A is for Anti-Racism

posted Nov 25, 2015, 3:45 PM by Amy Dudley

This past Saturday marked the one year anniversary of the murder of Tamir Rice, a 12 year old boy murdered by Cleveland Police.  
On November 22, 2014, Tamir Rice was shot within two seconds of the police’s sudden arrival and died the next day. He was playing with a plastic toy gun outside a Rec Center.  Tamir’s family has lost faith in the grand jury proceedings and is calling for a new special prosecutor and the arrest and firing of the officers involved.

Over the weekend here in Portland, Oregon, a Black student at Lewis and Clark College was attacked by three unknown white men, following demonstrations by students and the Black Student Union in response to racist posts on the school’s social media website.  

In the previous two weeks, neighborhoods in the Oregon towns of Mollalla, Oregon City, and Gresham outside of Portland were flyered by supporters of the infamous white supremacist group, the Ku Klux Klan.  

Students are outraged and stunned, and communities are appalled, but many Oregonians recall similar racist incidents and hate crimes and remember that there is a well documented history of white supremacy, sundown laws, redlining and reasons why there aren’t more Black people in Oregon.    

On Sunday, Donald Trump, Republican candidate for President, suggested a protester, well known local activist, Mercutio Southall Jr., who interrupted his rally in Birmingham with shouts of “Black lives matter!” "should have been roughed up."  At one point, Southall fell to the ground and was surrounded by several white men who appeared to be kicking and punching him.  While Trump may seem like a joke of a candidate to many of us, the way that his message of xenophobia and anti-immigrant racism is resonating across the country is dangerous.   

On Tuesday morning I woke to the news that five Black Lives Matter demonstrators in Minneapolis were shot by three men at an ongoing protest of the murder of 24 year old Jamar Clark by police.  

As Monica Simpson wrote recently in her article Considering Motherhood and Murdered Black Children, “To be a mother is to worry about your child’s future and their safety.  It is sleepless nights hoping they will succeed and find a place in the world.  It is wanting the best for them.  But to be a Black woman in the United States it is also to worry if your child will make it home from school, from work, from the store or from a friend’s house without being killed.”

This reality is not new for African Americans.  But for many white people in the US, we are still waking up to this nightmare.  (Yes, I know, how long can we hold our eyes squeezed shut?  This is the power of white privilege and seduction of white amnesia.)

As with the civil rights movement before, it is the exposure of this extreme and pervasive violence that is sending a wake up call into white America.  This exposure is born from the refusal of People of Color, and the Black Lives Matter movement, to allow this violence to continue without accountability.  

It is also these brave organizers and activists, families and students, whose courage and resistance are not only are forcing white people to open our eyes, but also evoking responses from institutions comfortable in their dominant, white supremacist culture like police departments, local governments, schools and universities and backlash from more blatant white supremacist groups including the KKK.

As a white mother of two young white children, part of raising my family up well is supporting them as white people on the side of racial justice.  I have been reading the amazing book Rad American Women A - Z by Kate Schatz with my children.   It is beautiful, and super intentional about telling stories of movement leaders, athletes, musicians, pioneers in everything from science to gender identity over the last decades, including many women of color and queer women, in an accessible way that is not watered down.  Each letter turns the spotlight on a hero.   A is for Angela Davis.  Her story begins in Birmingham, Alabama in a neighborhood called “Dynamite Hill” so called because of frequent bombings of African American homes by the KKK.  

My daughter asked me. “Why were they bombed?”  

I told her, “Some white people are afraid that when people of color are treated fairly, and their rights are respected, that will mean less for white people.  And so they tried to stop Black people organizing for their rights.”

I pause while I wonder if she gets what I am saying, and whether I’m sharing the best, most important information for her to take away...and then I ask, “Do you think it worked?  Did people give up?”

“No.” She says.  She knows by now that no is always the answer to questions about giving up.

“That’s right,” I say. “Even though people died and were afraid, they keep fighting for justice, to make the world more fair.  Black people led the way, and some people with white skin also helped because they cared about justice too and knew that our whole world is better when it is more fair for everyone.”  

I want my white children to understand that they too need to stand up for fairness and racial justice.  That they can choose solidarity and courage and compassion over fear and hate.  I was intentional in talking about fear as the motivator of hate when I introduced my children to white supremacy in Angela Davis’s story.  

White supremacy certainly has roots in colonialism and capitalism - there is a long legacy that we are working to uproot when we seek to address systems of oppression, and that is righteous work that our organizing should focus on.  But as I look in my children’s faces and think about what it takes to move towards action for racial justice as white people, I am thinking as a parent about individual choices we make towards silence, or towards resistance.  

More than hate itself, or ignorance, or even greed, I believe fear is at the root of individual manifestations of white supremacy.  Fear in so many iterations - fear of difference, fear of change, fear of scarcity, fear of connection.  All of which as white people fuels this system of domination and internalized white supremacy that keeps us divided, isolated, and plugged into a dehumanizing experience that harms us while destroying families of color and devastating communities around the world.  

