Archive for Liberation

Aug/12/14//Cynthia Silva Parker//Liberation, Power, Equity, Inclusion

Too serious? Never!

In my early days many of my friends called me too serious because of comments I would make about the racism and sexism in a Disney film or the rampant misogyny and conspicuous consumption in popular music. My kids still think so. But having come to see systems of oppression, it’s hard for me to “un-see” them when I turn to entertainment. Spoken word poet Madiha Bhatti puts out a powerful message. Much better to listen to the whole thing, but check out the refrain to whet your appetite!

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Jun/30/14//Cynthia Silva Parker//Featured, Liberation, Love, LoveLiberates, Power, Equity, Inclusion

Self-love Liberates

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is what the Community Healing Network (CHN), chaired by the late Dr. Maya Angelou, calls a “psychological freedom fighter.” The clip of Dr. King posted here is a portion of his 1967 speech, “Where do we go from here,” which is well worth reading or listening to in full.

The CHN describes the straightforward and deeply challenging struggle of black people (and I think it’s fair to say all people of color in some way) for psychological freedom from racism. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jun/23/14//Cynthia Silva Parker//Inspiration, Liberation, Love, LoveLiberates, Power, Equity, Inclusion

Love of her Many Identities

Check out the ways that love of her many identities frees up spoken word artist Jamila Lyiscott to be her full self. She reminds us that a  full, loving embrace of yourself and your cultures enables others to see you more fully and embrace all of your cultures, while it makes space for others to do the same for themselves. That’s change making at a personal level that can radiate outward to the entire community.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Jun/03/14//Danielle Coates-Connor//Liberation, Love, Power, Equity, Inclusion

Yuri Kochiyama: May 19, 1921 – June 1, 2014

Monday at our staff meeting Maanav Thakore called attention to Yuri Kochiyama’s passing. This post is a compilation of articles and media that honor her life and legacy.

yuri_060214-thumb-640xauto-10805 Read the rest of this entry »

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May/28/14//Danielle Coates-Connor//Inspiration, Liberation, Love, Power, Equity, Inclusion

Remembering Dr. Maya Angelou

I am grateful to have been loved and to be loved now and to be able to love, because that liberates. Love liberates. It doesn’t just hold—that’s ego. Love liberates. It doesn’t bind. Love says, ‘I love you. I love you if you’re in China. I love you if you’re across town. I love you if you’re in Harlem. I love you. I would like to be near you. I’d like to have your arms around me. I’d like to hear your voice in my ear. But that’s not possible now, so I love you. Go.’

- Maya Angelou

Today, May 28, 2014, the New York Times writes:

Maya Angelou, the memoirist and poet whose landmark book of 1969, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” — which describes in lyrical, unsparing prose her childhood in the Jim Crow South — was among the first autobiographies by a 20th-century black woman to reach a wide general readership, died on Wednesday in her home. She was 86 and lived in Winston-Salem, N.C.

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Apr/15/14//Gibrán Rivera//Cities, Liberation

The City: Time to Turn to One Another

At IISC we are orienting our selves towards the City.  These are the places where most human beings will live.  They are the theater of human struggle, and thus for liberation.  And as Jen points out, they just might be the key to sustainability.

blog_image_turntooneanother3

Inequality is tearing our society apart.  Oligarchy’s global claw back has been relentless, and potentially self-destructive.  We are governed by moneyed interests and the precariat have been abandoned.
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Apr/11/14//Gibrán Rivera//Liberation, Structural Transformation

Our Interior Condition

The structural vs. transformational debate is alive and well.  I’m glad that Curtis and Cynthia have been dipping back into it over the last few weeks.  It is good to start at the end: the answer is a both/and, it’s not a good idea to get stuck in binaries.

blog_mandela

The print pictured above captures it for me.  It is Nelson Mandela’s drawing of the view from his cell at Robben Island, where he was imprisoned for 30 years.

Take that in for a second.

Thirty years in jail for daring to stand up for freedom.

The print’s beauty is undeniable.

How is this perspective possible?

