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The Scholar & Feminist Online is a webjournal published three times a year by the Barnard Center for Research on Women
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Issue: 8.3: Summer 2010
Guest Edited by Mandy Van Deven and Julie Kubala
Polyphonic Feminisms: Acting in Concert

Adrienne Maree Brown, "Transforming Ruckus: Actions Speak Louder"
(page 4 of 4)

We have learned that such a fundamental shift requires many small steps—having massive visions and making them attainable with specific goals that can be measured and felt both internally as well as by those who participate in the network and in our trainings.

We have also learned that we had to lay out our operating beliefs. Each person has a set of beliefs with which they move through the world. These are formed by their cultural, social, economic, and environmental (amongst others) experiences from birth, and they change as more experiences are added to the whole.

A group brings their beliefs together into a set of named or unnamed ways in which they operate. We have made our beliefs very transparent at Ruckus. What we landed on was that for the next period of history, we need to place an emphasis on:

  1. impacted leadership (the leadership of communities directly impacted by economic and environmental injustice)
  2. privileged support (the intentional support for impacted leadership from communities/people that can identify their privilege and want to see a rebalancing of power)
  3. feminine leadership (not just women leaders, but leaders who shift our understanding of how power can be held)

In part, these beliefs are grounded in the reality that leadership from these spheres is directly opposite to the leadership we've experienced for the last century and it's time for balance, and in part because the most exciting organizing happening today is coming from communities directly impacted by oppressions and injustices.

As an organization, The Ruckus Society's operating principles include the Jemez Principles and the Environmental Justice Principles. These principles mean we move towards our vision of sustainability and self-determination through organizing that values natural operating systems, understanding the power of uncovering the root causes of problems, and asking, "What are the root problems in my community, and what do deep, foundational, rooted solutions look like?" To me this is thinking from a place of healing, more than dominating others with our beliefs.

It is not enough to adhere to these values, however—we want to see our beliefs in practice.

Now, how does it feel?

Being a part of this team has been incredible. We have experienced what it's like to release any assumption that one person has all the skills needed to lead and support the work. That release—a huge relief to me personally—allowed us to begin to really weave together our strengths, rather than facing the limitations of relying on one leader to hold the vision, coordination, fundraising, and programmatic work of the group. It has allowed us face our own personal limitations with transparency and curiosity, noting where we want to grow and not being afraid to ask for feedback.

On an average day, it feels like an extremely functional organization working for change. On the best days, it feels like the world we are trying to create, and it is marvelous.

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© 2010 Barnard Center for Research on Women | S&F Online - Issue 8.3: Summer 2010 - Polyphonic Feminisms