Category Archives: Uncategorized

Recommitting to Solidarity in the Face of White Supremacy: A Sermon for Rosh Hashanah 5778

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From my rabbi! This was SO inspirational!

Shalom Rav

2017_0921rosen Members of Holy Blossom Temple, a Toronto synagogue, form a protective circle around the Imdadul mosque on February 3, 2017, following an Islamophobic shooting at a mosque in Quebec City.  (Photo: Bernard Weil / Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Crossposted with Truthout.

When Temple Beth Israel — a large Reform synagogue in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia — opened for Shabbat morning services on August 12, 2017, its congregants had ample reason to be terrified. Prior to the “Unite the Right” rally held in town by white supremacists and neo-Nazis that weekend, some neo-Nazi websites had posted calls to burn down their synagogue.The members of Beth Israel decided to go ahead with services, but they removed their Torah scrolls just to be safe.

When services began, they noticed three men dressed in fatigues and armed with semi-automatic rifles standing across the street from their synagogue. Throughout the morning, growing numbers of neo-Nazis…

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The Work That Reconnects

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I have greatly appreciated being a part of a community of people who are developing active hope through the tools of engaged Buddhism, systems thinking and deep ecology.  The Work That Reconnects is facilitated group process that allows individuals to dynamically name their gratitude, honor their pain, see with new eyes, dwell in deep time, and go forth with re-invigorated energy to face the challenges presented to us by this social and ecological moment.  As part of my contribution to our global network I wrote an article Deep Times journal, and introduce the language of “Intersectionalization” to describe the nature of current work on integrating in power-privilege and oppressio

n awareness and practice more deeply into Work That Reconnects facilitation. The journal article is here, and the full announcement about cool stuff happening in the network follows.

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A new issue of Deep Times journal is now available online. This special issue with guest editors Patricia St. Onge, Ann Marie Davis and Aravinda Ananda focuses

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on the impact of race and culture on the Work That Reconnects. Rather than strictly following the spiral, the special issue has four sections: in support of POC; what do we mean by we?; toward greater white responsibility; and seeing with ancient eyes & going forth. It contains a rich collection of insights about how race and culture contribute to different experiences for participants in Work That Reconnects and the final section offers some recommendations for facilitators to improve in their skillfulness in this respect. Please check out the many beautiful contributions to this special issue. The guest editors encourage you to compensate contributors generously for the emotional, spiritual, and physical effort that went into articles or poems in this special issue.

Please submit articles or poems by email to deeptimes@workthatreconnects.org by the end of September to be considered for publication in the next issue of Deep Times. The categories of submissions for the next issue include the four stages of the spiral (gratitude, honoring our pain for the world, seeing with new/ancient eyes, and going forth), evolving edge, networking, and resources.


Regional Hubs and Ongoing Groups

On August 15, the Network hosted a call for existing or potential regional hub and or ongoing group leaders. If you missed it, a recording of that call is available online in the multimedia sectionof the website. A lot of the conversation focused on interest in current evolving edges of the Work with greater attention to and integration of power privilege and oppression awareness and application. A next call to continue this conversation is scheduled for October 3 (see below for details).

There has been interest from folks in Australia to schedule a Zoom call focused on regional hubs and ongoing group at a time more conducive to timezones outside of North America. Please contact the network if you would like to help organize this and check the events calendar to learn of upcoming opportunities.

A Southeast U.S. regional network is forming. Please contact Rebecca Blanco if you would like to be a part  of this emerging hub.


Undoing Oppression/Intersectionalization of the Work – updates and shared learning opportunities

In Sarah Thompson’s article in the special issue of Deep Times journal, she introduces the language of “Intersectionalization” to describe the nature of current work on integrating in power-privilege and oppression awareness and practice more deeply into Work That Reconnects facilitation. Please read her journal article for more information on this.

The group of facilitators who have been meeting on Thursday mornings since the beginning of May to reflect on some recommended changes to framing, practices and facilitation with respect to power, privilege, oppression and intersectionalization are working hard to get more content on the Evolving Edge section of the website including a glossary of terms and list of resources for ongoing learning. Check there throughout the coming month for additions. One new thing you will find is a tab on the Evolving Edge menu for Community Conversations and you can check that page for online opportunities to discuss ongoing evolutions in the Work.

On September 20 at 8:30am PDT the Network will be hosting a webinar/community conversation with Aravinda Ananda, Belinda Griswold, Kurt Kuhwald and Joseph Rotella who will be sharing some of their applications of undoing oppression work to their WTR facilitation and emerging better practices. You can sign up here for this webinar/community conversation.

