Tag Archive for 'allied media conference'

the overwhelming world: snippets

returning from being out of country and mostly away from the news, i find there is too much to take in. and i am moved to:

– remind everyone that Octavia Butler‘s Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents are required reading for all humans right now, not as escapist fantasy, but as relevant instructional prophecy. it was her birthday on the 22nd and i think she is whispering to us through her pages across time.

– send love to those who know borders, walls and fences cannot hold us, cannot keep us from each other. ‘our destiny is to take root amongst the stars’ (we are made of stardust).

and since i last wrote here, jasmine abdullah was released on bail! i love the idea that when she was pulled through that wall we all extended through it with practice and attention and strategies and family, and we didn’t let go, and we pulled until the wall shivered. want to really uplift the practices of chelsea cleveland who pulled a tarot card for black liberation each day, che rene who sent us an original song and alexis pauline who wrote this poem and released it the morning of jasmine’s release.

how you are in relationship is how you are.

i saw beyoncé’s formation tour in detroit. i immediately bought tickets to see her again. that is my review.

the allied media conference was beautiful this year. i spent my time there in healing circles and rituals for orlando. i also got to cofacilitate the say her name gathering. there is a lot of tenderness in my work these days, a lot of opening and closing of circles, a lot of slowing down and trusting the strange processes of humans. we only move forward as we are able. it felt like as we stood face to face with each other we were clear that we have to rise above small differences – we are still more alike than most of the world, moving towards justice. family reunion feeling was in effect, and i met a lot of beautiful new loves over those days.

and i danced.

i want to tell you how i danced but you know it doesn’t fit into words. during and afterwards i felt free and i felt in communication with my body. i am healing and it is glorious, it is glorious to remember in my bones that i am meant to dance. it is healing to dance in queer space, always has been. i needed it, we needed it.

i spent the past week mostly away from the internet, working with first nations and environmental organizers building responses and strategies around the tar sands. the main thing i learned in holding that space is that everyone wants to be seen in their best intentions. then, maybe, there can be a real conversation around impact. people building movement over time will impact each other, but we still want to be seen for our good intentions, for our good hearts. often this is at the root of having disagreements with integrity – being able to see each other’s goodness in spite of the different perspectives that are just the nature of human existence. seeing where we can agree today in ways that increase the space for alignment in the future.

now i am deep in processing a pile of super exciting proposals from detroiters who are shifting the narratives of our city. my heart is swelling and i feel…hopeful.

when i look up it’s all overwhelming, tectonic shifts in global politics, and devastating national decisions. but if i keep my head down on the present moment, on the people i can touch, the places i love – there is a lot of good, a lot of pattern shifting, a lot of micro-liberations. we are learning to hold each other close as the bottom falls out.

it’s falling, it must fall.

in this way we will fly.

allied media conference 2014 share out (octavia’s brood, storytelling black women, emergent strategy handbook!)

this year’s allied media conference felt like one miracle after another and i wanted to share out with you all (especially those not there or unable to get into certain workshops) a few stories, agendas, occurrences and the link to the emergent strategy handbook which is now available for viewing online or downloading.

storytelling black women’s lives

this friday morning workshop was proposed as a five person panel of storytellers, featuring some of my favorite scholars of black women ancestors. the panel shifted a few times, and by the time the session rolled around we had two panelists in person and one on a google hangout. but it appears that certain ancestors were so pleased to be told on that they made it not just work, but become a time for praise, healing and magic.

we realized the night before that what we were really engaging was the fine art of being oracles, imparting wisdom as presented through the lives of these ancestors. the oracles were sister doctors alexis pauline gumbs, moya bailey and ayana jamieson.

alexis made an alphabetical list of ancestors and we filled it up as far as we could, trusting that the workshop would be able to keep growing it.

the first part of our workshop was the oracles channeling. a participant would ask a question, and the oracles would let the right story come to them, about octavia butler, or toni cade bambara, or harriet tubman, or another black woman ancestor.

the questions included how to we honor our ancestors as we transition into our own power, how do raise multi level genius babies if we don’t see ourselves as geniuses, how do we tell our mother’s stories in a culture of shaming?

