|Please join outstanding activists and panelists, Nancy Bereano, Martha Ferger, Gabe Shapiro and Nicole LaFave, and come share stories of how you’ve taken action for social justice. Free, open to everyone!
Saturday June 25th, 2016 – 2:00 to 4:30pm
The History Center in Tompkins County
Sharing Our Stories of Action for Social Justice and Transformation
A series presented by The History Center in Tompkins County & The Dorothy Cotton Institute
ITHACA — Join us on Saturday June 25th for the second event in the series “Sharing Our Stories of Action for Social Justice and Transformation.” This series, done in partnership and collaboration with the Dorothy Cotton Institute, will focus on sharing personal narratives and oral histories that highlight individual contributions towards social change across a broad range of issues and social movements. At this event, four panelists will share their work for change and address what they had to overcome and what sustained them. After the panel, all will be invited to meet in small groups to share their personal stories of work for social change. Panelists: Nancy Bereano, Martha Ferger, Gabe Shapiro and Nicole LaFave.
Let us know if you’re coming via the Facebook Event Page and be sure to share it with your friends!
About the Presenters….
Nancy Bereano has lived in Ithaca as a lesbian for 36 out of her 48 years here. She was the founding editor and publisher of Firebrand Books, a groundbreaking, award-winning, and nationally recognized lesbian and feminist press. Nancy has been an activist for most of her adult life, a troublemaker for all of it, and was instrumental in the passage of LGBT anti-discrimination legislation for the City of Ithaca and Tompkins County. She is a community representative on the City of Ithaca’s Workforce Diversity Committee, a member of ACTION (Activists Committed to Interrupting Oppression Now), and a participant and trained facilitator for Talking Circles on Race and Racism.
Martha Ferger moved to Dryden in 1955 at age 31 with her husband, Dr. John Ferger, and 3 young daughters. She has been active on a wide variety of public issues ever since, ranging from opposition to nuclear weapons testing in the early days to efforts to save Seneca Lake from gas storage more recently. You might have seen her picture (in a film by Earth Justice) being led away in handcuffs from a demonstration at Crestwood, or met her knocking on your door with the petition that helped persuade the Town Board make Dryden the first town in NY State to ban fracking. She has also been among the activists in Ithaca seeking to have cameras placed on all police in an effort to decrease and document abuse towards people of color and LGBTQI residents. Now, at age 92, she hopes to continue activities of this sort for a few more years. There are so many things in the world to worry about!
Gabe Shapiro is a rising third year at Hampshire College, studying energy, climate change and organizing. He works with groups across the Northeast fighting the build-out of fracking infrastructure.
Nicole LaFave is Program Coordinator, Community Service and Leadership Development at the Cornell Public Service Center. She was born and raised in Harlem, New York. At the Center for Culture, Race and Ethnicity at Ithaca College, Nicole found her passion for race relations in the US and began exploring strategies for denouncing oppressive systems. She decided to stay in Ithaca after graduating from IC because she believe this small city had the power and ambition to cultivate a space where true social change is more than possible but sustainable. She currently sits on the Ithaca City Community Police Review Board, is a co-founder and organizer of Black Lives Matter Ithaca, and is a newly elected member of the Ithaca City School District Board of Education. She holds a BA from Ithaca College in Sociology with a concentration in juvenile criminal studies, and race and ethnic relations. Her studies focused on equity issues, making the classroom and curriculum successful for children with complex needs through project-based learning.
Spread the word…
African Drumming & Welcoming Southside Community Center’s New Executive Director at Congo Square Market
This week’s CONGO SQUARE MARKET will feature a special announcement and performances by Rainbow Healing Center Drummers and Dancers, One Heart Community Drummers along with Afro Cuban Percussion by Jhakeem Haltom and Maurice Haltom.
Friday, June 19th from 4 to 8pm
At the park next to Southside Community Center: 305 S. Plain St, Ithaca
Southside Community Center will welcome their new Executive Director, Davi Mozie, at 5pm at the Market. Refreshments will be served!
Facebook event: www.facebook.com/events/776225662498130
Bring the whole family and support local vendors: El Taino, Gorges Barbeque, Fresh Baked Breads, Unique’s Bow_tique, and Chris D’s Icee!
