Taking up Space
As people filed into the Walt Disney Ballroom for Tyler Ford’s keynote speech on Nov. 9, the Wednesday after Election Day, the room felt heavy. It was difficult to spot a smile.
The audience was set to hear the writer, public speaker and media personality speak behind a podium, but the weight of the evening brought a new setup. What was originally planned as a lecture-style seminar turned into an open group discussion. The crowd helped transform rows of chairs into an extended oval.
After enduring long pauses, Ford asked the group about how they were feeling following the election results. Gradually, a few hands inched up. The beginning of each response opened with an adjective like “scared” or “worried,” but the speakers each time concluded that their community brought them comfort.
“Today we all need to process from this Trump victory that I just felt that it would be better for everyone if everyone just got to be like, ‘Hey I’m not OK today, and this is what I want to talk about or this is what I’m feeling or what I want to learn,’” Ford said in an interview after the event. “And for me personally, I feel terrible today emotionally … I just wanted to talk with other people who are going through the same experience.”
After voicing their appreciation for one another, the group shifted its conversation to empowerment. They spoke about encouraging each other and taking the extra step to include others.
Near the end the event, an individual spoke out on the idea of being physically present. The individual felt that making others uncomfortable with your presence is a good thing — it is the only way to learn.
Take up the space, the group concluded. It's still yours — and that is exactly what they did throughout the week.