Category Archives: movement building

Speaking Truth to Power: Part Two of A Conversation with Gordon Whitman

Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2018

Justice work requires reflection and resiliency. In Part Two Gordon asks the question: where does religion stand?—on the side of the status quo or the people most effected by injustice? He sees social change as a spiritual activity, and one that makes religion a force of unity in justice work. This activity means showing up and building solidarity with others over racial and economic justice. There are so many overwhelming issues to deal with–from climate change to the rise of white supremacist nationalism—that we are in a race against time. Winning the race is an intergenerational, interreligious action. Gordon leaves us not with despair at the enormity of the power imbalances and struggles, but with hope:

“The true value of the conversations and practices in Stand Up! may be that they help us stay human amid darkness and uncertainty. They give us courage not only to keep fighting but to care for one another” (Stand Up!, p. 62).

Organizing for a Just World: Part One of A Conversation with Gordon Whitman

Gordon Whitman

This July 2019 podcast is a conversation with Gordon Whitman, senior advisor of the interfaith group Faith in Action: Building a People-Powered Movement (formerly PICO National Network; https://faithinaction.org). He has a B.A. in history and urban studies and a law degree from Harvard Law School. Gordon did his initial work in community organizing in Santiago, Chile with a grassroots health collective during the Pinochet dictatorship to work for change, and then with parents in the Philadelphia public school system. His book, Stand Up!: How to Get Involved, Speak Out, and Win in a Word on Fire Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2018;  https://standupbook.org/ is a handbook for grassroots organizing. Gordon provides guidance into how to share stories, map and analyze power, strategize, and work for system change.

In Part One Gordon shares his background in community organizing and strategies to motivate groups to build relationships to act together. And he shows how anti-racism work is central to movement building and social change. One example he gives is the La Red Campaign, Faith in Action’s Network of Protection for Immigrant Families: https://faithinaction.org/issue-campaign/la-red/

Jerome Scott: Organizing for the future

Jerome Scott

For the May 2019 podcast we welcome Jerome Scott, co-founder of Project South: Institute for the Elimination of Poverty and Genocide (f. 1986). Jerome visited my REL/EDU 385: Religion, Education, and Activism class in April and told his story of what led him to become an activist/scholar educator. He shared about his work in voting rights, worker and immigrant justice, coalition building, education, and movement support. Jerome’s main work has involved linking scholar activists with activist scholars in grassroots communities. And fitting for this time of high school and college/university graduations, he laid out his hopes for building the “beloved community” in the future.

Jerome has done so much social change work; here are links to more resources and the organizations he helped/helps lead as a model for the work of transformative change at the grassroots level.

Jerome Scott with the REL/EDU 385: Religion, Education and Activism class at Agnes Scott College

Project South:

https://projectsouth.org/

Democracy Convention:

https://www.democracyconvention.org/

Jerome is the co-recipient, with Dr. Walda Katz-Fishman, of the American Sociological Associations 2004 Award for the Public Understanding of Sociology:

http://www.asanet.org/news-and-events/member-awards/public-understanding-sociology-asa-award/jerome-scott-and-walda-katz-fishman-award-statement

Jerome serves on Move to Amend’s National Leadership Team:

https://movetoamend.org/move-amend-reports-us-social-forum-jerome-scott

Grassroots Global Justice Alliance:

http://ggjalliance.org/

League of Revolutionaries for a New America:

http://lrna.org/

What to read to get started:

Walda Katz-Fishman and Jerome Scott, “Another United States Is Happening: Building Today’s Movement from the Bottom Up. The U.S. Social Forum and Beyond. Pp. 57-70 in The World and U.S. Social Forums: A Better World Is Possible and Necessary, eds. Judith Blau and Marina Karides. Brill 2008.

Intro and other interstitial music is by Lance Eric Haugan (theme music with Aviva and the Flying Penguins)

Otro music by Paul Myhre , “Zoe’s Moonrise–Year 1” (Myhre, 2019); available on ReverbnNation.com

Workers unite!: Organizing for change Part 1: Ben Speight on unions and people power

Ben Speight teaching union organizing

This March 2019 podcast is for anyone who teaches/studies social movements, movement building, labor history, union organizing, non-violent activism, social justice teaching, and direct action for social change! Hear Teamster Local 728 Organizing Director Ben Speight give an overview of union organizing and connections to our current times. He visited my REL/EDU 385: Religion, Education, and Activism class in February 2019 to plug us into the history of workers and why unions are still relevant more than ever.

Teaching Sustainability: Focus on Fair Food and Ecojustice with Rev. Noelle Damico

Rev. Noelle Damico

Rev. Noelle Damico (United Church of Christ) is an activist educator and movement builder with the Alliance for Fair Food.[http://www.allianceforfairfood.org/]. She coordinated the 2 million member Presbyterian Church USA’s involvement in the Coalition of Immokalee Worker’s Campaign for Fair Food [https://ciw-online.org/], among many other food justicecampaigns. This podcast takes place in an actual class setting, my Religion and Ecology class at Agnes Scott College, a historic women’s liberal arts college in Decatur, GA. Noelle joined us via Skype in our unit on connecting issues of economic justice to the larger topic of sustainability.