There was something in Mandela’s mind, something in his soul, that could not be subjugated.  Oppression doesn’t get more structural than four walls and a padlock.  But they could not take away his freedom.  This is the freedom that breaks chains.  It is the freedom that inspires the world and liberates a whole people.

Nelson Mandela is the icon that destroys the binary.  Structural and transformational integrate in his lifetime.

I agree with Curtis and Glanzberg that “The pattern most in need of shifting is not out there in the world, but in our minds.” And I agree with Cynthia that our mind changes when we become aware that others share in our condition and that our condition is the product of a very specific structure.

But there is something else happening here.

We have an interior condition.  This interior condition is significantly affected by our thinking, but it is more than our thinking.  This interior condition is significantly affected by our objective conditions, but it is more than our objective conditions.  This interior condition is profoundly individual, but it is greater than the individual – our interior is “inter-subjective.” We have a collective interior.

Bringing our care and attention to what is inside.  Nurturing, cultivating, developing, evolving what is inside.  Connecting to one another there.  Actively engaging a mutual awakening – that is the key to changing our thinking and to transforming our structures.  It is the next step to liberation.

 

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Mar/13/14//Curtis Ogden//Liberation, Networks

Networks and Articulating Needs

yourneedsAt last week’s gathering of the Tillotson Fund Community Practitioners Network, Carole Martin and I facilitated a session on network/multi-stakeholder engagement techniques.  This built upon some work we’ve been doing with the cohort around “positivity” practice, and the question of how, beyond individual practice, we can spread the increased capacity that positive emotions bring to groups, organizations, and networks.  To this end we explored some of the methods from Art of Hosting, and also engaged in some of the practices of Liberating Structures.  Our leading question was, What about the way in which we engage with one another can facilitate the best of what we have to offer to a shared endeavor? Read the rest of this entry »

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Mar/04/14//Gibrán Rivera//Featured, Liberation

Slow Down

Enjoy the Moment

I’m just getting back from a four-week sabbatical, a special gift from IISC after seven years of service.  I grew in leaps and bounds.  A lot of what been brewing inside of me for the last year or two started to come together in a powerful way.  My time off was anchored by a week-long, life changing, couples’ retreat in Mexico.

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Dec/06/13//Cynthia Silva Parker//Liberation

Honoring Madiba: Love comes more naturally

VIDEO LINK: South Africans speak to the Meaning of Mandela

We join the world in mourning the passing of Nelson Mandela; a giant of a man; the very embodiment of the intimate link between power, networks and love. His grace and humility was unrivaled, his insistence on reconciliation was an inspiration to millions. Read the rest of this entry »

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Oct/01/13//IISC//Liberation

When to speak up

The following post has been reblogged from Seth’s Blog. He is a genius and we hope you enjoy it as much as we did! 

“This plane is headed to Dallas. If Dallas isn’t your destination, this would be a great time to deplane.”

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Sep/20/13//IISC//Featured, Liberation

Resistance

The following is a letter by Akaya Windwood, President of the Rockwood Leadership Institute and member of the IISC Board of Directors. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did and don’t forget to join the conversation! 

We’ve been in the process of setting our direction here at Rockwood. We’re looking at our purpose, our vision, and how we will fulfill our commitments to the world. It’s been an enlivening and satisfying exploration, and as a result, it has become clear that I need to radically shift my role from one of internal management to external relationship building.

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Aug/20/13//Gibrán Rivera//Featured, Liberation

Principles to Live By

The following pst has been reblogged from our dear friend Adrienne Maree. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did. 

Adrienne Maree Brown outlines core principles to live by.  I find these powerfully resonant and I continue to invite us into greater intentionality in our practices for creating a new world. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jun/25/13//Gibrán Rivera//Featured, Liberation

Emergence

I’m sharing another great piece from my dear friend Adrienne Maree Brown.  I am absolutely moved by the way she speaks of emergence.  She is spot on.  As you read, I encourage you to remember that evolution “transcends and includes.”  There are aspects of our industrial paradigm that can and should be included as we move towards working with emergence.  How can you apply what Adrienne is talking about?

