emergent strategy quote collection: 4

preface: see post #1.

on how to build movement infrastructure, not just organization infrastructure

“We had to begin to practice deep, authentic collaboration. This meant a shift in how we move financial and human resources—there are enough people out there to support the movement(s) we need, but currently, organizations are pitted against each other to access money (less and less money), rather than creating and investing together to maximize a diversity of resources from money, to people, to spaces, to skills. Because we are not investing in a shared network of resources, it is easy to let structural and ideological particularities create deep splits throughout the non-profit sphere, rendering much of our work useless.”

on ineffective (but interesting!) direct actions

“One thing that was highlighted for us was that, in the direct action realm, it’s not unusual to see time and energy poured into actions that are more interesting/funny/creative than they are compelling to those we are trying to reach and/or life-changing to the communities taking action. To be clear, we are moving in a good direction in being funny and creative—we want to engage people—but our standards for communities taking the risks associated with direct action must be that the experience and the results are compelling, even life-changing.”

on shifting to believing communities actually must lead their own change

“We learned that every member of the community holds pieces of the solution, even if we are all engaged in different layers of the work.

We learned to look for telltale signs that actions were community based. One indicator that things are off is when impacted communities and people of color get involved and they are put in the role of “performing the action,” for example, having their photos taken, being spokespeople, or being asked to endorse or represent work they don’t get to lead, etc., while most of the background organizing is still dominated by the folks who aren’t impacted and won’t be around long term to sustain the campaign or to be held accountable.

At its worst, this approach builds up hope and encourages local communities to take risks, and then abandons them with the results.

At its best, there is a moment of victory. But too often, in spite of their best intentions, those who aren’t directly impacted only see the surface layer(s) of the impact, and thus come up with surface solutions that don’t address the deep-seated multi-pronged need in the community.

“We learned that in organizing and relationships, accountability is key for building a lasting base; when folks see change, they feel their own investment is worthwhile. We need actions that build our base, because we must reach a tipping point of folks who are on the side of justice before we reach the peak of what our planet can provide.”