Many folks are doing good work in this area. If you are a registered facilitator, you have the capacity to log-in to workthatreconnects.org and post to the Undoing Oppression and Intersectionalization section of the website. We invite you to share about work that you have been doing in this area. It is possible for the general public to comment on posts in this section as an avenue for discussion while we explore other options for online conversation and shared learning on these important topics.

To continue the conversation begun on the August 15 regional hub and ongoing group webinar, and to hear from more voices, Stacie Noble-Weist will be hosting a follow-up online webinar/community conversation on October 3 at 8:30am PDT as an opportunity for folks to share more about their own applications of undoing oppression work to WTR facilitation. You can sign up here for that webinar/community conversation.

Encircle Them With Energetic Encouragement

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At the solidarity prayer rally in Chicago on August 14.  With Cantor Friedman singing about the world being a narrow bridge…and the most important thing to recall is to remember the command to “not be afraid.” Awesome chant leaders from Chicago Moral Mondays work are in front of us, rocking the American Friends Service Committee’s posters reminding us that we, the community will defend each other by the strength of our relationships.

An email I wrote to friends and fam titled Encircle Them With Energetic Encouragement inspired re-posting. Glad it could help folks know what to do from afar. Wherever you are, your work matters. Take a deep breath now to celebrate yourself. Thanks.

As people committed to living out our faith and values daily and on the frontlines of war and violent conflict, we learned a lot from what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 11-12, 2017. We continue to learn. We have new questions, new realizations about how to organize and prepare well, and a recognition of the ferocity of the right wing. Most importantly, we have a deeper determination to build bridges in our community that can withstand the damage hate inflicts.

The Mennonite magazine covered perspectives of various ones of us who participated.

One love. Cya back out on the streets, protestifying!

 

Do Your Own Work: Leadership on the Frontlines

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A shortened version of this article appeared in The Mennonite, in conversation with the awesome article entitled Vincent Harding, Rebels, and MJ Sharp.”

Sarah MJ and Jonathan Brenneman

One of my favorite things about my dear friend MJ Sharp (pictured in the middle) was how he did his work, especially in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). He gave his life for peace work there, but he was not simply a martyr.  He was someone giving his all to investigative work.  MJ was a complex character who pushed hard for justice, utilizing creative and courageous tactics that led to positive change in some key situations.  Speaking at his memorial service, the representative from the United Nations remarked, “the international community has lost one of its best investigators.”

 

MJ and I would often commiserate about how hard it was to do our inner work in the context of dealing with our external work: oppression-induced societal emergencies and organizational conundrums.  He was about to finish up his term in the DRC and move to Albuquerque to live in a semi-intentional community. One reason he was going to do this was because it would hopefully give him the opportunity to do that hard, slow, heavy, and contemplative inner work. He never got that chance. But I still do.

 

I followed the footsteps of Dr. Vincent Harding to Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia to learn of my vocational calling while exploring the fullness of my identites. My work took me to Mennonite World Conference, where the words of prophets like Harding and Sider still echo. And it took me to Christian Peacemaker Teams. Now it is taking me elsewhere, but not before I take time to rest and honor MJ by doing my own work: Looking internally at those neglected areas of myself, compassionately contemplating my missteps, and reflecting on words from mentors living and ancestral.

 

We strive for work that fulfills our souls and meets our own needs, not because we aim to be martyrs who simply give up our lives for “the cause.” Leaders must understand the connection between their personal inventory and their personal contribution. We are acting out in the world what we personally need.  Seeking to understand the forces driving our souls does not make us selfish.  It helps us become more self-aware leaders, and that’s what congregations and organizations need.

 

Doing your own work also means understanding your identity, social location and how power pools and flows in your organization. It means thinking about how you show up, ask for allies, and be an ally to others who are newer or who are having difficulties navigating a system that you easily understand. We desperately need leaders like MJ who commit to doing personal and collective work to make organizations more welcoming to everyone.

 

Finally, to “do your own work” is a reminder to follow your dreams, and employ your gifts to do work that only you can do in the world. This may mean taking a risk to innovate in your field, or a keen focus on how you do your work. Make sure there is something uniquely you that you do in your job. You are not a machine. You are a beloved child of God.  No one can do it like you can!

 

Sarah Thompson is finishing up her term as Executive Director of Christian Peacemaker Teams. She is a licensed minister in Indiana/Michigan Mennonite Conference.

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Bowling with MJ on the last day I saw him, in Wichita, Kansas.

