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Oct 152012

The Progressive Communicators Network (PCN) has been in a quieter phase of reflection and planning. For the first time in twelve years we chose not to hold our annual national gathering in 2012. Originally started as a project of Spirit in Action, PCN soon grew to become its own nonprofit. PCN is a national network of people who work as communications professionals or organizers and are focused on racial or economic justice, and who use communications tools and strategy. We learn from each other, we support each other, and we help each other navigate the tough world of social justice communications. Like many nonprofits, we’ve seen a dip in funding from several long-term sources and needed to reduce staffing and programming, bringing our activity almost to a halt.

Because the network has supported so many of us over the years, PCNers were not willing to let go. In June 2012, the Leadership Council met, with the support of the Spirit in Action staff, to consider our options and look for opportunities where the power of networking can help us to have a greater impact. We explored many options for PCN, and in the end we were delighted to return home. Spirit in Action, in its role as a network builder, stepped up to provide fiscal and organizational support at a time when we need it the most. As project of Spirit in Action we have hopes of again growing ourselves to sustainability and, more importantly, sharing our expertise in media and messaging to our movement. We’ve re-committed to the rebuilding of the network with a renewed focus on supporting organizing. In the immediate future, and hopefully for the long haul, we will be organizing to support civic engagement across communities.

Civic engagement for us is not just communications for voter registration and voter turn out, but the deep work to build political power through ongoing engagement of communities of color and working class communities. We will support communicators who are working year-round in organizing groups that are based in communities of color and working class communities and engage in civic engagement that moves our communities into action.

This fall, we are beginning our work to restart chapters (with work on that front in Boston and New York City), as well as a national conference call on October 17th, Civic Engagement Communications: Sharing Best Practices.

PCN has supported the development of many communicators over the years (take a peek in our Meet a PCNer profiles), and we look forward to continue to support the development of emerging communicators who have a connection to organizing and a commitment to cross-sector work.

If you’re interested in reconnecting with your PCN colleagues, or getting to know more about how strong communications can increase the effectiveness of organizing, get in touch with PCN.

We invite you to join and learn from us by registering for our up coming call Civic Engagement Communications: Sharing Best Practices and let us inspire your work by participating at the upcoming Be the Media Conference in Boston.

Oct 152012

A year ago, I wrote my first Spirit in Action blog announcing the launch of Standing in Our Power (SiOP).  Now, in partnership with an amazing core leadership team, we are moving from research, listening, and planning to manifesting the reality of our first national gathering.

SiOP is an intergenerational network of women of color leaders that seeks to develop leadership models to transform society as a whole. Inclusive and collective in nature, SiOP will amplify the voices and perspectives of women of color, and establish leadership frameworks rooted in our vision, values, experience, and cultural assets.

I began my journey in social justice organizing as a volunteer among a community of artists/activists of color, and at that time I never imagined that I would need a women’s space for members of that community.  When I started my first paid, full-time job at a nonprofit youth organization, I never thought I would one day be organizing women of color to dismantle the unjust systems we faced daily while simultaneously building new models. As I prepared to transition out of my position as Executive Director of a national philanthropic organization, I began dreaming of one day galvanizing women of color to speak of the injustice we experienced as leaders in our own organizations as a way to address what is not working and create something different.

My journey has compelled me to reflect deeply, to dream, and to eventually create SiOP, with my Spirit in Action team and a founding core leadership committee, to transform leadership in the nonprofit sector, social movements and beyond. By changing how we conceptualize leadership, how we structure organizations and how we practice leading, SiOP will help to usher in a new era at a time when we prepare for several major demographic shifts in the United States.

I am delighted to share a recently completed SiOP Case Statement in which we present details about the network, including the need for SiOP, stories of women of color in leadership, our vision and building blocks, and opportunities for partnership.  I invite you to make a meaningful contribution to ensure that we have much-needed resources to go the long haul. The deep social change we aspire to create is long-term and will require an interdependent community committed to doing the work and to supporting the work.

Transformative social change work cannot happen in isolation.  Leadership from the top down is an isolating experience and has been failing us in our social justice movements. In order for women of color to begin establishing new leadership models we need a collective vision, a network through which we can share resources and ideas, and communities of practice coming together in solidarity. To achieve the mission of SiOP, we need a strong community to hold and support us.  As women of color we cannot do this work alone.

I am filled with excitement as I write this blog.  In less than two weeks, I’ll bear witness to the manifestation of a vision that I have held for several years now.  From October 25-29, thirty women of color will come together at Hope Springs Institute for the inaugural SiOP gathering. I hope you will join us as a founding donor or sponsor. 

Click here to donate.  Please note that your gift is for Standing in Our Power in the “Designation” box. For more information or to find out about sponsorship opportunities, please contact  me at taij(at)spiritinaction(dot)net.

Oct 152012


Welcome HOME!

Formerly known as EMERGE, our new network of environmental leaders is now called HOME (Healing Our Movement Ecosystem). This new name highlights how this network aims to bridge conservation, environmental justice, and ecological innovation perspectives and strategies. In collaboration with Yes!, HOME just held its first national retreat for 10 diverse leaders to reflect on the opportunities for building a more cohesive environmental movement. HOME also continues to gain traction regionally through the development of Resilience Hubs in the Southeast and the West.

Jodi Lasseter is the network weaver for HOME. If you are interested in learning more about HOME please contact us.

Oct 142012

Our Education Circle of Change (EdCoC) members continue meeting regularly to support each other to develop Regional Circles. The vision of the regional work is to create a trans-local vehicle that will mobilize regional communities in building a national movement for the visionary transformation of public education so that teaching and learning embody and cultivate democratic, resilient communities within thriving ecosystems. We want to build a grassroots think tank generating trans-local knowledge from local, regional and issue-based convening and mapping to better understand conditions in order to support and actualize our vision of a just, sustainable and democratic education for all.

A regional circle has already started in Oakland, and we’re gearing up for circles in Chicago, New Orleans, New York and Maine. Spirit in Action is excited about this new direction of the EdCoC and is exploring partnerships with YES!, IDEA, Education for Liberation Network and other organizations to further develop regional circles and to connect them with each other. In 2013 our goal is to have our regional groups convene in national gatherings to share out their learning and provide peer support. To learn more and plug in with this regional work contact us.

Here is an update from EdCOC member, Jayeesha Dutta, on her efforts to kick off a circle in New Orleans:

“For six days, all eyes were on Chicago’s teachers and their strike.  These courageous teachers were advocating for meaningful course correction to the corporate “reform” driven educational model being pushed by Rahm Emanuel. I signed up for the text alerts from the Chicago Teachers Union and was riveted to see what would happen. I knew this could be a turning point for our movement.  The final agreement negotiated by the CTU can be seen as a major victory for not just the city of Chicago, but for the nation, for the educational justice movement and for the beleaguered labor movement.

I was on a conference call with Education Circle of Change members Laura Ramirez and Tara Mack along with Chicago teacher, parent and student activists the moment the agreement was reached. This movement moment has inspired me to call for the launching a regional Education Circle of Change circle here in New Orleans. Now, I’m gearing up to launch a series of events to bring together educational justice advocates with the support of Education Circle of Change, Education for Liberation Network, Institute for Democratic Education in America, under the auspices of Mind Power Collective.

It’s time to mobilize the activist spirit of New Orleans around education. It’s time to realize we need to align our movements across issue, across demographic, across geography. This post-Chicago teachers strike moment is prime for us to activate the trans-local movement-building vehicle we’ve been waiting to rev up. The time is now to move.”  — Jayeesha Dutta

Spirit in Action