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Feb/12/13//Gibrán Rivera//Liberation, Networks

Conditions for Emergence

The following comments was posted by Gibran as a response to Curtis Ogden‘s Collective Impact and Emergence blog post.  In it we are challenged to think beyond our institutions and think about how to truly impact the communities we work with. 

This is excellent Curtis. It brings me back to one of our most important inquiries – how do you nurture the conditions for emergence? With this inquiry, we are not just saying that emergence happens; we are saying that our best approach is to nurture it. It is a significant shift from a more top-down technical approach.

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Feb/06/13//Curtis Ogden//Liberation, Networks

Collective Impact and Emergence

I have appreciated the growing literature around what has been called “collective impact.”  These writings from staff at FSG have certainly helped people around the country engaged or aspiring to engage in collaborative multi-organizational change work to develop shared language around some of the important underpinnings of walking this path.  I have also voiced some concerns about what is NOT mentioned in these writings, including some of the critical process elements and experiences that are core to this work.

So I am heartened that in their most recent installment, “Embracing Emergence: How Collective Impact Addresses Complexity,” the authors recognize that Collective Impact is not simply a recipe to be followed and that its unique unfolding is part of its power.   Read the rest of this entry »

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Jan/30/13//Curtis Ogden//Liberation

Coming Down For Justice

My colleague Cynthia and I are in the midst of delivering IISC’s newest course, Fundamentals of Facilitation for Racial Justice Work, here in Springfield, Massachusetts.  Together with a group of dynamic and committed change agents, we are engaged in hands-on exploration of a variety of process and content tools so that we are able to better serve as facilitators towards the ends of racial equity and justice.  Part of our discussions today will focus on how we can maintain our center amidst triggering situations and use our identities to advance the work. Read the rest of this entry »

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Apr/13/12//Gibrán Rivera//Liberation

The Coalition of No

I am a big fan of Seth Godin. But this particular post seems to be extra relevant! Those of us that are working for justice too often get caught up in the dead-end negativity he describes.  But thankfully we are also at a moment of transition!  And more and more of us are stepping boldly into the future with a passionate and resounding YES!

 See what you think.

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Mar/29/12//Curtis Ogden//Liberation

Are We Really Thinking?

“A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.”

~ David Bohm

The great theoretical physicist David Bohm was known for his explorations at the intersections of science and mysticism.  His writings on the nature of thinking have helped to inform some of the current conversations about deeper sources of innovation that transcend individuals and what typically passes for creativity.  His question to all of us is whether we are truly thinking, creating “new sensory orders and structures that form into new perceptions,” or simply recycling old, dysfunctional patterns that are then reflected in the world we physically inhabit.

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Mar/21/12//Curtis Ogden//Liberation

Who Do We Think We Are?

“Ontology transcends interest.”

-john a. powell

At last week’s Transforming Race conference, Kirwan Institute founder john a. powell gave a powerful and compelling presentation about some of the false binaries that he says we have embraced in this country, to our own collective detriment.  This includes pitting “whiteness” against “blackness” and “public” vs. “private” spaces in such a way as to lose sight of the larger game that is happening around us.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Nov/29/11//Gibrán Rivera//Inspiration, Liberation

Horizontal

“Stamp [the facilitator] jumped up and down. Her voice was hoarse from three hours of yelling. ‘Everyone is beautiful!’ she shouted. ‘Everyone is awesome!’

That’s some hard core facilitation.  I am struck, profoundly affected by, what is happening in our country.  I am inspired.  I am moved.  I have a deep sense of resonance.

“[T]he point of Occupy Wall Street is not its platform so much as its form: people sit down and hash things out instead of passing their complaints on to Washington. ‘We are our demands,’ as the slogan goes.”

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Nov/21/11//Cynthia Silva Parker//Featured, Liberation

Council of Elders stands with #OWS

The Acting Steering Committee list reads like a who’s who among U.S. civil rights and social justice activists: James Lawson, Vincent Harding, Dolores Huerta, Nelson Johnson Joyce Johnson, Mel White, John Fife, Phil Lawson, Arthur Waskow, Grace Lee Boggs, Joan Chittister, George Tinker, Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons, Bernice Johnson Reagan, Marian Wright-Edelman.

