Creating Freedom Movements

Tiny - Posted on 11 May 2018

​more justice, more joy

Creating Freedom Movements is a year-long popular education program that nurtures visionary grassroots leaders who build beloved community, cross-issue solidarity and infrastructures of justice & joy. Bringing together social movement history and analysis, healing practices, the arts, and practical skills, we heal people and the planet by moving from cultures of separation & domination to cultures of connection & reciprocity.

The social analysis component of our curriculum makes sure that we do not underestimate what we are up against. The social movement history, artistic practices and healing practices components make sure that we do not underestimate our capacities to create change. The practical skills component provides us with some of the specific skillsets to implement the ideas we dream up. 

The program is open to all, regardless of prior educational background, and consists of 9 months of workshopsfollowed by 3 months of regular mentorship meetings which support participants in cultivating projects that increase justice and joy in their own communities. In this way, we aim to divest from oppressive institutions and build alternative infrastructures for a world in which all can flourish.

The projects allow us to go wide in our impact, the program year allows us to go deep. 

Our faculty members have decades of experience working at the intersections of social justice, community organizing, the arts, healing, and education. Through the workshops, participants become:
  • more well-rounded in practical skills
  • more visionary in perspectives
  • more creative in modes of expression
  • & more connected as co-creators in a world of people, plants, animals, water & land who need us to act boldly

Alongside deepening our understanding and engaging in actions that increase justice, we also focus on cultivating joy. We believe joy is the antidote to overwhelm and paralysis, prevents burnout, and attracts more people into this work.

​​Cross-issue solidarity is crucial to deep societal transformation, but interlocking systems of oppression have been very good at keeping us separated from one another. By spending meaningful time together on a weekly basis for a year, the participants in Creating Freedom Movements will get a chance to build meaningful relationships with people different than themselves in multiple ways. We believe that nurturing these relationships is as important to our work as the projects catalyzed through the program. In this way, we work to strengthen the local activist ecosystem and the networks and collaborations we need to grow our collective power.

​values, commitments, practices

We strive to be as accessible as possible, for all bodies and minds. We maintain ongoing dialogues regarding access needs and do not frame anyone as a burden who must be accommodated. We recognize ableism as an obstacle to full liberation. 

Radical Imagination, Infinite Creativity
The natural world reflects the infinite creativity of life. We believe that fostering radical imagination through the arts and resilience practices is crucial to expanding our sense of what is possible as we envision and manifest freedom movements. 

Mixed Levelism
We celebrate the variety of experiences and bodies of knowledge that each participant brings to the cohort. We humbly step into the roles of both teachers and learners, practicing communication across multiple lines of difference. We honor the fact that knowledge comes from multiple sources and do not value formally credentialed knowledge over uncredentialed knowledge.

Collective liberation -- building power-conscious beloved community
Getting free is a collective process, but it does not look the same for everyone. In a just world, some people will need a measure of upward mobility, while others will need a measure of downward mobility; some will need to practice taking up more space while others will need to learn to take up less space. While we commit to radical inclusivity -- no one left out of the circle -- we also commit to recognizing the power dynamics among us, regardless of how much work we have done, individually or collectively. This involves learning what it means to show up in solidarity and follow the leadership of those most impacted by particular issues, and learning to collaborate across issues.

Intersectionality & BodyMindHeartSpirit
Policies that seek to address marginalized groups often only focus on one identity at a time. Intersectionality is a framework that reminds us that, for example, all women are not impacted by patriarchy in the same way. Other identities a woman might have will add layers of complexity to her experience of her womanhood. We commit to striving towards an intersectional analysis in our work together. In addition, we recognize each of us as intellectual, emotional, physical, spiritual and creative beings. As such, we strive to honor all of these ways of knowing/being/experiencing, rather than elevating one over the other. 

Humility, Respect, Compassion, Truth-telling and Accountability
Since we know that we are all constantly growing, learning and changing, we are willing to meet people where they are at, and are grateful to others for extending that same welcome to us. This does not mean we remain silent in the face of harmful words or actions -- it simply means that we remember each others’ humanity, even as we challenge one another. We commit to cultivating compassion for ourselves, and one another, as we do this deep work. We practice honesty, forgiveness and accountability. 

Practice, Not Perfection
So long as we are still working within systems of domination, we are complicit with them in various ways. There is no place of purity from which to act. We can’t simply opt out of current realities. We move ahead by acknowledging where there are contradictions between our values and our lives, and by allowing them to stoke the creative fires we need in order to more fully manifest a just & joyful world.  Since the world is dynamic and always in process, there can be no such thing as a static 100% “right” way of being. We therefore focus on practicing our values, rather than on attaining perfection. 

