Anti-Oppression Meeting Minutes - December 28, 2011

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Arlington St Church   December 28, 2011   5:30-8:30 


Kendra, Maureen, Susan, Salma, Clyde, Ester, Cathy J., Bhavin, Michelle, Meck, Seble, Chris, Andrea


Penny Exercise – pick a penny and share a story related to the year of the penny you picked.



Vision and Statement of Purpose Break-out Groups

Logistics and Immediate Next Steps

Ways of Being Evaluation

Vision and Statement of Purpose

Bhavin and Ester shared a draft vision statement that compiled the work done by the group several meetings before.  Jude and Andrea worked on a draft statement of purpose. The group split up into two working groups to edit and refine the drafts of each.

Vision Statement Report Out

Proposed Vision Statement: Our vision is to create a beloved community that furthers greater consciousness of systemic, interpersonal, internal ad cultural oppressions that keep us apart. To create a movement which is sustainable and welcoming, where people feel inspired to understand their power, share their gifts and build tools and practices for confronting oppressions. To promote a culture where liberation, empathy, accountability and compassion are the core values and to do so through the creation of spaces for reflection, learning , transformation and critical and creative thinking. We envision doing this work through the building of deep meaningful relationships and with the well-being of those most oppressed always at the center of our efforts.

There is a vision and a mission statement in this….a vision should be 1-2 sentences at most. This has the elements that need to be unraveled. Is it vision for world? OB? WG?  For our working groups – we are catalysts and transformative agents for OB. We need to include intergenerational because we’re building a movement for generations. We don’t really know what “beloved community”  - utopia when talking about oppression? Talking about systemic oppression. We can work to create laws, communities free of systematic oppression.  Collective liberation – keep it!

Mission, values, vision, practices sections – Why do we need to write all of this? Because of Monday meetings!

Next steps – Salma, Susan, Clyde, Seble will go back to previous statements from exercise and continue working on it.

Anti-Oppression/Liberation Working Group Statement of Purpose Report Out

How we came to be

We articulated what so many people were feeling – great thrust for inquiry and commitment. We reverberate how many people are feeling, experiencing , struggling with a liberatory movement.

We are a group of people diverse in a multiplicity of identities…..

Comment: This needs to be further fleshed out


Comment: This is the work of the other working group to be pulled into a cohesive document once we each complete our respective sections.

Comment: This section was added'-> What we believe/value
Outstanding questions
  • What is oppression? Role of privileged people?
  • About how people change? Which would inform how we do our work….
  • What are the assumptions that we carry in our heads?
  • What are our shared values?
  • Do we build agreement on values up front? Do we build agreement as we go along?
  • This could take a long time….we have to balance having these and getting to work
Comment -> maybe we can try to build agreement on what are our “Bottom Lines” are….what is at the core of what we believe as a group…for example….
  • Oppressions are intertwined, they have to be faced to move forward, and to not face them is to replicate them, to do nothing is oppressive. Dealing with oppression is crucial for our movement to have moral credibility, real spirit, or lasting liberatory possibility or space for those who want to be participate.
  • Understanding the intersectionality of multiple oppressions – some people are affected
  • We will continue to learn about new forms of oppression that we may not be aware of…..
  • We don’t get to choose one form of oppression over another…..
  • Harmony of action and reflection
What we do

We want to create and sustain a liberatory culture –  a beloved community.  We know that to achieve this, we must work on many levels –within ourselves to liberate our souls (intrapersonally) and amongst ourselves  as individuals (interpersonally and institutionally) as well as at the level of policy and culture – to make visible the oppressive  behaviors, practices and structures that affect us or of which we are inadvertent agents.

  • Comment: WHAT DO WE MEAN BY LIBERATORY? Not holding onto what we know doesn’t work, holding onto our wisdom, what does work, - reconnect to things that are ancient and that work for us as people, e.g. meeting in circles, reconnect with things that help us go deeper, slow down and breathe,

Our work reflects the many tiers of effort -

Build Beloved Learning Community

We build our understanding of how these privileges play out in our movement building work and increase our skill in intervening when such dynamics surface within our group as well as within OB.  In this way, we build a learning community of people committed to liberation.

