Building the Beloved Community Issue Committee invites participation
The Uniting for Racial Justice leadership team submitted a proposal for the 2005-2008 campaign cycle. We were not selected to retain campaign status. The National Office asked UFORJE if we would accept issue committee status. We agreed. We invite others with an interest in racial justice and the Building the Beloved Community Issue Committee to contact the WILPF-US office about this work or to contact committee chair:
CREATING CARING COMMUNITIES
According to Piaget, the child develops through interaction with the environment rather than being totally shaped by external factors or totally predetermined my innate factors. The South African concept Ubuntu meaning I am because your are or “I am human because I belong, I participate, I share” as stated in Desmond Tutu’s book NO FUTURE WITHOUT FORGIVENESS predates the Western Concept of Individualism. In order to effectively change the world, the journey begins at home.
In the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.s’ Beloved Community, Creating Caring Communities is an anti-oppression community building training based on Eric Erikson’s psycho-social theory of development, Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences, Paulo Freire’s Education for Liberation, The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond’s Undoing Racism and Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed. In a safe and supportive environment, participants have the opportunity to experience and enhance communication, leadership and team building skills. Through various forms of creative expression, the participants transform these abstract concepts into concrete creations. Using game playing, storytelling, movement, music, visual art, theater and creative writing, allows for the discovery and exploration of inner resources. Participants will engage in activities that examine feelings and motivations, stimulate behavioral change and enhance problem solving and organizing skills.
Creating Caring Communities includes a method of dialog for social justice in a manner that supports the individual, as well as the community and fosters the healing process.
- Star Power a strategy building game and Theatre of the Oppressed*
- Inner Journey uses guided imagery and collage to foster imagination and creativity, builds trust and examine boundaries
- Collaboration affords the participants the opportunity to experience groups dynamics and group support, problem solving and communication styles using group movement and creating a group mural
- Moving Emotions explores universal feelings through movement and creative writing
- Moving Stories is a creative problem solving activity using movement and storytelling
- In the Theater of Life: Celebrate Difference uses role methodology and theater to problem solve
- Theatre of the Oppressed: Image Theatre; Rainbow of Desire; Invisible Theatre; Forum Theatre
*THEATRE OF THE OPPRESSED and STAR POWER
Theatre of the Oppressed was established in. the early 1970s by Brazilian director and Workers' Party activist Augusto Boal. It is a form of popular theater, of, by, and for people engaged in the struggle for liberation. More specifically, it is a rehearsal theater designed for people who want to learn ways of fighting back against oppression in their daily lives. In Theatre of the Oppressed, oppression is defined, in part, as a power dynamic based on monologue rather than dialogue, a relation of domination and command that prohibits the oppressed from being who they are and from exercising their basic human rights. Accordingly, Theatre of the Oppressed is a participatory theater that fosters democratic and cooperative forms of interaction among participants. Theater is emphasized not as a spectacle but rather as a language designed to:
1. analyze and discuss problems of oppression and power
2. explore group solutions to these problems. This language is accessible to all
• to help participants increase their capacity for independent thought by developing their skills in analysis (understanding problems) and synthesis (reaching consensus) for planning action
• to help examine strategies in a larger social, economic, political, and cultural context
• to help build leadership skills
• to help deepen awareness of the issues affecting communities on a daily basis
• to increase involvement in the political life of the community
• to build community-based decision-making power
providing participants with the opportunity to work in a safe space in order to explore and
confront issues of power and oppression that concern them
Participants will learn
- a problem-posing, process-based approach to group building
- acting techniques useful for individual and group empowerment
- group dynamic structures for analyzing power relations, conflict and oppression
- interactive, transformational dialogue models
How a Listening Project Works
There is some interest in how a Listening Project works and where we are in the process.
Rural Southern Voice for Peace (RSVP) has been facilitating Listening ProjectsSM (LP) nationally and internationally since 1985. RSVP serves as the LP clearinghouse and provides training in Facilitated Dialogues and other creative tools for nonviolent community organizing.
You may recall that the Cleveland branch conducted a Listening Project in October 2003. This LP used the version that involves one-on-one interviews that usually are designed to focus on a single local or national issue.
A member of the UFORJE leadership team participated in this LP. UFORJE decided the LP would be a good tool to use in Building the Beloved Community. However, our focus is much broader than a single issue. In consultation with RSVP (starting at the end of 2003), it was decided the Facilitated LP was more suitable. We contracted with RSVP to customize a manual for use with the Building the Beloved Community activities. RSVP has provided ongoing telephone consultation.
Very simply, a LP can happen when:
- an organization or coalition
- working to achieve community based goals
- commits to listening, nonviolence and grassroots empowerment
- then plans and carries out a project
- based on community input and active listening
- that builds trust, strengthens relationships
- and produces results that the organizations applies to long-range goals.
Initially a group that is interested in community building is contacted. In many areas there are already block or neighborhood associations. Most have some planning strategy. They are contacted and if they express interest, a presentation is made describing how the LP works. In collaboration with the organization an assessment would be made of where they were and where they want to be.
Session 1: The facilitated LP differs from the one-on-one LP in that people from the neighborhood organization will meet together rather than being interviewed. The people will work in groups of 4 or 5 at tables. There will be a note taker at each table. Each group will talk about what a Beloved Community would look like for them. Groups will list a variety of issues: safety, street lighting, education/schools, rental or owned housing, affordable housing, organic food sources, neighborhood beautification, garbage pickup are just a few of the topics listed. The lists from each table can be extensive.
Session 2: The lists from the previous meeting have been compiled and distributed to the participants before the meeting (based on the initial experience, more people from the neighborhood will want to participate so you may have to schedule more meetings). At this second meeting the goal is to prioritize the issues: what is most important to the participants? This can be a time consuming undertaking but the community will be developing good listening skills and developing deeper relationships.
Several more sessions are scheduled to work on bringing out the grassroots ideas, concerns, and solutions. One component in the solutions is determining who can help and what are the potential roadblocks. A timeline for activities as well as who is taking responsibility is also developed.
It was acknowledged that input from the grassroots of the neighborhood works well but life has a way of brushing aside planning considerations, both short-term and long-term. For example, several of the neighborhoods were suddenly faced with the closing of 5 neighborhood elementary schools. Issues such as where the youngsters will attend school in the fall, what will happen to the faculty and staff, what will happen to the vacant buildings, what of neighborhood businesses for whom the school was a income resource, etc took precedence over every thing else. Immediate needs will often interject themselves into the planning process for Building the Beloved Community but we continue to assemble small groups to use the LP process.
In fact, the immediate crisis made the neighborhood associations more aware of the necessity of long-range and in-depth community planning and development.
This briefly summarizes how a LP works.