How do you begin an engaged and rich conversation around what it means to feel safe? 

IFSW is a process that helps people collect and organize stories and reflect them back to the community. The output of an I FEEL SAFE WHEN process surfaces the collective feeling of a community. It:

  • Allows for multiple perspectives on a single topic
  • Draws connections between seemingly different parts of a community
  • Goes beyond binary thinking, (safe / not safe)
  • Allows space for conflicting views to sit side-by-side, (it is not hierarchical)


+ Who created IFSW?

Jennifer Edwards created I FEEL SAFE WHEN so that multiple voices and multiple perspectives could be elevated simultaneously around a single topic. She saw a need for more authentic and interactive processes in both surveying and reporting, and in artistic endeavors - neither truly invite all parties to the table and then hand over the ‘product’ to be remade / manipulated / used in different ways to serve the community that engaged in them. Because Jennifer is an artist, educator, facilitator and process designer, she knew how to develop a more holistic approach.

She chose ‘safe’ / safety as the focus because it is a basic human need. And because in her work within groups of people including: business women and entrepreneurs, at-risk teens, retirees, survivors of domestic violence and rape, artists, and people living with cancer and HIV, she heard this need repeated again and again. People need to feel safe at their core - in their skin, in their surroundings, in their daily lives in order to grow, learn and communicate effectively. The stories she heard, reflected what renowned psychologist, Abraham Maslow, mapped years ago in his hierarchy of human need.

+ Who is IFSW for?

IFSW is for organizers of communities -- deans or chairs of programs, HR professionals, student services leaders (staff and students), conference planners, teaching artists -- who wish to create opportunities for individual and group reflection around a specific topic. The IFSW toolkit provides the structure and guidance to do this with thought and care and frees the organizer to more deeply engage with the larger conversations that can grow from bringing all voices to the table, without judgement or hierarchy.

+ Where has IFSW been used?

So far IFSW has been used in colleges, public parks, and a prison. It has been implemented as an institution-wide initiative, as a reflective public art piece, in writing classes, in dance classes, and as a ‘brief pause during finals week.

+ How long does it take to complete an IFSW project?

The time it takes to complete a project is dependent on the scope of your idea and the size of the community you wish to impact. If you wish to use IFSW as a way to surface values and break the ice in a board meeting or you want to use it for a discrete 2-hour workshop, then a few hours of planning, the time it takes to execute your plan and report the findings is all you will need. For an institution-wide project that aims toward shifting ideas, deepening dialogue and institutionalizing IFSW as a means for bringing more voices to the table, then you need at least 2 months of planning, daily focus during the run of the project, and several hours a month of focus to maintain the momentum thereafter. In a larger institution, IFSW is similar to any large-scale project, however you have a built-in structure and tested process to follow.

+ What comes in the toolkit?

The IFSW toolkit will be available (for either ‘I FEEL SAFE WHEN’ or ‘I FEEL __ WHEN’) in three different versions: Institution, Community and Gathering. The reason for this is that each of these groups have different needs and price points, based on the complexity and size of the group they serve. You will be guided through prompts to choose the correct package for your needs.

Having said that all toolkits come with:

  • A 5-phase collaborative process, complete with worksheets for the organizers to .. 1) Prepare and Plan .. 2) Execute .. 3) Collect, Sort, and Share Findings .. 4) Make Art / Make Change ..* 5) Assess the project

  • Design assets to use when creating the branded material needed to enact your IFSW project

  • Display ideas for how to share the stories you collect from your community
  • Access to on online community of others who have created IFSW projects
  • Access to IFSW facilitators

+ How can I display the reflections back to my community?

There will be ideas for displaying your communities’ responses included in the toolkit as well as step-by-step prompts that guide you through the decision-making and planning process for your installation.

+ Is someone on call if I need help? Or have questions?

Yes. Every tool kit will come with access to

  • short email interactions with IFSW facilitators
  • a forum of others currently planning IFSW projects. Depending on which package you choose, you may have time built in for planning assistance with an IFSW facilitator. This is always an option to add at any time.

+ How many people should be part of the planning group to facilitate IFSW?

It depends on the size of your community, and the complexity of the project you envision. At the very least, you need 2 - one vision-keeper and evangelist for the project, who will rally people around the idea and one organizer who will coordinate all the moving parts - be responsible for all card collection, reporting, sorting and installing any reflection sites. However, if you plan to bring together multiple partners, and /or create an ongoing initiative, as Georgia Tech has, you need a team of at least 5 who will champion and take ownership of the project.

+ I see you also have I Feel __ When. What kinds of __ have communities investigated? What is possible?

I FEEL __ WHEN came out of conversations with leadership at Georgia Tech. After seeing the large number of students and faculty engaged by this project, questions arose about what additional topics might be explored in similar ways. This toolkit was developed to give organizers the option of addressing different topics that their communities face. Anything is possible - what are the burning issues on your campus / in your company / for your community?

+ Do you have some examples of what communities have created out of the project?

Yes! Explore our use stories for more information.



Bring I Feel Safe When to your community.

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