Civil rights leaders in Alabama were afraid, and they organized anyway.  Black Lives Matter demonstrators hold their fears alongside their passions and hopes for justice.  As Monica Simpson concludes her article, “to be a revolutionary Black woman in this country it is to know that we have the power to create a world where we have the human right to live self-determined lives free from violence, fear and all forms of reproductive oppression.”

On this eve of celebrations of family and gratitude, and honoring of the struggles for survival and self-determination by Native people in the face of genocide and ongoing violence to indigenous nations and communities, I want to uplift these organizers of color who are in the struggle now and who have come before us.  I want to thank them for choosing courage over fear.  

As white people, I want to encourage us to have the courage to choose connection over isolation, humility over denial, to face the pain of white supremacy, to open ourselves up to more self-aware and accountable challenges to our own undeserved and unearned white skin privileges, and to move past denial and guilt, and into action.  

There is a place for us in the world that is coming, but each of us need to choose to do the work to grow and educate ourselves and stand with our own two feet on the side of justice.   

When we fight to end white supremacy, we are fighting for a world where we are all free!  Don’t be afraid of this new world, be transformed by a deeper connection to our collective humanity.  Let’s get free together!    

Thanksgiving Meal & Celebration at Feed the Burg on Nov 21st in Roseburg

posted Nov 9, 2015, 9:48 AM by Amy Dudley

WE GIVE THANKS for a community that feeds the hungry.

WE GIVE THANKS for a community that takes care of one another.

WE GIVE THANKS for a community that works for justice and democracy.

Thanksgiving Meal & Celebration at Feed the Burg

in Eagles Park, Roseburg, OR, Saturday, Nov. 21st, Noon - 2pm

Join Feed the Burg in our 4th year for a Thanksgiving Meal for 100-200 poor and homeless in Douglas County and add your voice to the messages of gratitude for the ways that our community takes care of one another, is working for justice, and a better world.  

Bring a potluck item to share, a tarp, sleeping bag, tent, socks, or candles to donate.  Make a sign at the art table or speak at the open mic as we raise up our voices together in gratitude and hope for the community we are building!  

Our community cannot bear any more divisions.  There are some basic bottom lines that we all need and deserve -- food, housing, jobs that support a family with a decent wage, good schools, someone on the other end of the line when we dial 911.

Real security comes from being part of a community that has your back with support when you need it and action for justice when things aren’t right.  

Join us on Saturday, November 21st, from 12 - 2pm and

give thanks for the ways we stand together in love and community.

RSVP to Dancer and Jeri at

Noon: Bring an item to add to the potluck meal at Feed the Burg.  RSVP if you can bring something from the Menu Wish List.

Noon-1pm: Join in the Thanksgiving meal, sit down with fellow community members and talk about the challenges and needs in our midst along with sharing information about how to organize to improve our lives.  Knowing Your Rights info. for the homeless community will also be shared thanks to Community Legal Defense Fund.

1pm - 2pm: Make your own Thanksgiving message or share your hopes for the coming year at the open mic!  

Menu Wish List - Sign up for a dish and make a double serving to share (serves at least 12).  Casseroles with meat, Soup, Mac and Cheese, Beans and Franks, Potatoes, Rice, Cornbread, Banana Bread, Cake, Cobbler.  

When Movements and History Converge - and Where We Go Next!

posted Sep 30, 2015, 12:30 PM by Amy Dudley   [ updated Sep 30, 2015, 12:31 PM ]

September 30, 2015  

Dear friends, 

Sitting down to write you was an invitation to reflect on these past three months since we gathered for the Creating Democracy planning meeting, back in June at the Friends Meeting House.  It has been a huge 3 months.

It was a little over a week after we met that Black community leaders in Charleston, S.C. were murdered in their own church by a white terrorist who claimed to act in defense of white women.  Then just 10 days after that Bree Newsome scaled the flagpole in front of the SC state house and removed the confederate flag in an action that spoke for people around the world who agreed with her that, "This flag comes down today."  Just a month after we met, SC voted to permanently remove the flag. 

During the heat wave of late July, Greenpeace activists suspended themselves from the St. Johns Bridge creating a beautiful and inspiring direct action visual that turned the world's attention to the climate crisis and urgent need to stop drilling in the Arctic.  Later that week, Portland's pristine blue skies turned grey with wildfire smoke drifting north and west from fires exacerbated by one of our warmest, driest year in the NW in recent history.  And just this week we learned that Shell is suspending Arctic drilling off the coast of Alaska!  A victory for sure, but one that we must watch dog to see just how long or far reaching this action is.  

And this week in our own Portland, the Mayor is requesting from City Council a state of emergency for housing and homelessness.  While this emergency is no news to the many families facing rising rents, evictions, foreclosures, and lack of services over the past decade, this could be an opportunity to demand real policy changes and sustained investmentthat could address the lack of affordable housing, rental protections and services for those in need. 

