What is a Vulnerable Rally?
Vulnerable Rally is a group of one or more people gathered in a public space holding signs that reveal a personal shame or fear that they would normally hide from the world. Anyone anywhere is free to create a Vulnerable Rally in their own town. The concept of the Vulnerable Rally can be adapted for groups, teams, and workshops. Contact us if you have an idea, question, or would like to bring us on for your next event.
Why do it?
To foster connection with others.
To inspire others to release or express their own shame or fear.
To achieve self-acceptance and forgiveness and find inner freedom and peace.
To create empathy and compassion for oneself and others.
To foster common ground between diverse peoples.
To meet other interesting, self-aware, and adventurous people.
Why not do it?
By nature Vulnerable Rally is an open container—meaning any person can approach and possibly say or do anything. As such we suggest each participant be of sound mind before participating. Those in the midst of trauma or crisis should seek out qualified professional support. If your intention is to blame, shame, or change someone else or a group of people, Vulnerable Rally is not the event for that. This is not a protest or vigil, and we have no political, social, or religious agenda.
How do I organize a Vulnerable Rally?
Pick a date and place with high foot traffic, and invite others. Feel free to copy/adapt the language from our original invite. Make sure the place you’re choosing is not private property (many shopping malls won’t allow you to hold a public event on their grounds without a permit). Facebook events or Evites work great, as well as old-fashioned organizing: phone calls, email, flyers, etc. Tip: find local clubs and groups that may resonate with this, as well as those interested in conscious dance, meditation, self help, therapy, theatre, flash mob, dating/adventure, or progressive religion/spirituality. Many of these have groups on MeetUp or Facebook. All are welcome to join regardless of any affiliation if done in the spirit of connection, inclusion, and vulnerability. Feel free to invite bloggers, press, journalists, etc. to cover the event.
How should I make a sign?
We encourage you to create a sign that is as vulnerable as you are willing to share in public. Signs should be an “I” statement about something happening in your own personal world, i.e. “I am afraid to express my rage.” Avoid political/social statements about something outside yourself, i.e. “I don’t like Republicans/liberals.” We recommend taking into consideration that strangers (and others) may take photos. Is your sign admitting a crime that could have consequences, either with the law or your employer? Please take care of yourself.
Choose an issue that you would like some personal healing/clarity/perspective on. Is there something you regret? Is there something about yourself you find hard to accept? Is there a way you feel lost or hopeless or afraid? Is there a self-doubt that’s difficult to admit?
We encourage you to make your sign as concise as possible so it’s easy to understand and relatable to passersby. Make sure your sign is easy to read. Cardboard is often easier to read than white in photos. If you would like the sign(s) included in our gallery, take a photo of yourself (or have someone take it for you) holding the sign in public. Please compress the photo to 2mb or less before uploading.
Here are some ideas for signs:
-I feel ashamed of my privilege.
-Lost my sense of purpose.
-Full of self-doubt.
-It’s easier for me to see the faults of others than to acknowledge my own shortcomings.
-I regret the way I’ve treated people I love.
-I’m afraid of growing old.
-I don’t like my sign.
-I don’t have any idea what I am doing.
-I’m terrified of being judged.
-Sometimes I fear that I am not a good parent.
-I’m afraid of dying alone.
Are any of these true for you? Can you imagine yourself holding one of these? Got your own idea for a sign?
What are the do’s and don’ts while at a Vulnerable Rally? How should I be?
When first gathering, consider creating a small circle with other participants to set a container and establish safety and trust. Each person can briefly share with the others his or her intention for coming, a fear, and a hope or desire. The Vulnerable Rally is not about making a scene. Let holding your sign in public be a meditation, i.e. noticing your own feelings and sensations as you reveal your sign and how those shift over the course of the day. We suggest you approach this practice with an intention of openness towards others, self-love, curiosity, gratitude, and sensitivity towards all who are affected by the signs—even those who walk by and ignore you. The best code of conduct is to simply stand with a relaxed demeanor, while noticing your breath and the people who walk by and their reactions. People will invariably ask you what you are doing and why. Do not yell at people who ignore or mock you. Some good questions for engagement are, “What comes up for you when you see this sign?” or “What would your sign say?”
The Vulnerable Rally is a place for listening, not defensiveness. Some people may be offended. Recognize that is a process they are going through and it’s not necessarily about you—though it might be helpful to listen to why they might be offended if they are open to sharing and if you have the emotional capacity to hear. People may be inspired to tell you their own personal stories or try to dismiss your sign. It may be helpful to ask those people, “What would your sign say?” Other people may ignore or mock you. Notice how that feels internally to vulnerably put yourself out there and be rejected. Throughout the day notice your relationship to the statement on your sign. Does it shift as time goes on? Do you find yourself wanting to change/revise/replace your sign? Do you find yourself wanting to hold someone else’s sign? Feel free to change or trade signs.
What do I bring?
Blank cardboard (brown works best for photos and is easier to read than white). Thick black or brown markers or even multicolored can be nice as well. Bring extra cardboard and markers for passersby who might want to make signs. Consider bringing a sign that explains what the Vulnerable Rally is and how people can engage. This can help with reducing the number of times you need to explain the event and can serve as an invitation for others to join or engage.
Here’s a Google Doc you can print or modify to bring to your rally:
How do I decompress/integrate after a Vulnerable Rally?
Many people leave the Rally feeling inspired, connected, and in awe of the healing that’s just taken place. Others may feel misunderstood or incomplete. We suggest building in some time for all the participants to circle up at the end and share how they’ve been affected and what they are taking away from this experience. Planning a grounding group activity, such as eating a good meal, can also be helpful.
How/where do I promote/share imagery and stories after the event?
We suggest taking photos of each person holding a sign, or at least a close-up of each sign without people’s faces (in case the person does not want to be publicly identified). You can upload your photos to Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter as well as to the Facebook Vulnerable Rally group using the hashtag #vulnerablerally.
Please join the VR group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/vulnerablerally/ and post the photos there.
You can also upload your photo using this link Upload and we might include it on our home page.