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real talk

Real Talk is a powerful method of giving and receiving feedback that contributes to the growth of each crew member.


The Real Talk motto is self-knowledge equals power.


The more we know about ourselves, the more power we gain to become the person we want to be and live the life we desire. With that in mind, we say that it is a gift to offer someone kind and insightful feedback.

In a Real Talk session, we all sit in a circle. One crew member at a time is selected to receive feedback. The rest of the crew takes turns facing the selected member and giving their honest opinion of that person’s behavior: what might be helping this crew member meet his or her goals, and what might be hindering the crew member.

It’s an opportunity for the entire Farm Crew to learn how to communicate about difficult things clearly and compassionately, and to receive feedback without becoming defensive.


As you might guess, Real Talk is an intense and powerful process. At Roots Rising, we say that giving feedback is an act of love. It’s our chance to support each other in reaching our goals and being the best person we can be.


Tears are common in Real Talk, but it’s almost always happy tears: many youth cry when they hear positive things said about themselves, sometimes for the first time.

It’s not a dialogue: when crew members receive Real Talk, they do not respond. They stay open, listen, and take it all in.


Ultimately, it is up to the crew members to decide what parts of what they heard resonated with them and what didn’t. But in the moment their job is to stay quiet, to pay attention, and to take advantage of the opportunity to see themselves through someone else’s eyes.

Real Talk is completely democratic. Just as youth and staff work together in the fields, each to the best of their ability, they also come together in this mutual pursuit of self-growth. Staff give Real Talk to youth, youth give Real Talk to each other, and youth give Real Talk back to staff.

learn about our other approaches to youth development!

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