It was a summer of crisis, and peoples' action responding directly to those crises.  It was a summer where social movements and history converged, and whose headlines drew our collective consciousness to questions of resistance and social change and liberation.  As organizers, it was a summer that sets the stage for a year ahead ripe with possibility and needs.    

As far as Creating Democracy goes, our highlight of the summer was taking CD on the road to Southern Oregon and are excited to announce we will be partnering with ROP on a regional movement building project that will include Josephine, Jackson, Douglas and Klamath counties!  There is amazing organizing happening in this part of the state, and we are so inspired to be working together with these rural freedom fighters!  Stay tuned for more updates.  

In Portland, we are diving back into the core areas of work that many of you helped us flesh out more in June.  Below are brief summaries and invitations to help us keep moving forward.  If you have ideas or want to help guide the direction of this organizing, we want to hear from you!  

I will also be connecting more directly with many of you who expressed an interest in staying in the loop in one or more of these areas to get your thoughts on next steps and ask you about ways you might be involved.  Don't be shy!    

With gratitude and appreciation for all that each of you bring to our work for justice and liberation!

Amy and Chris

Making an Organizer’s Skills Accessible to All through a Living Organizer’s Manual
Most of us have learned on the fly, making mistakes as we go, hopefully learning from them and sticking it out as we hone our chops.  But we all need support, spaces to learn, reflect, and grow with others who are in similar situations relative to identity or experience.  One step in this direction is the creation of an online manual of organizing trainings that anyone can access for free, curated by Creating Democracy with contributions from a wide range of organizers.     
Could you contribute a training or essay or have some insights about what would be most helpful for your organizing?

Expand our movement building as families with children, support and share strategies for challenging white supremacy and advancing racial justice in our own homes, schools, neighborhoods, and create intentional relationships with people of color led organizing and movements for immigrant rights, Black Lives Matter, reproductive justice, and more.  
Do you want to support this work or share a strategy at work in your family or community? 

Scaling Up from the Personal to the Political: Organizing Your Kitchen Cabinet
Movements that last for the long term are rooted in relationships - and what better way to create a loving movement home for our organizing than to start with the people who already have our backs and know what's going on in our lives?  Whether you are an organizer by day but you wonder how to bring your personal network into this realm of justice making that consumes your creative energy...Or maybe your children or your other 40+ hour/week job(s) take up all that spare time that you used to have for marches and campaigns and book groups that fed your political spirit and you are wondering how to bring your family and full self into movement spaces.  We are interested in combining our personal networks with our organizing community as a strategy to grow our movement starting with the people who are already closest in our lives. 
Do you have ideas for a tool kit for interested organizers, or want to explore what your Kitchen Cabinet could look like?

Creating Democracy Structure  
Our goal is through our organizing efforts to establish relationships with new and existing small groups of 7-25 people who will meet independently as well as send representatives to a cluster gathering of 5-15 other small groups.  We see these independent, self-organizing small groups, connected through this movement infrastructure as the building blocks for our organizing model.  We are drawing on lessons from movements around the world and throughout history that emphasize participation, autonomous organizing, and collective decision making.  We hope to engage 40-100 small groups in the coming year.  If you are part of a group, whether large or small, or would be interested in creating one, please email Chris or Amy.   

Thanks again to the many people who have been supportive of this work over the past year - whether you have taken time to talk or read our updates, donating meeting space, food, or cash, or spent time thinking together with us.  We are so grateful and honored to be building together with you.  

Inviting Southern Oregon Leaders - Movement Building Pilot Project with Rural Organizing Project and Creating Democracy

posted Jul 28, 2015, 11:32 AM by Amy Dudley   [ updated Sep 2, 2015, 1:54 PM ]

July 21, 2015

Dear Southern Oregon leaders,

Rural Organizing Project has been proud to watch and support your organizing in Southern Oregon, ensuring there is a human dignity voice in every county in the area with the ability to rise to the occasion when crisis or opportunity strikes, and even multiple groups in some places to lead on multiple fronts of human dignity work. The movement for justice is alive and growing in Southern Oregon!

We are in a complex and potential-filled movement moment: the national status quo is shifting around race, the statewide conversation about immigrants and structural racism is kicking off yet again as Sheriff Arpaio is brought to Oregon to promote two anti-immigrant ballot measures, the drought and high temperatures has folks coming out of the woodwork all over engaging in conversations about climate justice, and we still face the same challenges of eroding community infrastructure as income disparity grows. Who will step in to help our neighbors navigate these times? Clearly, you all!

Over the last couple years, ROP has had conversations with many of you about the movement in your town, county, and region and recurring themes have continued to arise: our groups do great work individually, but are there ways we can join together so our efforts are even more effective? Can we take our stellar successes and finesse them so that we can become an even brighter model for the state? Can Southern Oregon become an incubator for bold and innovative organizing that responds to people's needs and the headlines?

ROP thinks the answer is YES! - which is why we would like to invite you to help us shape a project to dive into how we evolve our movement building organizing in rural and small town Oregon!