Next week’s Market will have Harvest Box Deliveries (from Youth Farm Project & Rocky Acres Community Farm)!
To perform, vend or volunteer: Email CongoSquareEntertainment@gmail.com
Donate to the Market to support youth apprentices, start-up vendors and performers: Drop off cash or mail a check payable to “Congo Square” and send to Rob Brown at 521 W. Seneca St, Ithaca, NY 14850.
For weekly updates and performance schedule, visit ‘Congo Square Market, Ithaca’ on Facebook.
Congo Square Market is open every Friday 4-8pm through September 4th. The Market’s mission is to build a stronger self-reliant local community, develop Southside’s economic base, and encourage community & personal health.
ABOUT CONGO SQUARE MARKET
Congo Square is an actual place in New Orleans. This sacred ground was first used by the Houma People and by slaves in the region as a place to enjoy a day of freedom. Africans used it as a place to maintain their true status as free people of Africa. Indigenous peoples and Europeans often joined in the celebration. Music, abolitionist organization, food, and dance were intertwined to enjoy this one-day-a-week festival.
In Ithaca, Congo Square Market (or CSM) is a multicultural community that provides affordable Jamaican, Cuban, Ethiopian, soul food, farm produce, local goods, as well as free healthcare services and entertainment: music, visual art and speakers, and more! Collaborators include Southside Community Center, Rainbow Healing Center, Youth Farm Project, TC Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Whole Community Project- Food Dignity, Rocky Acres Community Farm, Cayuga Medical Center, Groundswell Center for Local Food & Farming, Ithaca Health Alliance/ Free Clinic and individual volunteers who all help put the market together
bottom row: Randi Quakenbush, Leslie Ackerman; middle row: Schelley Nunn, Kirby Edmonds; top row: Karim Beers, Brigid Hubberman, Natasha Thompson and Phoebe Brown
Eight representatives from Tompkins County spent 5 inspiring days in October at the recent Tamarack Institute Collective Impact Summit in Toronto, Canada. Among the 300 participants were people from Canada and the Northwest Territories, USA, Kenya, New Zealand, Australia, and Denmark. The purpose of the summit was to help participants learn how to use Collective Impact to solve complex problems in their communities.
The team returned excited to share their insights about how to use Collective Impact. Each of the “Toronto 8” spoke to a big gathering at last week’s Building Bridges Brown Bag Lunch at the Tompkins County Library. They made the case for working together to create a “community-wide aspiration”–a big, hairy, audacious goal that can encompass all of the collective working groups that are underway:
- Food Security & Justice
- Renewable Energy
- Kindergarten Readiness
- College& Career Readiness
- Jobs Pipeline
They emphasized that Collective Impact requires a new mindset and way of operating, and widening our focus beyond the success of individual programs to the effectiveness of the systems that impact us all. No, we don’t have to quit our jobs or shut down our organizations. But the process of weaving all of our efforts together will require a shift in our thinking. One big lesson emerged from the success or failure of Collective Impact initiatives in other places: it is crucial to include a really significant percentage of people who are most directly affected in the work of planning and decision making.
On May 13, 202 people attended a Community Forum to learn about Collective Impact processes creating big successes in various communities, and possible “big results” we might want to work on in Tompkins County.
Here is a link to the presentation slides:
Highlights from the feedback include:
96% of you said you learned more about Collective Impact
96% of you said that CI is a direction that we should pursue as a community
97% of you said the time was worthwhile
89% of you said you would do your work differently as a result of the time we spent together.
Once again, a big THANK-YOU to
- GreenStar staff support, use of The Space and coffee, tea, fruit salad, yogurt and pastries
- MRC for the mini-bagels
- GIAC for the cheese, crackers and cookies
- Ithaca Bakery for the pastries
- Moosewood Restaurant for the Brownies and Vegan Chocolate Cake
- CCE staff for stuffing packets
- Park Foundation for supporting this intro to Collective Impact
*If you would like your organization added, please contact Kirby Edmonds at 607/277-3401
You are invited to a half-day Community Forum
sponsored by the Building Bridges Initiative to:
- get an update on the activities that have been going on in the community that are moving towards the vision we developed together
- explore “Collective Impact” as a process for achieving big results toward the vision
Much has happened in the community since the first Building Bridges gathering back in November, 2011, but we still have a ways to go.
