Posts Tagged ngec

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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Social Justice Organizations Moving from Intention to Practice: the Journey of Minnesota’s Fellowship Organizations

Social Justice Organizations Moving from Intention to Practice: the Journey of Minnesota’s Fellowship Organizations

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

The Minnesota cohort of the Organization Fellowship Program convened on March 24- 25, 2011 in sunny, cold St. Paul, Minnesota.  We were ever so fortunate to be in the beautiful and huge conference room of the Northwest Area Foundation with sunshine streaming through its windows wrapping around two walls.  It is tremendously valuable to be in beautiful, comfortable spaces.

Those who are stuck in thinking all should go just as well or even BETTER if activists are more “authentically” stuck in some dank, dark, dreary space need to get over it.  Why do you think the Rockefeller Foundation keeps up that beautiful villa in Bellagio, Italy and uses it as a place of contemplation, reflection, and strategic thinking for scholars and activists it considers worthy of investment?

So, we were in a space conducive to challenging work, and the creative facilitation by Bo Thao-Urabe and Karen Perkins enabled high energy, extraordinarily focused collective thinking throughout the entire convening. The convening engaged the organizational leaders in sharing and reflecting collectively.

As the groups shared their work, I was first struck by what seemed to be a deepening of openness, honesty, self-reflection, and appreciation for the uniqueness of each organization and understanding of the work.  Each group shared a particular challenge now encountered in their work, and then there were thoughtful, respectful, creative responses from the collaborative

Some challenges lifted by these groups are:

• How to create, articulate, write and incorporate gender equity into policies and practices,
• How to approach concerns about “offending” the community,
• Defining who the organization is accountable to, and therefore, how do we pick with whom to collaborate,
• How to manage the risk-taking component in all of this, including approaching a potential partner/collaborator/ally,
• How to align the conversation of the board and leadership, who are focused on organizational level policies and practices, with the more personal conversations within the community,
• How to handle the practical side of transitioning from a “crises center” to an “organizing center,”
• Here’s a project we intend to launch; give us your feedback.

It became clear at this March convening that the OFP groups now owned its share of this space – no longer are they looking to AAPIP for answers; these OFP leaders are creating answers within themselves and among each other.

Then, extraordinary community organizers – Eun Sook Lee, Kori Chen, and Pakou Hang – challenged each member of the OFP to take the risks of launching itself into actual community organizing.  As each OFP member is changing internally, how will they move that change externally into programming, into base-building, into that community base, and ultimately into the larger community and public policy?

The most telling comment upon the transformation already experienced by the OFP members came when a member commented, “This is scary stuff.  I can hear it now, but I couldn’t hear it two years ago. I’ll face much opposition. It’s scary.  Are we willing to take that risk?” 

And the answer of the OFP groups is a resounding “YES!”


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Creating Hmong LGBTQ Space Everywhere by Alice Y. Hom

“Creating Hmong LGBTQ Space Everywhere” By Alice Y. Hom


Shades of Yellow (SOY), a Hmong lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer organization located in the Twin Cities, Minnesota has been creating safer spaces and a community for Hmong LGBTQ people to meet others to share and learn more about integrating their ethnicity, gender, and sexuality in affirming and supportive ways. They also have developed ally relationships to build understanding and acceptance for Hmong LGBTQ members within their Hmong and LGBTQ communities of which they are a part.

As the Director of AAPIP’s Queer Justice Fund, I met with SOY staff, board, and a few members on February 7th to lead a facilitated discussion about the history of LGBTQ AAPI community organizing, my own development as a Queer AAPI activist, and their thoughts about the future direction for SOY as they contemplate new leadership and strategies to build the organization and their members.

A former board member, Fue Khang shared, “This conversation was definitely something we needed. We have not yet had an individual come in to work one-on-one with our Board and/or Staff, so this meeting re-energized me. For a while I was feeling the affects of burnout and a bit hopeless, but having this meeting to talk over our concerns and visions gave me a new perspective for SOY.”

A group of 11 met over a tasty dinner at a Cambodian restaurant where we made a Queer AAPI space in a semi-private back room where we spoke freely, laughed loudly, and at times, turned serious on topics such as coming out, family and community acceptance, discrimination, social change, and how best for SOY to play a role in changing social and community conditions by addressing racism, homophobia, and sexism in ways that make sense culturally from the different perspectives of SOY members and leaders. “[This] meeting helped reinforce my thoughts and helped me redefined what social change is and can be,” said Doua Xiong.


People shared their challenges of being Hmong and queer, how they navigate the sometimes different worlds of their LGBTQ community and their Hmong community, and how they encounter a variety of reactions when coming out to friends and family members. Huey Lee remarked, “I had the best and most productive night ever with SOY and Alice Hom. I never thought just talking with people [would] be this great and that I would learn so much. I really enjoyed talking about the concept of space and that as Hmong Queer, we have the opportunity to create Queer space where ever we go!”