ROP and Creating Democracy are partnering to launch a pilot project this Fall to experiment with movement building in rural Oregon! We are ready to play with how we create energizing spaces to develop our movement strategies, and we think you are too!

More information about Creating Democracy, potential next steps, and a little taste of the questions we want to digest with you are below! Please share any thoughts or questions back with Jess at ROP or Amy at Creating Democracy. What resonates? What is missing that you think should be included? What would you change? This project will be shaped by you and your group's participation!

Why Movement Building?  Making the changes our communities, and our world needs, relies on our power as everyday, regular/amazing people to envision the changes we want and organize, organize, organize until they are realities.  We need the power of numbers, but we also need the power of solidarity.  We need the skills to grow and overcome barriers and divisions that keep us small and insular.  We need a loving movement culture that will sustain and support us, not drain us or disconnect us from our daily lives.  We need to see ourselves as empowered and transformational organizers who are core to building our movement.  And we need a mechanism to connect us from the vital, local organizing that is right in front us to the larger movement uprisings that swell throughout time, that we can also be part of fostering and rising to meet.

The Right has been effective at tapping into both the cultural fabric of many Oregon communities, and leveraging their power into policy changes and institutional decisions that have defunded public infrastructure and eroded our democracy.  In the face of these ongoing assaults, now is the time to envision and build our own capacity to build a stronger movement for real democracy rooted in our values of human dignity, justice, anti-oppression and collective liberation.  

Why Southern Oregon? Southern Oregon has been on the frontlines of the resurgence of the far Right in Oregon, and is also a place where some of the most provocative racial justice, environmental justice, and economic justice organizing is happening in the state! ROP and CD see Southern Oregon as an exciting region to pilot this project in because of the vibrant, energetic, creative folks who are looking to innovate on how we do transformative, movement building organizing for us to achieve collective liberation.

How?  The Creating Democracy pilot project with ROP in Southern Oregon would seek to strengthen relationships between human dignity groups in the region, both informally as well as structurally.  We believe that our ability to make decisions together is key to exercising our collective power.  We want to build the strengths of existing local human dignity groups that encourage and can support participation from members, but also create regular convenings that link local groups together as a stronger movement building force that knows one another, has built trust together, and can ultimately take collective action.  Alongside this movement infrastructure, we want to make the skill set of an organizer available to everyone who wants it - from facilitation and conflict resolution, to anti-oppression and racial justice training, to the best practices of loving, accountable, transparent organizing.    

What would each of us commit to?  Local groups who are interested in joining the project would agree to participate in the following phases and components of the project from Fall 2015 through Spring 2016: visioning and planning, implementing and evaluating, training and mentoring, communication and coordination between groups in the region and with ROP and Creating Democracy.  Initial visits with ROP and Creating Democracy would assess interest, build joint vision and plans for the project, and provide initial training.  For the duration of the project, and beyond, assuming we are successful, ROP and Creating Democracy would be in communication with local groups, make multiple visits, and provide opportunities to develop organizing and facilitation skills, support and coaching through organizing next steps, and developed local infrastructure for communication and decision making between multiple interested local groups in the region.

Who is Creating Democracy?  Creating Democracy is coordinated by Amy Dudley and Chris Borte, partners in organizing and life.  Amy is originally from rural SW Virginia, a former ROP Organizer and Director, mother of two children ages 6 and 4, and lead from CD on this project.  Chris is the founding visionary behind Creating Democracy who launched his organizing in Olympia and Portland as part of the anti-globalization movement that shut down the WTO using street democracy first hand in 1999. He is an IT professional by day which allows him to glean the smarts of tech innovations for application in the organizing world, while also understanding first hand the challenges of building a movement as a full time working parent.  More background is here.     

What are the next steps?  Respond now to Jess and Amy to let us know that you want to meet, and whether you are more interested in an informal conversation with 3-5 members of your group or if you want to plan for a larger group conversation that could allow for more folks to get up to speed and be part of discussing what this project might look like from the outset.  Both options would ideally mean taking 1-2 hours to meet and securing a location. Regional movement building gatherings will take place beginning in September 2015.

Structure & Accountability in a Self-Organizing Movement for Collective Liberation

posted May 6, 2015, 12:53 PM by Amy Dudley   [ updated May 6, 2015, 12:56 PM ]

Summary of our Conversation on Structure for a Self-Organizing Movement for Collective Liberation

April 29th, 2015

How we organize ourselves really does matter.  It is another reflection of our values - whose perspectives are included, how leadership operates, how transparent and accessible decision making is - these all make a huge difference in the outcomes of our movement building work.  Our process for organizing and decision making should reflects our values of democracy, our desire for loving movement culture and our commitment to action for collective liberation and anti-oppression.  Creating Democracy’s organizing model values deliberation and participation, self-organization and scalability, transparency and simplicity, anti-oppression and collective liberation, accountability and loving movement culture.