the second part of the workshop gave everyone present a chance to give and receive guidance. i have heard lots of feedback of how accurate the guidance was.

we closed by sending love to sister warrior charity hicks as she sat between here and there in an ICU unit. we conjured up a shared sense of her aliveness and power, and let the universe know we want to learn the next chapters of her life, whether it was to stay or to go.

octavia’s brood

the brood had two fantastic experiences at the AMC.

first, we got to present four brooders as part of the opening ceremony. alexis, gabriel teodros, dani mcclain and leah lakshmi piepzna-samarasinha (whose name is a joy to my tongue). they hadn’t heard each other’s stories, and it was exciting for us as editors to hear these stories in their voices.

my co-editor, walidah imarisha, was delayed in portland and arrived literally five minutes before we took the stage. we threw on our heels, had a mindmeld and walked out there.

the next morning we got to offer our first behind-the-scenes session. the brooders, including the editors, shared where our stories came from, engaged with the participants about the art of writing visionary science fiction, and offered lessons from the overall process.

walidah and i have learned so much about ourselves and each other in the effort to do this project in line with our principles. we have learned to laugh at each other, keep it real, and offer each other support as our personal lives have unfolded in parallel to this life’s work.

it was beautiful to share that with folks who cannot wait for the book to be out, the transformation is not the end product, it’s the entire journey.

emergent strategy train the trainers

this workshop felt like it’s been building for a while. i created a handbook for it, which you can download now.

i want to decentralize emergent strategy, share it in a way that others can deeply engage and take ownership over and keep learning and shaping.

our room was much much too small. we had 80 people inside and somewhere between 40-50 outside and upset. next time i will request the auditorium, i want so many people to be in practice around this approach and these tools.

i started by reviewing the handbook (shout out to eli feghali for getting it printed the morning of!), which includes three different pieces i have written about emergent strategy, in chronological order, as well as a clear illustrated articulation of the elements of emergent strategy thus far.

the elements were up around the room, and we used emergent strategy methods of flocking and adaptation for the group to engage these elements. while they were flocking about we found a larger room and reconvened the group there.

people were then partnered up with one other person to make emergent strategy commitments. the idea behind this is that you ‘transform yourself to transform the world’. the best way to implement emergent strategies is to become emergent in how you process information and show up in the world. it was beautiful to watch the energy with which people claimed their commitments.

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we then came together to reflect back learning and lessons. here are the lessons i offered as a way of deconstructing what we had done:

– collaborative ideation. at the root of generating our ideas, we want to learn to be collaborative, to see the best ideas as growing through conversation and sharing (rather than competing, isolated moves forward).

– begin by listening. this AMC principle is the key practice of emergent strategy. we are tuning into each other, listening not just with our ears but our awareness, understanding, bodies.

– deepening one-on-one connections builds the strength of the whole. to change what is possible in a room, let people connect with each other directly.

– people are more passionate about the things they articulate themselves. don’t over-structure an agenda, let people articulate what they most want to work on together.

– passion over obligation. understand the motivation for people being in the room.

– lao tzu on trust: if you don’t trust the people, you make them untrustworthy.

– make room for the conversation that wants to be had in the room.

– reach for the horizon but realize that it is only a limit of your sight, keep checking for new horizon info as it changes.

community supported activism: the new CSA

this brilliant invitation just in from my sister Autumn Brown, so inspiring that i just have to repost it here and encourage you all to support her (she’s the one holding my niece, below):

“Want to support health justice and get a gorgeous handmade journal? Here is your golden opportunity:

This year, I am trying something new, different, and unprecedented in my own work! You have heard of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) – where families pay a monthly fee to a farmer, who then provides them with fresh food for the duration of the growing season – but have you heard of Community Supported Activism?

This year, I have the privilege of serving as the Rock Dove Collective’s representative on the National Coordination Team for the Health and Healing Justice Track at the Allied Media Conference, which takes place in Detroit on June 23-26, 2011. This means that I will be working with two other incredible organizers, Adele Nieves and Anjali Taneja, to create and facilitate a process at the conference where healers, health workers, and health justice organizers can gather, share strategies, and learn from each other. We will also be organizing a healing practice space at the conference, so that attendees in need of care can have access to what they need.

