STORY FOR CONTEXT
A few months ago, after learning that Adrienne Maree Brown (author, editor, social justice facilitator, healer, and Doula that I admire) was offering an Emergent Strategy training for the first time, I KNEW that I had to apply. Since High school, facilitating has always come organically to me. Growing up I have always been a mediator and soundboard for those experiencing hardship around me.
I began getting paid for facilitation work when I was asked to pilot a two year Restorative Justice program as a caseworker for my High School in Yarmouth. The program was a great success as it allowed students to process their emotions and resolve conflicts with support. While I was in the caseworker position, school suspension rates and police calls to our school were reduced by over half as a result of my work.
In my role as caseworker, I trained 16 student facilitators and provided daily support in regards to resources and co- facilitation. Additionally, I was responsible for administrative and liaison work between school administrators, community members, students, and their families. This experience gave me the opportunity to do public speaking across Nova Scotia, receive 3 provincial awards, a provincial resolution in my name, and train youth at other schools who were facing similar struggles. After High School I went to university with the intention of becoming a teacher, but with the cost of school coupled with my experience of systemic racism, and the exclusivity within academia - my passion slowly died and I was unable to stay.
As I grow - and my love for facilitation, education, Afrocentricity, and community organizing grows - I am constantly broadening the ways I show up to support learning and/or healing others with varied creative mediums.
Currently, I am the first Artist in Residence at a shared art studio in Halifax called Wonder’Neath. My vision is to find new venues to be engaged with and more residencies to be a part of outside of Halifax to connect to a wider community of racialized and/or 2SLGBTQIAP+ artists and activists. Right now, I facilitate art workshops for people of all ages, most of which are closed spaces for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour). My workshops vary widely depending on the community or group of people I am working with. Art mediums I've applied range from zine making, felting, creative writing (with particular focus given to a group of women of colour), painting, body mapping, journal decorating, fort building and more.
Additionally, I am a Graphic Facilitator with a team called Brave Space. This work allows me to live draw and bring art into the various ways I am working with and presenting people, stories, important information visually. I know that by attending Emergent Strategies with Adrienne Maree Brown, I will be able to strengthen the work that I do.
The intention in my facilitation work is to establish more spaces where people are encouraged (prioritizing racialized and/or 2SLGBTQIAP groups) to be their whole selves while offering an opportunity for folks who are facing similar, complex and overlapping realities to openly create, collaborate, learn, grow and support one another. I hope to encourage others to practice honest self expression as a self-care priority.
For years I have been keenly and patiently awaiting the opportunity to better learn facilitation and community organizing skills from Black women and other Women of Colour. I have felt deeply encouraged to do my best work and to show up as my best self because of the passion I possess for this cause and practice. It is my concern that the training I have received does not fully align with the reality of the world and requires a more empathetic grassroots approach, with an intentional anti-oppressive focus toward queer, black women in the community.
I feel an urgency to engage with more grassroots folks who practice intentional anti-oppressive work to broaden my own support network as a facilitator and artist. The work that I do is emotionally demanding and requires I sustain a sensitive vulnerability. I am exhausted by the racism and tokenization I have experienced, and need to be in a learning environment where I can be my whole self and ask complex questions with others who share a connection through similar concern and experience. That totality of environment does not exist for me in Halifax, which is a predominantly white and segregated city. Reaching beyond my local community will allow me to gain new perspectives and coping skills that will sustain me as I continue to pursue my career.
I have found so many passages within Emergent Strategy that align with who I am as a person and how I care for others. To have the opportunity to learn from Adrienne Maree Brown would change my life and build my confidence in both the professional and intimate work that I do. Emergent Strategies was introduced to me after teaching an anti-oppression workshop at Dalhousie University for the Sustainability Leadership Certificate Program. The woman who introduced it to me, said I spoke as though I studied Adrienne’s book. Since reading the book, I have found a mirror and validation in her words.
This is why I was so excited for the news about the Emergent Strategy training in Detroit this April 2018. When I say I had to apply, I meant it, and did so with some colleagues. I knew that it would be incredible to go to Adrienne Maree Brown’s Emergent Strategy training in Detroit as it directly addresses my concerns, and I was immensely grateful when I was accepted out of hundreds of people around the world who applied to attend the VERY FIRST training.
But I need your help - I need financial support to make the journey and be safe and healthy along the way. In supporting me, you will help to build my capacity to lead more powerful projects and to do better work within Halifax, Nova Scotia.
WHAT WILL I BE DOING?
I will be participating in the Emergent Strategy training over an intensive three day period. We (the participants) will be co-creating our training and learning in a variety of ways. Personally, I learn best when I am completely immersed in the training - so I am incredibly excited to learn how interactive this training will be. Training will run from 9AM-6PM on Friday, April 13 until Sunday, April 15th (my 25th birthday - yay!). The core aspects of the training will cover, reference, and discuss Adrienne Marie Brown’s novel and practices re: Emergent Strategy.
Novel Description: “Inspired by Octavia Butler's explorations of our human relationship to change, Emergent Strategy is radical self-help, society-help, and planet-help designed to shape the futures we want to live. Change is constant. The world is in a continual state of flux. It is a stream of ever-mutating, emergent patterns. Rather than steel ourselves against such change, this book invites us to feel, map, assess, and learn from the swirling patterns around us in order to better understand and influence them as they happen. This is a resolutely materialist “spirituality” based equally on science and science fiction, a visionary incantation to transform that which ultimately transforms us.”
There will be a tour of Detroit to “weave Detroit into our grasps of emergent strategy” as well. The training is intentionally linking participants to the local community of Detroit for cultural exchange and genuine connection, which I think is pretty incredible.
I also intend to connect with local Black/Queer activists, artists, musicians with the intention to collaborate on something while I’m there, or in the near future in the remaining days after the training- so if you have any suggestions on who to meet, let me know! I want to learn as much about Detroit and the gentrification happening in their neighborhoods as I can. I want to connect to activists challenging gentrification in their neighborhoods with the intention of finding similarities about the realities and impact of gentrification and systemic racism in Halifax and across Canada.
WHAT IS THIS MONEY GOING TOWARDS?
- An early birthday present to me, if you love and know me like that (My 25th birthday is April 15th)
- To support the cost of my flight to and from Detroit, as well as transportation within Detroit
- To help cover the cost of my lodging from April 11-April 18th. I hope to stay a few days longer for the opportunity to network with other artists and to also tap into the local Black museums and art galleries.
- To support me to do activities that will enhance my learning and experience, to then bring my knowledge back to Halifax (ex: going to Black museums, going to art shows, networking at events)
- Food and basic necessities while I’m in Detroit
- Melissa Stewart
- Heather Wilkinson
- Alex H
- Katie Ann Elizabeth MacDonald
Bria Cherise Miller