what they are experiencing is normal. Too often we see the shiny side of “success” and hear the achievement and accomplishment story. This isn’t fair to anyone, the speaker included. We ALL experience adversity and negative events. Although no one would choose to have discomfort or bad things happen to them, we cannot change it. It is what we do with them that matters. We need to make sure we do not waste the lessons that come from those experiences
If you would like to learn more you can read our blog post called, BREAD is Love.