The Shape of Trust


The Shape of Trust Video Facilitation Guide

Activity Spotlights

The Video Facilitation Guide has links to group activities that help participants understand and embody anti-racist principles. You can view these activities on their own by clicking the link below. 

View the Activity Spotlights


The Seattle Office of Arts & Culture and RSJI collaborated on a report documenting the tools, resources, and observations generated by The Shape of Trust project, including a community of practice and the Key Leaders training series.

Read the Report


The Shape of Trust provides tools to help racial justice organizers create transformational anti-racist change. Arts, culture, mindfulness, and embodiment are used as vehicles for interrupting racism and other forms of oppression in the workplace.

The heart of the project is a filmed performance titled The Shape of Trust that captures the authentic experiences of a group of City of Seattle employees, most of whom are BIPOC women. Their stories reveal patterns of struggle, resilience, collaboration, leadership, and change.

The performance is paired with The Shape of Trust Video Facilitation Guide, an in-depth guidebook to help racial equity facilitators lead discussions centered around the stories. The facilitation guide is supplemented with 10 detailed Activity Spotlights that can be adapted for small or large groups, both in-person and virtual.

While The Shape of Trust has grown out of experiences within government, its resources are designed to be used by organizations and groups of all kinds. It calls for workplace cultures that are rooted in health, wellbeing, belonging, and coliberation.

Through a partnership with Our Bodhi Project and their Embodying Belonging and Coliberation Frame, The Shape of Trust centers community-based, Earth-centric ways of being and knowing that are not always included in traditional social justice work. Project contributors, designers, and facilitators include artists, cultural organizers, and healers who work in a variety of settings, from government to grassroots community. Works from the City of Seattle Civic Art Collection are used to illustrate concepts and paired with activities that support racial equity.

The work of racial equity and social justice is relational. The health and economic impacts of white supremacy have been amplified by the COVID-19 crisis and ongoing state violence against Black and brown bodies. This reality carries into the workplace where BIPOC experience inequities and other forms of harm at the interpersonal and institutional levels. The Shape of Trust offers frameworks and practices that help us meet this moment together. It invites us to tend to the contours of our authenticity, the rhythms of our resilience, and the constellation of connections between people, teams, organizations, systems, and communities.

  1. Principles to Cultivate a Community of Practice
  2. Grounding through a Living Systems Meditation
  3. Why Why Why Why Why
  4. Pause / Breathe / Reflect
  5. The Two Webs
  6. The Human Machine, The Living System, and Building a Relational Culture
  7. 2 Minute Story
  8. Tableaus of Truth
  9. Rewriting the Scene
  10. A Healing Invitation for BIPOC

Shape of Trust

Outcomes and Learning Areas

Building Capacity for Transformational, Anti-Racist Organizing within Government: An Analysis of Two Novel Learning Experiences

Click the link above to read a report on The Shape of Trust community of practice and the Key Leaders anti-racist training program. Outcomes were evaluated using transformational assessment tools designed by Gia Naranjo-Rivera, with additional consultation from Race Forward.


Participants in The Shape of Trust will:

  1. Root anti-racism work in the undeniable reality of our interdependence, collective health, creativity, and drive to belong.
  2. Center transformational anti-racism in their work as a regular practice and as a way of being.
  3. Lead holistically, emphasizing a connection to mind, body, spirit, creativity, culture, and community.

Learning Areas

The Shape of Trust builds meaning and skills across five essential and interwoven components of racial equity, social justice, and belonging.

Self & Society

Social targets and agents; power; internalized, interpersonal, institutional, and structural oppression; understanding the whole and acknowledging one's position within the whole.

Creativity & Interconnection

Arts and culture; creative processes and facilitation; centering practices; relationships to spirit, land, and ecosystems; maintaining connection through conflict.


Personal and collective trauma; resilience and care; mind-body-spirit connection.