As we build from small to big, and encourage self-organization, we need a solid base of values and steady diet of skills and intentional culture and relationship building.  Growing a movement structure that starts with small groups that then communicate with, deliberate between, and collaborate on shared decisions could reach and engage more people as leaders and organizers, spread messages and needs more broadly, share responsibilities and leadership, and create opportunities to find new shared work and common ground.  These potential strengths need to be supported by intentional relationship building, consciousness raising and skills building, clear expectations and commitments to collaboration and anti-oppression, and practices that build loving movement culture to bind this work and our communities together.     

We believe any truly democratic movement must be grounded in collective liberation, values and actions that challenge oppression and bridge divisions of race, class, gender, sexual orientation and identity, ableness, and culture.  We want to both do democratic movement building that is open, accessible to people from many different perspectives and levels of organizing experience (because we need all of us to build the movement with the power to make the changes we need) AND make good on our commitment to collective liberation and anti-oppression. which requires an ongoing process of challenging systems of internalized dominance and internalized oppression and can be long, personal, intensive, and divisive work.  

Accountability within the context of loving movement culture is a support to move our actions in line with our values.  We know that this work will be hard!  We will not be perfect...we will screw up.  We need supports in place as individuals and organizations that inform us when our actions are off base or when the direction we are taking is missing the mark, or when our privilege gets in our way.  Many of us have experienced call out culture, and have resonated with the notion of call in culture as a more supportive kind of accountability, but it is still hard work to receive or give feedback on personal actions or challenge well meaning organizations.  Some of the hallmarks of accountability within loving movement culture are relationship based, transparency, clear expectations and communication, individual responsibility, power awareness, and restorative or transformative processes - creating a process that we ourselves are not afraid to subject ourselves to!  

Here is a start to our brainstorm of tools, resources, and support that would foster accountability:

  • Methods and protocols for intergroup accountability

  • Within group consciousness raising

  • Creating tools that are nimble, flexible, not mechanical

  • Compassion for different “levels” of awareness - define “loving movement culture” in connection with accountability

  • Training in “calling in” and how to both give and receive feedback and be held/hold one another and ourselves accountable

  • Creating opportunities to self-reflect and self-report on your own updates, reflections, goals, challenges

  • Creating a norm of tracking and documenting clear expectations and results, process indicators

  • Focusing on outcomes and tasks/actions versus questioning values and intent

  • Online commitments and assessments

  • Grid that tracks Goal/Desired Outcome, How it was Advanced, Results - Immediate, Intermediate, Long Term

  • Stories of how accountability processes have worked - good models and what to avoid

  • Expectation of accountability

  • Keep the big goals in sight

  • Make the principals clear

  • A named Follow Up Person whose role is to remind folks of commitments in a timely way

WHO and WHAT: This was the 3rd and final movement building conversation Creating Democracy convened in the lead up to our Strategy and Planning Gathering on June 6th.  The organizers present were invited to bring our experience, critical thinking, and desire for a stronger movement, specifically to inform and deepen our strategy and plans to advance the ability of our movement to self-organize and scale up in a radically democratic way that aligns with and reflects our values and practices of loving movement culture, collective liberation and anti-oppression.   We covered a lot of ground, opening with a weight on our shoulders we were willing to share with the group as a way to bring our full selves into the room.  As we delved into the conversation on structure and accountability, our prominent themes were along these lines.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Part of Creating Democracy’s vision is that we build an organizing model that communicates between and across many groups without all needing to be in the same room.  In our planning towards our organizing launch this June, we want to ask you to share this summary with your group, solicit responses, even have your own conversation about the questions in this summary or the themes shared here.  What’s missing?  How does this show up for your community?  This could be a stand alone conversation, or 15 minutes on an upcoming agenda, or simply forwarding this email to your best buddies and seeing how they would weigh in.  Contact us to share your thoughts

Loving Movement Culture & Organizing to Scale

posted Apr 13, 2015, 12:11 PM by Amy Dudley   [ updated May 6, 2015, 12:57 PM ]

Summary of Creating Democracy’s Conversation on Loving Movement Culture & Organizing to Scale 3/30/15

Loving Movement Culture isn’t just about doing things better; it’s one key for why we organize at all.  Whether we call it beloved community or we don’t name it at all, we know it when we feel it - real relationships that transcend a single issue, campaign, or crisis, that help us to feel like we are welcome as a whole person, connected across our individual differences and limitations, growing and working together towards a better world that we actually want to be a part of.  We also know it when it is absent, when we run up against the edges of corporate, professionalized culture in our movement that resists allowing us in as whole people or prioritizing what feels most central to our daily lives.  And sadly we know it has not taken root firmly enough when we turn on one another in righteousness or judgement, without the skills to allow for struggle and differences, and accountability alongside forgiveness, support, and growth.  

How do we intentionally create loving movement culture?  What does organizing look like that fosters relationships and trust?  How does loving movement culture support our ability to grow together, keep our values of anti-oppression and practice of intersectionality undiminished, and hold space for leadership from those most marginalized from power?      