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Oct/11/11//Gibrán Rivera//Liberation

Solidarity with Occupy Boston

More than one hundred Occupy Boston activists were arrested last night for acts of civil disobedience.  We stand in solidarity with this local expression of the growing national effort to expose the economic injustices that have come to plague our democracy.  Please contribute legal aid to Occupy Boston – donate here.

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Oct/11/11//Gibrán Rivera//Liberation

A Different Stance

Photo By: Zach

We take stances.  Some are weak, some are empowered.  Most often, they are habitual.  There are stances that have powerfully served us but might no longer be helpful.  These might be our habitual stances, our automatic postures, our best known ways of reacting.  It is important to become conscious about our stance. To be awake as we take a stance.  To loosen the grips of our habit.  To make room for new possibilities.

Adrienne Maree Brown, my dear friend and colleague and one of the facilitator’s I most admire, wrote a beautiful post about her visit to #occupywallstreet.  She invites us to consider our stance.  It is re-posted here:

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Oct/05/11//IISC//Featured, Liberation

I, too, sing America

I too, sing America

I am the darker brother.

They send me to eat in the kitchen

When company comes,

But I laugh,

And eat well,

And grow strong.

Tomorrow,

I’ll be at the table

When company comes

Nobody’ll dare

Say to me,

“Eat in the kitchen,”

Then.

Besides,

They’ll see how beautiful I am

And be ashamed –

I, too, am America.

~Langston Hughes

I write this on a train to New York City, after a whirlwind half-weekend in the nation’s capital a/k/a Chocolate City.  My time spent in DC is always edifying — good for my soul. Monday, I attended the opening day of what I expect will be a history making event – the Take Back the American Dream Conference 2011, sponsored by the Campaign for America’s Future and the Institute for America’s Future. Read the rest of this entry »

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Oct/04/11//Gibrán Rivera//Featured, Liberation

My visit to #occupywallstreet

I made it out to #occupywallstreet last Friday night.  Here is how my experience unfolded:

1.  Culture Shock

I’m into showers, they’re not.  I’m in my mid-thirties, grew up in a working class Puerto Rican community and I’ve been yupified over the years.  I didn’t see a lot of people of color and I wasn’t feeling the vibe.  I wondered how people from my community could ever make a link to this crowd.  I was welcomed to walk around, curiously browsing, checking out the scene, the art and the people.

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Sep/29/11//Gibrán Rivera//Featured, Liberation

The Evolution of Revolution

The whole globe is shook up, so what are you going to do

when things are falling apart? You’re either going to become

more fundamentalist and try to hold things together or you’re

going to forsake the old ambitions and goals and live life as an

experiment, making it up as you go along.

-Pema Chödrön

I’m blown away by #occupywallstreet.  And I am thrilled by the conversation it has unleashed – sometimes amused, sometimes frustrated and often moved.  I’ll be at Liberty Plaza this Friday.

I’m appreciating the political discussion, the strategic questions, the desire for racial inclusion in this emergent process.  However this turns out, it is way bigger than a protest.  Something is changing, Kevin Kelly points to it: Read the rest of this entry »

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Sep/20/11//Gibrán Rivera//Featured, Liberation

Occupy Wall Street

Photo By: Procrastinations

I spend a lot of my time plotting the next revolution.  Considering what it will take to usher forth the next movement.  Preparing myself to participate.  Sifting through the preconceptions of what movement has to look like.  Calling forth the evolution of revolution itself.  Instigating, prodding, inviting, conspiring, hoping.

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Aug/26/11//IISC//Liberation

Reflections Unheard: Black Womyn in Civil Rights

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Aug/09/11//Gibrán Rivera//Featured, Liberation

Which Way to Zion?