Institutions & System

Living systems; the web of interconnection and wellbeing; the web of structural racism and oppression; relational culture; white supremacy culture; racial and organizational hierarchies; history and policy.

Advocacy & Action

Transformational, antiracist organizing within institutions; our different roles as agents and targets of oppression; countering resistance; sharing struggle and vision; calling each other in and forward; moving together as social targets and agents; purpose and use of racial caucusing.

Project Elements

Beginning in 2019, City of Seattle employees and the public have been invited to participate in a series of opportunities to build skills and practices that shape trust, shift culture, and change outcomes in their work and working relationships. The opportunities included:

  • An original performance written and directed by playwright Sara Porkalob, based on stories from BIPOC women in the City of Seattle workforce. Performed live in 2019.
  • A Community of Practice Pilot Cohort designed to support supervisors, managers, and HR advisors. Designed and facilitated with Our Bodhi Project and Sonali Sangeeta Balajee. Took place March 2020 - March 2021. Comprehensive assessment report will be available in 2021.
  • The integration of frameworks and practices created through The Shape of Trust into RSJI Key Leaders, a series of seven 4-hour online sessions, and two caucuses designed to build the transformational, anti-racist organizing capacity of City employees holding equity-related positions. Designed and facilitated with Our Bodhi Project and Sonali Sangeeta Balajee. Took place October 2020 - February 2021. Evaluation report will be available in 2021.
  • video of The Shape of Trust performance, partnered with a Video Facilitation Guide designed to support individuals and organizations seeking anti-racist frameworks, activities, and practices. The goal of the guide is to strengthen the connection between collective health, interdependence, belonging, racial equity, and social justice. Published in September 2021.

Project History

The Shape of Trust emerged from over a decade of organizing for racial equity within the City of Seattle workforce. Much of that organizing has been led by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) women, who are most impacted by racism, sexism, and other intersecting forms of oppression.

In 2017, staff from the City of Seattle's Office for Civil Rights (OCR), Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS), and Department of Human Resources (SDHR) began exploring ways that arts experiences could shift workplace culture away from behaviors and expectations that promote white supremacy and other forms of oppression.

We asked ourselves: how can visual arts, theater, music, movement, and mindfulness help cultivate these changes? How can we understand the power dynamics of race, gender, and other identities? And how can we use that knowledge to create racial equity in our workplace and communities?

Soon after, ARTS staff worked with acclaimed playwright Sara Porkalob to produce Real Talk, an original performance based on stories from BIPOC employees in the Seattle arts community. The concept was inspired by a similar project by Arts Workers for Equity (AWE) in Portland.

These seeds grew into the The Shape of Trust project.

In 2019, Porkalob wove accounts from City of Seattle employees, particularly BIPOC women, into an original performance that debuted on three Seattle stages for over 1,200 people. Their stories reveal patterns of struggle and strategy, disconnection and collaboration, leadership and change. They show how we must move towards behaviors that foster connection and belonging, and behaviors that match our stated values.

What's real and what's possible depend on our institutional cultures. Our ways of being, practices, and patterns uphold our decision-making and policy processes. We either consciously work together to create a culture of racial equity and belonging, or we inadvertently reinforce institutions that maintains the larger system of white supremacy.

The Shape of Trust performance cast is Monique Aldred, Tricia Castaneda-Gonzales, Christi Cruz, Anasofia Gallegos, Aishé Keita, Ayo Tushinde, and Nina Williams-Teramachi.

Project Partners

The Shape of Trust is a partnership between the City of Seattle's Office for Civil Rights (OCR), Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS), and Department of Human Resources (SDHR). It is sponsored by the citywide Workforce Equity Planning and Advisory Committee (WEPAC).

Other contributing City of Seattle departments include:

Efforts to improve workforce equity at the City of Seattle began in 2008. More recently, those efforts have included the creation of a dedicated workforce equity director and staff within SDHR, as well as internal organizing and advocacy by employee groups.

Individual and organizational partners include: