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Zakiyah Ansari, Activist – Education Justice Listening Project

Zakiyah Ansari is an outspoken advocate for public schools and the loudest voice on the transition team for New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio’s. Ansari is the advocacy director at the New York State Alliance for Quality Education, a non-profit. She first appeared on the public radar in 2007 as a parent leader for [Read More]

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Catching Fire, Breaking Silence: Addressing Sexual and Gender Violence in our Social Movements – by Taij Kumarie Moteelall and Diana Marie Lee

Standing in Our Power (SiOP), a network of women of color social justice leaders, is calling for greater integrity, accountability, interdependence and compassion among individuals and organizations working for transformative social change. Many of us who serve as the core leaders and coaches of SiOP came to this network through our personal journeys to reclaim [Read More]

April 22 2015 Community Visioning Swannanoa NC
“Inspiring, Exciting, Motivating”: We the People’s First Community Visioning

Last month, on April 22nd, We the People held our first community visioning!  With over 40 people in attendance, our potluck-style gathering was a huge success.  The positive energy in the room was tangible and every single attendee had something affirmative to say in our closing.  “Inspiring,” “exciting,” and “motivating,” were just a few of [Read More]

Featured Video: See the We The People project in action and to learn more about our collaboration with Warren Wilson College, please see this short film:

How do we bring working-class and low-income people together with social justice activists in order to have local, statewide, and national impact on civic engagement? We the People: Working Together is an exciting new research and organizing project that endeavors to make the crucial shift from division to unity, so that we can all work together to advocate for equitable and just policies. In the past, leaders in the progressive movement have failed to effectively identify common ground and successfully engage in open communication with low-income people about the issues that affect us all. Poor whites are especially left out of conversations about social change, and treated as a lost cause by many organizers. In order to create change that can last, we need to meet people where they are and build power with this constituency.

Spirit in Action is in the pilot phase of a long-term project to engage communities in strategic organizing and advocacy that builds power and drives change. We have partnered with students and faculty at Warren Wilson College to reach out to the low-income and working-class communities that have been traditionally ignored by progressive organizers, starting in Western North Carolina. Linda Stout is teaching a social work practice course. Every spring semester (beginning in 2014) Linda works with this class to train students in deep listening and strategic questioning in order to bring people’s own knowledge to the surface. Because we know that each person is an expert of their own experience, Spirit in Action always starts by listening. As of Spring 2014, the We the People listening project has interviewed over 100 community members in Swannanoa, North Carolina, the most under-developed community in the Asheville region. For more information visit here.