The Interaction Institute for Social Change invites you to join a National Call to Action for Unity and Dialogue after the U.S. elections. From the moment the election is settled, we call for a peaceful response from Americans, and from people all over the globe, to the results.
We call for a national conversation in living rooms, workplaces, boardrooms, schools, and government offices to foster healingfrom the divisions that have been deepened by this election, and to explore the common ties that bind us.
We call on Americans to explore with honesty and empathy the role that race, gender, and immigrant status played in this election to create a powerful wedge in our communities. We ask for commitments and plans to remove this wedge, which for too long has deeply threatened, burdened, and dismantled our democracy. It has fostered violence and death and a loss of opportunity and personal dignity. It has constructed glass ceilings and prevented our children from realizing their full human potential.
We call on Americans to talk to each other and not at each other. The use of social media in this election has perpetuated the false notion that we cannot talk to one another or understand one another across differences or party affiliation. This is not true. In the right places with the right facilitation, we can have meaningful and healing dialogue. Unity is not agreement; it is a decision to stand firmly as Americans to embrace ideas and opinions different from our own, and to disagree peaceably in order to foster understanding and better solutions.
We call all Americans into “Big Democracy” – the belief that the public is fully capable of working together to create sustainable, just, and equitable communities. We can provide peaceful ways for the public to come together and – as professor and social activist Carl S. Moore says – “struggle with traditions that bind them and the interests that separate them so they can build a future that is an improvement on the past.” We can create these conditions with shared leadership and shared responsibility, and with the power of love that resides deeply within each one of us.
With this National Call to Action, we call on all Americans to shift the conversation about what is possible. We call on all Americans to communicate, demonstrate, and create places of experimentation to show that it is possible for the public to come together to solve problems and create change.
So many great podcasts, so little time to talk about them with friends. Have a listening party!
Generation Listen invited IISC’s Senior Associate Cynthia Silva Parker to share some facilitation tips for conversations about racism and racial identity. The activities are tailored to help listeners unpack episodes of the cutting-edge podcast Code Switch. Right now, people across the country are hosting “listening parties” where the podcast is paired with a conversation.
Tonight, Cynthia Parker will present “Race Talk” at an intercultural dialogue co-hosted by Fire, Grace Chapel’s young adult ministry. Parker explores racism through key moments of personal and professional insight.
“There are many useful guidelines for productive race talk,” Parker says, and many practical tips are included in the talk. Yet even with best practices, some moments of race talk do harm or feel unresolved. Parker shares her personal tips for connecting with her faith, and her faith in humanity, to continue moving forward with love.
What does it really take to catalyze diverse groups of people, within organizations or across sectors, to build trust, take action, and work together to achieve uncommon results? This is the question driving a panel hosted by Stanford Social Innovation Review on “The Network Leader.” The panel will take place on Tuesday, March 22 at 2PM EST.
IISC Senior Associate Curtis Ogden will reflect on the unfolding story of Food Solutions New England, a network he has been involved with for about five years.
“We are seeing people drawn to the network because of this commitment to justice and authenticity,” says Ogden. “We are seeing other organizations take up internal work around power and privilege. This network is more impactful because it sees more fully and clearly what is going on and what must be done.”
IISC Senior Associate Cynthia Silva Parker presented “Race Talk: Moving Beyond the Surface” at the Q Commons. On February 11 at 7PM the conversation continues at Grace Chapel in Watertown, MA. She and Colin Stokes, whose TedX talk on White Privilege will also screened, are leading a “deeper dialogue on racism, systemic injustice, bridge-building and reconciliation.”
Boston is abuzz with the Company One (C1) and Arts Emerson presentation of An Octoroon, the “hottest play from 1859” which has returned to the stage, coming off a sold-out NYC run. Since the play first came out over 150 years ago slavery in the US was abolished, yet audiences today can clearly see how many racial injustice and equity issues remain the same.
C1 is committed to making the connection between theater and civic life. Last week they invited educators to a panel discussion: Theater and Education on the Front Lines of Boston Communities. The event featured five brilliant panelists for a discussion on race and representation, including Ceasar McDowell (President, IIISC), Summer L. Williams (Director, An Octoroon), Tracy Strain (Director, The Lorraine Hansberry Documentary Project), Kendra Taira Field (Professor, History and Africana Studies at Tufts University), James Milord (Theater Teaching Artist, Company One).
