At the beginning of a meeting, online or in-person take the time to welcome everyone. To do this you can write your own Long Welcome script:
Consider who is in the room, how can you frame your script to make sure every person present feels welcome?
One way to consider this is to think about the insecurities people might be feeling. For example, if you know it is someone's first meeting it is likely they will be feeling anxious, you might want to add a line like "welcome to those who know someone else in the room and welcome to those who don't"
People might also be feeling insecure because of their accent, gender identity, sexuality, ethnicity, etc. You can write a couple of lines of welcome for each of these
Make it specific! Are you working with a group of farmers? Why not welcome their farming tools as well?
The Long Welcome is a really nice way to start a gathering as it allows you to create a space where people feel drawn in, accepted, and welcome for who they are. Taking the time to do the Long Welcome can help change the atmosphere of the meeting to one where people feel more open to learn and share with others. It is a way to highlight similarities and differences within a group in a way that acknowledges and makes space for them.
Person 1 We want to welcome everyone in the room
Person 2 Welcome to those who have been with us before
Person 3 Welcome to those who are new
Person 1 Welcome to those who know someone else in the room
Person 2 Welcome to those who are seeing all these faces for the first time
Person 3 Welcome to all the different languages
Person 1 Welcome, Welsh, Danish, Spanish, Yoruba, French, Swahili, English, Flemish, Nahuatl
Person 2 Anyone want to welcome any other languages present?
Person 3 Welcome to those who identify as non-binary, female, male
Person 1 And welcome to those who haven’t decided yet
Person 2 Welcome to those who identify as black, as brown, as indigenous, as white
Person 3 And welcome to those for whose history makes it impossible to know
Person 1 Welcome to those who grow food for a living
Person 2 And welcome to those who have never worked the soil
Person 3 Welcome to everyone else who is here with us today and who we might see or not see, hear or not hear, in each other screens and through each others microphones
Person 1 Welcome to everyone’s families and friends, in whatever form they might be present with us today
Person 2 Welcome to the cats, the dogs, the spiders and other beings here today
Person 3 Welcome to all the different knowledges present –emotional and rational knowledge, ancestral knowledge, non-human knowledge, embodied knowledge
Person 1 Welcome to the thoughts and ideas that will be generated today – whether they stay with us throughout or they fly away somewhere else
Person 2 Welcome to silence,
Person 3 Welcome to pauses
Person 1 Welcome to sounds and excitement
Person 2 Welcome to confusion
Person 3 And welcome to all the other feelings that will join us here today
Person 1 Welcome to all the bodies here and all the needs they might have
Person 2 Welcome to stretches, to yawns, to resting your eyes from the screen
Person 3 Welcome to those who feel well in their bodies just now
Person 1 And welcome to those who for whatever reason don’t
Person 2 Welcome to those who have been involved in building a better food system for some time
Person 3 And welcome to those who just joined
Person 1 Would anyone like to welcome anything or anyone else?
Change it up!
How: Instead of having a script, ask each person in the meeting to welcome whatever/whoever in the moment.
Why: It is also a nice idea to do the Long Welcome in this format after you have done it in the scripted format as more people have an idea of what the Long Welcome is about and could feel more comfortable welcoming whatever comes to them.