Posts Tagged movement building

California OFP Cohort Explores Challenges to Movement Building and Gender Democracy

This is the first of a two-part blog post by Barbara Phillips on her observations at the April 2011 convening of the California cohort of the NGEC Organizational Fellowship Program. In Part II of the post, Barbara offers additional reflection on gender democracy and the roles often assigned to women, as well as suggested resources to inform a deeper analysis and richer discourse.

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On April 6th and 7th, the California cohort of the Organizational Fellowship Program convened in San Francisco and struggled with some of the most significant and enduring challenges of advancing social justice and movement building. While sharing their organizational development and programmatic work since the last convening, the participants brought their years of organizing experience to enrich the conversation with explorations such as:

• How to translate gender justice analysis into organizational culture and, thus, into structure, operations and programs;

• How to engage with competing cultural values and reach hearts and minds both within the community and in the larger society;

• What does cultural competence look like in gender democracy work?;
The challenges of sustainability;

• How to engage with the State – does community empowerment replace the need to effect policy change;

• When the status quo is so powerful, can we rationally believe in our power to effect change;

• How to raise our own consciousness about aspects of the status quo detrimental to equality and democracy with which we are comfortable and have no will change; and

• How do we not end up mimicking that which we oppose?

There are no easy “answers” to any of these challenges and each one requires constant reflection and risk-taking.  But it is essential that we engage these struggles if we are to have any chance to create the world in which we want to live.

As I listened to these progressive organizers wrestle with how to make their work more powerful by moving gender equity/democracy to the core, I was struck by the pervasive placement of women within the context of family.  Even as the participants noted aspects of the community’s cultural values antithetical to gender democracy, the participants themselves often placed/valued women only in relation to family and children.  The advocacy on behalf of women tended to be couched in terms of how the family and/or children would benefit.  Even when the discussion turned to the difficulty some women had in participating in meetings due to the husbands’ expectations that the wife should be attending to domestic duties, the response was to schedule the meeting earlier so that the wife could meet this cultural expectation.

I encourage OFP participants to reflect upon the need for further struggle.

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Daring to Do What the Spirit Say Do

Daring to Do What the Spirit Say Do

By Barbara Phillips, Social justice activist and former Ford Foundation Program Officer for Women’s Rights and Gender Equity

Moments of the day with the Minnesota NGEC fellowship organization’s kept poking at me.  So when Peggy Saika shared that it is racism within philanthropy that led to the creation of Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP), and while AAPIP never intended to be and is not a “funder” it seized the opportunity to create the space for the National Gender & Equity Campaign of which the OFP is a component.

Peggy Saika grounded the OFP work in the initial conception of NGEC, describing NGEC as an example of what’s possible when philanthropy actually undertakes a collaborative, respectful partnership with the community.  NGEC should be understood as a bold experiment in building democratic philanthropy that requires the creative engagement of all the partners.

The OFP groups are making the road by walking it – an over-used phrase, but in this case the most accurate shorthand description of what is really happening.

The OFP groups’ thoughtful struggles keep coming to mind:

* We are managing the issue of “offending the community,” and it compels thoughtfulness about where we stand.  Do we shirk from offending some community members who are unable, yet, to respect the full humanity of others?

* It takes courage to have honest conversations about an organization’s new vision and mission that is grounded in social justice.

* We are exploring what gender looks like in the LGBTQ community and building respect for inclusion.

* We value re-setting aspirations – now we understand our work to be about social change with four core strategies and we need a new structure to implement our new vision.

* We are changing our definition of success from the amount of the grant dollars received to how much change is effected and the duration of that change.

* We’ve altered our identity, structure, and strategies – we need to look for solid connection between intention, practice and impact.  We’re trying to change who are the decision-makers in the community.

* We consider art a strategy for social change and we need diverse artistic expression and perspectives.

* We are building our base, measuring change, and staying accountable.

* I think about the tremendous courage required to embark on this challenging new venture of community organizing within the context of also continuing internal transformation.

First, I meditated on the notion that there’s going to be lots of discomfort and tension along the way.  But, comfort is really over-valued.  It is struggle, not comfort that generates creativity, transformation, energy and ultimately the world in which we want to live.  And sometimes discomfort /tension is not a problem to be solved.  Sometimes the solution to that condition is evolution of a new consciousness that appreciates the condition as an incubator of new vision and new ideas.

Second, I think it is important to make friends with your fears.  Sometimes it is a very smart thing and quite rational to be afraid and to stay afraid.  But, don’t let that stop you.  Advice to “just don’t be afraid” never worked for me.  If I had waited for my fear to subside, I’d probably still be waiting. I learned, instead, to hold the hand of that fear and to take it with me – to “do it” anyway.

I’m reminded of an extraordinary evening several years ago when Marion Wright Edelman of the Children’s Defense Fund invited a bunch of college age organizers to spend an evening with veterans of the Civil Rights Movement at Haley Farm in east Tennessee.

The legendary SNCC organizer Bob Moses and several of his colleagues sat around one end of the table and the students sat around the other end and spilled into the room.  Conversation was pretty stiff as the students seemed awed and intimidated by the veterans.  Finally, Bob Moses asked them about what issues grabbed their passion and the students focused upon the prison-industrial complex and its specific impact upon the Black community.

Bob Moses listened attentively and then explored their analyses, strategies, and tactics.  The students shared their experiences and frustrations, contrasting their condition of often being uncertain with the clarity the veterans had brought to the Civil Rights Movement.  The veterans erupted into laughter.  Really.  They did.