The final topic of the evening centered on SOY’s current leadership transition and the short-term and future direction of the organization. Everyone chimed in with their different perspectives and opinions based on their connection, history, and roles with SOY. The next steps include creating more opportunities to have larger gatherings to continue the dialogue and to bring interested people together who want to do the work of maintaining and sustaining SOY because it is a valuable resource for the Hmong LGBTQ community and to ally communities.

Chong Moua, a SOY staff member, summed it up, “It was good to know that SOY is not the only organization that goes through challenges, change, and transitions. Discussing our specific concerns and having the opportunity to share our ideas and thoughts connected everyone, board, staff, and constituents, on a deeper level. Having this understanding regrounded everyone back to the same starting point. I am reassured, hopeful, and excited for all the opportunities ahead!”

 

Please come and support one of SOY’s signature events, SOY New Year celebration, this Saturday, February 26th.

Buasavanh Banquet Hall
7324 Lakeland Ave N, Brooklyn Park, MN 55428.
Doors Open at 3 pm
Open-Mic and After Party at 9 pm
For more information, please see http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/157121

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Reflections from the OFP Convening – Gender in the Social Justice Movement By Barbara Phillips

NGEC OFP Guest Blog

Reflections from the OFP Convening:Gender in the Social Justice Movement

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

Barbara Phillips with the NGEC OFP Cohort in Los Angeles, Nov. 2010

 

I arrived in Los Angeles on November 18, 2010, knowing only that I would be in the presence of diverse innovative institutions and individuals attempting to build a national movement for social justice through transformative analysis and work placing gender equity at the core.

At the invitation of Peggy Saika, a dangerous woman because she is a visionary with fierce organizing, executive, and leadership qualities, I was to have the privilege of hanging out with community-based organizations representing Asian American communities convened under the Organizational Fellowship Program (OFP) of the National Gender & Equity Campaign to reflect upon past work and establish goals and plans for 2011. Undergirding the whole thing is AAPIP’s BRIDGE (Building Responsive Infrastructure to Develop Global Equity), a framework for building and strengthening social justice movements through organizational transformation.

As I joined the group for dinner – a stranger to all but a few – to get my first glimpse of these social justice activists, I was engulfed by spirited camaraderie as participants greeted each other with affection and filled the evening with caring about the work and each other.

To capture the moment, I jotted words that came to mind as I sat there eating great food, being welcomed by those around me, and listening to the chat around me and brief organizational check-ins:

• Affection • Community • Engagement • Commitment • Passion • Connection • Understanding/knowledge • Insight • Compassion • Hope • Belief • Culture

The next morning, the work began in earnest at the Asian Pacific American Legal Center. Each group reported upon their work during 2010. The breadth and diversity of the organizations ranged from long-time dedicated advocacy troops to a remarkable Minnesota organization that recently transitioned from years of social services to now social services and advocacy putting gender equity/gender democracy first in all its work. And the age range seemed to span from 20s to 60s and then some. I was as engrossed as everyone else who listened respectfully to the presentations of each group.

I was struck by the honesty of the reflections, the openness in sharing challenges and self-critique, and the empathy and insight of questions. Presenters shared the experiences of discerning what “gender justice” actually means at all levels – internally with respect to organizational culture, policies, board and staff composition and practices, as well as externally in engaging members and constituents in the conversation and shaping the work in which the organizations engaged. In the words of one presenter, “This is a process of on-going work around gender, race, and oppression.”

There was no rote recitation of ideology; rather the entire conversation was a living definition of what we dream of when we aspire to practice informing theory and theory informing practice. Here were activists sharing, for example, what it means to bring LGBTQ issues into their work – learning to say “gender matters” as effectively as they have said race matters for positive social change. Eventually, I noticed a bunch of missing elements (elements that are ALWAYS in evidence when social justice activists get together):

• no dysfunctional personalities

• no weary souls sunk in despair

• no unrealistic young organizers

• no older organizers who knew everything

• no bumps, landmines and potholes in communicating across all the diversity in the room

Really, not a single quibble over process. Not a single eruption of warfare over the meaning and appropriateness of a word. Are these people for real??? True. The thoughtfulness and thoroughness of preparation for the convening was obvious. The facilitation by Bo Thao-Urabe, Beckie Masaki, and Alice Hom was exquisite.

In my over 40 years of activism, I’d never experienced a meeting in which each organization was itself engaged in deep internal transformation across such diverse, challenging, and innovative work And each organization was also contributing to a collectively determined vision, framework and work. Complicated and challenging. The pace was unrelenting, but no one seemed exhausted; to the contrary, the room buzzed with energy.