Solidarity with a falsely-charged worker in Brazil

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Who’s Rafael Braga Vieira? His saga is an example of what is happening to marginalized working people everywhere. To paraphrase James Baldwin: If they come for Rafael during the day, they will come for us at night. None of us is free until all of us are free to work with dignity and have our word respected.

Rafael Braga Vieira is a black and poor young man, who, until June of 2013, worked collecting material for recycling in downtown streets of Rio de Janeiro, Brasil. He lived on the streets in order to save money on his way back home – he didn’t return home everyday in Vila Cruzeiro (North zone), where he lived with his parents, brothers and sisters. However, on June 20, Rafael Braga’s routine changed.

Learn more how you can help out with this campaign here!

Since that day he’s been beaten, falsely accused, put in solidarity confinement, released, re-captured, in and out of court, and now sentenced (the defense is working on his appeal).

Life. Disrupted.
Disrupt your routine a little bit today to learn more about what our young family members around the world are experiencing.

 

100 Days

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Disturbed about what to do to survive and resist in the current political climate?
Live the alternative.
Cultivate your agency through daily practice of beauty and expanding your comfort zone.

The following post is by Spelman sister Adinah Morgan, check her out here!

Our 100 Days: A List

100 Days. What can you do with 100 days? This is one of the more popular questions that U.S. presidential candidates have had to answer over the past century. Shortly after the results of the last election I asked myself, “Well, what am I going to do for our first 100 days?” As the list grew, so did the insatiable need to share these ideas with others. I realized that I want everyday citizens, organizations, and people that may even reside in other countries to get involved. The list has grown and expanded to seven different subjects/issues. I have also included additional lists for self-care, and resources for educators who may want to apply the list in the classroom. Together, we can collectively redirect our energy to highlight positive, peaceful methods to counterbalance the anxiety of the past several months. Our 100 Days List is here.

Our 100 Days List is in no way meant to reflect the vast amount of ideas and strategies that have been developed overtime. You may choose from the topics below, or be inspired to make your own 100 days strategy. The mostly free or low-cost tips below are just a place to start.

The ultimate goals of Our 100 Days List are: (1) to help quell the very real fears and anxieties in our communities, (2) encourage more active participation of American citizens beyond 100 days and (3) remind us all of where the real power lies, in ourselves.


Our 100 Days List

Environmental Issues/Climate Change

  • Volunteer at a community garden
  • Teach children how to grow food from seeds
  • Start a recycling initiative in your home or workplace
  • Visit a National Park for an afternoon
  • Learn more about the efforts to protect and sustain clean water in the United States (i.e. Flint, Michigan and Standing Rock, North Dakota).

Immigration

  • Volunteer with a non-profit organization in your area that directly serves refugees and immigrant families
  • Call out xenophobia when you hear/see it
  • If you only speak English, consider learning another language. Practice this new language with multilingual members of your community
  • If you are or know an immigration lawyer, organize a free workshop on rights for U.S. immigrants and their families
  • Host or participate in an international, multicultural gathering with members of your local global community. Offer space for others to celebrate and share their respective cultural heritage.

Islam/Interfaith Outreach

  • Visit a local mosque
  • Spend time reading or listening to the recitation of the Qur’an
  • If you are not a Muslim, be an ally. Call out Islamophobia when you see/hear it
  • Invite Muslim scholars, artists and activists to speak at local institutions
  • If you are a civic or religious leader, invite members of your local mosque to a dinner. Respectfully ask ahead of time what food your guests may be comfortable sharing across the table.

Women’s Rights/Reproductive Justice

  • Research the Divine Feminine.
  • March is Women’s History Month. Host or organize a local event celebrating the women in your community
  • Volunteer for a local women’s advocacy group such as a women’s shelter or a women’s clinic
  • Educate your children about the importance of consent and respecting every body
  • Establish or strengthen gatherings of sacred women’s circles. If you are male or are not able to attend the gatherings, offer space to be of assistance to the women in your life to meet by babysitting, catering or offering other services.

Racial Equality/Black Lives Matter

  • Support black businesses. Open an account at a black owned bank. Invest in black communities and invite others to do the same
  • Host an inter-generational dialogue between elder community leaders and young activists that respect each other and honor the complexities of intersectionality
  • Donate children’s books with positive contemporary subjects to a school that primarily serves children of color
  • Support lawyers and organizations that fight to protect the rights of individuals in prison and illuminate the business of the U.S. prison industrial complex
  • If you are a therapist or counselor of color, consider offering one free group counseling session for members of organizations that work to end systematic racism.