I am honored to be part of a listserv called “The Gamechangers Salon,” there is brilliance and passion in it.  There is also a lot of anger these days, particularly given recent events in Washington.  Following is my recent contribution to the conversation, coincidentally, my colleague Cynthia Silva Parker, just wrapped up her blog series on Power & Privilege with a post on Pursuing – something in the air at IISC!  Here is my post:

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Jun/27/11//Cynthia Silva Parker//Liberation

Power and Privilege: Walking the Walk

Spurred on by my colleague, Jen Willsea, I recently submitted a piece for the “Walk the Talk” zine/book project. The organizers describe the project as being about “exploring power and exploitation in nonprofit organizations, alignment of our work with our vision, and what role nonprofits have in radical social transformation…[because] even in the most grassroots and progressive organizations, working on the most radical issues, we may find a deep dissonance between the world we want to create, and what it is like to be working in the organization day-by-day. Read the rest of this entry »

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May/25/11//Curtis Ogden//Liberation

Elephants on Strings (and Other Mind Tricks)

A friend recently relayed the following story about how some baby elephants are tamed, for cirucuses and other forms of work. As part of its training, the baby is tied it to a steel stake in the ground, strong enough to prevent it from breaking free when it tries to do so. Eventually, the elephant will give up and stop trying to escape.  I imagine that this is not the complete story, but keeping with this trajectory . . .  At a certain point, the trainer can replace the steel stake with a smaller wooden one, despite the fact that it would never hold the elephant if it tried to break free.  An elephant trained to believe that the stake is strong will not try to break loose and run. Read the rest of this entry »

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Apr/18/11//Gibrán Rivera//Liberation

Barr Fellows in Vieques

Photo by: i-loot-i

I write from vacation in Puerto Rico, my place of origin.  I am amazed by the fact that I left when I was 12 but the place still feels like home – in a very deep way.  I’m on vacation after facilitating a retreat for the Barr Fellows Class of 2009 in Vieques, PR.  It was a phenomenal experience, certainly for me but most importantly for the Fellows.

I have witnessed the significant deepening of relationships among these fellows since they first came together as a cohort during on our learning journey to Brazil in June of 2009.  We have had a number of retreats and events since, some as a class, some with the larger network of Barr Fellows.   At this mid-way point through their three-year process (though their being part of the network has no formal end), it becomes absolutely moving to witness powerful shifts towards greater possibility. Read the rest of this entry »

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Apr/12/11//Gibrán Rivera//Liberation

Form follows Function

Photo by: Phoester

I was inspired to write this post after reading and seeing the pictures on this post on Bureaucratics:  A  Global Portrait of Red Tape

Bureaucrats get a bad rap.  Which is not always fair.  They do serve an important purpose.  If you’ve been to Singapore, you find they can be so efficient it is almost exciting.  However, I do think it is important to take a critical look at organizational form.  We have to pay attention to the way we structure ourselves when we aim to do things together. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jan/31/11//IISC//Facilitative Leadership, Liberation

Breaking Out of Binaries

CommunityPhoto by: Dionyziz

Akaya Windwood, President of the Rockwood Leadership Institute is among the newest members of the IISC Board of Directors, the following are her reflections:

I’ve just about had it with the vitriol and saber-rattling lately. Our world cannot sustain much more bellowing from those on one end of a spectrum at those on the other, with no room for nuance, ambiguity or the unknown. Enough!

So much of our current day “discourse” is framed (at least in the mainstream media) by discussions of who is right/wrong, right/left, bad/good, holy/evil. As long as we are limited to these extremes, we will be doomed to the tyranny of righteousness and posturing. This will not, and cannot, sustain us.

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Jan/27/11//IISC//Liberation

State of Union

incite-jambo

Following is a repost by angel Kyodo williams, originally published in Transform, from the Center for Transformative Change.

Resolution for Revolution

Each January, whether formal or informal, uttered or silent, many of us resolve to do something different for the coming new year. We commit to starting some things and finishing others. We put plans into motion, we reassess, reevaluate and take stock of the life that we have and where we want it to be.