As you can imagine, this is a big job and it will take a lot of time and careful planning. Most of you know that the Rock Dove Collective is a no-budget organization, meaning that we do not raise money for our work unless absolutely necessary. In order to engage in this national process, we have determined as a collective that raising funds for my position is a necessity. But we want to raise this money in a way that represents our values and our firm belief that the resources we need to heal each other and to heal ourselves can be found within ourselves and within our communities.

So I am asking you to become a part of a new kind of CSA, where you donate money to make it possible for me to do this critical work. Read on for details of how this works, and why it works!

How do you donate and how much can you give?

My goal is to raise enough money to pay myself a monthly stipend of $600 for the work of national organizing from February-June. How much you donate is up to you, and any amount is appreciated. You can donate a small amount monthly ($5-10), or you can make a one-time donation of any size.

* You can send money to me online using Paypal by clicking here
* You can send a check to me directly. Ask me for my mailing address!
* You can make a tax deductible donation – ask me how!

What will I do with the money?

My work as a national coordinator involves organizing the national health and healing justice community to propose sessions that fit with the vision of the track, reviewing and selecting session proposals for the conference, managing the logistics of the healing practice space, and coordinating fundraising efforts across the country to get presenters and organizers to the conference, with a strong emphasis on making it possible for people of color, young people, elders, queer and genderqueer people, and low-income people to attend.

What do you get in return?

Everyone who makes a donation will be added to my donor-list, and you will receive monthly updates on the progress the National Coordination Team is making in our work on the track. You will also be the recipient of a video blog at the end of June, made by yours truly, that gives you a taste of what people experienced in the Health and Healing Justice Track.

For people who make a donation of $50 or more, you will receive a unique, hand-made book, which I make using paper that is locally constructed from sustainably-harvested Minnesota grass as well as other locally sourced materials! Or I can bake you some cookies.

What is the Allied Media Conference?

The Allied Media Conference, held every summer in Detroit, unites the worlds of media and communications, technology, education and social justice. From this unique intersection, some of the most innovative community organizing models emerge each year. The AMC cultivates strategies for a more just and creative world. We come together to share tools and tactics for transforming our communities through media-based organizing.

The Allied Media Conference is the only conference I have ever attended where I felt that we were truly building the world we wished to see in that space. It is a visionary gathering, and it is organized in a truly participatory way!

What is the Health and Healing Justice Track?

The theme of the track is Health is Dignity, Dignity is Resistance. Our vision is to build a national movement for healing justice by answering two important questions: 1) How do we utilize and decentralize all forms of media so as to build a post-capitalist health care system here and now? 2) How do we imbue our social justice movements with a healing framework that frontlines conversations about race and racism, bodies and connectedness, and alternative resourcing?

Who are you and Why should you donate?

You are community organizers and community developers, artists and media makers, faith leaders and community leaders, healers and health workers, educators and mediators, facilitators and union workers, anarchists, libertarians, democrats, and green-workers – you are people who have touched me and who have in some way been a part of my work. You are someone who shares my vision for a better, more just world, and shares my hope that we can and are creating it NOW. You should donate because participating in alternative models for resourcing the work of changing the world is EXACTLY what it takes to change the world!!

Thank you so much for always supporting my work. And thank you in advance for any financial contribution you can make to this project, which is so dear to my heart, and which is so critical to the movement.”

american revolutionary

i assert my solutions as the living embodiment of my nationality…

i’m testing that statement out.

for a long time, most of my conscious political life, i have not thought of myself as an american (and not a nationalist at all, especially not of a colonial empire). i have been a world traveller. a future ex-pat. a staunch critic of the ways america is failing at everything from dreams to execution of values, from founding to present. and i hold these critiques to be self-evident – how can anyone with a mind and a heart not see the failure, the epic moral failure of the country i was born into?

recently, 3 things have made me reconsider my relationship to america.

one thing is sitting with the words of the late james boggs and being with grace lee boggs, and their clear belief that we have to understand the context of where we are, that there is a real place in which we have the right to be revolutionary. jimmy said, “i don’t believe no one can run this country better than me,” and he said that as a worker. now i feel challenged by grace’s latest thinking, that a new “more perfect union” is ours to envision and embody, and i think we have to believe that no one can run this country, community by community, better than those of us with clear visions and practices of justice and sustainability. if we believe that, then we must take on the responsibility of bringing our visions into existence – through our actions, not just our words.

