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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.  
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