In two weeks, as President of the United States, Barack Obama will issue the State of the Union, as is constitutionally required “from time to time,” reporting on the condition of the country and setting forth his legislative agenda — resolutions for the nation — for 2011. Likewise, as a Movement of Peoples United in striving for a just and equitable world, we should require of ourselves a reflection upon the state of our union as we reconsider and reset our course for change in this new year. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jan/17/11//Cynthia Silva Parker//Liberation

Between Hope and a Hard Place

earth-hope1

In her keynote address at Boston’s Martin Luther King, Jr. breakfast, Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry invited us to consider the meaning of Dr. King’s 1967 book, Where do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community (excerpt here) at in this political moment. She reminded us what was going on in 1966, as Dr. King wrote. The Freedom Movement had achieved many legal and legislative victories by then, (Brown vs. Board of Education supporting school desegregation and the Voting Rights Act to name just a few). The Movement and its victories created justifiable hope that the lives of people on the margins of our society could improve. At the same time, poverty and racism still created the need for continued struggle. By 1966-67, many felt their hope was no longer justifiable in the face of violent backlash and intractable injustices. In the face of withering criticism including charges of cowardice, Dr. King continued to urge the country toward community rather than chaos, without shrinking back from the justice issues before him. Read the rest of this entry »

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Nov/30/10//Gibrán Rivera//Liberation

We don’t have a leader!

gary-kelley-latino-jazz

We are so lucky!  The Pew Hispanic Center just published a report titled “National Latino Leader? The Job is Open,” and it seems we can’t agree on who is our leader.  The report seems to lift this as an area of concern, “national leadership” has often been helpful for groups facing injustice.  A down economy and anti-immigrant fervor make this a particularly difficult time for our community – so shouldn’t we be worried that we don’t have a leader? Read the rest of this entry »

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Nov/15/10//Gibrán Rivera//Liberation

The Abundant Community

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Nov/02/10//Gibrán Rivera//Liberation

An Extraordinary Episode

vote

Vote Today! It does matter.  But you probably already knew that.  I’m down on the state these days.  And I don’t mean Massachusetts.  I mean “the state,” the dominant organizing structure for human affairs.  But I still think we should vote – wield some of the influence we have. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sep/08/10//Linda Guinee//Liberation

Hitting Refresh

Just yesterday in a meeting of the Senior Associates at the Interaction Institute for Social Change, Gibrán Rivera made a comment about the ways in which being too fixed with an identity prevent us from getting to a place of liberation.  I’ve heard him talk about this before – and am challenged by it every time he says it.

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Jun/21/10//Gibrán Rivera//Liberation

USSF!

USSF

It’s happening! Tens of thousands of people are just arriving in Detroit for what is an incredibly important and incredibly hopeful gathering – The United States Social Forum.  It feels like all my friends are there and while conflicting responsibilities will keep me in Boston this week, I do want to send a blessing to all the courageous souls that are busy dreaming up new ways of being with each other. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mar/24/10//Linda Guinee//Liberation

Writing a Theory of Liberation

At the 2008 White Privilege Conference, I went to a workshop on Critical Liberation Theory, led by Barbara Love, Keri DeJong, Christopher Hughbanks, Joanna Kent Katz and Teeomm Williams.? I was re-reading the piece they gave out at that workshop, talking about the ways that we can each take daily actions toward liberation.? This, they suggested, requires first clearly articulating our own theory of liberation, through which we can then build a praxis of liberation – daily work that brings us in the direction of liberation itself.? They talked of the need to know fully where you’re coming from (understanding oppression), but to look forward toward liberation.  Otherwise, they described it as if one were leaving on a car trip from Massachusetts to drive to California while looking out the back window instead of looking at the road ahead.

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Mar/02/10//Gibrán Rivera//Featured, Liberation

Love, Freedom and Community

Part 2 of 2, go here for Part 1

In her essay, hooks reminds us of the very purpose of struggle as Dr. King himself defined it: “the end is reconciliation, the end is redemption, the end is the creation of beloved community.” She herself states that “we best learn love as the practice of freedom in the context of community.” We are not alone in this struggle, and there is no aspect of freedom that implies the loosening of our accountability to one another, the call to accountability is actually heightened by freedom.

