Co-founder and senior advisor to Just Associates, JASS, an international feminist movement-building support organization and network of activists, popular educators, and researchers
Dear colleagues, compaňeras and compaňeros,
Thank you Sandra for your warm welcome and everyone for their thoughtful contributions. Rejoining the ICAE community brings back many memories from the 70s onward of lively debates and laughter, of wild and wonderful imagining, and of questions, conundrums and challenges that remain true today, only compounded by the current context. That said, the dreams and experiences I have shared with so many colleagues from ICAE, the World Social Forum, and beyond have given me great hope in the wisdom and commitment of social justice organizers, educators and activists. How we galvanize that knowledge and practice for the coming struggles is, for me, an overarching question of our time. Remembering conversations with dear friends and compaňeras — thank you especially Mariela Arce, Nani Zulminarni, Hope Chigudu and Lisa VeneKlasen, — the fundamental question can be asked — How do we combine the mighty wisdom of our hearts, minds and bodies in a new alchemy of pedagogy, people, and power?
Living in the aftermath of Trump’s victory here in the U.S. and working with feminist activists, educators and social movements around the world, the topic of skills and competencies takes on an ever more urgent meaning — what combination is needed to ensure a more just and healthy world in these times so that our communities, our countries, families and grandchildren can thrive across the borders and divisions we currently face.
In Just Associates – JASS, we are confronting a mix of these challenges as we collaborate with colleagues in strengthening activists, leaders and social movements, often working in contexts of fear, violence and repression. Several questions arise: Looking from an overall perspective – How does our understanding of the many interactions of power, from oppressive to transformative, contribute to our awareness and actions? What do feminism and other pedagogies offer our approaches?
Looking at immediate threats and violence — What skills and competencies are needed to create spaces and strategies that help protect, safeguard and inspire people and organizations? How does gender play out in these dynamics and approaches?
Looking at long term sustainability and survival and perhaps the most important question for the future – What capacities and training initiatives are needed to ensure a new generation of organizers, facilitators, popular educators and catalysts capable of energizing and leading social justice processes of critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and action – loving, life-giving processes that help reinforce the health and well-being of ourselves, our communities and our mother earth? And what can we learn from current and past experiences that respond to this challenge?
ICAE offers a unique place to pursue these questions and dreams.
Thank you and onward,
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