This group of facilitators (initially all from the U.S., now international) has been meeting since 2016 to explore undoing oppression in Work That Reconnects facilitation. Please see below for the story of how and why this group coalesced, and how it has evolved over time.
The Anti-Oppression Resource Group supports facilitators in their growth and learning (including both facilitation preparation and processing post-program). Members of the group have provided in-person facilitator gatherings and currently offer webinars online. In addition, they have developed a number of Anti-Oppression resources for the wider Work That Reconnects community, and have worked with listening to harms that have occurred from systems of oppression replicating in Work That Reconnects spaces.
- A well-attended webinar, White Supremacy in the Great Turning, in August of 2020.
- De-escalating Patterns of Harm in White Dominant Spaces: a guide for Work That Reconnects facilitators and participants. This document summarizes and expands upon patterns of harm that were named at a 2018 gathering convened by Aravinda Ananda and Mutima Imani to explore harms in WTR spaces. Specific examples of patterns of harm are paired with suggestions for what facilitators can do differently.
- A two-part, well-attended webinar An Exploration of De-escalating Patterns of Harm in White Dominant Spaces and Continued Exploration into De-escalating Patterns of Harm in White Dominant Spaces based on the De-escalating Patterns of Harm document in the fall of 2021, with follow-up practice groups for participants during 2022.
- A revised framing of “The Three Stories of Our Time” to better include an anti-oppression analysis. This material has been woven into an updated version.
- Revision of WTR practices that have problematic elements, and development of new practices.
- Crafting Toward Greater Solidarity and Diversity, a statement created for the Work That Reconnects website, documenting some of the efforts made to shift the Work That Reconnects with respect to oppression, and articulating the intentions behind those efforts.
- Creating the power, privilege and oppression questions and topics posed to bioregional facilitator gatherings in 2019.
- Some of the members of this group encouraged Joanna Macy to write a public letter in fall 2017 to white facilitators in the US encouraging them to take certain steps to address oppression in the Work That Reconnects.
The Anti-Oppression Resource Group currently meets every other month on Zoom; subgroups working on various projects meet as needed. Generally six to 10 people – an intergenerational, international mixed race group with varying facilitation experience – convene. At times the group has been closed in order to facilitate group cohesiveness, avoid overtaxing the volunteer efforts of existing members and also to balance certain demographics within the group. At this time the group is open; in early 2020 the group created an orientation video for anyone who wants to join.
Aravinda Ananda, a founding member, has often provided leadership; those present decide on agenda items, projects and future directions, using the consent decision-making process. At this time, with the exception of some webinar facilitation, labor on group projects and in meetings is unpaid.
The Anti-Oppression Resource Group is not a formal committee of the Work That Reconnects Network, but some members of the group are current or former Network Weavers and volunteers.
How the Anti-Oppression Resource Group Evolved
In fall 2016 a number of facilitators met in person to explore harms happening in Work That Reconnects spaces. At a subsequent meeting in February 2018, facilitators offered test runs of new and adapted practices they had developed with an anti-oppression approach. The following weekend Mutima Imani and Aravinda Ananda convened a gathering at Canticle Farm in Oakland, California on Ohlone territory for community exploration and to invite a naming of patterns of harm.
Ongoing meetings began in 2017, when Belinda Griswold, Sarah Nahar and Aravinda Ananda were preparing for respective programs. Sarah was to be on the teaching team at Joanna Macy’s Emerald Earth 10-day intensive, and Aravinda was on the co-facilitation team for a fourth Earth Leadership Cohort, an immersion in the Work That Reconnects for young people ages 18-30. Their initial call turned into a weekly call, for nearly a year. This group evolved over time into the Anti-Oppression Resource Group.
Expanding in numbers, the group initially struggled to choose a name for itself and the work it is engaged with, due to the breadth and depth of that work. In its nascent stage decolonization was an animating word; they later recognized that intersectionalization felt more accurate. Then being on the “evolving edge” of the WTR lit up imaginations. In July 2020, with nudging from the Work That Reconnects Network staff, the collection of individuals present decided on the name Anti-Oppression Resource Group (at least for the time being), because the group has historically been a place where people have come to get support and be resourced in their ongoing efforts to integrate an undoing oppression approach into their Work That Reconnects facilitation.
Some of the people who have provided leadership and shape to the group over the years (while not necessarily active at this time) include Aravinda Ananda, Sarah Nahar, Belinda Griswold, Mutima Imani, Kurt Kuhwald, Carmen Rumbaut, Molly Brown, Constance Washburn, Rachel Marco-Havens, Kara Bender, Gwen Gordon, Joseph Rotella, Aryeh Shell, Tzy-Ping Chen, Jo Hamilton, Jane Hera, Paula Hendrick and Ellen Serfaty.
You can contact them by email.