And then they explained, “You think we KNEW what we should do?  We so often didn’t know what to do that we even had a song for it!”  And with that, the veterans launched spontaneously into the song, “I’m Gonna Do What the Spirit Say Do.”  And explained that when stuck on deciding what to “do,” they would sing that song in a SNCC meeting or a community organizing Mass Meeting, and then they would do what the spirit say do.  Together. The students were astonished and – finally – real conversation commenced.

I’m gonna do what the Spirit say do

I’m gonna do what the Spirit say do

What the Spirit say do, I’m gonna do Oh, Lord

I’m gonna do what the Spirit say do

I’m gonna fight when the Spirt say fight

I’m gonna fight when the Spirit say fight

When the Spirit say fight, I’m gonna fight Oh, Lord

I’m gonna fight when the Spirit say fight

I’m gonna march when the Spirit say march

I’m gonna march when the Spirit say march

When the Spirit say march, I’m gonna march Oh, Lord

I’m gonna march when the Spirit say march

This is a participatory song and is adapted to whatever conundrum faced the community.  The verses were modified depending upon the circumstances with which the community was wrestling.  It could be pondering alternatives of “fight,” “march,” “pray” – whatever – the song allowed the community to name all the possible alternative actions.  But the closing verse always repeated the first, “I’m gonna do what the Spirit say do.”

We can be immobilized by uncertainty and the fear of doing the “wrong” thing.  But, the response to uncertainty is not to wait for the Angel of Certainty to whisper in our ear.  She won’t be coming and those who are certain are the most dangerous people there are. The response to fear is not to wait for it to subside.  We are challenged to trust ourselves and our communities, to take risks together, to learn together as we move with those risks – to do what the Spirit say do.

 

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A roundup of tools and resources!

We’ve recently updated our listing of  some tools and resources  from partners and other nonprofit allies that we think you may find useful.  Browse the full list on our website:  http://genderandequity.org/resources_list or simply click on one of the categories below.


Board Development & Governance
Capacity Building & Strategic Planning
Collaborations & Coalition Building
Community Building & Community Development
Community Organizing
Domestic Violence
Evaluation & Working with Consultants
Facilitation, Forums & Surveys
Fundraising, Grant writing & Budgeting
Gender, Gender Identity, LGBTQ
Immigration & Refugee Issues
Leadership Development & Intergenerational Issues
Media & Communications
Organizational Assessment & Development
Policy Advocacy
Racial Equity & Asset-Based Approaches
Responsive Philanthropy
Social Justice & Movement Building

Sustainability

Technology (for nonprofits)
Theory of Social Change
Trafficking

+ General sites with more resources

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Building Power, Collective Leadership and Cultural Change

NGEC’s Organizational Fellowship Program is convening in New Orleans this year around the themes of: Building Power, Collective Leadership and Cultural Change.

We’ll be exploring aspects of these practices within the context of what’s happening in New Orleans, and providing space for each OFP member to share and reflect upon how these manifest in their own communities.

AAPIP will also host a screening of  the documentary “A Village Called Versailles” with filmmaker, Leo Chiang.

In a New Orleans neighborhood called Versailles, a tight-knit group of Vietnamese Americans overcame obstacles to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina, only to have their homes threatened by a new government-imposed toxic landfill. A VILLAGE CALLED VERSAILLES is the empowering story of how the Versailles people, who have already suffered so much in their lifetime, turn a devastating disaster into a catalyst for change and a chance for a better future.

A few other sites and resources around the recovery & movement building efforts in post-Katrina :

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Upcoming Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training (GIFT) Training, March 2010

Sharing this online event that AAPIP NGEC friends and allies might want to check out in March!  Visit their website for complete information:

The Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training (GIFT) is a multiracial organization that promotes the connection between fundraising, social justice and movement-building. GIFT believes that how groups are funded is as important to achieving their goals as how the money is spent, and that building community support is central to long-term social change. GIFT provides training, resources and analysis to strengthen organizations, with an emphasis on those focused on social justice and based in communities of color.

Upcoming Webinar:
Create a Culture of Fundraising at Your Organization
March 16, 2010
(10am Pacific/11am Mountain/12pm Central/1pm Eastern)

Tired of working in isolation, feeling like you’re the sole person responsible for raising your organization’s budget? Heard about creating a culture of fundraising, but unsure of what it actually means in practice? Then this is the webinar for you!

Join fundraising consultant Rona Fernandez as she takes you through concrete steps to build a culture of fundraising within your organization. Learn about how to create buy-in, demystify the process of fundraising for non-development staff, and bring the FUN back to fundraising! Fundraising doesn’t have to be something your force onto your coworkers, but instead CAN be a regular part of how your organization functions.

http://www.grassrootsfundraising.org/article.php/webinars

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NGEC Guide: An Organization’s Theory of Social Change (TOSC)

NGEC Theory of Social Change

NGEC Theory of Social Change Guide

“Chronicles of Change: A Guide to an Organization’s Theory of Social Change”

NGEC believes that all social justice organizations are drivers of change and delivery agents of solutions in the social justice movement. As such, each should have a Theory of Social Change (TOSC) to be most effective and sustainable.

As part of the journey in the NGEC’s Organizational Fellowship Program (OFP), we developed this 80-page guide to help the cohort groups in our 3-year program through the larger process of defining or refining their organization’s role in the social justice movement.   We believe that the combination of process and product makes a TOSC critical to organizational transformation.   The activities detailed in this guide can help groups  identify existing organizational assets and suggests ways to effectively engage organizational stakeholders in the TOSC development process.

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