IISC welcomes Kelly Bates to our organization as Chief of Staff and Democracy Strategy. Kelly brings excitement to our work in Big Democracy and public engagement, especially as we seek to engage people from all walks of life. She has spent the past twenty years running social change organizations, and consulting and training around political engagement, anti-oppression, and diversity.
“I am thrilled that Kelly has joined IISC,” said IISC President Ceasar McDowell. “She is bringing her experience leading organizations and deep understanding of democracy and racial equity to IISC.”
Kelly is the recipient of leadership awards from Boston NAACP, Boston University School of Law and, in 2013, she was awarded the Women of Color Changing Our World Award. Kelly credits IISC with shaping her style as a facilitator and leader, very early in her career. “I have deeply respected IISC for years,” she said. “I have hired IISC, been through public trainings, and worked with the team here. IISC facilitation is powerful, meaningful, and extremely well-executed.”
Ceasar McDowell Speaks at TedX Event from 3-6PM EST on October 10.
Hamilton College has produced a TedX to remember, with speakers united under the theme “Curiosity and Creativity Uninhibited.” It was an honor for IISC President Ceasar McDowell to be invited, and supported by Hamilton student Chidera Onyeiziri.
Ceasar’s talk is entitled, “Big Democracy: A Fundamental Shift.” See him open with the vastness of wonder that exists in the universe, literally displaying a photographic representation of the Big Bang. He then presents the comparison to the Human Universe with its constellation of different races, ethnicities, languages, sexual orientations, and belief systems. So while the complexity of the universe inspires, the complexity of the Human Universe feels daunting.”
His answer to help us see and understand the complexity of the human universe is Big Democracy. Ceasar describes the artifacts democracy produces and interactions needed for an equitable society. He invites we frame our collective agenda using inquiry, explores why we need to design for the margins, and shares his latest idea for inter-personal change: micro-inclusions.
The talk calls on the audience to acknowledge the choice-point we are at as a society, and to imagine a new series of actions and interactions for social change.
IISC is honored to have been a finalist in the bid for Imagine Boston 2030, the first city-wide plan in 50 years. The RFP was inspired by public engagement efforts already underway, including Mayor Walsh and the Boston Transportation Department’s Go Boston 2030 initiative, for which IISC is leading the way to new standards of participation.
IISC submitted a proposal to bring these methods to Imagine Boston 2030 with Sasaki Associates and Inkhouse, emphasizing the importance of both design and democracy for a unified, bold future vision. We call this Big Democracy, or building new infrastructure for people to participate in city-wide decisions and increasing the capacity of leaders to harness public feedback. This missing infrastructure for democratic decision-making will change how cities develop in the 21st century, inspiring investment by people in the place where they live.
Highlights of our proposal include an emphasis on equity and tapping already existing networks for participation. For city-wide engagement to take hold, all feedback must be considered expert feedback, whether from lived or professional experience. Efforts must also directly address complicated racial dynamics in productive, direct, and honest ways. We know that public engagement must be fun to overcome planning fatigue and bring out unusual participants.
Mike Ross celebrated Go Boston 2030’s creative thinking and public input in the Boston Globe, noting: “Gone are the days when a city engineer slapped a traffic counter on a road and made infrastructure decisions that would affect several generations of residents.”
Imagine Boston 2030 signals a new era of public engagement in the city. We applaud the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) and Mayor Walsh for leading this two-year process. This will have major consequence for everyone who lives, works or plays in the city and we encourage all partners to join us in supporting this effort.
Interaction Institute for Social Change (IISC) calls the new infrastructure and processes for civic involvement Big Democracy. This fall, IISC President Ceasar McDowell will deliver two Ted X talks on pressing Big Democracy issues and design solutions for cities. IISC is also co-convening national thought leaders on design and democracy. Media inquiries for Dr. McDowell and thought leaders at IISC, please contact Danielle Coates-Connor: 617-535-7159
Mayor Walsh opens Go Boston 2030 Visioning Lab Friday at noon.
Boston is making (future) history May 8-9 at the China Trade Center. Led by Mayor Walsh and the Boston Transportation Department, the Go Boston 2030 Visioning Lab will inspire people in Boston to think big, another chapter in an unprecedented public planning process for the city.
The event will open with remarks by Mayor Marty Walsh. “Boston is a city of innovation, diversity and collaboration – a city where creativity and imagination are some of our most powerful assets,” said Mayor Walsh in a recent press release.
Go Boston 2030 spent the fall and winter collecting over 5000 questions from residents, workers and visitors across the city about getting around Boston in the future. Now these questions will be turned into a public vision at the two-day event. Read More