the second thing that has made me reconsider this is a conversation that happened at web of change. it was hosted by anasa troutman and angel kyodo williams, and i wasn’t even there, just got to debrief how powerful it was with several participants afterwards. one of the key components was the idea of being able to say that those things that offend us at the deepest level, which seem inhumane, which give us feelings of shame by association – we have to step up to say “that is not our America.” leaving the space open for american identity to be defined only by those who are driven by fear leaves us with what we have now – policies of walls and borders instead of open arms and visions, prisons and penalties instead of communities that hold each other accountable and safe, poverty and joblessness instead of meaningful roles in communities where we each feel our worth and get honored for our contributions. america holds an international role which we who have citizenship here can’t shake off – unsolicited and violent judge, oppressor, manipulator of resources and relationships, bringer of trash/waste/dehumanizing work. what we are within our colonized borders is amplified in our external actions. and there are enough of us who know a better way that if we truly took on the responsibility, the practice of being american revolutionaries, it would have a worldwide impact. scaling up, yes, but only by going deep in accepting the privilege and responsibility of being american at this moment in time and taking up new practices wherever we are.

the third piece for me is looking at my family in light of recent stories i have heard from immigrant families living and dying to get a hold of a status i have taken for granted. my sisters and i were born in texas, in el paso. folks who are brown like me and whose ancestors’ blood still bakes in the earth of my birthplace, folks who were born 10 miles away from me, they have died because of long-term impacts of our foreign policy, trade policy, drug habits. on a fundamental level, being an american means being responsible for the human cost of our way of living, our mistakes, our policies. i may not agree with the policies, but that doesn’t much matter to the people impacted by them if i do nothing to change the ways of this country. my family has had a chance at happiness that was made possible because of american military endeavors and i have to attend to that reality. can i face it completely and instead of feeling shame, think of what can bring justice to my family, to my nephew and niece as they begin their young political journeys? this feels like huge work for me.

i see more and more that my path is not necessarily an organizing path, be it electoral or community. this is not simply because i am disappointed in our movements, though i feel, viscerally, that we/they are mostly practicing what i could call the old american ethic: spread, grow, mainstream yourself, prosper in competition, value new ideas over ancient wisdom, colonize by spreading as many chapters with cookie cutter action plans as far and wide as you can, don’t apologize, pitch first and listen later, etc.

all of that is there, but my calling is underneath that critique, and it feels like yearning, it feels like a budding set of solutions. i am interested in connecting with, building with, and supporting folks who are interested in the next american revolution – in holding space for a new american ethic that speaks to the experience of masses of people within these hyper-enforced borders: we start by seeking indigenous wisdom for how to be in this place and honor those who have been here the longest. we stand with the world in calling for america to evolve as we practice these new-old ways of being here. we build our economy of relationships, not dollars. we see ourselves as part of a global network of citizens of one shared planet who have a collective responsibility towards home. we respect each other and the land, we practice restorative justice, we begin by listening, we accept the responsibility of where we are. instead of being known for our critique, we embody the revolution wherever we are, in whatever work we are called to.

i know i can’t change the past, not even the very recent past, our actions of yesterday and even this morning. but i am also more and more aware that i can’t put off this being of a place for even one more day. i have lived in many places, and i have loved many places, but i have papers for one place, voting power for one place, family all rooted in one place. it is this place where i will make my stand.

in a way this is another coming out, full of terror and bravado…and pumping out of me like blood. i will test this out, here, as a truth and an invitation: i am an american revolutionary.

we begin by listening

this weekend i am representing ruckus at an allied media projects earned income strategy session, sharing and learning about how to generate resources for and with a network.

we started the weekend last night by reviewing AMP’s principles, which the board and staff co-created. i’ve been on the board for years, and the naming of these principles was a codifying of my politic which was/is so satisfying and exciting that i wanted to share the principles with y’all! enjoy:

PRINCIPLES

Since its inception in 2002 and going back to the initial conference in 1999, Allied Media Projects has been learning from its network of participants. Through the AMC vision statement, case statement, and conference program, we attempt to articulate what we learn back to the network each year, continuing the process of listening and learning and speaking. We adapt our way of organizing based on what we hear and learn from the network. 

