Last week, in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, communities across the country gathered to Dream Big. Responding to our call to Occupy the Present, Change the Future and using Spirit in Action’s Collective Visioning Guide, diverse groups gathered to make the visioning process their own. We are delighted to share just a few snapshots of what’s happening on the ground:
Oakland, California – On Saturday, Jan 14th, artists, activists, cultural workers, educators and youth launched the Oakland Peace Center to “bring about a city of hope, justice, nonviolence and compassion.” Yes!—a collaborative partner of Spirit in Action and member of the new Center—introduced collective visioning to participants in the day-long celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. Themes that arose in the visioning session included a deep desire for locally grown food for everybody, community sharing, community currencies, music, art, connection to nature, generosity, love and beautiful, green spaces. Participants discussed the importance of such opportunities to dream and imagine together a positive future and agreed that their vision is doable…”we have everything we need right now to get to this [vision]!” Each person committed to tangible action steps that they can personally do, and something that they’d like to work collectively to do, to bring the vision into reality.
Boston, MA – Also on Saturday the 14th 40 people who are active in Occupy Boston came together for a half-day collective visioning and training of trainer workshop facilitated by our own founder and executive director, Linda Stout. The collective image of the vision they generated is about 16 feet long! There were a lot of younger people who had never been involved in any kind of direct action before Occupy, who found that collective visioning offers a positive foundation for social transformation. They all said they want to take this process back to their various working groups and assemblies. They expressed the value of including an intentional opening and closing, setting group agreements, building inclusive community space and using art-based expression to find common ground. One young man, newly involved in activism through Occupy, said, “I came here today hopeless and ready to drop out and go back to my individualistic path to getting what I want. I’m leaving with a vision of what’s possible, full of hope…and I know I will be dedicating the rest of my life to working for justice.”
New Orleans, LA – Jayeesha Dutta, a member of Spirit in Action’s Education Circle of Change and staff member of Rethinking New Orleans Schools, brought together eight friends and colleagues for a collective visioning house party. Starting with a “Communituesday” potluck, the group created collaborative collages to express their vision. The highlight from the process was “ the feeling of community and connectedness that resulted from this activity – and the deep sense that we must continue building this community with intention, love and creativity to in order to have the strength and resiliency to build the world we want to see.”
And it’s not too late to get involved! For instance, this week, Occupy the Present, Change the Future will reach the biggest audience yet as thousands of Unitarian Universalists participate in visioning as part of their “Standing on the Side of Love” month-long campaign. Meanwhile, 6th graders in a DC public school will be visioning what courage in action looks like. You too can bring this process to your neighborhood, congregation, or organization. Please be in touch with us to let us know if you’re interested in hosting or participating in a collective visioning event.
She holds a B.A. in English and Sociology from Wake Forest University and a Masters of Social Work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a concentration on community practice and community development.