The lists of activities and possible big results in the attached flyer are only examples of the things we can explore together as we move forward and are not meant to be exhaustive.
Please respond by April 30th to let us know whether or not you can come to the forum (email- firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: 277-3401).
You are receiving this invitation because you are an important community leader.
Please note: If you forward this message to someone else you’d like to invite, please emphasize that we do need to get RSVPs so we can plan for food and materials.
On behalf of the Building Bridges Planning Group, we hope you can come.
The “Building Bridges” initiative is a collaborative effort of The Dorothy Cotton Institute, the Whole Community Project, Sustainable Tompkins, CCE Environment Program, CCE Green Jobs Program, Ithaca College Commit to Change Initiative, Groundswell, Natural Leaders Initiative, the Multicultural Resource Center, Alternatives Federal Credit Union, Center for Transformative Action, Dryden Solutions, GreenStar Community Projects, the Sustainability Center, Get Your Green Back Tompkins, Cayuga Medical Center, Local First Ithaca, and others, to build, support and maintain a local movement in the Tompkins County region to create a “socially just and ecologically sound local economy”
Thanks for the work that you do!
The Dorothy Cotton Institute Gala and Celebration of International Human Rights Day–Dec. 10, 2013 was a huge success, with over 220 people attending.
All photos are by Kathy Morris http://kathymorris.net/
Thanks to all who joined us, and to the many people who sponsored a ticket for so that someone else could attend. It was a remarkable evening, featuring a keynote from former Mayor of Atlanta Ambassador Andrew Young, Fellowship of Reconciliation Presentation of the 2013 Martin Luther King, Jr. Awards to human rights leaders and educators Ms. Dorothy Cotton and Dr. Vincent Harding, and a performance of Spirituals and Freedom Songs by the Dorothy Cotton Jubilee Singers.
Mimi Melegrito sang “Without a Song” in honor of Dorothy.
We closed out the evening dancing to DJ Apia Awa.
All photos are by Kathy Morris http://kathymorris.net/
On Tuesday, Dec. 10, the Dorothy Cotton Institute held our first DCI Gala and Dinner in honor of International Human Rights Day, and featured the presentation of the Fellowship of Reconciliation’s 2013 Martin Luther King, Jr. Peace Award to our distinguished guests, Dr. Vincent G. Harding and Ms. Dorothy F. Cotton, with inspiring remarks by the award recipients and Ambassador Andrew Young.
Over 200 people attended the event at the Trip Hotel, enjoying good food, great live jazz by Fe Nunn and friends, and Harry Aceto and friends, and a remarkable performance by the Dorothy Cotton Jubilee Singers. Our Master of Ceremonies was Cal Walker.
Our celebration began with a visit to the Greater Ithaca Activities Center by DCI National Advisor Dr. Harding and Ms. Aljosie Aldrich Knight, both of whom participated in the DCI’s 2012 delegation to the Israel and the West Bank. They graciously spent the afternoon at GIAC, speaking first with local activists, educators, and organizers, and then another two and a half hours with teens from New Roots Charter School and GIAC’s Conservation Corps. Their conversation with young people was truly remarkable.
All three of our speakers exhorted the audience not to wait for someone else, some celebrity or high-placed official, to lead the change we want to see in the world, but rather to rely on ourselves and take action to create the kind of world we need. Being in the presence of people whose courage, commitment to non-violence, and willingness to stay on the journey toward the realization of full human rights reminded us that we have progressed a long way toward freedom, but we still have a way to go.
At GIAC, Dr. Harding was asked by a student whether he and others in the Freedom Struggle were ever scared of the violence and danger down south. He shared that sometimes he and his colleagues were very scared, but that they never attempted to do things alone; when he was afraid, someone else would remind him that “You can do this.” They always had friends with them, and what kept them going when they felt like running away was both knowing that people had come before them in the struggle and sacrificed for his next generation, but more importantly, they knew that they had to keep going so that “you could be here today”–i.e., together, in an integrated gathering of students, sharing where we came from, what we want to be doing 20 years from now, and why, with pathways open to them that couldn’t be imagined back in the 60s.
