It’s been hard for me to come up with a summary of this session, and after some time, I’ve realized it’s because the things that struck me most are not really able to be captured in any linear fashion. In fact, for me, what this session was about was the awesomeness of black women’s leadership and just generally #BlackGirlMagic.
Tram Nguyen's Blog
I learned so much from this session and realize how much work I personally, as well as the institutions and organizations I’m part of, have to do so that disability justice becomes “the norm and not the niche,” as panelist Patrice Strahan put it. Especially coming from the public health sector, disabled people are all too often seen in the category of “vulnerable communities” and recipients or clients of health and social services, not as leaders at the cutting edge of critiquing and transforming our society’s current dehumanizing system.
As someone who has spent nearly a decade in public health and health equity, I’m excited and somewhat chagrined to come across the work covered in this session. Why hadn’t I heard of this, or even thought of this, before?! It’s a testament to the persistent power of status quo and silos unless they are actively dismantled. I appreciate even more the importance and need for the research, frameworks, projects and ideas discussed in this session that lay the groundwork for emerging cross-sector collaboration and partnership between the arts and public health.
There was something very touching, comforting and familiar about today’s last keynote of this year’s GIA Convening. Even though it was larger-than-life Lin-Manuel Miranda and his equally impressive father, Luis A. Miranda Jr., I found myself frequently thinking during their conversation not so much about their achievements but about how to raise my son so that he would grow up caring about his community and where he came from—and one day look at me with equal parts bemusement, love and understanding the way Lin-Manuel looked at Luis.
Today’s workshop, Reimagining Narratives of Power, brought to mind a long-ago debate I remember hearing between Kim Klein and Gary Delgado. (Kim is a grassroots fundraising guru and the author of Fundraising for Social Change, and Gary is a longtime racial justice organizer and the founder of what is now Race Forward.)
After having heard many tantalizing snippets in previous sessions about transforming funder practices, this session was the perfect next step. It was a deeper dive into what it means to be community-driven and community-connected, but broken down as a real conversation among three women of color who are passionate about this topic, honest about their challenges, and so clearly innovative and important leaders in their field.
The three foundations highlighted here work in Detroit, New Orleans, and Puerto Rico—locales where communities experienced ecological and economic disasters that drew an influx of external funding—and hold especially intense lessons for funders in practicing responsible community philanthropy from afar.
Just Transition provides a framework for all sectors and all people to move toward a life-affirming future even as our planet’s life support systems come close to collapse under this current paradigm. Funders have increasingly begun to grapple with Just Transition in philanthropy, and in this session, Quita Sullivan of New England Foundation for the Arts and Tiffany Wilhelm of Opportunity Fund shepherded a conversation about what this means for arts funders—including in their practices, policies and mindsets.
The definition of Just Transition offered by Climate Justice Alliance is “a vision-led, unifying and place-based set of principles, processes, and practices that build economic and political power to shift from an extractive economy to a regenerative economy.”
“Always tell the story of indigenous justice in racial justice, and land is always connected to that.”
This, from Gaby Strong, is what I’m taking to heart from spending time with the artists/strategists/organizers of NDN Collective. I’m so grateful to GIA and to indigenous leaders themselves for centering this struggle, which is so vibrant, urgent and crucial to the grand reckoning of white supremacy that 2020 has turned out to be.
Where has Maysoon Zayid been all my life? Once she started talking, I never wanted her to stop, and judging from the lit-up zoom chat, everyone at today’s keynote felt the same. The Palestinian American comedian, actor, and disability justice activist had us all “laugh-crying and crying-crying,” in the words of one attendee, all while dropping brilliant insights without missing a beat and wearing a fabulous feathery black jacket. In the words of another chat post: “Best. Keynote. Ever. Brilliant, stylish, and joyful.”
Friday’s workshop, Creative Practice as Civic Practice: Supporting artist power in community-led transformation, reminded me of what a longtime friend and mentor of mine likes to say: “Community organizing is both an art and a science.”