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Feb/23/10//Gibrán Rivera//Liberation

Love and Freedom

Part 1 of 2, go here for Part 2.

Love as the practice of freedom has been on my mind these days.  My good friend Cyndi Suarez, who is the co-director of Northeast Action, recently shared a bell hooks essay by the same title – I appreciated Cyndi’s e-mail:

“I was thinking today on just how much social change movements reflect the dominant culture.  I just finished rereading an old-time favorite essay by bell hooks and had to share it with you. I feel it is as pertinent now as when I first read it 15 years ago.  I wonder what would change if at least some of us focused on building love rather power.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Feb/16/10//Gibrán Rivera//Liberation

V-Day 2010

VDaylogo1

I know I’m coming late to the party, but I saw the Vagina Monologues for the first time this weekend and I was blown away by it.  Rather than writing yet another raving review of what evidently is a deeply moving work of art, I want to make a comment on the movement that it has unleashed.

I saw the play as produced by MIT undergraduate students who did it in concert with thousands of others around the world – I think it most appropriate to let V-Day speak for itself: Read the rest of this entry »

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Jan/26/10//Gibrán Rivera//Liberation

Don’t Get Yourself Isolated

Only Connect

I was intrigued by the title of Mark Danner’s recent opinion in the New York Times, “To Heal Haiti, Look to History, Not Nature.”  And I could not help making a connection to the recent “Che” movie I just watched.  The Cuban and Haitian revolutions took place during very different historical periods, but both victories were a refusal to accept destiny as prescribed by the ruling world order of their time.

And each time the dominant world order responded with the same strategy – a policy of isolation.

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Nov/06/09//IISC//Liberation

More on Less is More

Once again, I’m trumpeting the truth that, yes folks, less IS more.

In his July 2005 Ted Talk, psychologist Barry Schwartz takes aim at a central tenet of western societies: freedom of choice. In Schwartz’s estimation, choice has made us not freer but more paralyzed, not happier but more dissatisfied.

Instead of boosting our self-esteem, enhancing the quality of  our choices and promoting self-actualization and civility, this expert on the links between economics and psychology claim is that it yields:

1. Paralysis, not liberation.

2.  Dissatisfaction with the choice made (because the known options make it easier to regret the option you choose against ). Read the rest of this entry »

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Oct/23/09//IISC//Liberation

My Prophetic Tradition

In a March 2009 post in their now retired blog, Kitchen Table, Princeton’s Melissa Harris Lacewell (Professor of Politics and African American Studies) and Yolanda Pierce (Professor of Literature and African American Religion) engage in a conversation about the Black Church prophetic tradition.  Other than the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  it is possible that the recent controversies surrounding the widely respected and widely reviled  Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright have been the ways in which most Americans have even come close to truly understanding what this one of so many beloved contribution of African Americans to social justice, theology and Christianity is all about.

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Aug/24/09//Gibrán Rivera//Liberation

The Gathering for Justice

I just had the unbelievable privilege of facilitating the leadership convening of the Gathering for Justice at the Stone House in North Carolina.  The experience left me with a powerful sense of being “on purpose” of doing precisely what I’m supposed to be doing in the world.  I can only wish that more of us have that experience as we go about our work and our lives.  There is more to say than I could possibly capture with a single blog post, but I’m not speaking in hyperbole when I tell you that this is the closest I have come to the potentiality of real movement.

The Gathering looks at juvenile incarceration not just as an issue, but as moral calling (this article just out today in the New York Times and if you are outraged, be sure to check out CJNY).  Incarcerating our children is a counter-evolutionary move, it is indicative of a systems break down at the heart of our society.  So the Gathering is not just about a compelling issue, it is about a daring to rethink how we go about movement. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jun/17/09//Linda Guinee//Liberation, Social Media

Scooter Reflections on Social Media Plus – the Sequel

First things first! We learned last night that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has approved the nominations of Bonnie Jenkins as State Department Coordinator of Threat Reduction Programs (an Ambassador level position) and Eric Schwartz as Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration. IISC has worked closely with both Bonnie (currently at the Ford Foundation) and Eric (currently at Connect US) for a number of years and send our congratulations! Both are highly qualified and deeply connected to the community of nonprofits working on foreign policy and peace and security. Very good news. Now, onto the full Senate for confirmation!

