a big day, and an even bigger birthday for grace lee boggs

deliriously tired – what a day!

today i premiered my facilitation for truth and reconciliation workshop and it was so deep and enjoyable the feedback was wonderful, i can see how to improve and extend it, and am starting to be looped into a new world of folks who share an interest in this way of applying the ideas of truth and reconciliation to every day life.

then ran around like crazy until the closing keynote, which featured nada elia and andy smith and myself as speakers on ACTION. they were incredible, i was just laughing and smiling and moved. then naomi got up to report on the kids track – she was very serious about being on stage, seeing backstage, and having the mic at the right height. i actually got tears in my eyes at the work they’d been up to – creating a zine and going on outdoor learning experiences. diana show-n-telled about the media track outcomes, at which point someone walked in with a massive antennae created during the conference. jenny talked about the new components forming, including a spanish language track and an indigenous track! things ended in a cypher that was a chance for all the artists in the room to reflect on the weekend.

while the cypher was still happening i had to run out of the keynote and get to the start of the ussf planning meeting, which lasts from now until tuesday. it’s going to be good solid work. we’re using all kinds of high tech and low tech tools, and it is great to work with this facilitation team to help hold the space for organizers from all over the country to set a shared political context and plan for greater impact than an event.

tonight i got to attend grace lee bogg’s 94th birthday celebration – this one was even bigger than the first, by about 500 people, one of whom was danny glover. and once again shea put me on the spot to sing happy birthday and once again i was overjoyed 🙂 the room was packed and hot and happy. people spoke about the massive impact grace has had on their lives, smiles and applause and singing and stories abounded, and it was really a convergence of my detroit folks and the ussf family and the beautiful spent amc folks. as well as my sister and my completely enthralling nephew, who was in total meltdown mode. we spent much of the time going up and down stairs.

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the one shadow over my weekend is that i responded publicly to someone who chose an inappropriate time, space and approach to indirectly attack someone i love, and cast doubt on the AMC process for planning the keynote. you know when someone is trying to say something that’s on point, but does it in a way that tears someone down instead of lifting everyone’s consciousness up? generally, i care enough to have compassion for people who act in divisive ways, and can at least ignore them. my ego as a conference organizer who had poured so much time and energy into pulling the event off got fluffed up. it’s back down now, and the shadow is gone.

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my nephew has been the most incredible thing about this weekend. he has come to almost every single space with me and my sister, and he is an amazing and lively and intelligent spirit. he figures things out right before my eyes, has no fear, can easily let go of something bad if something better comes along, and is simply more interesting that adults to me. the weight of him is sacred, his furnace heat when he falls to sleep to lullabies is like sunlight, he has golden hair with a little afro-kitchen up the back, and when he smiles i start laughing uncontrollably.

i have so much respect for his mother, my sister. the level of attention and creative energy that he demands is unlike any other job i have even done, even temporarily. her commitment to radical mothering is fierce! yay to all mothers 🙂

ok now my eyes are literally crossed. off to bed!

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?