What is often missing in mainstream discussions of the organic food movement is workers. Noelle takes us through the founding of the Coalition of Immokalee Worker’s campaign and the “sea-change” it brought, and continues to bring, in the food system, to create a system that works for all people. Issues of safety, forced labor, human trafficking, gender violence, poverty wages, wage theft, and worker abuse are all parts of the history of injustices that CIW addresses.

A worker-driven social responsibility model begins at the work site, determined by the workers who become organizers and change-agents through marches, education tours, hunger strikes, boycotts, and other direct actions. Joining CIW are faith leaders and students as partners. One outcome on university campuses has been the cutting of contracts with Taco Bell on over 25 campuses. The current Boycott Wendy’s campaign [http://www.boycott-wendys.org/] seeks to continue to move companies beyond their “corporate responsibility codes” to real food justice. The CIW campaign has shown that changing the conditions in the field is at the root of a sustainable food future.

Pedagogy is an action verb here. On my campus the tomatoes in our dining hall are part of the fair food system; Aramark was (reluctantly but eventually) one of the signers. But our Aramark dining staff continue, through their own worker-driven campaign, to fight for fair wages and a workplace that offers respect and human dignity (through their union, SEIU). Though unionized, their struggle is difficult. Thus, fair farm and campus food workers are connected.

As part of the class students engage in a practicum with the campus Office of Sustainability in a variety of areas (climate change events, organic farming, National Audubon wildlife site, bees, and also economic justice with the campus Living Wage Campaign). One student working with the campaign joined the Aramark union steward and me on the WRFG Labor Forum, as well as our Economic Justice Teach-In. She also assisted with our “love poster” action in the dining hall for the staff—big posters we are hanging each week, signed with notes of appreciation and affection by community members, for each dining services staff member.

Theme music for Nothing Never Happens is by Aviva and the Flying Penguins and Lance Eric Haugan. Additional music is by Paul Myhre: “Dreams of Winter Sans Guitar (2019).”

My audio engineers are: Reagin Turner, China Wilson, and Megan Simmons. I can be reached at tpippin@agnesscott.edu.

U-Lead Athens: Educating Un(der)documented students

“United, Unafraid, Undefeated, Unstoppable Leaders.” That is the description by the students of U-Lead Athens. Since August 2014 they meet every Thursday night at Oconee United Methodist Church, on the boundary of the University of Georgia (a university that bans undocumented students). Mentors and allies from the university (the UGA Undocumented Student Alliance) and the community gather to eat and study and plan for the future. Their mission statement states that they assist high school and recent graduates in preparing for college, identifying schools that are open to un(der)documented students, and applying for scholarships and other financial support. U-Lead Athens is a sanctuary, in the many meanings of that term, providing a supportive community.

In August 2018 my daughter Jacy and I visited U-Lead on a Thursday evening and interviewed current college students who returned to visit or volunteer, some current students, the director of volunteers, PhD student Nikki Luke, and two of the co-directors, Prof. JoBeth Allen and Prof. Betina Kaplan. The conversations set the context of the discrimination and anti-immigrant laws in Georgia, the activist work of students and allies to change these laws and provide access to higher education and in-state tuition, as well as working on justice issues around TPS and DACA status. The students shared their stories, their art, and their hopes and challenges.

Equal access to education is a human right. To support U-Lead Athens, click here:

https://www.uleadathens.org/donate

Resources:

U-Lead Athens website home page:

https://www.uleadathens.org/

Eileen Truax, Dreamers: An Immigrant Generation’s Fight for Their American Dream (Beacon, 2015)

Jose Antonio Vargas, Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen (HarperLuxe, 2018).

Laura Wides-Muñoz, The Making of a Dream: How a Group of Undocumented Immigrants Helped Change What It Means to Be an American (Harper, 2018).

For information about DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals):

https://www.uscis.gov/archive/frequently-asked-questions

https://www.nilc.org/issues/daca/daca-litigation-timeline/

Z Nicolazzo: Part 2: The Trickle Up of Social Justice Education

Nicolazzo asks us, “How do we think about the most vulnerable students on our campuses,” especially those who are multiply marginized? How do we work toward “a practice of freedom” (hooks)? Nicolazzo shows us a broader vision of trans*studies and pedagogies in higher education, and how attention to these intersections of oppression and freedom benefit all students and faculty. “What are we willing to risk in the name of justice?” And how can we collaborate in our classrooms and beyond in a “critical hope”?

 

Trans*Pedagogies: A Conversation with Dr. Z Nicolazzo

Part 1: Toward a Critical Collaborative Pedagogy

From the field of studies in higher education come deep insights into pedagogical theory and practice. In the second of a series on trans*pedagogies, and on the recommendation of Dr. T.J. Jourian, I invited Dr. Z. Nicolazzo to talk about teaching and activism.

Nicolazzo is assistant professor of Trans*Studies in Education in the Center for the Study of Higher Education, University of Arizona, and the author of Trans*in college (Stylus, 2017), and numerous articles.

