Creative Reconstruction: a Period of Collective Learning, Healing, and Transformation

“We have to transform ourselves in order to transform the world” - Grace Lee Boggs

At our annual retreat this past July– members, staff, volunteers, and Shared Leadership team members sat under the shade of a large oak tree reflecting on the last years’ work and the many years before. 2018 marks the 12th year of ONE DC’s organizing efforts for racial and economic equity in Washington. As with every annual retreat, we reflected about the state of our organization. As we did so, a recurring question arose from the group. What would it look like for ONE DC to turn our work inward for a time of deep learning and reflection?

We heard feedback from our members during our shared leadership listening sessions in the Spring, and took these conversation into account while wrestling with questions about prioritizing the direction of our work for the coming year. At the end of our discussions, dialogues, and through a process of consensus building, it became clear that there was energy in the room to take on this internal work of reflection and transformation.

We see this as a time set aside to actively practice, shape, and reshape our organization- to do collective healing, and learning with ourselves and our membership.  

We are living in especially toxic times- pressing up against the systems of oppression that destroy our universal rights to housing, income and wellness. And yet, how do we live, work, and organize in this space and not replicate the systems of oppression in our relationships with ourselves and others? How do we, as an organization, uphold our values in all the spaces we traverse? The answer, we believe, is in intentional practice.

Intentional Practices are those that we choose to do in order to transform the way we show up in the world. Through new practices we increase choice and alignment with our values. …Organizationally we want to ask similar questions: What practices do we need to be in as a staff and organization? What practices do we want to support in our member base to align with our vision and political commitments? ("The Transformative Power of Practice" by Ng’ethe Maina and Staci Haines)

What does it mean for ONE DC to take on this period of internal reflection, practice, and transformation?

At our retreat– members, staff and SLT members defined the major areas of internal work and growth that they saw as priorities for the end of 2018. We are now organizing ourselves, with a Coordinating Committee to take on this challenging work of growth. During the next several months, we plan to make a full plan of orientations, re-orientations, and a 2019 training schedule for our full membership. We want to tackle issues like gender equity, power, and popular education. We will be re-examining staff roles, treatment and expectations. We have also created a Healing and Wellness committee that will be working diligently to create a code of responsibility, processes for ONE DC to deal with conflicts, and ways to help upkeep the internal health of our organization at all levels.

For the next three months, this means that ONE DC will not be engaging in new organizing work or campaigns. We will be paring down our level of coalition work, panels, and outside engagements. This opens up opportunities for members to join us in envisioning what it means for us as a community to do this work and what it will mean for our external work in the future.

The Road to Transformation

"In order to see where we are going, we not only must remember where we have been, but we must understand where we have been." -Ella Jo Baker

Members of ONE DC will be an integral part of our growth. We invite you to reach out to us directly if you feel called to take on parts of this journey with us. And we invite you to engage in opportunities to practice, learn, and grow as part of this community in the months and year ahead! Those involved in campaigns and other active members will be receiving calls and emails about trainings and workshops that we hope you will choose to participate in.

We are looking forward to what this intentional time will do and mean for our community. And we look to our movement ancestors before us who knew deeply that the “work” is both in how we treat each other, how we organize ourselves, and how we fight for justice around us. We draw inspiration from them and from all of you, who have been showing great support for this time ahead. We hope to continue our radical imaginations for what is possible, and to deepen our connections to one another during this time.

In Community,

ONE DC Shared Leadership Team

“in community, our potential is truly realized. what we have to offer to each other is not merely critique, anger, commentary, ownership and false power. we have the capacity to hold each other, serve each other, heal each other, create for and with each other, forgive each other, and liberate ourselves and each other. these are not new thoughts, this is what beloved community means. it is what we all long for, and what we all need.so in this context i ask you to ask yourself – who are you in relationship with, and how can you go deeper, be more present, and offer more of your whole self?” -Adrienne Marie Brown, author of Emergent Strategy