As I watched the incredible productiveness of these social justice activists, I realized BRIDGE and the transformative power of placing gender equity at the core of the work were responsible for what was amazing about this convening. It is through the tools of BRIDGE that these activists and organizations are undergoing internal transformation while developing the capacity for a different realm of vision and work – building a powerful, sustainable, broad-based social justice movement .

I observed that November weekend in Los Angeles, and find reason to hope. My son tells me there were thousands of young people at the U.S. Social Forum in 2010, ready to join in common cause. In Los Angeles – convening in one room for a brief moment – was the wisdom, passion, organizing skills and fortitude that the BRIDGE will channel and strengthen into a stronger, more effective social justice movement.

These organizations are making the abstract into reality. Their experiences show that through placing gender equity/gender democracy at the core of social change and utilizing the tools of BRIDGE, social justice organizations in the U.S. can transform themselves internally and can develop the capacity to create a powerful movement.

My hope is that other social justice organizations take a serious look at this work and make it part of their own; that funders realize activists have created an effective framework called BRIDGE for movement building; and that organizations and funders form meaningful partnerships in building the social justice movement that will bring about the change for which we have struggled so long.

I left the convening thinking of my favorite proverb, “Those who say it cannot be done, should not interfere with those who are doing it.”

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How would organizational effectiveness be different from a social justice movement frame?

Reflections from the 2010 GEO conference from Bo Thao-Urabe, BRIDGE Director about organizational effectiveness using NGEC’s framework.


Social Justice Movement Building diagram

How would organizational effectiveness be different from a social justice movement frame? - By Bo Thao-Urabe, Director, BRIDGE (Building Responsive Infrastructure to Develop Global Equity)

Recently I participated in the Grantmakers for Effective Organizations’ (GEO) national conference.  The participants were mostly people from foundations, but there were some representatives from consulting firms, affinity groups and community nonprofits.  Being a newbie, I chatted with a few participants about why they came.  For most, “organizational effectiveness” of nonprofit groups being funded seemed top of mind.

On a very basic level, organizational effectiveness is a seemingly apolitical term used in the nonprofit sector to demonstrate how successful an organization is in achieving its stated goals.  This has translated into tools and methods that help groups develop measurement units of their work — like demographically naming the population being served, counting the number of people served, and showing the level of satisfaction of those served. But these are very contained, focused, logical, short-term, and absent a worldview.

For me, just using the “organizational effective” paradigm alone misses a more dynamic beginning and evolution of organizations that helps us understand and answer the question of, “So What?”  or “Organizational effectiveness for what?”

Read the rest of this entry »

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Creating Community Identity – Ideas + Questions Inspired by New Orleans Convening

OFP participants at New Orleans convening

(Sharing some reflections from our recent convening  – written by Megan Powers, NGEC’s Capacity Building Manager in Minnesota.)

A question bubbled up among many during NGEC’s recent OFP cohort convening in New Orleans: How can a group help to create and harness a community’s identity?

After viewing “A Village Called Versailles”, visiting with New Orleans residents and organizers, and much discussion, cohort participants noted that part of the success of the neighborhood’s organizing work can be attributed to a strong sense of community identity.

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“Justice Rising: Sparking Dialogue for Democracy” NGEC video & Guide

“Justice Rising: Sparking Dialogue for Democracy”

The intended audiences for the video and the guide are individuals and organizations who are exploring the meaning of social justice in their work. The following clips from the NGEC’s Justice Rising video offers various definitions and organizational strategies for advancing social justice in communities. It focuses on the importance of giving meaning to social justice as a concept and a framework, and shares tangible examples of how some groups have responded by creating programs and carrying out specific strategies.

Justice Rising – Video Discussion Guide

Justice Rising NGEC

Download .pdf (1.1 MB)

PART 1 of 2

PART 2 of 2

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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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Sample Exercises + Team Activities from NGEC’s Social Justice Capacity Building Program

NGEC OFP’s Sample Exercises and Team Activities

The exercises and activities we list below were initially developed for use in NGEC’s Organizational Fellowship Program with our 12 Asian American partner organizations in Minnesota and California.

Although they represent just a sampling of what we do in our intensive 3-year capacity building program, NGEC shares these resources in the spirit of making them available to wider audiences.

We hope folks find them useful and applicable to other areas of work.  NGEC welcomes and appreciate your feedback as we continue to refine and update these tools as they are tested and adapted by the community.

“Exploring Our Values” Exercise

“Fictional VRC Role Play” Exercise

“Organization Alignment” Exercise

“Organizational Transformation Role Play” Exercise

“Zooming In and Zooming Out” Exercise

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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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