In Part 1 we discuss the components of “a critical collaborative pedagogy”: “Each time I teach a course, I introduce our classroom as a community in which we all-students and myself—both have responsibilities for our shared learning” (“Teaching Philosophy Statement: Arriving at a Critical Collaborative Pedagogy”). How do we (both trans* and non-trans* educators) do critical pedagogy and how do we practice pedagogy intersectionally? What does it mean for our classrooms and curriculum to pay attention to and learn from trans*pedagogies?

Music for this podcast is provided by fabulous artists:

Opening theme and interstitial music is by Aviva & the Flying Penguins and Lance Eric Haugan.

Ending music on Parts 1 and 2 is “Prayer for Paradise” by Paul Myhre, co-created with Mike Shelton.

Freire’s First Critic: An Interview with Carlos Alberto Torres: Part 1

Carlos Alberto Torres is Professor of Social Sciences and Comparative Education at UCLA (2009-present), past Director of the UCLA Latin American center (1995-2005) and founder of the Paulo Freire Institute in São Paulo, Brazil (with Freire in 1991), Buenos Aries, Argentina, and UCLA (since 2002). Prof. Torres is also President of the World Council of Comparative Education Societies (WCCES). He is the author of numerous articles and books, including Social Theory and Education (with Robert Allan Morrow; SUNY Press, 1995), Comparative Education: The Dialectics of the Global and the Local (with Robert Arnove; Rowan & Littlefield, 2013, and the editor of First Freire: Early Writings in Social Justice Education (Teachers College Press, 2014). He has written short stories and poetry and is also an accomplished gardener and woodworker. A complete list of his background, research and accomplishments can be found on his website, https://carlosatorres.com/

We spoke last summer about the origins of his interests in Freire and democratic education. In Part One of our conversation Torres tells stories about his background in Argentina and the influence not only of Freire but also of the Jesuit priest, teacher,  and liberation theologian Carlos Mugica (1930-1974), who was assassinated by the dictatorship. Mugica’s last words, “Now more than ever, we must be with the people,” resonate with the liberation movements of that time and now.

Resources for the Victoria Rue Theatre as Pedagogy Podcast

Victoria Rue’s website:

http://victoriarue.com/

Victoria Rue, Acting Religious: Theatre as Pedagogy in Religious Studies (Pilgrim Press, 2005).

Augusto Boal, Games for Actors and Non-Actors, trans. Adrian Jackson (Routledge, 1992).

_____, Theatre of the Oppressed (Urizen, 1979).

Sandra Butler and Barbara Rosenflum, Cancer in Two Voices (2nd Ed., Spinster Ink Books, 1996).

Joe Chaikin, The Presence of the Actor (Theatre Communications Group, 1972).

Maha Elgenaidi, founder of the Islamic Networks Group (ING):

https://ing.org/maha-elgenaidi/

Vsevold Meyerhold, Meyerhold on Theatre (Bloomsbury Meuthen Drama, 1978).

Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed Conference:

https://ptoweb.org/

Anna Deavere Smith, Fires in the Mirror (Anchor, 1993).

Viola Spolin, Improvisation for the Theatre: A Handbook of Teaching and Directing Techniques (3rd Edition, Northwestern University Press, 1999).

Theology Resources Mentioned in the Podcast:

James H. Cone, A Black Theology of Liberation (Orbis, 2010).

Beverly Harrison, Making the Connections: Essays in Feminist Social Ethics (Beacon, 1986).

_____. Our Right to Choose: Toward a New Ethic of Abortion (Beacon, 1983).

Carter Heyward, God in the Balance: Christian Spirituality in Times of Terror (Pilgrim, 2002).

Dorothee Soelle, Thinking about God: An Introduction to Theology (Wipf & Stock, 2016).

Additional resources for theatre of the oppressed:

 Bell, Lee Anne, Storytelling for Social Justice: Connecting Narrative and the Arts in Antiracist Teaching (Routledge, 2010).

Melisa Cahmann-Taylor and Mariana Souto-Manning, Teachers Act Up!: Creating Multicultural Learning Communities through Theatre (Teachers College Press, 2010).

Cohen-Cruz, Jan, Local Acts: Community-Based Performance in the United States (Rutgers, 2005).

Hannah Fox, Zoomy Zoomy: Improv Games and Exercises for Groups (Tusitala Publishing, 2010).

Katherine S. McKnight and Mary Scruggs, The Second City Guide to Improv in the Classroom: Using Improvisation to Teach Skills and Boost Learning (Jossey-Bass, 2008).

Stanley Pollack and Mary Fusoni, Moving Beyond Icebreakers: An Innovative Approach to Group Facilitation, Learning, and Action (The Center for Teen Empowerment, Inc., 2005).

Michael Rohd, Theatre for Community, Conflict & Dialogue: The Hope Is Vital Training Manual (Heinmann, 1998).

Mady Schutzman and Jan Cohen-Cruz, Playing Boal: Theatre, Therapy, Activism (Routledge, 1994).