As for reflections on social media, there’s a new Clay Shirky TED video describing the shifts based on the new forms of media – the ways that new media allows for a whole new many-to-many communication. He gives examples of the ways the Chinese government has tried to maintain control (in new ways). He also talks about the Obama campaign demonstrating a new way of operating – encouraging and allowing for participation on its website even when the views and organizing were going against Obama’s position. Take a look:

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May/21/09//Linda Guinee//Liberation

Writing a Theory of Liberation

At the 2008 White Privilege Conference, I went to a workshop on Critical Liberation Theory, led by Barbara Love, Keri DeJong, Christopher Hughbanks, Joanna Kent Katz and Teeomm Williams. I was recently re-reading the piece they gave out at that workshop. Their workshop talked about the ways that we can each take daily actions toward liberation. This, they suggested, requires first clearly articulating our own theory of liberation, through which we can then build a praxis of liberation – daily work that brings us in the direction of liberation itself. I was remembering that during their workshop, they talked of the need to know fully where you’re coming from (understanding oppression), but to look forward toward liberation. Otherwise, they described it as if one were leaving on a car trip from Massachusetts to drive to California while looking out the back window instead of looking at the road ahead.

Rereading this, I started trying to think about how to actually articulate a theory of liberation. What would be in it? And I began to see that while I know what I don’t want, the vision of liberation is a little more challenging for me. This, I’m sure, is the legacy of internalized oppression, internalized supremacy and white privilege. The system has put limits on my ability to fully see what liberation looks like, and I’ve internalized these limitations. I know bits and pieces, but a clear articulation seems a bit of a challenge. So I’m making the commitment to start really attending to this in my life, to a clear articulation of my theory of liberation so that I can start taking daily actions toward its realization.

At the same time, I began thinking of Damali Ayo’s piece on five things white people can do and five things people of color can do to end racism. At her workshops on racism, she was constantly getting requests from people wanting to know what they could do. So she sent a request to her mailing list asking people to send in five things white people and/or people of color can do to end racism. About 2000 people responded and she condensed it into a guide (the Fix It Guide).

So I started wondering what would happen if we did a similar thing here – put it out there and ask you: what would be included in your theory of liberation?

Here are some random thoughts from a long plane trip I took yesterday – please add!

  • relationships and society would be demonstrations of fairness and equity
  • sustainability would be demonstrated in all our actions
  • love and compassion would be at the root of our thinking and our actions – and would help guide our creativity
  • all people would be able to fully participate in and have voice about decisions which affect their lives (directly or indirectly)
  • all people would be able to express their full humanity and potential
  • community would be fundamental

What would you add (or subtract or change)?

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May/12/09//Gibrán Rivera//Liberation

Shared Liberation

I’m proud of us, we are just getting started, but I’m still proud of us. The IISC staff just wrapped up four facilitated days (over a number of months) on the question of race and oppression and how these affect our organization and our work. The conversation wasn’t always easy and no one believes the rest of the process will be easy either, and yet we know that we are committed and I think that fact came through. We have so many ways of looking at this thing, so many stories, experiences, wounds, reactions, aspirations, hopes, demands and dreams – but there was one thing that was clear, and that’s that we are ready to shift.

I feel like I’ve had such a long and contentious relationship with this topic, like race consciousness helped me to become more free me but it has also been a lens that held me back. I’m still grappling with it, and I’m evolving as it does, but it feels good to do this work in the context of IISC. I know that here we can make headway and wherever we succeed we will be able to give forward to the people that we serve.

I’m looking forward to making the right structural adjustments, and to helping develop a space where we can all do our own work while also tending to the collective that we are. I’m looking forward to doing those things that we know work as well as to finding new approaches that will allow us to innovate in this field. I am looking forward to an expansion of my own heart in this process, to holding the awareness that we live in a social context where oppression still strives while also reaching forward to the liberation that must also become mine.

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