LGBT Rights

  • Host an inclusive house party celebrating all members of the LGBT community and their families in a safe space
  • Support legislation and lawmakers that work to protect and expand LGBT rights
  • Volunteer at a shelter for LGBT youth
  • Advocate to make all restrooms more accessible for transgender people
  • Call out homophobia when you see/hear it. Even if it’s in your most sacred and intimate spaces.

Special Needs/Individuals with Disabilities

  • Speak openly and honestly to people with disabilities in your community. Ask how you can be be more inclusive and respective to their needs
  • Start an initiative for children with learning disabilities to start and complete a creative project
  • If you own a business, consider expanding your workforce to include people with disabilities
  • Teach all children that bullying individuals with disabilities in any setting is unacceptable
  • Respect the space and spaces that are held by people with disabilites. Honor their bodies by asking for permission to touch or interact with them, including the assistive devices that help people operate their daily lives.

Self-Care List

  • Meditate for at least 20 minutes
  • Participate in a free yoga class
  • Walk in nature for at least 30 minutes
  • Wear colors that resonate with you, regardless of the season
  • Make one positive change to your diet
  • Call a friend or loved one who can actively listen to you with compassion. Then check up on someone else, and practice actively listening with compassion.
  • Take a day trip
  • Be creative: write, draw, dance-create for yourself or others
  • Unplug from technology for an hour
  • Rest when needed

Special Resources for Educators:

http://www.tolerance.org

http://www.teachingforchange.org/teaching-blacklivesmatter

http://www.glsen.org/educate/resources/curriculum

http://www.adl.org/education-outreach/

http://www.pbs.org/empires/islam/eduk12plan.html

http://climate.nasa.gov/resources/education/

https://humaneeducation.org/blog/2016/resources-teaching-dakota-access-pipeline-protest/

http://www.specialeducationguide.com/pre-k-12/tools-and-research/support-and-resources-for-parents-and-teachers/

https://www.reproductiverights.org/project/curricular-resources

http://www.racialequityresourceguide.org/guides/guides-and-workshops/&issuefilterType=Education

The more power we use to impact positive change in our communities, the more we will re-evaluate the function and capacity of our government. Please share, distribute, and be inspired.

Kujichaguila & Wansalwara

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WANSALWARA is a dance, literally and metaphorically.  It’s about the fact that we all live in One Salt Water. Wansalwara is a way they call this living planet, in Melanesian hip-hop terms.

Today is a day that self-determination is celebrated by people of African descent, during the festival of Kwanzaa. I’m reminded of my trip to the Pacific, where people of African/Aboriginal heritage are struggling for autonomy in the face of intense repression. By coming alongside them in the movement, I didn’t think I’d learn so much about how I want to self-determine in the world, but I sure did get two clues. One was through birth and birth justice work, and the other through continuing to support self-determination movements throughout the world. Write me if you want to see some great video footage from people rising up and doing nonviolent direct action there for justice. (I would link the  youtube vids into the blog, but that would mainly help those who are hired to cyber-attack and trace international activists working with grassroots leaders to change the oppressive systems).

And from Abbey of the Arts:

Looking ahead, February 1 will be the Celtic feast of Imbolc which means “in the belly.” It marks the first herald of spring when the earth begins to stir with the new life deep below the frozen ground.  In Christianity we’ve just celebrated what emerged from Mother Mary, consciousness birthed. To remember the significance of birth we keep coming back to it each year. What’s coming from you in this new year?

Take a few minutes to pay special attention to what God might be causing to stir within you.  Quiet your mind and focus on the blossoming within yourself.  Notice colors and the fragrance.  Imagine a blossom sprouting deep inside yourself.  Listen to the invitation calling you to new growth.

And, just as Mary shared her experience with her cousin Elizabeth, do share what’s stirring within you, with someone you love and trust.  Mary’s experience of victimization and survivorship inspired her to sing-out for a deep revolution: political, economic, and moral. How you sing-out is related to your kujichaguila (self-determination).

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12/31/2016 Update: On the last day of Kwanzaa, I went to a Watchnight service curated by Repairers of the Breach and the Poor People’s Campaign revivers. Valerie Kaur, of Groundswell, said this there, and I wanted to share the encouragement, as it relates to the interplay of light and darkness, individual and collective self-determination, and a labor and birth that contains the revolution: “the darkness we are in may not be a tomb of American democracy, but a womb of American democracy. What if all that we’ve experienced up until this point are the labor pains of the America that we might birth?!”  It would be a healthier country, connected with the rest of the planet by the one salt water.