  • Comment: Tap the wisdom of ancestors of earlier liberation movements.

Political Education

We also build awareness about the history of present day oppressive societal arrangements.  We learn with progressive and front-line communities as well as with OB movement builders about how the origins and legacies of privileges that have been systematically granted to some groups and denied to others so that we can diligently build more just communities and spaces, inclusive of:

  • Comment: Flesh out activities

Planning and Strategizing We collectivize our wisdom to actualize ways of being effective in the short and long-term within and beyond OB, inclusive of:

  • Comment: participating in other Working Groups

Comment: Format: Are these the right parts of a document? Is there a way of communicating this that is more interesting? Maybe told as a story

Next Steps - Michelle, Jude, Mariama, Andrea will continue to work on this draft

Logistics and Immediate Next Steps

  1. Financial forms and reimbursements –
    • 3 Liaisons – Cathy, Bhavin or Carl, Meck
    • Responsibilities: will fill out form, making sure the form and receipts get to FAWG, and find out how money gets back to AOWG members.
  2. Time & Date of Next Meeting – 5 min
    • Carry on with work of group at Saturdays 5:30-8:30
    • Send delegates to GA’s when we want a presence at the Saturday GA’s (one of 4 GA’s)
    • Ask for $25 for Arlington St. Church donation from FAWG – Cathy
  3. Movie Series – 10 min
    • In addition to our regularly scheduled meetings,
    • Subcommittee: Clyde, Bhavin, Salma, Susan, Chris, Ester, Michelle, Andrea, Seble
    • Race the Power of an Illusion, Bell Hooks (Clyde),
  4. Monday Night Community Building -  5 min.
    • Planning Committee: Meck, Bhavin, Michelle, Andrea
    • Email facilitation team (Greg) about Feb. 13  -  Michelle and let us know
  5. Visioning Workshop – 10 min
    • Cathy Hoffman (Non-Violence Working Group) is trying to bring Linda Stout to Boston, founder of first multi-racial justice organizations. Jan. 14th 12:00-3:00 for Occupy Boston WG and active OB folks for 50 people. From 3:30-5:00 (when GA starts) anti-oppression for smaller T4T training. People from Facilitation and Ideas WG are also interested.
    • Content? Visioning
    • Implications for AOWG – decision to host workshop, contribute that week’s $100 stipend towards budget for Linda Stout’s visioning work. 
  6. OB Theme Watchers/Big Picture Themes – table
  7. List of ideas for 2012 [for next year]
    • movies, post on youtube

Ways of Being Evaluation

Step Up/Step Back –  could have done better in our statement of purpose small group, had a hard time with the energy and space

Both/And – saw a lot of it in visioning small group

Don’t Shame, Blame, or Attack –

Room for Disagreement – Oops, Ouch, What’s Up with That

Can Use Hand Signals – oh yes

Use I statements – OK

Active Listening -  I had trouble with active listening tonite

Progressive Stack –  not aware of stack today

Take 30 seconds for people to think every 20 min – did that well today

Diversity of structuring meetings – pennies, car drawing, scooter great; small groups as before;

No screens – guilty!

Next Steps



By When

Continue drafting vision statement (go back to previous vision statements from exercise)

Salma, Susan, Clyde, Seble


Continue drafting statement of purpose

Michelle, Jude, Mariama, Andrea


Will fill out form, making sure the form and receipts get to FAWG, and find out how money gets back to AOWG members.


Ask for $25 donation for Arlington St. Church from FAWG


Flesh out movie series proposal

Clyde, Bhavin, Salma, Susan, Chris, Ester, Michelle, Andrea, Seble

Design Community Meeting Night – Feb. 13

Meck, Bhavin, Michelle, Andrea

Email Greg about Feb. 13


Facilitation for upcoming meetings

Jan. 7th – Bhavin and Andrea

Jan. 14 – Bhavin and Ester ??

Jan. 21 – Meck & ??