Dr. Harding emphasized the great importance of knowing one’s background, learning our history, and becoming strongly grounded and nurtured in our own cultures and who we are, so that we can go forth into diverse, integrated settings and take leadership, sharing and exchanging our stories with people who are different from ourselves without trying to just be like them and losing ourselves.
Dr. Harding answered a question about the first time he met Martin Luther King, Jr. He described traveling to Montgomery, Alabama in a racially mixed group of 5 young ministers from his an integrated Mennonite church he founded in Chicago. They set out to test themselves as to whether they could prevail on this journey with their integrated group, meet Dr. King, and explore the possibility of establishing such a church in the south.
They looked up Dr. King in the phone book, called and spoke with Mrs. Coretta Scott King, and asked if they could meet her husband. She explained that he had just been hospitalized after being stabbed, and was now recuperating at home. She wasn’t sure he would be up to it, but that they could stop by and see. When they arrived at the door, they were invited to visit with MLK, Jr. in his bedroom. He was sitting up in bed in his bathrobe, and kept laughing and remarking that they had made it through Mississippi.
Dr. Harding explained to the young people at GIAC that at the time, he was 27 years old, and Dr. King was only 29. The image of these very young people who were doing extraordinary things in such violent and intolerable circumstances really made quite an impression, and challenged all of us to never do anything with our lives without knowing why.
Thanks to all of you who attended, who sponsored others to be able to attend, and who support the Dorothy Cotton Institute!
Please check out this piece from Fellowship of Reconciliation, posted before the Gala.
6:00 Reception & cash bar with jazz and r&b by Fe Nunn and Friends
7:00 Dinner with jazz by Harry & Eric Aceto, Doug Robinson & Chad Lieberman
8:00 Program with Emcee Cal Walker
Remarks by Ambassador Young
Fellowship of Reconciliation Presentation of the 2013 Martin Luther King, Jr. Awards to Ms. Cotton and Dr. Harding
Spirituals and Freedom Songs by the Dorothy Cotton Jubilee Singers led by Baruch Whitehead
In Ballroom of the Trip Hotel (formerly the Clarion), One Sheraton Drive, Ithaca, NY
$125 per plate. All proceeds from this event will benefit the Dorothy Cotton Institute.
The Dorothy Cotton Institute is a locally based non-profit organization providing workshops on Human Rights Education, the Citizenship Education Program for the 21st Century, and is working to build a global community of human rights leadership.
DCI is a project of the Center for Transformative Action and an organizing member of the Building Bridges initiative.
Cross-class Alliances for Social Change: Research on the influence of class culture on how we organize
A report and some questions.
On October 17th, a few people gathered at Cooperative Extension to watch a webinar presented by a group called Class Action. The webinar, “Building Cross-Class Alliances for a New Economy,” was presented by Betsy Leondar-Wright who was reporting on her research on whether class differences had an effect on how people take up social activism. Her answer was “yes.”
Leondar-Wright and her team interviewed 61 people from 25 progressive social movements in 5 states and surveyed 362 people. Of the 362, 28% were people of color, 72% white. To assign class to respondents they looked at their parents’ income source and education and their current occupation and education. They consolidated these results into what they describe as 4 “class trajectory categories:” lifelong working-class (which includes poor, though it isn’t clear how many people who consider themselves poor responded); lifelong professional; upwardly mobile straddlers; voluntarily downwardly mobile. These latter three were lumped together for reporting purposes, and so the results are in two (possibly confusing) categories: working-class and college-educated, as follows:
Why do we join movements?
Working-class people join movements because they have a shared context—workplace, family—with the group and they join as a cluster with others.
Most college-educated activists join movements because they are committed to an issue or an ideology. That comes first, then they find a group. These people tend to join as individuals.
How do these groups recruit?
Working-class activists recruit more members with incentives, assurances of mutual aid and member-only benefits, realistic plans for short term victory that will improve recruits’ lives, and food at all meetings.