Decolonization, Reparations and Redistribution of Resources
Colonization, white supremacy, capitalism and hetereopatriarchy have systematically led to accumulation of wealth in the hands of a minority of people by dispossessing the majority and exploiting people and planet. To address these ongoing injustices, we believe in processes of decolonization, reparations, and redistribution of resources.

Decolonization refers specifically to indigenous struggles addressing ongoing colonization -- while this is not limited to the colonization of land, land is a central issue and should never be neglected. We commit to learning the histories of the places we inhabit -- who the indigenous peoples of that land are, seeking out those who are still living here and asking permission for our presence on this land, learning the original names of the places we live, and offering our support to indigenous freedom movements. We do not take current nation-state borders for granted and believe that no human being is illegal.

“Reparations” is a term that has been used in many different ways; we use it to refer specifically to the harms that have been done as a result of white supremacy, which includes, but is not limited to, the racial wealth gap. We commit to learning about the details of these harms as they have specifically impacted the descendants of peoples stolen from Africa as well as all those who have been racialized as “other.” We commit to reparating these harms by supporting Black, indigenous and POC (BIPOC) freedom movements. 

We use the term “redistribution of resources” to refer to the harms done as a result of capitalism, ableism and/or heteropatriarchy, which intersect with the issues mentioned above but also impact poor and working class white people and the planet. We commit to learning about the details of these harms and supporting women’s, (gender-)queer, disabled, poor and working class freedom movements and environmental protection efforts. 

Equity and Justice
Unlike “equality,” which refers to everyone being treated the same, “equity” emphasizes that people need different things based on different circumstances. Because we believe that every person is equally worthy, we promote equity -- which requires the decolonization, reparations and redistribution of resources described above -- so that all might flourish. 

There are so many forces in this world that seek to oppress us, both materially and emotionally/spiritually. While working to end material oppression is essential, we see the cultivation of joyfulness as absolutely crucial component of freedom movements. Joyfulness enables us to also experience resilience in the face of oppression and feeds our capacites for envisioning a more just world.

Praxis = theory + action. We need both. We commit to this process of praxis and to the humility it entails of always being open to new suggestions and constructive criticism, while also resisting getting stuck in analysis paralysis or the pursuit of knowledge simply for the sake of knowledge.

Listening and Leading with Love
We believe that deep listening is one of the most effective ways to heal ourselves, one another and to build the connections necessary for Beloved Community. We also practice speaking up and sharing our own perspectives so that others might learn from us. We lead with love, which is to say with a commitment to everyone’s well-being. We do not see anger or rage as the opposite of love but as reasonable responses to oppression that actually arise out of love for those being harmed. We seek not to condemn such emotions but to channel this energy into actions that increase freedom and well-being for all. 

Connecting Inner and Outer Transformation
We believe that the deep changes we seek require both inner and outer transformation. Revolutions in which people have not done significant inner work have shown, over and over again, that the same logics of domination persist even though other people with supposedly different values have come into power. 

Activism as an Ecosystem
Instead of looking at the work of others through the lens of competition, we honor the contributions of all who seek to create a more just and joyful world, and recognize those contributions as part of a larger ecosystem of freedom movements. We are humble enough to know that we cannot know exactly how change will happen in any moment. Thus, while we have philosophies/theories of change which we share, we do not condescendingly dismiss people for being too reformist, too revolutionary, too service-oriented, too policy-oriented, too trusting in the role of education and/or art, too small-scale, too large-scale, too spiritual, too secular, etc.

Interdependence is not so much a value as it is simply a truth. All of us are interconnected and interdependent -- there is no such thing as an individual who is not impacted by others and does not impact others. The entire curriculum of Creating Freedom Movements is built to help us feel and understand the ways in which we are interconnected, and to learn to embrace this as a path to collective liberation -- learning to rely on one another rather than seeking to separate ourselves as independent individuals who don’t need anyone or anything else. Independence individualizes risk and security whereas interdependence collectivizes it, enabling us to put our faith in people rather than in money. If we only have ourselves to rely on, aging, illness, injury, unemployment, etc. are all threats. But if we learn to both graciously give and receive -- and to value the wide range of gifts that different people have to offer throughout their lives -- then no one is a “burden” and we can circulate excess resources to those who need them, trusting that in our times of need (and we will all have them, sooner or later), the resources we need will also be circulated to us. 

All of these values, commitments and practices are pursued with the intention of healing -- healing the fractures in ourselves and in our relationships to others, the land, and our work. Through this process, we pursue full aliveness in the service of justice and joy.

We seek to practice what we preach -- integrating these values into the functioning of our organization as well as our own lives, and we encourage all participants to take and practice these values beyond the “classroom.” And, in the spirit of praxis, we encourage your reflections and adjustments to this living document!


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