Tag Archive for 'emergent strategy'

the scale of epiphany

all of my adult life i’ve navigated depression. it doesn’t show up in obvious ways. but i know when it’s running the ship.

i lose touch with the miracle, the clarity, the deeper compassion that allows me to move through the world and it’s sharp edges. i notice myself getting drawn towards my favorite things that numb me, it gets foggy around me, hard to see clearly, hard to ask for what i need.

turning inward brings me back. sometimes it’s extreme – like i have to go all the way to where its darkest and find the little light.

often its just moving through cloud, gray, a heavy gray that resembles the nothing from Never Ending Story because that’s the formative threat-of-apocalypse narrative of my life.

the last us election sent me into the fog. i wrote and worked and drank and smoked and got all cranes in the sky…but…i couldn’t get away.

so i’ve been moving through. into the unknown. into my own not knowing, more precisely. some people may know what’s going to happen, i believe that they believe.

but i don’t know. and when i try to imagine beyond a certain point, there is static as often as vision these days. i think we’re in a crucial place of making a viable future, and we might not make a compelling case for ourselves. i believe we have all the potential. but are we willing to practice anything new?

i have been working with groups and movements i believe carry portions of an answer i can imagine living inside.

i’ve been slowing way down. no one likes this. everyone likes it in theory but they still want their things attended to. it’s OK. i got a turtle tattoo to whisper ‘go slow’ in my ear.

and Sunday i took the day off. not just from work, but from chores. i looked at piled dishes and travel laundry and unswept floors and said ‘it’s my day off. i am not doing you.’

i slept so well last night. woke up and read the Ursula le Guin rendition of the Tao te Ching. then i read several graphic novels, between calls for interesting work and the (super amazing exciting deep sweet awesome) new podcast i’m recording with autumn, which included a talk about our summer bodies. in the midst of that conversation i realized and remembered how much i’m loving my whole body these days.

i put on the trolls soundtrack and danced while cleaning the house. i checked in on my heart, my mind, my body, my spirit. i cared for myself in many ways, and planted several seeds for things i want to do/experience in the next few months. i made a gorgeous dinner and ate it on the back deck in my fanciest robe. i listened to Bruno Mars and Superfruit to intentionally let the music lift me.

i feel a fog dissipating, a fire burning. and again the small epiphany: oh, the balance between solitude and togetherness! oh, using the body feels good. oh, no is a compete sentence and emotion. oh. the miracles continue. even when we aren’t worthy, grateful, gracious or even aware. the miracle is the river that doesn’t stop.

Oh.

a few things I try to say to the children, without words

I am not here to surrender to mediocrity

I am not here to deny the many ways of being
or anyone else’s pain

I know the water flows around obstacles
and I know it can get stagnant sometimes, need the heat to raise it up, to move
up and over,
or the earth to swallow it up

I am here to love deeply, to love beyond my means, recklessly and then like the sun loves,
into the void, no favorites, only orbit

I have no bottom, I am not separate from hell or heaven, they are in me, they are in this world

I am learning to dance with every part of myself
to leave nothing to shame
to declare my love from the inner recess to the stars, light years pound out of my heart
make me visible to the nebulae I love

I am not leading, I am experiencing
earthworm chrysalis snake skin
and the pond where the geese rest on their journey

I am not mothering a child, but I am raising a way of being, nurturing inside myself
a liberated self
knowing one day it will cast aside everything I have known as me

I am a beautiful detritus-to-be,
a candle wick in the molten wax
just smitten with fire
as it changes everything in me
convincing me that everything, with a breath,
can change

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.

stagger

it helps to say that i’m on the edge of burnout. in the past i flew right by all the telltale signs and right into the flames, almost welcoming the rest that came when i relinquished all ability to live in my life.

right now i feel like i don’t want the rest that comes inside of, or post, burnout. i want to intentionally bring my attention to my well being, and make adjustments so that i can sustain. i want all of us who are tired to learn how to stagger our efforts with each other.

when i think of staggering, i think of geese migrating long distances, and how they take turns holding the lead position because it is the hardest labor. cutting against the wind, setting the direction, setting the pace – it’s maximum effort. we all need to hold that position sometimes, and we all need to fall back in the formation sometimes, in order to all make it, to collectively go all the way.

that means collectively paying attention to the signs of burnout.

my signs include feeling tired and irritable and uninspired to connect with others or engage new ideas. i recently found myself rewriting the words to that song “if you don’t know me by now”, adding the lyric “i may never ever want to know you.” crispy.

in groups i often see signs like flakiness and haphazard communications, constant conflict that people accept as inevitable, and a shape of power under – no one wanting to take responsibility for impact, everyone feeling like victims of the world, powerless to shape the future.

i’m naming this precarious personal state as an invitation to stagger. i recognize that i am not alone in my exhaustion and we all need to name how we are and what we need so we can sustain our efforts.

for now, if you don’t need me, let me rest. there are so many incredible people out there! i list many of them in Emergent Strategy, and there are lists of awesome people at Social Transformation Project, or this list Mia Henry just pulled together.