Organizing at scale challenges us to think about organizing in different ways.  The Farmworkers’ Movement said, “Every farmworker is an organizer.” And the Civil Rights Movement called on “each one teach one.”  It is not enough to have 1 organizer or 1 trainer as paid staff per 100-1000 members of an organization.  We need to expand our thinking and plan, train and organize so that the many roles and tasks of an organizer can be shared and developed within all of us who want to make change.  Our goal is that 900 out of 1000 members take on organizing tasks so that we are building our power, skills, and movement  exponentially.  This means identifying strengths to build on, challenges to work on, and communication to support all of the above through interpersonal skills, accountability, self-discipline and awareness, anti-oppression skills, and intentional and transparent leadership development.  

What would it look like if every activist was an organizer, every member was an organizer?  

Is it possible or impossible to organize meaningfully at that scale?  Why or why not?  

What challenges or barriers would you have to overcome? Why doesn’t it happen already?  

Engaging our own personal community as an organizing base elevates the possibilities of our collective movement building work.  Organizing could be so much more than it is today.  Our movement could be broader, built on deeper relationships, and then could foster better collective decision making, stronger loving movement culture, transformative growth towards collective liberation, and the practices of skills and leadership sharing, alongside supportive accountability.  We believe that, we want that to be true, but we are often stumped by how to get there.  What if our first step as organizers is to identify our community and then circle up those 15 people as our organizing base?  Could we call on the same circle of friends, family, neighbors that we ask to help out with childcare, moving or pet sitting to go downtown to demonstrate for police accountability, make calls to legislators about immigrant rights, or other organizing together?  What if we expected to hear from one another when we needed support in our day to day, but also on social change that was important to us?

Do you have the organizing base you want? Your organizing home that frees you to be a great organizer?

If not, how would you identify your community?  Who do you see, talk and share with throughout the week?

What would it look like to engage those people as your organizing base?  What support would you need?

What new possibilities could this open up for the breadth and depth of our movement building?

While we open our movement and our hearts up to build a more radically inclusive democracy, we must simultaneously scale up the skills and practices of anti-oppression work, self-discipline, and accountability that we will need as our own checks and balances.  Many of us want this mass movement rooted in democracy, but we have had our groups shut down or implode without these skills and practices, and we are honestly tired and sad at the prospect of failing again.  But the urgency of violence and white supremacy, climate destruction, poverty and corporate control demand that people of conscious do something to stop this injustice.  We may not know the path forward, but we know our best chance lies in walking it together, building it as we go.  

What tools, skills, and practices could help our movement scale up, grow quickly, be accessible as well as grounded in loving movement culture and accountable to our values of collective liberation?

WHO AND WHAT: This was the 2nd movement building conversation Creating Democracy convened this year, following our conversation in February focused on movement decision making and self-governance.  The thirteen people present were organizers invited to bring our experience, critical thinking, and desire for a stronger movement, specifically to inform and deepen our strategy and plans to advance the ability of our movement to self-organize and scale up in a radically democratic way that aligns with and reflects our values and practices of loving movement culture, collective liberation and anti-oppression.   We covered a lot of ground, opening with our joys from the week (many of which included the children in our lives) and closing with appreciations of one another’s work and the chance to reflect on how we organize, but the most consistent themes and questions were along these lines.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Part of Creating Democracy’s vision is that we build an organizing model that communicates between and across many groups without all needing to be in the same room.  In our planning towards our organizing launch this June, we want to ask you to share this summary with your group, solicit responses, even have your own conversation about the questions in this summary or the themes shared here.  What’s missing?  How does this show up for your community?  This could be a stand alone conversation, or 15 minutes on an upcoming agenda, or simply forwarding this email to your best buddies and seeing how they would weigh in.  Contact us to share your thoughts.  

Self Governance & Movement Decision Making

posted Mar 9, 2015, 9:52 PM by Amy Dudley   [ updated May 6, 2015, 12:54 PM ]


February 26th, 2015

What do organizers and groups need to make good decisions as a movement?

What would it look like to advance democratic decision making and collective action as a movement, and across our movement, in your organizing?  What possibilities could this open up for your work?  What internal resistance and structural challenges would you face?  

WHO AND WHAT: These are some of the questions we put on the table at Creating Democracy’s recent movement building conversation.  The 15 of us present were all organizers, thoughtful, caring people, many experienced movement folks, as well as a few younger organizers, grounded in a variety of organizations and roles spanning communities of faith, philanthropy, education, grassroots activists, staff of nonprofits, labor, environmental justice, homeless rights, communities of color, youth, and electoral politics and policy work.  We were invited to bring our experience, critical thinking, and desire for a stronger movement into this conversation, specifically to inform and deepen Creating Democracy’s strategy and plans to advance the ability of our movement to make decisions together, building towards our vision of democracy and self-governance grounded in collective liberation and anti-oppression.  

