a best day, a movement day

this may be one of the best days of my life. i’m not sure i’ll be able to explain why for months, or even years. but something shifted today in my belief of what’s possible.

today was the last day of the evaluation meeting of the us social forum. when the meeting ended, tears started pouring out of my eyes, my shoulders dropped, my breath deepened. i realized that since the forum, i have been holding on – for 90 days holding on going about my business knowing this was coming.

for me, my last day as the director of ruckus was september 21, and i went out with a week-long bang of rainy, freezing camping. then i was on the facilitation team for web of change, the facilitation for the common fire board meeting, and then straight boom into the facilitation/synthesis team for the us social forum evaluation meeting.

and i knew it was going to be the hardest facilitation work i’ve probably ever done.

and it was…axe.

afterwards someone said – “how in the hell are you smiling…that’s what you do all the time?” and i had to be clear, facilitating or not – it’s not like this anywhere else. there’s nothing else like the forum process. it’s the most intense microcosm of movement in the u.s., wrestling with questions like: oppositional vs transformative organizing? mass scale vs deep relational organizing. does our combined work address the work of overcoming capitalism, or perpetuate it? how much unity, how much alignment do we need to take the next steps together?

in the midst of these questions swirling about, i’ve wanted to not believe in the process as a way of answering – because it’s so hard. and yet the willingness to work, and work, and work – it’s incredible to contend with the power of this body if that energy was unleashed with conviction, integrity, purpose, clarity. alignment.

not knowing the answers or pathways to these things, we have to somehow dig deeper than analysis, to intuition, to desire.

how do we make a new world so desirable that it cannot be denied? how do we make it so whole it can consume the roots of oppression?

all through the day, as we struggled to move step by step closer to the level of alignment we needed in order to move forward, i kept thinking of what i have learned in this process. so many of the biggest chunks of work in my life have sort of slipped up on me, and then i learn so much that i have to wonder if i was called to it.

i am so much more competent that i was a year ago…but only because i am more humble and am learning to ask for help.

there is more work to be done than anyone could ever really know how to do…to transform our entire culture, our entire society, requires more than everything we have.

to even attempt that work, it takes an unbelievable amount of humility, because it’s going to all be trial by fire….and if you can own your mistakes, then you will find your comrades ready to move forward with you to the next lesson.

we are longing for each other, we need each other, and we know it.

we will not get there with our words – it is truly evolving our behavior and relationships to each other through practicing new models, ancient models, acting together (5 years of training that actions speak louder than words) .

today i shared something…a fear that i think roots down so deeply in us it’s hard to speak aloud. angel kyodo williams asked this question at web of change and it’s been clanging around in my mind: in our movement work, we are wondering when the moment will come when we can’t stand together, where will we diverge, become enemies. will we have honor in our fight at that point, can we deal with that possibility?

i think we hold that potentiality closer to us than any vision.

it’s the deepest human fear – that if we show who we really are, and what we really want, we will be alone.

but if we are willing to transform ourselves, to be known, then it makes our singularity human, and it allows our undeniable connection and interdependence to be a pathway towards something…divine. taking the personal risk – that risk is how we intertwine at the root.

and we cannot just go off as leaders and transform ourselves, walking away from this work. we have to transform our organizations, sectors, regions, movements, families – wherever we find the edge, we must create an opening, not a wall.

we have to build relationships that are stronger than our institutions.

we have to become irresistible in our wholeness.

to that end, i let my singing self be pulled into the process:

axe.

5 Responses to “a best day, a movement day”


  1. 1 Oya

    i had tears in my eyes as i read this beautiful testimony. my heart is full. thank you so much for growing with me sister. i am definitely willing to do the transformational work that is necessary to create a new world. i am so proud of you.

  2. 2 Adele

    Another powerful and insightful reflection, Adrienne! Thank you so much for sharing.

    The only thing I would add is that it is very important for leaders to also work on themselves. This work is hard, it’s not the 9-5 we leave behind when we close the office door. There’s breakdown, burn-out, mental health issues, conflict avoidance and resentments. If we’re working on ourselves in conjuction with the work, the potential for transformation is even greater.

    Too many of us repeat the same patterns, don’t evolve in our organizing style/strategies/relationship building and as you say, “if you can own your mistakes, then you will find your comrades ready to move forward with you to the next lesson.”

    Cheers to the leaders (like Adrienne) who are transforming themselves, the work and the world!

    So much love to you, Luscious Satyagraha!!!

  3. 3 rich feldman

    Thank you for your reflections, feelings, questions and authenticity.
    I could not be at the meeting this week-end but was with young disaiblity justice activists from Arizona, Michigan and California. Creating the safe spaces for taking risks, being vulnerable and reflective will continue to help us ask a question like: “How do we contribute to a movement that advances our humanity?” Adrienne, you have been an important flame in our search for light and respect for the dark. Thanks for moving to Detroit.

  4. 4 jessie

    damn. you are a million things, one of those being, a writer. an excellent, inspirational, writer. thank you.

  5. 5 Flo

    Just saw this a million years after you wrote it.
    Thank you for the words that say it and ask the questions so well.
    It has been an amazing experience and an honor to sit at the table with you and all of the NPC. It has been an awesome experience of learning and growth.
    And being able to witness your amazing facilitation self that transforms into your amazing singer self and all the amazing selfs in there, combining toward a balance of enjoying life while fighting like hell is inspirational.
    Thanks for all you do.

  1. 1 What We Missed

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