if you have energy to lead, i am down to follow and support.

free labor feels heavier right now, so if you just need information, consider picking the internet instead of my/others brains.

if you do need me, be gentle and spacious with it – urgency feels like a serrated knife right now.

i’m practicing emergent strategy and resting and stretching and taking my vitamins and hydrating and shifting my diet and adding turquoise and ceremony and easing my schedule and all the other unglamorous things which make it possible for me to give what i can right now, and give more as my cup fills back up.

it already feels better.

how does crying work?

last weekend i cried in front of people. i suspected it could happen – i was teaching a somatics course and was being vulnerable in front of the class.

it wasn’t just a few tears, it’s the kind of crying where you feel ugly and want to be smaller and picked up by someone who has the answers and will carry you back to some time before you knew adult suffering.

it doesn’t much matter what i started crying about, when it was time to be done, my tears were not done. they felt non-specific and available, like new thoughts, old memories and ongoing longings would float up in my mind and they also wanted tears.

the crying, the feelings made me pale and tired and prickly and pushy and honest without sweetness. thank octavia i love so many patient people, or i think i would truly have to go find the castaway/lost island and learn to open coconuts on rocks.

yesterday i was driving from one home to another and in a pause between two songs, more tears came, suddenly, strong enough that i pulled off at the next exit. my tears almost always come at the sharp point of a singular true thought – “this person is gone”, “i was thoughtless”, “someone scared my nibbling and i wasn’t there”, “why is my species suicidal?”, “i miss my grandparents”.

later i drove through a storm and finally, for the first time since crying in front of people, felt just right. lightning shot down bright fingers trying to scorch earth, thunder clapped and undulated overhead saying “wrong way, wrong way, turn around”, and the rain was so abundant.

i saw how you can’t rush the rain, can’t rush a storm.

i’ve been trying to rush through my amazing life, my own transitions, rushing to share everything i learn, rushing to be everywhere at once. leaving no time for big messy beautiful storms, for my rage, my overwhelm, my celebration.

tears are another way the body takes time. slows things down.

my body says: “slower.

slower.

know nothing, know nothing, just listen. no, listen. fill up your cup and then, maybe, pour into others.

slower.

it may even seem like you stop for a moment. slow like that.”

i spent time with my bestie-nibbling yesterday. she’s been in this world nine months now, and she is learning about crying, testing out her lungs and her discontent. we stepped onto her balcony and the rain had just cleared. her face was calming, a fat tear lingering on her cheek. she looked up in wonder and watched a flock of birds fly by us. i just watched her face, the full range of feeling there.

i want to live at this pace.

my face is wet, my breath is deeper, i’m catching up with myself. i want to really be here for my life.

i’m thinking of rewriting the tortoise and the hare as a shapeshifting story. with my body.

wave goes out, wave comes in

Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds went out into the world in late March. it felt like a wave moving through me, going out into the world, seeking shore and kin and possibility. in the subsequent almost two months, the wave has been flowing back in, so full of love.

wanted to share some of this with you. i’ve started gathering testimonials from folks on their thoughts as they read it here.

and then there’s the picture thing – people are taking the sweetest selfies with the book and posting them. i’ve been making collages of these pics and more flow in daily, and every day this makes me rest into this book as a work of many many people longing for and practicing being in right relationship with change and the planet and the future. here are the collages so far (and some event highlights):

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715BD81E-34CF-4FF0-85DE-D95E650134BB

60FD0A33-49B5-4371-AC0C-A27CAB0791A3

1AD8BBD5-F68A-4738-82D2-56427EDF9001

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IMG_4232

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IMG_4613

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y’all are absolutely gorgeous. all love!

the big thank you

Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds was the work of many many people and i wanted to properly thank them all. i wrote this book in several places so if i left you out of this list you just tell me and i will get you in here.

Rachel Plattus made my work come to life in the Emergent Strategy Handbook, so I commissioned five pieces from her for this book, they grace the cover pages of each section. she was also an early reader of the book.

Margaret Killjoy thank you for the beautiful layout which allowed all the kinds of things I wanted in the book to have their own place! and Herb Thornby for the cover of my dreams.

the entire team at Allied Media Projects, especially Nandi Comer and Toni Moceri for helping me adult, Monica Kish for keeping me out of jail, Mike Meadow and Jenny Lee for this political home, and Muna Danish for helping me create an online home for this work.

there were several people who took on the early work of reading and responding to the book drafts. some of them ended up sending editing notes that i just put verbatim into the book. others just made corrections in the clay as it spun. here is a list of those readers:

Autumn Brown
Clare Bayard
Celeste Faison
Dani McClain
Deborah Frieze
Hiram Rivera
Jodie Tonita
Michelle Mascarenhas-Swan
Omisade Burney-Scott
Rachel Plattus
Sage Crump
Shira Hassan
Staci Haines and Spenta Kandhawalla
Tunde Olaniran

and thank you Lorna at AK for the copy editss! there are the circle of readers who blurbed this book:

Alta Starr
Ayana Jamieson
Denise Perry
Elissa Perry
Makani Themba
Margaret Wheatley

and then there are the contributors, people i asked to gift me their poetry and reflections.