We covered a lot of ground, but the most consistent themes were along these lines.

Movement Culture Matters!  In order to build together, to create the trust and relationships that it first takes to share power and make decisions together, we have to know each other.  We need more time to have fun, to share our personal selves, to not just meet and talk on a packed meeting agenda, but really share some common humanity.  This world is isolating and despair in the face of our challenges is understandable, but organizing is about breaking that isolation and recognizing our shared power to make change.  That is hopeful and personal.  How we do what we do matters - from the ways that we address privilege and the dynamics of oppression in ourselves and groups, to the ways that we welcome and make room for the actual needs of people and families and children in our community, to the ways that we treat ourselves and value our own needs for restoration and rejuvenation.  We all want that inventory of movement people with beach houses willing to lend them out for retreats!  

We Need More Skills Sharing and Leadership Development.  Facilitation, anti-oppression training and support, long range planning, individual goal setting, popular education, organizing workshops, training on leadership development, movement history.  These are the tools of movement building, but the toolboxes of many would be organizers are incomplete and inadequate.  We need more opportunities to stock up - ongoing trainings and workshops, mentorship, cohorts of our peers, intentional leadership development within our groups.  

Especially when it comes to Race.  We need more skills in our movement, within our groups, and as individual organizers and leaders focused on challenging white supremacy and privilege, and advancing racial justice.  We have a lot of work to do challenging patriarchy, homophobia/heterosexism, cissexism, classism and capitalism, ableism, and related systems of institutionalized oppression and privilege.  But where we consistently stumble and do damage in pursuit of justice is around race.  We need to continually engage in personal and organizational work to understand and uproot racism, white supremacy and white privilege - and the ways that these systems and their harmful impacts are interwoven with and interdependent on other systems of oppression, including sexism/patriarchy, homophobia/transphobia/heterosexism, xenophobia/white nationalism, and classism/capitalism.  Most importantly, we need to work to translate our understanding into actions of solidarity and mutual, collective liberation.            

The Challenge of Building Movement Infrastructure and Capacity is Ripe.  The past 15 years have presented our movements with some big upswings thanks to the work of many grassroots organizers alongside some serious revelations of just how bad things are and how far we have to go.  Black Lives Matter, Climate Justice, Occupy, Wisconsin Labor, Katrina, Peace, WTO in Seattle, to share a few that we named in our discussion.  But is this work building on one another or operating in parallel or isolation?  Building our capacity now to engage and respond to the next mass movement makes sense.  We can begin by supporting leadership opportunities, sharing skills, popularizing our values and practices of collective liberation and anti-oppression, and creating relationships and models for organizing, power sharing, and decision making that can both extend themselves intentionally when the next mass movement moment arrives, but also be a part of making that moment happen.   

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Part of Creating Democracy’s vision is that we build an organizing model that communicates between and across many groups without all needing to be in the same room.  In our planning towards our organizing launch this spring, we want to ask you to share this summary with your group, solicit responses, even have your own conversation about the questions at the start of this summary or the themes shared here.  What’s missing?  How does this show up for your community?  This could be a stand alone conversation, or 15 minutes on an upcoming agenda, or simply forwarding this email to your best buddies and seeing how they would weigh in.  Contact us to share your thoughts.    

Unpacking our Kids' Backpacks...of White Privilege

posted Mar 30, 2014, 8:20 PM by Amy Dudley

How do you talk to children about race and skin color?

What role do parents have in supporting their kids to become allies instead of bullies?

How can we bust the myth that kids are colorblind?

How do we create a world that celebrates and respects our differences instead of letting ourselves be divided by them?

As a parent I sometimes feel at a loss for how to support my white kids to become allies for racial justice.  I'd like to believe that their innate goodness will be enough but of course they live in this culture and cannot help but soak up these messages of racial superiority and inferiority, just like my daughter will one day question whether she is beautiful and thin enough, and my son will wonder if it's okay to cry or hold hands with a boy. 

As a white woman and aspiring organizer back in 2001, I was made aware of my white privilege through a training that challenged anyone working for social justice to understand that if we wanted to be successful in building grassroots power to make social change, we needed to centralize the experiences and leadership of people most marginalized from that power, namely communities of color, immigrants, queer and trans people, poor people and women, and folks who can claim all of the above in their identity.  And to do that, as white people, we needed to deal with our own white privilege - recognize it, keep it in check in our personal relationships, and most importantly, work to dismantle the systems that perpetuate white privilege while targeting and oppressing everyone else.  Clearly that is important and ongoing work.  

Living in Portland, Oregon, and working for seven years with the Rural Organizing Project throughout rural Oregon, I have learned about Oregon's history of racial exclusion, the desire of far right hate groups to create a white homeland ("no people of color, no race problem") and the discriminatory policies of the state into recent years, that literally forbid people of color from living in or owning property in Oregon upon penalty of public beatings.  There are many painful, hateful reasons from the past and today that answer the question of why there aren't more people of color in Oregon, why it can be such a hard place for people of color to live, why so many friends and organizers of color have left the state.  Despite this history, there is a strong and growing population of color in Oregon that has resisted, survived, and made a home here.  As a recent article put it, if Iowa is becoming more racially diverse, so will Portland; it just might take a little longer.