Year to year, many things have changed and continue to change, giving our shared work and the conference vitality. Especially in the past few years, though, we have drawn certain lessons repeatedly, from a variety of sources. Together, we have tested, adapted, applied, and honed these lessons. At this point, some of the concepts are so consistent and widely practiced throughout the network, that they amount to a set of shared principles. We articulate these shared principles here, to the best of our ability, so that we can all more clearly understand the work we are doing together… 
 
– We are making an honest attempt to solve the most significant problems of our day.

– We are building a network of people and organizations that are developing long-term solutions based on the immediate confrontation of our most pressing problems. 

– Wherever there is a problem, there are already people acting on the problem in some fashion. Understanding those actions is the starting point for developing effective strategies to resolve the problem, so we focus on the solutions, not the problems. 

– We emphasize our own power and legitimacy. 

– We presume our power, not our powerlessness. 

– We are agents, not victims. 

– We spend more time building than attacking. 

– We focus on strategies rather than issues. 

– The strongest solutions happen through the process, not in a moment at the end of the process. 

– The most effective strategies for us are the ones that work in situations of scarce resources and intersecting systems of oppression because those solutions tend to be the most holistic and sustainable. 

– Place is important. For the AMC, Detroit is important as a source of innovative, collaborative, low-resource solutions. Detroit gives the conference a sense of place, just as each of the conference participants bring their own sense of place with them to the conference. 

– We encourage people to engage with their whole selves, not just with one part of their identity. 

– We begin by listening.

aren’t those beautiful? this is how those principles look to me:

this weekend we at Ruckus are here with Detroit Summer, People’s Production House, Institute of Popular Education of Southern California (IDEPSCA), Climbing PoeTree, Palestine Education Project, Young Women’s Empowerment Project, Prometheus and Emergence to think through how what we know about earned income can grow these principles into a sustainable strategy.

these principles are deeply aligned with ruckus’s work, and with how I am inspired by and approaching the US Social Forum.

Simultaneously I am reviewing a Gloria Anzaldúa reader and seeing how similar principles emerged from her life’s work.

It’s a beautiful synergistic moment.

:)

4 minutes on democracy now

U.S. Social Forum to Be Held in Detroit

Over 10,000 grassroots activists are expected in Detroit this June for the second ever U.S. Social Forum. The theme of the gathering is “Another World is Possible. Another US is Necessary!” Detroit will also host the Allied Media Conference from June 18 to 20. …

(check me out!! :))

FULL TRANSCRIPT:

U.S. Social Forum to Be Held in Detroit Under Banner of “Another World is
Possible, Another US is Necessary”

Democracy Now!
April 2, 2010

http://www.democracynow.org/2010/4/2/us_social_forum_to_be_held

AMY GOODMAN: The theme of the gathering is another world is possible,
another U.S. is necessary, another Detroit is happening. Well, three years
ago the first U.S. Social Forum was held in Atlanta. Attendees included the
late South African poet and activist, Dennis Brutus.

DENNIS BRUTUS: I’ve been in Brazil, Porto Alegre, and in India, Mumbai, and
Nairobi earlier this year. We’ve had World Social Forums in different
places. Each one, I think, builds on the movement, and it’s a movement of
civil society. It’s people from the grassroots pushing for change. The
slogan “Another World Is Possible” means we reject the kind of globalizing
process that is today run by the corporations. We’re talking of grassroots
globalization in Brazil and India, Mumbai and Nairobi and others, World
Social forms in different places. I think each one is on the movement and it
is a movement of civil society, people from the grassroots pushing for
change. The slogan “another world is possible” Mazwi reject the kind of
globalizing process today run by the corporations. We’re talking of grass
roots globalization.

