This newsletter is devoted to efforts and opportunities within the Interhelp Network to support decolonizing the Work That Reconnects; in other words applying anti-oppression thinking to the Work, and refreshing and evolving the Work so that it better serves the needs of all and supports cultural change in an ever more powerful way.
We begin with an overview article from Aravinda Ananda followed by a summary of the initial steps Interhelp is taking, including a Study Group beginning in February. Please read on, think about how you’d like to participate, and be in touch!
Twenty-three Work That Reconnects facilitators met on Whidbey Island in Washington State in September 2016 to explore decolonizing the Work That Reconnects. For some the experience was “like an earthquake,” shaking the foundations of what they had seen and known about the Work.
We spent time all together, and also met in two caucus groups, white and People of Color (POC).
We explored ways some of us have seen harm happen in the Work That Reconnects – either due to the design of the Work itself or how it has been facilitated in particular workshops. For example, the Work That Reconnects is primarily Eurocentric in its framing and is not as accessible to people who are not of European descent. Furthermore many facilitators of this work are white, and conditioned as they are by white supremacy, may not notice many things about oppression and how oppression plays out in all spaces, including within the Work That Reconnects.
In many ways, the time we spent on this exploration just scratched the surface. And while race and racism are a deeply painful axis of oppression, there are many other axes including gender, sexuality, class, ability and other axes of identity that oppression plays out on.
Some facilitators are exploring ways to incorporate anti-oppression analysis and approaches into the Work That Reconnects. This newsletter offers a variety of ways to learn more and get engaged.
Marcia Berry’s article, Decolonizing the Work That Reconnects, summarizes first steps in this process and provides a preliminary list of resources. This article is available on the Interhelp website’s new Anti-Oppression page.
Do you have experience with anti-racism work, anti-oppression training/work, cultural competence, multicultural/cross-cultural-intercultural training?
Interhelp is reaching out to identify people in our network who have attended, facilitated, and/or who have some level of comfort and experience being actively involved in anti-oppression training and work.
If this is part of your background or experience, please email Marcia Berry. Include whether you have attended trainings or facilitated trainings or both. Thank you!
beginning February 5
An eight-week study group is starting in February for white-identified folks in the Work That Reconnects community to explore anti-oppression. Interhelp Council member Aravinda Ananda is convener; facilitator is Eleanor Hancock, the director of White Awake, an organization that focuses on educational resources and spiritual practices to support white people’s engagement in the creation of a just and sustainable society. Please click here for details and to register.
Deep Times Journal features a new section called Evolving Edge, dedicated to changes and evolutions in the Work That Reconnects. Please check out Issue Three for two articles – an interview with people who went to the Washington State gathering on decolonizing the Work, and “Reflections and Lessons from Radical Dharma.”
The Work That Reconnects Network is building a new workthatreconnects.org website; launch is planned for this month. The site will feature an Evolving Edge section where people can share in the learning process about changes and evolutions in the Work.
January 29, Cambridge MA
Join Interhelp for our day of conversation! In the morning we will share Work That Reconnects practices. Following a potluck lunch, we will have a presentation and discussion on decolonization and anti-oppression with respect to the Work That Reconnects. We will then engage in working groups on a wide variety of topics. For a complete description and invitation please contact Paula Hendrick.
June 2-7, Aravinda Ananda, Markie Babbott, Kirstin Edelglass and Joseph Rotella will offer a workshop at Hallelujah Farm in Chesterfield, NH. This workshop will be the first meeting of the fourth Earth Leadership Cohort and is open to all. One focus will be on integrating anti-oppression awareness and approaches in the way the Spiral is offered. Please stay tuned for full announcements of both the workshop and the formation of the new ELC.