According to the research, college-educated activists expect issues and political ideas to recruit people and often, according to Leondar-Wright, overlook food and short-term incentives.
How do these activists talk?
When talking about their cause, working-class activists tend to use humor, teasing and prefer concrete, specific language. They tend to make political points via story telling, metaphors, analogies, and examples.
College-educated activists tend to talk in abstract generalizations. Humor is in the form of wordplay.
For example, in the interviews, college-educated activists used “strategy” or “strategize” more than 8 times as much as working-class activists. They were fond of “network” (used 6 times as often), “outreach” (5.4 times as often), and “context” or “contextualization” (used 4.7 times as often).
And how about leadership?
According to the research, working-class activists are reported as much less “anti-leadership” than college-educated activists. They tend to monitor leaders’ actions as either for or against the community. For college-educated activists “leadership” has a negative connotation. Many will stay in a group and criticize the leaders or the group. For some, equalizing power and sharing airspace are just as important as the group’s goals.
So, what to make of all this?
The categorization of classes as reported in the webinar seems awkward and arbitrary, but the researchers were clear on how they made these choices. I find the distinctions between classes blunt and wish for more differentiation in the results. For example, who doesn’t like food at a meeting?
On the other hand, the research brings to my attention things I’ve known or suspected and tended to sweep under the rug because a) it is risky to generalize and b) because even if I did pull them out and look at them, I thought of them more in terms of my own behavior, not in relationship to collective action.
I wonder how this research relates to reader experience? What have you noticed makes you and others effective activists? What would you add? What would you ask the researchers?
Leondar-Wright ended the webinar with advice on building cross-cultural movements:
- Look for and dismantle invisible walls
- Eliminate “inessential weirdnesses,” cultural norms, processes, language that may alienate.
- Instead of asking, “why don’t they join us,” reach out and pitch in as allies to working-class/low-income led community efforts.
Whether or not we might quarrel with the research, I welcome this advice. I would find it helpful to think together about how we can actually do these things.
You can check out Class Action at www.classism.org.
Leondar-Wright’s book will be out soon, Strengthening Social Movement Groups by Seeing Class Cultures.
Freeing Ourselves From Systems that Weaken & Divide Us
Through our scientific and technological genius, we have made of this world a neighborhood and yet we have not had the ethical commitment to make of it a brotherhood. But somehow, and in some way, we have got to do this…We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality …whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.
Delivered by Martin Luther King Jr. over 45 years ago as an impassioned call for “Remaining Awake through a Great Revolution”, these words seem more relevant than ever to the linked economic, environmental and social calamities we face today. Our global economy and its effects on nearly every facet of our lives is increasingly seen as a root of these problems. With a warming climate and epic failures like the BP oil disaster and financial crisis, this system and its structures are looking catastrophically flawed and outdated. The “economic genius” of Frankensteinian creations like derivatives has turned our world economy into a shell game, with perhaps the worse yet to come.
Communities have become ground zero for a resource extraction model seeking to maximize short-term profits for distant stock holders while externalizing as many costs as possible. Those “externalities” include many of our own who are left behind as the divide between the haves and multiplying have-nots grows. Making matters worse, the reach and influence of the too-big-to-fail juggernauts responsible for these crises extends deep into our systems of governance, playing no small part in the recent government shut-down.
At the same time, a growing number of communities like our own are grappling with how to sustain basic civic infrastructure, including water, transportation, health, social services and educational systems. Put into place decades or centuries ago, many are now crumbling and we find ourselves without adequate means to maintain or replace them. Extreme events like Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, expected to increase in frequency, are also revealing a lack of resilience in our support systems and compromised landscapes.
We seem to be caught in a destructive feedback loop, unable to break free from a system that is continually reinforcing itself (with the help of bailouts and subsidies) while weakening our communities and endangering the planet. Some are wondering what alternatives might exist – how can we reinvent a new economy that serves, not consumes us?
You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete. -Buckminster Fuller
Unseen by some, another great revolution, or “reimagining” is already occurring. It is rising from communities like our own, leveraging the power of We to solve intractable problems collectively. Here are some signs of and guideposts for this emergent and hopeful movement. Continue reading