Popular education is a bedrock of Movement Matters’ unique approach to community organizing and transformative change. We created our Advanced Popular Education Training (APET) to dive deep into both theory and practice while also allowing popular educators the space to contemplate and reshape their own practice.
One of our central themes is the pivotal role of ritual and of somatic healing in building learning spaces for communities, in embodying a “learning by doing” of the world we are trying to build. Without radically transforming our internal processes for connecting, learning, and building together, our work for external change will collapse. Without places and spaces to put into action the vision, trust, communication and relationships built among members, the internal will collapse. And this fine balance, this process of titration, is what we accompany, energize, and sustain as popular educators and cultural organizers.
A benefit of the virtual space of the APET is the ability to integrate practice into the life of the training. The time in between sessions is used not just to reflect and process information, but also to experiment with and embody new practices. We are also able to spend one-on-one time with participants in between sessions to tailor course learning to their specific needs.
Another key element of popular education that is well served by this more individualized approach is the development and integration of codes as a tool for deeper concientizacion. Being able to envision and integrate prompts that allow community members to simultaneously recognize issues that they face, share their knowledge and understanding, and open the door for new information and perspectives are difficult skills to hone, especially in the abstract. Being able to work through specific examples with participants based on real-time community issues grounds this important piece of work that differentiates popular education from political education.
The APET continues to be a unique offering of Movement Matters’ training work. It integrates beautifully with our Advanced Facilitation Training and continues to be a way to build deep relationships with organizers and change makers across the country.
Re-Frame: Research Is an Important Part of Organizing But We Don’t Always Have to Adopt Research as “Research.”
We at Movement Matters found this perspective to be incredibly helpful as we work with organizations and communities to navigate member-led research processes and as we have helped the Indigenous Environmental Network develop popular education curricula for their Indigenous Just Transition framework. Dr. Wilson’s recognition of the need to contextualize understanding within relationships and conditions, to center the role of oral storytelling as a means of holding and transferring knowledge, and to acknowledge the dangers and opportunities of existing in “transitional spaces” between two worlds, are all important paradigms to integrate into community process.
Dr. Wilson also highlights the role of ceremony and ritual to help people “step beyond the everyday”. This transformation of purpose and unity of focus can also connect to the process of understanding the issues we face in our communities. Even for non-Indigenous communities, the integration of ritual and culture can break community members free from dominant paradigms and allow for new insights and understanding to emerge.
This book can help organizers think about the ways in which their work on the ground can lead to collectively held knowledge. Dr. Wilson’s own journey is a reminder to honor the ways that our life experiences, our intuition, and our relationships are all elements of how we learn and build our collective knowledge. His words are also a “setting of the stage” to take action and create change around us for the sake of our communities and the relationships we hold.
To read more about Dr. Shawn Wilson
Watch Dr. Wilson lead a presentation about "Research Is Ceremony" (ceremony focus)
Watch Dr. Wilson lead a presentation about "Research Is Ceremony" (research focus)
Eviction Prevention in Communities (EPIC): Housing Justice, Tenant Organizing and Participatory Defense in DC
Since April of 2022, Movement Matters has been working in collaboration with several legal service providers, social workers and community organizing groups in a joint project to keep DC tenants in their homes by fighting evictions.
With the end of the COVID eviction moratorium and an absence of city funding and leadership on this issue, several thousand DC residents face eviction each month. In response to these conditions, Eviction Prevention in Communities (EPIC) has been building up a canvassing apparatus to ensure that tenants who are facing evictions know their options and are connected to long-term infrastructure to build tenant power.
This month, EPIC launched the Eviction Defense Hub. This "Hub" is modeled after Silicon Valley DeBug's participatory defense project in the criminal courts, which allows individuals and communities to take back agency over their involvement with the overly bureaucratic and puzzling "criminal justice" system.
Organizers from the Latino Economic Development Center's Tenant Organizing Team, Empower DC, DC Jobs with Justice, Bread for the City, and Movement Matters have adapted this tool to landlord-tenant court. Movement Matters has helped to ensure that Hub meetings incorporate cultural organizing and popular education to create stronger bonds among tenants and connect to the deeper values of anti-eviction work. We are also assisting community partners to develop strategic organizing responses to issues that surface during Hub meetings.
