On Saturday, Austin FC was not only playing the LA Galaxy at Dignity Health Sports Park. It was also undertaking an important step ahead of the opening of Q2 Stadium next month.
Along with Austin FC Supporters and employees of Q2, Austin FC hosted talking circles to build community and create space for equitable and authentic conversations. This was done through the power of Restorative Practices, an Indigenous approach to relationship-building and communication.
"As part of our Club's commitment to inclusivity, we strive to utilize Restorative Practices so that everyone feels heard and empowered," said Kaitlin Swarts, Austin FC's Vice President of Community Impact.
“I was honored to be a part of the Restorative Circles and valued the opportunity to be heard and to listen to others as we focused on imagining a more inclusive and respectful stadium experience for all members of our Austin community,” said Q2 employee Angela Livingston. “It is vital to create an inclusive and respectful stadium environment that reflects and honors Austin’s diverse communities, and furthermore, it is Austin FC’s responsibility to intentionally demonstrate these values on game day and in the community.”
The event took place Saturday morning at Q2 Stadium and was attended by members from each of the three Austin FC Supporters Groups (La Murga, Austin Anthem, Los Verdes), Q2 employees and Austin staff. Participants sat in Restorative Circles and shared stories about their lives, explored their common values and beliefs, and identified ways to be equitable and inclusive at Q2 Stadium.
"Thank you to Austin FC for opening their doors to all supporter groups,” said Gabriela Navarro, President of Los Verdes. “Seeing the Club value the impact Restorative Circles has on people and how we communicate and respect each other is amazing. They value creating the right traditions that will set our Club's foundation in a positive way for the fans and community, and the best part is we have Austin FC leading the way and ensuring we stay true to those values."
Austin FC is committed to building an inclusive and equitable community, and this will be reflected when the Club hosts its first match. After protests in Austin during the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, the Club worked on finding action items to build a better community. One of those action items was expanding the Restorative Practices work that had already been happening with 4ATX Foundation’s Verde Leaders and the Austin FC Academy.
This event gave members of the Austin FC community an opportunity to weigh in on shaping the diversity, equity and inclusion work the Club is undertaking. It will help build a welcoming environment at Q2 Stadium on matchdays.
"As fans of Austin FC, we are a family that rallies around our team," said Director of Youth Development for the 4ATX Foundation and Verde Leaders, Jordan Johnson. "Together, we have to be accountable for each other and create a culture of mutual trust, respect, and inclusion at Q2 Stadium."