Adrienne Maree Brown,
"Transforming Ruckus: Actions Speak Louder"
(page 2 of 4)
Over years of amazing work coupled with critiques about the approach,
Ruckus went through what could perhaps be called labor pains to bring
forth the model and structure we currently have—which includes an
all-female team at the staff level.
The frustrations folks had with Ruckus are very much the frustrations
alive in our movements right now—we had a vision for the kind of world
we wanted to see, but we weren't modeling that internally. We wanted
strong local economies where communities feel responsible for their
neighbors' well being, but Ruckus wasn't actually developing local
direct action know-how.
Out of this moment in our history, a new program was born that
transformed how we worked. It was called the Indigenous People's Power
Project (IP3). The model was to build a body of indigenous organizers
who became action experts within their own communities. In the process
of getting this project off the ground, Ruckus was challenged to grow
into something we couldn't have even imagined.
We have grown an immense amount.
I have been honored to be a part of The Ruckus Society during this
labor, this awakening, watching over a transition born of frustrations
and critiques as well as an instinct that something better was possible.
We had to begin to practice deep, authentic collaboration. This meant
a shift in how we move financial and human resources—there are enough
people out there to support the movement(s) we need, but currently,
organizations are pitted against each other to access money (less and
less money), rather than creating and investing together to maximize a
diversity of resources from money, to people, to spaces, to skills.
Because we are not investing in a shared network of resources, it is
easy to let structural and ideological particularities create deep
splits throughout the non-profit sphere, rendering much of our work
We couldn't continue that—we had to figure out what humility looked
like on all sides in order to truly collaborate. This included making
room on our board for folks in the IP3 program, shifting timelines to
meet community needs, with folks on all sides being able to say we
didn't know how to do this, and recommitting over and over, even when it
seemed too hard to continue.
One thing that was highlighted for us was that in the direct action
realm, it's not unusual to see time and energy poured into actions that
are more interesting/funny/creative than they are compelling to those we
are trying to reach and/or life-changing to the communities taking
action. To be clear, we are moving in a good direction in being funny
and creative—we want to engage people—but our standards for
communities taking the risks associated with direct action must be that
the experience and the results are compelling, even life-changing.
We also learned a lot about breaking down the walls between different
issue areas. Indigenous communities present a clear case of economic and
environmental hardship, with residents highly recruited for the
military, dealing with high levels of drug and alcohol dependence and a
high rate for suicide. Through this lens it's easy to see that just
coming with one piece of analysis wouldn't serve the big picture.
For successful movements, we need to develop strong, action-oriented
communities that understand that their analysis and work cannot be
limited to one struggle. Together, we must be advancing the frontline of
our vision for a sustainable, just world. Our strategies must be more
sophisticated and engaging than those of our opposition.
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