AMY GOODMAN: The late Dennis Brutus. Well, this year’s U.S. Social Forum
will take place in Detroit from June 22 to June 26. Detroit will also host
the Allied Media Conference from June 18 to June 20 and Democracy Now! will
be there for the week covering the U.S. Social Forum and what is happening
here in Detroit. Right now I’m joined by Adrienne Maree Brown. She is the
executive director of the Raucus Society, National Coordinator of U.S.
Social Forum and a board member of Allied Media. Welcome to “Democracy Now!”
Explain why you all have chosen Detroit, Adrienne.

ADRIENNE MAREE BROWN: As you heard the poet say, it’s all about the
grassroots globalization movement and one of the things that is in that
theme is “another Detroit is happening.” It was very important for us coming
out of Atlanta to actually identify a city where there was already models of
alternative visions for how we can be in the U.S. and solution oriented, but
uplifting people’s democratic processes. And Detroit has been divested from
for about 30 years now and a long time ago I think they stopped relying on
the government to come through with good solutions for the city. And as you
heard from me and from Shea, you know, when the government is left in charge
of anything the start making a huge mess of it. And yet there are all these
communities, you know, Grace Lee Boggs has been here for years, Detroit
Summer has been working for years, the Boggs Center, Michigan Welfare
Rights. There is all these organizations who have been practicing new
models. There is 800 community gardens growing up in Detroit in all these
spaces that otherwise would be called abandoned lots. There are peace zones
for life where people are saying we can’t count on the police to take care
of this in a nonviolent way, we’re going to come up with a nonviolent way to
do it. It’s a new model, I think, for what a city can look like and it’s a
city in touch with the earth, that is in touch with its people and that is
really led by community. I just moved to Detroit in September because I got
so excited about what’s happening here and I wanted to be a part of it. When
it looked like U.S. Social Forum was able to come here, we already had a
model from the Allied Media Conference. We had a model of what a national
conference could look like here that was both about folks coming together
and learning from each other but also learning from the place that they’re
in and the Allied Media Conference has done an amazing job of that for a
couple of years.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain what the Allied Media Conference is.

ADRIENNE MAREE BROWN: The Allied Media Conference is a gathering, basically
of the most cutting edge organizers in the country and communities in the
country and it’s a very hands-on gathering so folks come to learn how to
communicate with each other so what are the most cutting-edge ways of
communicating with each other, but in a hands on way, so folks will walkout
knowing how to build a radio broadcasting station. Folks will walk out
knowing how to create a wireless network, a mesh network throughout the
city. It is folks who otherwise do not have access to this stuff. The Allied
Media Conference locally has started a project called the Digital Justice
Coalition and it’s all about bringing communities into this century and
beyond this century, but saying that these are open source tools and they
belong to us. Communication is our fundamental birthright in terms of how we
are going to be with each other as human beings. So, I’ve said for years, it
is the best gathering that I’ve ever been too and I’m very very proud to be
a part of it. And this year it’s happening right before the social forum and
we are actually going to have several bridge projects with a move from the
conference straight into the forum. So young people will come and learn how
to create, for instance, open source wireless which will then be broadcast
from Hush House and King Solomon Church during the social forum. They are
going to do a huge “Another Detroit is Happening” mural that folks will be
able to contribute to all throughout the AMC and through the forum. We
understand a little bit about how do you come to a city and actually invest
and build that city up while learning as much as you can about the
successful models that are already happening there. And it’s a totally
different way to approach conferences. A lot of times people come to a
gathering and their feet never really touch the ground in the place that
they’re in. In Detroit you’re going to have to get your hands all the way up
the elbows in the dirt and garden and help retrofit some of the homes. It’s
going to be really amazing.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about how the U.S. Social Forum began.

ADRIENNE MAREE BROWN: Alright. The World Social Forum was already happening
as a response to the World Economic Forums where basically all of the big
money folks would get together around the world and say this is what we
think the solutions are.

AMY GOODMAN: And that was in Davos, Switzerland.

ADRIENNE MAREE BROWN: That was Davos, Switzerland, and the World Social
Forum began sort of as a response to that to say there is a grassroots
globalization movement happening, there are ways.

AMY GOODMAN: This was in Puerto Alegre, Brazil.

