Vincent Harding

Dear Building Bridges friends,

On Monday our dear friend and mentor, Dr. Vincent Harding, passed away. Many of you were able to hear him speak in December at the DCI Gala when he and his wife, Aljosie Aldrich Knight, visited Ithaca. He had an aneurism and multiple surgeries over the last week. Althou

We will share more about this extraordinary man and great spirit in future postings. He embodied love and encouragement.

 

Huge Success–the Building Bridges Community Forum

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:

Building Bridges Forum CI presentation

Highlights from the feedback include:

Of the 119 evaluations we received:
41 organizations asked to be added to the Building Bridges Coalition list *
100+ new people have joined the Building Bridges Network listserve
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

Building Bridges Community Forum

save_the_date_flyer-1
Save the Date!!
May 13, 2014 9am-1pm
Location To Be Announced

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- tfckirby@aol.com, 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!

Art of Collaborative Leadership

(Reposted from http://csi.gsb.stanford.edu/art-collaborative-leadership-building-networks-interconnected-leaders):

The Art of Collaborative Leadership:
Building Networks of Interconnected Leaders

[photo - Akaya Windwood]

Akaya Windwood, President, Rockwood Leadership Institute

Good leadership requires moving across boundaries of sector, race, ideology, class, and political affiliation. Instead of competing for resources or working in isolation, leaders should reach across divides to develop healthy networks of trust and collaboration. In this audio lecture from the Stanford Social Innovation Review’s Nonprofit Management Institute, Rockwood Leadership Institute president Akaya Windwood discusses how we can get movements and sectors to work together to advance the common good. She shares specific approaches and tools for leaders to step out of their comfort zones. These enable a collective effort that builds mutually beneficial relationships.

Akaya Windwood, currently president of Rockwood Leadership Institute, had previously served as Rockwood’s director of leadership development for three years. Windwood has more than 30 years of experience working for social justice. An executive leadership coach and organizational consultant, she is nationally known for her commitment to social and economic justice, and for building a compelling vision for effectiveness and collaboration in the nonprofit and social benefit sectors.

Access/download audio here: http://csi.gsb.stanford.edu/art-collaborative-leadership-building-networks-interconnected-leaders

DCI Gala Photos

Ambassador Young, Dorothy Cotton, Cal WalkerThe 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/

Vincent Harding, Dorothy Cotton, Hans Ulrich, Linda KellyThanks 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, 2013-12-10 22.49.54 - CopyFellowship 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.

Vincent Harding and Gala GuestsJ. Haltom and students2013-12-10 22.20.28 - CopyBob Harris, Mimi Melegrito, Sofia Villenas

Mimi Melegrito sang “Without a Song” in honor of Dorothy.

International Fellowship of Reconciliation guests2013-12-10 21.25.58 - Copy2013-12-10 20.52.36 - CopyGala Guests

2013-12-10 22.38.18

The Human Rights Commission celebrated their 50th Anniversary at the Gala!

2013-12-10 20.53.39 - Copy2013-12-10 21.38.38 - Copy

2013-12-10 19.13.58

2013-12-10 22.00.57 - Copy

Laura Branca and Rabbi Brian Walt

2013-12-10 22.44.20 - Copy

We closed out the evening dancing to DJ Apia Awa.

All photos are by Kathy Morris http://kathymorris.net/

Pete Seeger Dies at 94

A warrior for peace & justice has passed. His music and energy were infectious even if you didn’t care for folk music. For those of us who do love folk music, Pete Seeger was an inspiring example of musicians who turn people onto songs from around the world, speak out for justice, human rights and a clean environment.
Pete Seeger, a longtime champion of American folk music, died Monday. He spearheaded a folk revival in the 1950s and spent a life championing music as both a vital heritage and a catalyst for social change. via Reuters

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/29/arts/music/pete-seeger-songwriter-and-champion-of-folk-music-dies-at-94.html?hp&_r=0

DCI’s Celebration of International Human Rights Day

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.

http://forusa.org/blogs/linda-kelly/we-shall-not-be-moved-two-civil-rights-heroes-receive-peace-award/12714

DCI Gala and Dinner, Tues. Dec. 10

Celebrate International Human Rights Day, with honored guests:

Andrew Young Ambassador Andrew Young

DorothyCotton-1 Ms. Dorothy Cotton

Vincent Harding in Nabi-Saleh Dr. Vincent Harding

  • 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.

Click here to purchase tickets online or sponsor others’ attendance.

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: Webinar review

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.