Ring in the New Year! January Gatherings Got Me Pumped!

Friends,

A quick note from the National Gatherings Team — we wanted to let you all know how excited we are about the programming that this January Gathering is boasting, and we wanted to bring you into the know.

As always, our January Gathering is being modulated to meet the growth needs of our many teams, team members and regionalities! Our three gatherings, Oakland, Chicago, and D.C., will each have specifically designed curricula to explore old and new topics — we will continue developing our anti-oppression programming, our trainings on how to train, our budgeting and fundraising sessions and our personal development sessions.

THE NEW AND EXCITING SESSIONS ARE: a totally revised and revamped media training that will more intentionally link media to local needs AND a session on fractal leadership model development. There is room for more sessions, too, so if you have something to suggest, let us know! Anthony from the Agenda Committee can take your comment or question at anthony.betori@gmail.com.

The food is going to be good // the connections are going to grow our network stronger // the snow in each city will be beautiful // the possibilities are growing!

We can’t wait to see you, new teams and old! The second best time of the year is here — January Gathering is coming!

January Gathering is Coming

Race and class in Little Rock

Outreach team at work!

Outreach team at work!

Though the Little Rock team has not done any specific anti-oppression work yet, issues of race and class have begun to surface.  In particular, our plans for community events and fundraisers have sparked some interesting conversations.  After our March meeting, a few folks stuck around to talk informally.  One participant posed a question regarding an upcoming door knocking session: how will the majority Black, low-income community where we work respond to the diversity of our group? Several people told vivid and fresh stories illustrating a lack of acceptance for racial mixing from both white and Black people in our community. Little Rock, like the rest of the South (and the rest of the U.S., for that matter), has not found its way to racial healing or equity despite incessant talk about our role in the civil rights era with the Little Rock Nine, Daisy Bates, the Freedom Riders, etc.

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Creation is Our Essence

Our economy is crumbling. One in seven Americans live in poverty. The only thing our partisan politic-deadlock government can agree on is a free trade agreement with South Korea that isn’t likely to produce anything different from every other free trade agreement we’ve created.

More for the rich, less for the poor.

So why the squirrel?

It brings me back. Back to the single greatest period of growth and leadership development I’ve experienced in my life: Summer of Solutions – Twin Cities. It was the summer of 2010, and it was when my potential to lead, to challenge, to create, was unlocked.

I learned how to organize, how to facilitate, how to create a proposal for successful implementation of energy efficiency measures in homes and then how to present it to the administration of an electric utility, the imam of a local mosque, the head of a children’s summer program. I learned about oppression and privilege. I learned how to use Google Docs.

Together, we door-knocked, created an urban farm in a day, fixed and rode bikes, hosted community listening sessions, developed plans to convert an old car factory into a green manufacturing and living zone, planted and harvested food across Minneapolis, wrote business plans, toured renewable energy facilities, organized fundraising events, and ate a lot of delicious vegan food.

That summer changed me, because it empowered me. It gave me the tools I needed to help create the vision I and others have for our world. A world where communities overcome divisions and rise up together to take head on the economic, social and environmental challenges we face.

There’s a reason the dandelion is the focal point of the Summer of Solutions logo. A versatile, highly nutritious plant that can take root almost anywhere, grow, and disperse for miles around the parent plant, the dandelion defines the methodology of the program to gather in low-income communities, build up local infrastructure while training the next generation of green social entrepreneurs, and spread.

I was fortunate enough to go through this great experience, and now it’s time for me to return the favor. So I’m creating.

In 2012, application pending, there will be a Summer of Solutions program in Los Angeles. Building largely off the great work of a local organization, La Causa, we will be working with various different organizations and leaders, and our focuses are likely to include food access, green business, urban agriculture, complete streets and bike advocacy, green manufacturing, renewable energy projects, and community organizing.

I can’t wait to see what creations emerge.

The application to build your own Summer of Solutions program is open until next Saturday, October 29th. I encourage others who are ready to take this step: to join an incredibly talented and growing network of young leaders who aren’t waiting for help from above–they are working now to create the change they wish to see in the world.