Tag Archive for 'Allied Media Projects'

reflections post #amc2017 (movement. crissle. emergent strategy.)

movement reflections post #amc2017:

we must build each other up.

conflict is generative if we engage in transparent, direct, emotionally honest communication. the rest is a waste of time and a dragging weight on movement.

we must hold each other’s impossible stories with gentleness.

we’re all learning and doing our best.

we must stand/be next to each other and share the risk and effort of stepping/moving out of the status quo towards liberation.

*

me-eee aa-and crissle, crissle west:

i got a teensy taste of what famous feels like (because amc IS emergent strategy so everyone at home base had the book) and it was pretty overwhelming. now granted, i wore a catsuit with a tail on it for the opening, a very leo move for this virgo. but by hour three i promised myself not to put anyone on any pedestals ever again.

but then i saw crissle from the read on the closing panel and she was so funny and lovely and smart and great. i would have romantic intentions towards crissle but she’s publicly said she isn’t into boobs (or any non-studs really), and i respect her self knowing, so i know our relationship would be challenged.

but i immediately wanted her to feel my gratitude for her existence. her graciousness with my fumbling hellos and requests for a picture was good teaching to me to just let it flow and keep it moving. she immediately did something awkward and cute and i was tongue tied and danced away cause there isn’t much to do with an intellectual crush in a loud bar.

*

emergent strategy exercise premier:

i wanted to premier an emergent strategy exercise at #amc2017 that was built live. here’s what emerged, feel free to use, remix, share!

1. i reviewed the elements of Emergent Strategy, as well as the lineage.

2. i had people get in circles of four.

3. i had people reflect on which elements they already feel at ease with, or expert in. each person got two minutes to share their expertise. they could also share silence if that felt right.

4. i overheard people naysaying their wisdom and made an adaptation of not wasting time denying your knowing.

5. once everyone went, we did learner affirmations – each person got one minute of appreciation, reflections from the other three on what they learned. that way everyone had to admit they knew and had taught something.

6. then we increased the pressure. it was suddenly apocalyptic conditions and they had to figure out survival priorities and skills as a team. 7 minutes.

7. next we did a silent assessment of how well the group upheld emergent strategy under pressure (thumbs up/down/neutral on each element, looking at each other)

we closed with open discussion on what we learned.

*

i’m feeling so grateful for ill and our long friendship, the outstanding closing ritual (that song is in my head) and our work at Detroit Narrative Agency, for jenny, mike, muna, mo and oren for the film we’re creating for AMP’s 20 year anniversary next year, and for my sister autumn, who encouraged me to rest and thrilled me during our first podcast recording session. it was also incredible to be at #amc2017 with the babies of my life ones meeting each other and the extended family.

love bursting.

Notes, Writing Sci Together

Writing Sci-Fi Together

Today I got the honor, blessing, geek-out of getting to jump in on the Writing Sci-Fi workshop with Walidah Imarisha, my co-editor for Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction from the Movement (a real book that’s coming out next year!!!)

She crafted a brilliant agenda and we had an incredible time. I wanted to share some notes with you:

What is visionary fiction and radical sci-Fi?

From Facilitators:
– it explores current social issues
– it’s conscious of race, class, gender, sexuality, ability, identity and power, and explores intersecting identities
– supports change from the bottom up
– it moves or places power in the hands of the oppressed
– not neutral…the purpose is social change

Other brilliant ideas, from participants:
– it offers us a way to test drive responses to issues
– gives us freedom to break life’s stereotypes
– makes us question ‘what is human?’
– it’s revolutionary, versus reactionary
– let’s us imagine a new society, and new solutions
– post-colonial
– makes the perspectives of oppression palatable to folks who otherwise couldn’t grasp it

we had folks read an excerpt from Derrick bell’s space traders short story as an example of radical science fiction, and then break into four groups and build stories together, mapping out characters, setting, backdrop and conflict.

here are four synopses from the breakout groups! we hope you agree they are fantastic :)

1) Checkpoint Apocalypse: Robots are defending borders in an apocalypse where we no longer have nations. All families are required to donate a child to be robotized. Our character is on a quest to find his robot sibling after his parents die, only to find that his sibling wants to turn him into a robot too!

2) Smash Patriarchy: The main character in smash patriarchy is a gender nonconfirming alien who crash lands in the tent city of the oppressed – queer and trans, poc, immigrants – around the Washington Monument where they have been displaced by the new ruling majority (white women who feel the revolution is done now that they have “smashed patriarchy.”) The white women in charge want to co opt the alien who is old and the alien has to decide whom to align with.

3) the Constructs: main character is a tenant in an animate building in a world where everything is alive and shifting. The building doesn’t want the tenant anymore because she and her intimate are always fighting. dialogue includes: woman: “you’re a construct.” building, “YOU’RE a construct!!!”

4) Quanta: living in a world with the Earth is emitting a numbing agent that dulls human senses so they will no longer be driven to destroy each other and her. the dream world is the only place where people still experience their senses. quanta, our lead character, is able to be in two places at once and she is working in the dream and waking world to help humans evolve so that they can have their senses and be in harmony with planet.

folks shared stories and got applause. we were amazed by each other!!

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.

:)