July 21st, 2011

Well, well well…

I know it’s probably petty of me, but I have to admit to a certain delicious schadenfreude as I’ve watched Empire falling apart lately.  I’ve been delighted to witness the Murdoch and Gingrich regimes collapsing, the International Monetary Fund culture of gender exploitation being exposed, and that theaters across the country are empty at screenings of Undefeated, the new documentary about Sarah Palin.

I try to be a better person, but sometimes the dice roll in the right direction, and I can’t help but enjoy it when the mighty get their comeuppance. Mother Theresa I am not.

Since I believe that we are only at the beginning of the total fall of all oppressive structures, it means that those of us who have volunteered to lead in the coming new era have to be prepared. The tools that support archaic systems that bind us won’t work— Audre Lourde reminds us that we can’t use the master’s tools to dismantle his house. 

We’re going to need both new and fresh tools like collective meditation that reduces crime and 3D printers – ideas that will make us marvel, spark our imaginations and think in new ways. We will also need to lean on old wisdoms like relying on our neighbors and invoking rain through dance.

One thing I’m sure of is that we’ll need lots of art. I don’t know about you, but I’m rather tired of conferences where we sit in rows behind each other listening to the “experts” at the front of the stage, or movement meetings where we only talk at one another. I came of age in the 70s when community meetings started with song, and when we took to the streets, we danced, wore costumes, and all the chants were new.  Creativity was central to what we were trying to achieve, and I think we’ve lost something as our social movements have become increasingly “professionalized”. To invigorate our movements with artistic expression, Rockwood recently received funding to support a Fellowship for Artists and Cultural leaders, and we look forward to infusing our trainings with energy from those for whom creativity is a way of life.

Here are a couple of questions I would ask you to ponder with me:

• What are some new technologies, poems, thoughts, ideas, dreams we could collectively use to ease the way as Empire falls?
• What are some old wisdoms we need to lean back on that will support us on our way?

I think it would be handy to develop a list. Drop me a line, and we’ll keep track. These are heart questions – what could we collectively do/dance/create that would make it more and more possible for us to lead toward our heart’s desires?

Let’s take some risks, laugh at folly, support each other through pain, decrease suffering, paint, and lead! It could be great fun. 

More fun, perhaps, than watching Empire fall.

From my heart to yours,

July 2011

Rockwood and SEIU Launch Yearlong Fellowship

Rockwood and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) are proud to announce an innovative Yearlong Fellowship program for senior leaders and key staff within SEIU. With underwriting support from the Seasons Fund for Social Transformation, the 2011 Leading from the Inside Out Yearlong Fellowship for SEIU leaders will serve 23 leaders in SEIU. These Fellows will learn key skills in leadership and collaboration. Fellows will also have the room and time to overcome obstacles to collaboration by learning and practicing difficult conversations, and by having quality, facilitated time to build trust and share vision and methodology to make transformative change a reality.

The need to support SEIU is clear: working people and their families in the United States are facing countless hardships that have not been faced in generations, including protection of worker rights, healthcare, living wages, and social security. President Mary Kay Henry has created a vision for SEIU to “renew our commitment to organizing, connecting our members at the grassroots level to our political strength, and restoring our relationships throughout the American labor movement…”

We are proud to partner with President Mary Kay Henry and the SEIU in this vision. Click here to see the photos and bios of the 2011 SEIU Yearlong Fellows.

2011 Human Rights and National Security Reform Fellows

We are excited to announce the 2011 Human Rights and National Security Reform Fellows! The Fellows recently convened for the Art of Collaborative Leadership. Here’s what one Fellow had to say about her experience:

“The Rockwood Leadership Institute provides Human Rights and National Security Reform leaders the ability to think big, dig deep, and profoundly connect to each other…This community will certainly be with me along my life journey—I have never felt so supported by such an incredible group of people.” Allison McGuire, Program Director, ProgressiveCongress.org

Throughout the Fellowship, these 24 leaders will participate in two 5-day residential retreats, receive professional and peer coaching, and additional leadership support. We’d like to extend a warm welcome to them as they join the Rockwood network!

Alumnae/i in the News

Blanca Alvarado is a recent alumna of the Art of Leadership. Alvarado, at age 80, reminds us that leadership is a lifelong skill. Alvarado is no stranger to leadership; she served 14 years on the San Jose City Council and 14 years on the county Board of Supervisors. She was the first Latina elected to either body. Throughout her life, she has been a tireless advocate for the rights of communities of color and working class families. Her son, Jaime Alvarado, is the Executive Director of Somos Mayfair and is also a Rockwood alum.