Hello Good People!
So many changes! In the last two months I have moved from the country to the city (I now live one block from the Mississippi River, and run by the riverfront every other day), traveled to five different cities on the east coast in a period of 4 weeks, took my daughter to the ER twice, transitioned off of the board of an amazing organization (smartMeme, I love you!) that I served on for two years, and started my 3 year old son in Montessori school! Monday showed me that Halloween is indeed awesome for children. Finn went as Buzz Lightyear, Siobhan went as Yoda, and we celebrated with fresh homemade apple cider and a fire in our front yard!
Speaking of fire, I want to take space to tell you about some work I am doing that really means a lot to me. And given the incredible transformation happening in our country because of the Occupy movement, and all of the timely questions this movement raises around how we can practice economics that align with our values, telling you about this work feels especially relevant.
About six months ago, I joined the board of the Common Fire Foundation. If the name sounds familiar to you, it might be because Common Fire gained national recognition in 2006 for building the Tivoli Housing Co-op in Tivoli, NY, which is STILL to this day rated as the greenest building in the Eastern United States. Wow! The name might also sound familiar because you know someone who is a part of a Common Fire Community, or our extensive network of supporters. But what the heck is Common Fire, anyhow?
The Common Fire Foundation helps create intentional communities that manifest in the here and now the more just and sustainable world we all deserve. We start small, with diverse groups of committed individuals, and our vision is to build neighborhood/village-scale communities and learning centers with affordable green housing, retreat centers, multi-use office spaces, gardens, and more. Common Fire has been working from this vision for many years, and right now it could not be more relevant. In the last month we have seen hundreds of thousands of people mobilized across the country, giving voice to the mainstream dissent and disgust with the status quo of our toxic and failing political and economic system. The Occupy Movement may not have a list of demands, but the people out in the streets are posing a clear question: "What do we do to reverse this trend of greed, exclusion, and destruction, and take back our political power?" We believe that Common Fire's work holds the space of a visionary answer to that question, one that addresses both the concrete, physical need for viable alternative economic practices, as well as our deep need for cultural transformation and healing.
Currently, there are four Common Fire communities in formation and/or existence in the United States, and one in formation in Spain. All of these groups are committed to creating community in line with Common Fire's Four Essential Characteristics:
- Created by and Accessible to a True Diversity of People
- Ongoing Personal Growth and Interpersonal Dialogue
- Aligning Our Actions with Our Values, Our Lives with Our Beliefs
- Bridging Transformation in the Community to Transformation in the World.
While all of these characteristics are powerful, I believe it is the commitments to true diversity and to internal and interpersonal work, that set Common Fire's vision apart from other intentional community models. And it is the means-to-ends-consistency called for in the other characteristics that hold the answer to questions of the Occupation. I believe so deeply in this work that I have started to think of all of my racial justice facilitation, consensus workshop, and healing justice organizing work as being a part of how I manifest "common fire" in my life. I am a member of Minnesota's community-in-formation, which includes folks from Minneapolis, Saint Paul, and Saint Cloud.
In the coming year, we at Common Fire are scaling up our work in the form of a National Education Program. This includes starting a 2 year Certificate in Community Living Program, hosted at the Tivoli Housing Co-op, as well as scholarships for Common Fire community members to attend Be Present Trainings. The Be Present Empowerment model is the foundational model we use for creating community across lines of difference and modeling a different way to be in relationship with each other.
As a part of the national program, we are also launching a really special project that I will be directly involved in developing, called the Communities Curriculum. As interest in creating Common Fire communities grows across the country, we have identified a need for a more robust program of support for holistic community formation and communities in progress. Beginning in 2012, Common Fire will develop a multi-day training called "The Communities Curriculum," with the intention of bringing the workshop to new communities in formation across the country and internationally. The Communities Curriculum will support groups in deepening their understanding of the Common Fire vision, and deepening their commitment to racial and economic healing through intentional community building. We will offer all workshop participants an exploratory and educational space in which to dream and build their own versions of this vision within their local community.
We are thrilled to have received a $10,000 Challenge Matching Grant from the Regeneration Fund to help us jump-start this national program. That means if we can raise $10k by the end of this year, we'll bring in $20k to help our work! As we near the holiday season and you begin considering how to give the kind of gift with lasting impact, I hope you will consider making a gift to the Common Fire Foundation to support this ground-shaking, world-awakening work we are attempting in the coming year. Because let's be honest: that person you don't actually like in your office doesn't actually need that kitschy gift you were going to drop $20 on because you felt guilty and obligated. But Common Fire will use any amount, major or minor, that you can give to manifest the change we are seeking.
Thanks for reading this far, and for supporting my personal and collective visions all these years!
In this edition of Iambrown:
- Autumn presents at Overcoming Racism: Listen, Connect, Commit on November 19th (St. Paul, MN)
- Meerkat Media Presents a new movie about Consensus
- 2012 Allied Media Conference - Submit a Proposal for a Track/Network Gathering/Practice Space
- Uproot: Queer Voices on Migration, Immigration, Displacement, & Diaspora
- Training for Change: Upcoming Workshops
- Call for Submissions: Zine Compilation on Healing, Culture, and Capitalism
Overcoming Racism: Listen, Connect, Commit - November 18-19, 2011
I am presenting at an amazing conference in St. Paul, Minnesota called Overcoming Racism: Listen, Connect, Commit on November 18-19. I am piloting a new workshop called Re-Railing the Conversation on Race, developed in collaboration with Danielle Sered, Director of Common Justice. I am so excited about this work, and if you are in Minnesota and you can make it to this conference, I strongly encourage it. Check it out.
