What more would be possible if we thought deeply together about the source of injustice and our vision for an equitable world in order to take wise actions together, instead of continuing this pattern of strategizing about and acting for one issue at a time?
We started with different questions, but decided to put our conversations together because we realized that connecting with our movement history and finding our shared issues is our starting point.
We agreed that environmental justice, labor, education, poverty, woman’s rights, etc., are always deeply connected. On the other hand, working on one issue at a time is not integrated.
We noticed that this pattern of working in silos around our different issues is our biggest challenge.
We noticed that most of us are struggling with our social justice, activist and religious organizations.
We often feel stuck with the not-for-profit industry because so many of us and our communities depend on them as the only way to support each other.
We notice that activists often take the hierarchical mindset of the industry into our communities, which limits our ability to connect, focus on what matters most, co-create new ideas, nurture grassroots leadership…
We agreed that we need to get clear about what is useful about these organizations and what needs to go.
What is the next way? What will it take for us to be able to sustain ourselves and maximize what the not-for-profit industry is good for instead of being helplessly stuck in it as workers and/or consumers?
For those of us working within social justice organizations, where is the room to play with structures and process? What does it take to keep the human in human services? The spirit in religious institutions? The community in community development?
Participant experience of our Open Space conversations on Sat, Dec 8th…
We invite you to join an exciting conversation that began on October 20th.
Saturday, December 8th, 2012
10:30 am – 3:00 pm
The A.M.E. Zion Church on The Hill
2005 Amsterdam Ave btw 159 & 160th St, Washington Heights, NYC
Coffee and pastries @10:30 am
Opening begins promptly at 11:00 am!
Light lunch provided
Donations for food and materials welcome
We are a growing group of people who are connecting through our beliefs that we can create a more just world and that this will only happen when we figure out how to re-member ourselves – how to workwith our individual experiences, ideologies, analysis, faiths, backgrounds and causes instead of in spite of them.
We share a deep longing for unity in these times as the constant barrage of corporate news, political divisiveness, corruption, meaningless entertainment and advertising are barely interrupted by stories about increasing economic disparity and poverty, racial profiling, student debt and foreclosures as well as occasional glimpses of social unrest, direct action and stories of people helping each other post-Sandy.
What conversations/questions, if given our best thinking together, would make the biggest difference to our social justice work now?
We are frustrated by the way we get stuck, again and again, when we try to collaborate as organizations, political affiliations and identity groups, through which we continue to promote competing goals and agendas.
Instead, we want to create spaces were we can show up first and foremost as human beings who are ready to offer our varied perspectives, analysis, skills, experience, passions and wisdom to the work.
We will practice the participatory self-organizing structure called Open Space, which we believe helps us work smarter together. We will Open Space promptly at 11:00 am with the invitation to expore “What will it really take to work together now?” and then, reflect on what we discover in this dialogue and how Open Space might serve our movement building.
Hosted by: DeForest Raphael, The A.M.E. Zion Church on the Hill; Jason Harris, Dialogue to Action; Kelly McGowan, Going Upstream; Stan Williams, Occupy and Union Organizer; Hans Roy, Thinking Without Borders; Nancy Fritsche-Eagan, All My Sisters; Quincy Saul, Ecosocialist; Sydney Campos, Student Debt Activist.
Open Space Principles, Law and Invitation to Participate
Open Space is a methodological tool that enables self-organizing groups of all sizes to deal with hugely complex issues in a very short period of time.anonymous
Innovation is both heartening and challenging. Doing things “the way we’ve always done them” can lead to a series of frustrating dead ends; yet change for its own sake, isn’t a guarantee of success.
I don’t plan on boring you with a long, tedious email, extolling the virtues of a new product, filled with flowery words and catch-phrases designed to hook you into spending your precious on yet another gimmick. Quite the contrary. Open Space is a concept designed to spark the imagination of all those present. It suggests that “we are smarter together, than we are individually.” It encourages everyone, not just a selected “knowledgeable few” to throw their best ideas “into the pot”, with the hope that what emerges will nourish us all. We’ve all been to meetings with pre-determined agendas, which allows scant input, save for the “New Business” item, from the vast majority of attendees.
In my limited exposure with this Open Space technology, I’ve witnessed a level of palpable excitement as people, from various disciplines, gather to consider what is required to alter the oppressive conditions in neighborhoods all over this City. When people catch hold of the reality that they “can” make substantive change in the quality of their lives and they can be a significant partner in bring about that change, the reality becomes infectious. It changes the conditions by changing the peoples perception of themselves and their status in the world. Open Space is a tool, it’s not a panacea. Open Space won’t solve the problems we face, WE will solve those problems. We decide how it is to be used. We are all stakeholders. As such, we have a seat at the table. In the words of the Negro Spiritual, “Just take your seat, sit down.”
I’m not expecting anyone to abandon well established processes overnight. All I’m asking is that you give Open Space a chance. Drive it around the block, kick the tires.
I’m looking forward to seeing you on Saturday, December 8th.
~DeForest Raphael, Pastor, A.M.E. Zion Church on the Hill~
What might that look like?