Adaku Utah
Adela Nieves
Aisha Shillingford
Aja Taylor
Alexis Pauline Gumbs
Allen Frimpong
Anna Martine Whitehead
Andrea Quijada
Ashinda Maxton
Autumn Brown
Ayana Jamieson
Beatriz Beckford
Bilen Birhanu
Brenda Salgado
Celeste Faison
chelsea cleveland
Chris Zizzamia
Chrislene DeJean
Cindy Weisner
Denise Perry
Dani McClain
Dara Cooper
Desiree Evans
Elizabeth Yeampierre
Hannah Sassaman
Harsha Walia
Holiday Simmons
Invincible ill Weaver
Jasmine Burnett
Jayeesha Dutta
Jay-Marie Hill
Jeanette Lee
Jesse Maceo Vega-Frey
Jidan Koon
Joan Morgan
Jodie Tonita
Jozi Zwerdling
Junauda Alma
Karen Joy Fowler
Karissa Lewis
Kasha Ho
Kat Aaron
Kiese Laymon
Laura Luna P
Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha
Luzviminda Carpenter
Lynnée Denise
Malkia Cyril
Manish Vidaya
Marie Varghese
Megan Swoboda
Mervyn Marcano
Morgan Bassichis
Naima Penniman
Nia Robinson
Nicole Newman
Omisade Burney-Scott
Patrisse Khan-Cullors
Peter Hardie
Prentis Hemphill
Richard Strozzi-Heckler
Sendolo Diaminah
Sham-e-ali Nayeem
Shane Bernardo
Sharon Lungo
Sierra Pickett
Sofia Samatar
Supriya Pillai
Taj James
Tananarive Due
Tawana Petty
Terry Marshall
Toshi Reagon
Tunde Olaniran
Vassi Johri

book in the world!

y’all!

Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds is out in the world! i downloaded it and read it on my phone.

IMG_3608

it’s been an incredible journey to this place and i’m enjoying the letting go, letting what i wrote and gathered just be in the world.

here’s everything there is to know about the book – where to get it, what kind of events are happening and the potential tour stops and how to book something. the book has lineage, principles, elements, interviews, spells, practices, and tools to put in use.

in the journey of the book i reached out to a lot of people to help me see the ways nature has shaped their organizing and their practice of emergent strategy. shorter responses are sprinkled throughout the book, but i also wanted to share these pieces, many of which are longer, nuanced explorations or conversations. so these are also up, as well as appendix materials and links referenced throughout the book.

my intention now is that you all use the book in whatever ways it serves.

enjoy ?????

post righteousness

it’s a gift when someone speaks their truth and you can see where they can grow and move in with love.

it’s a gift when you speak your own truth and others move in with love to show you where you can grow.

don’t forget that we learn to move by falling down a million times.

don’t forget you were taught most of the things you now believe and teach others.

don’t dispose of each other – turn and face the conversations we still need to have.

change and be changed.

p.s. be as gracious and rigorous as your mentors were/are. be an invitation. offer others the same compassion you need when you’re wrong.

now we can

I remember one time I was talking about how capitalism was failing and classmate-friend-teacher-organizer Mia Herndon said “capitalism is working exactly as it is meant to. in competition and constant growth, those who don’t compete, or who compete less viciously, suffer, serve and struggle.”

now it feels to some people like America is failing, like the people who said “make America great again” are confused. but this is the trajectory of nation states, of borders and white supremacy. deepening our anti-capitalist and post-nationalist analyses will help make this moment an opportunity.

also, saying “I told you so” in any way is tacky and diminishes the speaker, because saying is not enough if we don’t effectively organize to make our visions palpable and our strategies collective. so we knew “make America great again”, when uttered by white supremacists, was not harkening the racism of the 1980s, or even 1950s, but the era of chattel slavery that preceded and seeded our current prison system. we may have done our very best, but we did not organize effectively enough to have the power to stop this moment.

but now we can. this moment is our ledge, or choice point. we are as free as we choose to be. (baldwin)

now we can put a moratorium on shading and attacking other factions of movement on the internet (or in meetings, or with funders) and either choose to collaborate or ignore other efforts while still counting them as part of our own resistance momentum.

now we can look at each person, regardless of background or experience, as a potential comrade (butler) and figure out how we must transform ourselves to transform the dynamic (boggs) in the name of liberation. i have been practicing this in cabs – i’ve had three transformative conversations with drivers in the last three days – people just need one suggestion, one encouragement to question everything.

now we must look within ourselves and ask what actions we are willing to take, what interventions we are capable of, if we can will ourselves into honest conversations, if we believe in our visions enough to step towards them, if we are brave enough to assert the future we require and to shape it.

the other option is to survive for a while, pointing at the very sharp thing aimed at our hearts and getting closer by the minute.

adapt! dodge, weave, learn from the L, slip out of your ego, hold each other, scream the truth and keep moving towards life. everything is going fine in this realization of someone else’s imagination. but we dream another world, and we make it come true.