Walking down the hallway on the second floor of LABS, you may have stumbled across a brightly-colored project attached to the whiteboard. A series of maps is on display, each one covered in magnets with a prompt question written in marker above. This is John Pickle’s project, which he is calling Layers of Ourselves, a project whose goal is to highlight the diversity of identities within the Concord Academy community.
The concept of this project came in part from the Gender Equity Task Force, a group that has been working to make CA a safer and more accepting space for transgender and nonbinary students. Pickle said that in trying to make the community better for these students, he came up with the idea to explore the layers of the identity of CA. He took this idea to the STEM club DEMONs which he advises along with Max Hall and there it grew into a larger idea. Pickle credits the group for taking his idea and just kicking it around as DEMONs is supposed to do— a small group working on an idea and making it better. Together, they arrived at prompts to ask the community and identified the second floor of LABS as a place to create the display because it is a heavily-trafficked area of the school that is accessible but not too busy.
So far, participation in the project has been enthusiastic. Pickle has been very pleased to see so many community members adding their magnet to the map. The first prompts have been fairly straightforward, but Pickle says, “[I understand that] some topics are going to be much more sensitive than others.” So far, the topics of home and birthplace have been easy to share with the community, which is why it was a great starting point to engage students and teachers with the project and build momentum.
People sometimes talk about the CA bubble, a diverse and accepting community that does not necessarily mirror the real world. This can be both good and bad depending on the time and the individual, but for Pickle, it is all the more reason to celebrate and acknowledge differences in the community. He states, “You have to try to meet the people you’re working with not necessarily in the middle, but more on their court.” Pickle hopes that his project shows all the layers and pieces of the community that do not necessarily meet the eye. He hopes that it can help us all to strive to follow the Community and Equity Office’s theme and extend grace to one another.