The Hub comes at a time when government rental assistance and tenant protections are either being diminished or eliminated by the DC City Council and Mayor while landlord attempts to evict tenants are rising at alarming rates with no end in sight.
Our communities and organizations are powerless without cohesive and well-developed member bases that share a rooted analysis and have built the trust and discipline to react and plan as a united group. Consistent gathering places that are well-designed, and the reflective and skilled facilitation of them, are irreplaceable steps in developing this type of constituency. However, these essential skills are often overlooked as expendable "soft" components of organizing.
Far from being a luxury, effective meetings and skilled facilitation are vital in building the sense of common identity and cohesion necessary to transform a group of individuals into a constituency that can envision change and take the necessary risks to attain it. These ensuing "relationships of action" drive movement-based organizing work.
In our 3 day in-person Advanced Facilitation Training (AFT) you will learn and practice:
MM's training approach is also grounded in somatics, expressive arts, story-sharing, popular theater, and ritual practices that engage participant's bodies and minds so that they can more fully experience the training content and deepen their growth. In addition, these approaches model ways to deeply ground community members in a lived experience of our collective values. We view these approaches as integral to allow us to embody the world we are trying to create within our organizing practice.
There will be two additional 2.5 hour virtual Learning and Action Circles (LAC) to ensure the learning and integration of the materials.
Maui Model: Community Sail Plan Rooted in Human Rights and Peace Guides Future Generations and Our Globe
Contributed by Kaiea Medeiros, Kalonize (MM Alum) and Josh Cooper, Hawai'i Institute for Human Rights.
To directly support Maui residents affected, visit Maui Nui Strong - Maui Wildfire Relief.
The global climate crisis arrived aggressively on Maui, Hawai’i. The most isolated, inhabited land mass on the planet was directly impacted with devastation beyond comprehension with nearly a hundred deaths and 2,200 structures destroyed and 3,330 acres of land decimated.
Summer 2023 has been the season of climate change everywhere on earth. Climate change-fueled drought and hurricane high winds created detrimental and deathly conditions for raging wildfires burning the historic town of Lahaina to the ground. The climate crisis is not a looming threat but one we are living daily in this global climate emergency.
On August 8, there were 3 major fires across Maui island. However the spark that lit the flames devouring too many souls began centuries ago with imperial policies and industrial practices intended to dominate indigenous peoples of the Pacific.
The path toward peace on Maui requires a multifaceted historical and holistic approach rooted in the human rights of the maka’ainana. Keepers of the ancestral knowledge provide cultural context demanding new direction of mutual exchange instead of pattern of exploitation.
We must now decolonize, decorporatize, decarbonize and decentralize for Maui’s future.
The sovereign nation of Hawai’i was administered at moku’ula, Lahaina. King Kamehameha III continued navigating the 19th century securing sovereignty in rough seas of conquest. Ulu groves and niu marked the boundaries of this peaceful government. Over time, a baseball field and tennis courts attempted to cover the rich historical culture of the land. Only days after the inferno incinerated all in its way, a kalo plant emerged on Front Street.
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Many companies and corporations made decisions considering only profit and not the people or the planet. Water was diverted for multiple purposes geared toward profits with monocrops drying up fertile valleys and golf courses constructed instead of affordable housing. Monopolistic Corporations have constantly chose profit including the energy company continuing practices bad for planet and the people when alternative models exist. Renewable energy of solar provides clean, green and good resilient possibilities for Maui’s future.
The water must flow again from mauka to makai. Regenerative agriculture with an island wide compost system can be planted. Maui Nui Million Native Tree project provides canoes and reduces carbon for future generations. Syntropic agroforestry guarantees right to food for all. An ahupuaa model of sustainable development is the basis for a better life for all that considers the consequences of all decisions in our earth democracy. The people must exercise free, prior and informed consent to actualize the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.
A low carbon economy centered around proactive, participatory public policy making and pono politics creates a collective love illuminating a bright future for Maui. Endemic ecology is the essential base centered around community engagement and circular economy.
We must accelerate action for Aina-Kanaka relationships supporting responsible and resilient ecology ensuring equality and equity.