Meerkat Media Presents a new movie about Consensus
My amazing friends at Meerkat Media just produced an inspiring short film about Consensus, against the backdrop of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Truly worth the watch!
PLUS, Angela Davis speaks at Zucotti Park. For your viewing pleasure!
video of Zuccotti Park
2012 Allied Media Conference - Submit a Proposal for a Track/Network Gathering/Practice Space
Proposals for Tracks, Network Gatherings and Practice Spaces at the 2012 Allied Media Conference are due Monday, November 14 at Midnight EST. Learn more and submit a proposal.
La fecha límite para proponer Ejes Temáticos, Asambleas de Redes o Espacios para prácticas es el 14 de Noviembre a la Medianoche EST. ¡Envia tu idea ahora! (En Español). Leer más.
Watch our public service announcement explaining AMC Tracks, Network Gatherings and Practice Spaces.
Save the date: 14th AMC June 28 - July 31, 2012
Uproot: Queer Voices on Migration, Immigration, Displacement, & Diaspora Vision: A fierce & gorgeous queer 'zine about people in motion. That is, in this case, a collection of art in any medium translatable to the printed/electronic page: i.e. essays, stories, poems, drawings/paintings, or photographs, about migration, immigration, displacement, diaspora, or any other movement of (your) people. Whether by force or by choice, by land or by sea, by foot or by vehicle, ethnic, religious, and cultural groupings of people have always moved across the earth. We have had our lands occupied and colonized, pushing us to the fringes. We have been enslaved, and we have been displaced by war and economic disparities. We have chosen to move, in the hope for better lives for ourselves and our families. These movements have shaped, shifted, and blended our cultures, our religions, our food, our music, our identities - our very selves. They may have created great hope in us, traumatized us, provided us with opportunities otherwise unavailable to us, or resulted in loss of language or family or more. Our stories about the ways the migration(s) of our ancestors, our families, and ourselves have affected and informed our current identities deserve to be told, and deserve to be heard, read, and seen. The stories of peoples' migrations and the subsequent effects on our cultures and identities are often told from the point of view of those who have historically held positions of power. This is no mainstream public school history book, y'all. Uproot aims to fill in and flesh out existing narratives, highlighting the perspectives and voices of LGBTQQI folks through our words, visual art, and other expression. Who should submit: Queer folks (LGBTQQI, same-sex loving, two-spirit, or otherwise queer/non-hetero-ID'd folks) What you should submit: Any writing or art translatable to the printed/electronic page. (Can't believe I have to say this, but I probably do. Content/theme/subject should be about you or your people.) Please keep written submissions to 1,500 words or less. Contact me if you have a longer piece you would like to contribute. Limit one submission per person. Where you should send your stuff: email@example.com. When you should send it: By December 19, 2011. Please contact me if you would like to submit a piece but will need more time. Why?: Because your stories and the stories of your people deserve to be told, and the world needs to hear them. ALSO: If you are juiced to be a part of this and might have some time, skills, or resources to donate to the formatting/layout/printing and eventual distribution processes, please do be in touch! I'm doing this for nothing but love, and though I could probably pull together a passable yet somewhat bootsy 'zine all on my own, and use my tips from two consecutive Sunday brunch shifts to print it out in black and white (and then use two consecutive Sunday evenings stapling it together) I would love to have a li'l help making it pretty. If you want to help me format or edit or start a kickstarter to fundraise for costs, etc., please holler at firstname.lastname@example.org, and put HELP in the subject line.
Training for Change: Upcoming Workshops
Training for Social Action Trainers
November 4-6, Oakland, CA
Whites Confronting Racism
Dec 9-11, Philadelphia, PA
Training for Social Action Trainers
Dec 9-11, 2011, Philadelphia, PA
Organizing Skills Institute
(for Philadelphia residents only)
Feb 10-12, March 23-25, May 4-6, 2012
Super-T: Training of Trainers
Learn more about the Super T here
June 8-24, 2012
Call for Submissions: Zine Compilation on Healing, Culture, and Capitalism
This is a CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS for a zine compilation on issues surrounding healing, culture, and capitalism.
We are looking for people to submit writing and art that offers perspectives on how Yoga, Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine, Spiritual Healing, and many other modes
of healing interact with modern global economies and cultures. We are looking for submissions from healers, practitioners, organizers, public health workers,
and "lay" people, and we are looking for writing based in personal experience.
WE ARE ESPECIALLY LOOKING FOR DISCUSSION FROM YOGA TEACHERS AND YOGA PRACTITIONERS.
Deadline for Submissions: January 30, 2012
Please Email Submissions and Bio to: email@example.com
We are seeking a multiplicity of perspectives, questions, and investigations, and below are some of the questions we are seeking to address in this zine:
- How does cultural appropriation interact with "alternative" or "holistic" medicine in the west? In the united states?
- How do we as herbalists, yoga teachers, acupuncturists, and other practitioners involve ourselves in the continuation of colonialism and cultural theft?
- How are our lives ameliorated or saved by these healing practices? How and why do we feel "called" to these practices? How might we as healers use tools and practices that make intuitive, spiritual, and a certain kind of political sense to us, while still being accountable for our privileges and complicities?
- How do we as rad folks interact with the larger culture of the "green capitalist" healing industry?
- Specifically, what are the complexities of being a yoga teacher or practitioner in the west?
- What happens to the people of a culture whose practices we are using, borrowing, transforming, or stealing? What happens to the culture or the practice itself? What is gained and what is lost? Who benefits and who loses or pays?