ADRIENNE MAREE BROWN: Yes, and out of that, it happened for about five or
six years and they were like, you know, the U.S. is actually the source
point of a lot of the issues that we’re talking about at these gatherings.
Our revolution and our changes will not actually be made possible and won’t
work unless the U.S. is involved in this process. There was a real
invitation to the U.S. to join the rest of the world in a people centered
democratic process. The openness of the forum is actually a challenge for us
to try on in the U.S. There are people’s movement assemblies and there is
this gathering where folks come and just about anything you can imagine is
happening. There’s a film festival happening, there are performances
happening and then there’s these assemblies where folks are coming together
saying we care about climate justice, what do we need to do as a country all
together to advance this? Copenhagen is clearly not making it happen. What
are we going to do in order to lift this up from the U.S.? What do our
policies need to look like? What do our actions need to look like and what
do our communities needs to look like here? In Atlanta, you know, it was
like we were totally on training wheels trying to figure out how to do this
process and I think we did a really good job. But it gets people out of
their comfort zone because you can’t just come to a social forum expecting
that you are going to present your two hour workshop and then leave without
having received anything or participated in the process. So, when the first
social forum came around, we had about 10,000 people say that they were
going to come, 12,000 people registered, and about 15,000 people actually
showed up and a lot of those were from Atlanta. For this one now, we’re
trying to bring, you know we keep saying 15,000 to keep it low, but, you
know, I’m starting to hear 20,000, 30,000, and we want over half of those
folks to be from Detroit because Detroit is the epicenter of so many of the
problems and the solutions that are happening right now.

AMY GOODMAN: When I last spoke to you, we were talking about President
Obama, about the potential of the Obama presidency. Now we are a year into
it. What are your thoughts today?

ADRIENNE MAREE BROWN: I think President Obama desperately needs us to have
the Allied Media Conference and the U.S. Social Forum because I think in
order to deliver, you know, we talked about this back then, he ran on a
message of hope and a lot of it was “What are the people going to do?”
Right? “What are you going to do? If you want to see this stuff change, you
are going to have to do it,” and I don’t think people actually believed
that. You know, I think they thought, “Oh, he’s going to get into office and
some miracle is going to happen.” Well, those miracles happen in the
mundane, everyday work that communities do together. The Allied Media
Conference and the Social Forum are places where folks can come together and
say, “What is working?” Right? Not just lay out these are all the problems
that we have. We know we have a milieu of problems and maybe they seem
insurmountable if you are all by yourself isolated in a community, but when
you come together with hundreds of thousands of other people all around the
world who are actually trying to come up with these solutions, then I think
you can make that hope become something that you can actually depend on. It
can make it something real. I think President Obama should come through and
check it out and see what communities in the country doing.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, you’re certainly operating in his tradition perhaps
decades ago when it was a community organizer.

ADRIENNE MAREE BROWN: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: Today is D-Day in Detroit. It’s demolition day. Do you see it
as a day of destruction or a day of rebirth?

ADRIENNE MAREE BROWN: You know, I think that the demolition is a complicated
matter because it’s not being led by and it is not being called for by
communities. Right? There are actually ways that the city can be
reconfigured and re-imagined and communities are doing that all the time.
There are buildings that folks have been asking, “Can you take this building
down so that we can turn it into a garden, so that we can create an urban
farm here?” I think that the mayor and the city council are going about this
in a way that doesn’t actually acknowledge Detroit and doesn’t show that
they actually know the city that they’ve taken the reins of. And so really
I’m hoping as much as anyone else in the country sees how remarkable Detroit
is this summer, I’m really hoping that the mayor and the city council come
out and actually meet the citizens of Detroit and see what is possible here,
that you don’t have to go through and just demolish the city. You can
actually love this city and invite the city to recreate itself.

AMY GOODMAN: Adrienne Maree Brown, thank you very much for being with us.
National Coordinator of the U.S. Social Forum, Executive Director of the
Ruckus Society and a board member of Allied Media.

call to how to ACT!

jetlagged and about to pass out, tomorrow i facilitate the womens media equity summit, and then the allied media conference jumps off, and then the us social forum national/local meeting.

but i wanted to repost an excerpt from the localize this! blog i just posted at ruckus. for a while we have been developing this action framework that allows people from very different backgrounds who need to act together to bridge the resource and historic differences and act right, together.

this year we started the camp with these components, after a welcome and then a local contextualization which was powerful. would love to hear folks thoughts on both the trajectory, and the steps of ACT that follow. it will eventually become a tool that can be used far and wide.