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples provides a blueprint to build back beautiful and better with bolder actions outlined in the 46 articles realizing the right to free, prior and informed consent. The UN 2030 Agenda provides 17 Global Goals that offer a to-do list balancing economic, social and cultural rights for climate action to achieve peace through partnership.
It’s Na’au or Never for Hawai'i and humanity.
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Over the last year, Movement Matters partnered with the Organizing Center and the Funders' Collaborative for Youth Organizing (FCYO) to provide direct coaching to youth organizing groups working on climate justice and racial equity as part of FCYO's Youth Organizing for Climate Action and Racial Equity (YO-CARE) Capacity-Building Fund.
We were thrilled to develop new meaningful relationships spanning the country, from Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice (Bronx, NY) to Juntos (Philadelphia, PA) to Florida Rising to Hawai'i Peace & Justice to Latinos Unidos Siempre/LUS Youth (Salem, Oregon) to one of our local partners in the DC region, Progressive Maryland. These powerful groups were eager and ready to implement new ideas and practices to level up their base building and organizing skills.
In addition to helping individual groups work on popular education curricula, cultural organizing and somatic-based activities, member engagement systems, and campaign strategies, we were also excited to be part of the facilitation team for FCYO's convening of 50+ organizers from YO-CARE grantee organizations this past summer in Atlanta.
A critical part of this gathering was a deep engagement with FCYO’s Power to Win Framework, which helped to stretch youth organizers’ thinking about how to approach long-term movement building. This orientation is deeply aligned with Movement Matters’ organizing framework and the way we engage partners when doing capacity building work. It was a pleasure to support the learning and integration of this model and to be in partnership with such a significant cohort of youth leaders from around the country.
One of our greatest joys in this work is bringing organizers together in deep relationships of learning and exploration. This happens in our trainings and our Learning and Action Circles. We are excited to further this approach through our new Movement Matters Circles of Practice. The 2024 Circle of Practice will engage a cohort of organizers from 6-8 organizations in the DC/MD/VA region to deeply explore membership development and base building through the lens of cultural organizing and popular education.
With all of the demands of organizing, we can often overlook the critical need to create regular places and spaces where our communities can exercise their membership. This active engagement requires structure, intentionality, and strategy. In addition to onboarding and orienting new members, we have to scale participation to create meaningful and sustainable ways for members to contribute at all levels and, over time, to deepen their engagement. This process needs to be connected to seasoned long-time members taking on leadership roles in both the thinking and doing of our organizing work.
At Movement Matters, cultural organizing and popular education also mean building culture within our organizing work―spending time on the integration of arts, ritual, and community healing to define and highlight the values of our organizing group, what we are fighting for, and how we are being with one another while growing our numbers. This can also include how we develop and transmit the stories about our work and our organizing.
All of these elements provide vehicles for deepening leadership and membership. We are looking forward to spending 7-9 months with a motivated cohort of organizers experimenting with and implementing new ways to do this. We look forward to embodying these approaches so that they become an integral part of how this cohort does their work during and beyond this first Circle of Practice!
For more information on our new Circles of Practice, connect with us.
Movement Matters is based in Washington, DC.
We work regionally with various communities and with national partners.
Resmaa Menakem is a healer, therapist, trauma specialist, and author of My Grandmother’s Hands and The Quaking of America among others. Resmaa is also the originator and key advocate of Somatic Abolitionism, an embodied anti-racist practice of living and culture building that centers the healing of historical and racialized trauma we carry in our bodies and in our spirits.
We have been learning with Resmaa for over three years, deepening our work around somatic trauma therapies and the regulation of the nervous system. We thoughtfully incorporate this knowledge into our work with organizers and community members so that we can cultivate resourcing and shared healing practices, decolonize our bodies and minds, and move to collective action.
Somatic Abolitionism is demanding and requires the commitment of a daily practice and high levels of self-awareness. Resmaa is a direct and compassionate teacher whose brilliance and heart illuminate this hard, necessary work. This is a key study for popular educators, organizers and facilitators working with multi-racial communities that have experienced high levels of individual and community trauma.
Resmaa also introduced the term "bodies of culture" to refer to all human bodies not considered white.
Read more about Resmaa Menakem.