One of the things I learned about, and experience, is that once your eyes are opened to your own privilege, you feel horrified, embarrassed, guilty - and you are reminded that those emotions are not actually helpful to advancing racial justice.  We need to work those through in order to take action as an allies and organizers in our shared struggle towards collective liberation.  But despite that wisdom, you still don't want to screw up, and you cringe when other white folk do, as we all will at some time.  It is hard but important to fight the urge to distance ourselves from the "bad white people" and instead see ourselves as in it together, supporting our white friends and neighbors, and yes ourselves, to deal together with the ignorance and pain that our white privilege causes, opposing, transforming, and ending the systems that perpetuate white privilege (namely white supremacy, capitalism, patriarchy), rather than keeping us divided and trying to one up one another.  That includes being in it with our children.    

When I read many of the articles (and comments) making sense of Portland as "the country's whitest city" I know it is absolutely my responsibility to give my kids the tools to understand their own privilege and start now, in preschool, to call out unfairness and injustice where they see it.  I have a huge roll in whether they will say "F*ck that - let's organize to make the world better for us all!" or stand aside or even be part of hurting other kids.  I had a hunch it wouldn't be by reading them that seminal article for white folks, Peggy McIntosh's "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" but I still wasn't quite sure where to start.  Until about three months ago, when I met Oregon educator Katie Kissinger.  Katie has worked for decades advancing anti-bias curriculum in early childhood education as an author, activist, educator for social justice, and an early childhood education college instructor.  She is also founder and a board member of Threads of Justice Collective, an informal group of educators who work together to promote social and cultural justice for all children and families.

This March 10th, Katie will be facilitating a two hour workshop sponsored by creating democracy and Hawthorne Family Playschool for parents, educators, and organizers who want to begin this conversation of how we engage with our children, white kids and children of color, in a positive and empowering understanding of race and skin color.  Obviously two hours will just be enough to really hunger for more, but it will provide an introduction to a framework and some concrete ideas and activities for ways to begin with young children to bust the myth that kids are color blind and help set the stage for our beloved children to become allies and activists who are able to speak up for fairness now and throughout their lives.  And it will be an opportunity to connect with others who want to do this work.  

Please come if you can and spread the word to others who might be interested.  Download and print a copy of the flyer to post around town, RSVP and share the event on Facebook.

Amy Dudley - 3/1/2014

All the Colors We Are

posted Mar 30, 2014, 4:09 PM by Chris B   [ updated Mar 30, 2014, 4:10 PM ]

How do you talk to children about race and skin color?

How can we bust the myth that kids are colorblind?What role do parents have in supporting their kids to become allies instead of bullies?

How do we create a world that celebrates and respects our differences instead of letting ourselves be divided by them?

Come join parents, educators, and organizers to explore these questions and more for


An anti-bias workshop and book signing by Katie Kissinger

educator and author of All the Colors We Are: The Story of How We Got Our Skin Color

now celebrating it's 20th Anniversary Edition

Monday, March 10th, 2014 6:30pm – 8:30pm

Hawthorne Family Playschool (2828 SE Stephens Avenue)

Suggestion Donation of $5 - $25 * Books for Sale and Signing

TO REGISTER, email or join this event on Facebook.

Download and print a copy of the flyer to post around town.

Sponsored by creating democracy and Hawthorne Family Playschool

Hawthorne Family Playschool is an exceptional play-based cooperative preschool fostering self-awareness, relationships with others, and connections to the natural world.

creating democracy seeks to organize a democratic movement with small groups at the foundation that will manifest justice in our world by exercising grassroots decision making.

Towards Collective Liberation - We can’t build a movement without YOU!

posted Mar 30, 2014, 4:04 PM by Chris B

(Archived announcement from October 2013 - for more information click here)

On Thursday, October 24th, at 7pm, at 1st Unitarian Church (Eliot Chapel - 1011 SW 12th Ave.), Creating Democracy and Rural Organizing Project welcome activist and community organizer Chris Crass who will continue a national conversation on movement building as well as themes from his new book "Towards Collective Liberation" featuring a chapter on Oregon’s own Rural Organizing Project:

Drawing on two decades of personal activist experience and case studies, Crass's essays insightfully explore ways of transforming divisions of race, class, and gender into catalysts for powerful vision, strategy, and thoughtful lessons for movement building today. This collection will inspire and empower anyone who is interested in implementing change through organizing.

ROP will also be on hand to speak about building a rural movement for human dignity and democracy across race, class, and gender in Oregon.

A suggested donation of $5-$25 will be accepted at the door, but no one will be turned away because of lack of funds.  We hope you'll join us!

Please RSVP on Facebook or contact Amy Dudley <>.

1-10 of 16