The Gathering for JusticeAugust 24, 2009 Leave a comment
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.
Called together by Harry Belafonte and the elders of the Civil Rights movement, the Gathering is rooted in history but it is not bound by it. These are people who are committed to evolution and the adaptive changes it demands. Partnering with the Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies, the Gathering is committed to the Kingian principles of nonviolent direct action. Aware that our 501(c)3 Industrial Complex is stuck in organizational and coalition models that hold us back as much as they serve us, the Gathering is committed to decentralization, a networked approach and creating the conditions for emergence.
But what is perhaps most powerful, and what I heard when I started to interview stakeholders more than a year ago, is that the Gathering is committed to spirit, it is committed to relationships and to its bold investment on trust. We did amazing work together as we tried to grok what it will practically mean to build decentralized movement, but that wasn’t the only thing we did. This last weekend in North Carolina we were successfully able to live in the world we are trying to build. We entered the heart space and the places we need to heal. We dared to love one another and to believe with our whole selves that we can do something new. I am blessed to be a part of this.
Are you on Twitter? Track the Gathering for Justice by looking up #g4j
It sounds like you and others had an amazing learning moment. I only wish I could have been part of it. I do believe that re-entry work will be important in supplanting and re-establishing new ways of building community with formerly incarcerated individuals. At Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation we started a reentry pilot program to support individuals stifled by a broken system, though. As you mentioned our ‘501(c)3 Industrial Complex’, as I experienced, did not have the foresight and capacity to think beyond the confines of reentry. There were many on the board of directors and community residents who were afraid of the very same people the system locked up. It is great to see that new ways of thinking are evolving — we need something bad.
Gibran – Thank you for your incredible facilitation. I learned a lot over the weekend, and am inspired to continue our work.
I wrote up some of my thoughts from the Gathering as well, and I’ll be uploading more pictures onto my Gathering site soon.
I had no idea how to approach this boefre-now I’m locked and loaded.