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.
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.
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.