Monday, December 03, 2007

the work is not the workshop

The Work is Not the Workshop by Catherine Jones

I came across this article a while back and figured i'd post it now. I think that, regardless of what's right or wrong within this particular essay, these are the kind of conversations that the social justice movement as a whole needs to be having. Very thought-provoking-- check it out.

Back when i co-facilitated SEED, a course dealing with identity issues, social justice and activism, at UW-Madison, we began to develop a conceptual framework around the idea of "making a difference," or different aspects of action. It went something like this:

1. personal activism (self-education, self-work, reading articles, going to lectures, really challenging yourself, etc.)

2. interpersonal activism (writing articles/blogs, teaching, having conversations around the issues with friends and family, etc.)

3. organizing (challenging institutionalized systems through WORK: grassroots organizing, long-term campaigns, lobbying efforts, community activism, etc.)

And the idea here isn't that these three points are a hierarchy; it's that for change to happen we really need all three simultaneously. Too many people seem to focus on one or two of the points and ignore another. You have workshopaholics who push themselves to be perfect in every way without reaching out into the bigger world to make change, and you have revolutionaries who want to smash the system without dealing with their own shit-- sexism, racism, etc.-- who invariably end up creating dysfunctional organizations and campaigns.

Anyways, check out the article.

1 comment:

Shane Wealti said...

That was a good (if wordy) article. I have definitely felt the "we should do more and talk about doing stuff less" urge a lot. I really like the way you have described the balance that is important in being an anti-racist (or any cause really) activist. Thanks for making me think!