EXCERPT (from www.ruckus.org/blog):

“we tried on a new approach for setting the camp culture. we wanted to address that there were folks there from a variety of experience levels in terms of work around anti-oppression and/or decolonization. the model we unveiled is based on our action framework (”a call to how to ACT”).

first we presented a 5-step perspective on moving towards equity.

1. OTHERING: many folks start with viewing folks who aren’t the same race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, ability, etc as “other”. that “other”-ing can manifest in many ways – superiority, enslaving, hating, fearing, suspecting, inferiority.

2. EXOTIFICATION: when an appreciation of some aspect of a person or group of people you see as “other” develops, and becomes a desire. this can manifest as wanting to own it, have it, control it, bed it, eat it, visit it (within a safe bubble – think resorts in “exotic” locations).

3. TOKENIZATION: when logic, self-interest, good intentions or force makes an individual or organization realize that they want/need to have representation of the “other”. this manifests in obvious and/or subtle ways, such as having one (insert black/female/gay/etc) friend, one (insert poor/impacted) board member, or one (differently-abled/trans/immigrant) staff member.

4. EMULATION: wanting to actually put on the behavior, dress, music, names, spiritual practices, political struggles or culture of the “other”. this is deeper than a visit – this is preferring the “other” above your own identity, and believing you have the privilege to just opt-in to the experiences of the “other”. this is most harmful when it manifests as an individual leaving behind their own communities and families and immersing themselves in the communities which their historic ancestors have negatively impacted, taking up space and resources and not respecting or understanding boundaries. what’s deep here is that individuals involved in emulation are often of the belief that they are showing love and respect for the “other”.

5. EQUITY/EQUALITY: when there is equal opportunity to resources, and fairness and justice in terms of decision making. this is a liberated state of mind that allows you and all the people you interact with to exist outside of constant reaction and struggle, and to evolve. this can manifest in respectful sharing of history and culture, deep appreciation of a whole individual (meaning their complex multiple-identities, not just the surface view).in the long-run, this could manifest a world in which sustainability and self-determination are possible for everyone.

i would go so far as to say active equity is the deepest form of love, and to approach the world from a space of equality and equity the most liberated state. i’m not there yet, but i am working on it.

the easiest way to explain the work that i’ve been able to come up with is the ACT model.

A = awareness. being aware of all of who you are in relation to any group you are in, who else is in the group, and the ways in which you can be part of the mainstream (feeling comfortable, normal, understood, powerful), and the ways in which you are part of the margins (uncomfortable, different, misunderstood, powerless). training for change has a great exercise for this which i encourage you to seek out. we asked folks to think this through for themselves with one other person. the first time folks think and speak through this is usually powerful. many people of color, for example, spend our lives being called “minorities” and fighting for resources – it’s powerful to think of all the ways our culture is shaping the mainstream, the spaces in which we are actually the most powerful people in the room. it’s deep to acknowledge we are the world majority, and have been divided and conquered so successfully. it also helps to hear another person share, and realize just how trained our minds are to put people into boxes based on our perceptions, rather than staying open to their actual experiences and history.

C = communication. learning to communicate clearly, powerfully, at the right time, and from your own experience is a lifelong process. but the better you get at being able to actually communicate from a place of awareness, and understand how you want to be communicated to, the more powerful you can be as a member of your community both within your community, and when representing outside of your community. we had the participants get into affinity groups and think about assumptions and offenses often communicated TO their groups, and how other groups in the room could really communicate well with them for the temporary community of the week.

T = truth-n-reconciliation, both as a formal and informal process. we are going to post more about this process in the near future, but the depth of relationship and equity possible when both parties can bring their truth into the room, reconcile differences and past wrongdoings, and pre-empt future offenses and oppression – that depth is astounding, and illuminates what sustainable and self-determined communities really look like.

this is all old knowledge, old growth knowledge, wisdom that already exists in communities and is just waiting to be remembered.

a new friend, logan, then offered a consent process that helps to create a safe space around sex and sexuality – really important when we have folks going through very physical and interactive trainings.”

what do you think?