Watch Resmaa discuss racialized trauma.
Upcoming Foundations in Somatic Abolitionism sessions.
Providing support and accompaniment to organizers and community workers is a critical part of the way Movement Matters supports our collective struggle for justice. However, we recognize that those working on the ground are only part of the movement ecosystem. We are also excited when the opportunity presents itself to accompany funders who are interested in supporting transformative work.
Over the last two years, Movement Matters has been partnering with Resourcing Radical Justice (RRJ), a funders collective that centers Black liberation as the path to a thriving Greater Washington region by advocating for philanthropic sector transformation, coordinating capacity building for and funding to Black and POC-led grassroots organizers, and building, lifting up, and learning from radical organizers.
Our Movement Matters team played two distinct roles in RRJ’s Radical Learning Series process: helping to structure and ground the development of a learning cohort and providing content training to the cohort once it had been developed.
RRJ drew on our expertise in creating values-driven, body-and-mind centered processes to help them envision the arc of their cohort design―from the application process to the learning modules to the post-workshop integration of knowledge, skills, and values. Those doing “professional” training for funders often overlook the need to allow participants to connect to their bodies, minds, and spirits as they navigate systems that may resist change. We provided concrete ways for RRJ to utilize arts and culture to avoid these traps and help participants deeply connect to new ways of thinking about funding and to navigate (personally and professionally) the obstacles they might face in implementing new approaches within their organizations.
In addition to this overall framing, Movement Matters also designed and ran two training modules within the RRJ curriculum. These modules focused on understanding how philanthropy can both support and hinder movement work for systems change and racial justice, both in terms of what they fund and how they fund it. We drew on our deep knowledge of various philanthropic efforts to support community organizing, racial equity and systems change work in the DC area over the last 25 years in crafting the training content. We helped RRJ cohort members critically reflect on and ground themselves in philanthropic practices that contribute more consistently and meaningfully to a healthy movement ecosystem. As always, these workshops were deeply rooted in Movement Matters’ popular education approach and resonated strongly with the RRJ cohort.
Organizing and movement building are collective efforts. Only together, through institutions, cross-organizational collaboration, and ecosystem connection, can we reshape the world. But within these cooperative efforts are individuals. And as individuals within this work, we often find ourselves in deep conflict, hurt by the way we treat one another. Across the country, our collective efforts are frozen or destroyed by our responses to this conflict. At Movement Matters, we are constantly trying to learn new skills and approaches to create processes that care for the individual, our organizations, and our collective work. The Calling In: Creating Change Without Cancel Culture course by Loretta J. Ross and Loan Tran is one source of this learning. We have been engaging with their material for over a year and the entire MM team enrolled in the course this October.
Loan Tran, who is credited with coining the phrase “calling in”, frames cancel culture as a product of our carceral system of punishment. They add that if we are committed to a human rights framework, we must create systems for relationship building and accountability that free us from these dominant paradigms. Calling In culture is one such mechanism.
Ms. Ross and Loan Tran take participants through the 5-C Continuum (Calling Out, Canceling, Calling In, Calling On, Calling It Off) and discuss how/when each is appropriate in our movement spaces, including distinguishing between how we engage with people “on our side” versus targets of our organizing campaigns. Though the majority of the courses focus on Calling In as a strategy of radical love to uphold our movement spaces, Ms. Ross and Loan Tran explore the ways in which we “punch sideways” at one another due to our trauma responses and deep socialization in the oppressive systems under which we live. However, they urge that if we are to build a real human rights movement that stretches far, wide and deep, we cannot cancel each other and we must find other ways to handle conflict that go beyond the examples provided by society.
The course also helps us examine how to adhere to Calling In practices when faced with uneven power dynamics within our movement institutions. It does not shy away from the need for accountability and change within our work, but rather reexamines our often instinctual reactions to try to achieve them.
In addition to the theoretical grounding to Calling In culture, the course also offers learning labs, led by somatic practitioner Desiree Hammond, where participants are able to practice and embody this process. As we continue to learn and explore this methodology, we look forward to incorporating it into Movement Matters’ approach to accompaniment and capacity building.
Visit Loretta Ross' Website
Learn More About the "Calling In" Online Sessions