Some Things We’ve Learned

dsrThis past weekend was the Detroit Spirit and Roots Gathering. Over the next few weeks we will post some reflections from the weekend. This event began with the idea from Word and World to host a Land and Water School in Detroit. Over almost two years of plannings and conversations, it shifted into a collaborative event called Detroit Spirit and Roots. This was a process with lots of struggle and learning along the way. This document is a list of things we learned in that process which we used as part of our framework for the event.

“Some Things that We have Learned”
Detroit Spirit & Roots Gathering
Summer 2015

The Local Committee has agreed that this will be the framework that will guide our participation in DSR

What are the spiritual resources that our movement needs?

  1. Fostering conversation among people of differing cultures/practices/ nations means that:
  • We are all dependent upon the land [earth], air, water, fire, and spirit.
  • We need to honor communities indigenous to this land we live on
  • We may enter with different concepts, communication, and practices
  • Spirituality is both private and communal; different people may emphasize this differently
  • People may have aspects of spirituality that they are unable/ unwilling to share
  • We need to create new capacities to be together and work together

  1. Movement building challenges oppression/ privilege, especially for this gathering as embodied in Christianity, “organized religion,” educational attainment, patriarchy, homophobia, settler colonialism, and whiteness (as both a socio-economic structure and an unconscious habit of superiority):
  • For this gathering to take place, we recognized the need for an innovative planning and organizing structure that would hold and carry out all of our respective and collective intentions.
  • Detroit Spirit & Roots Gathering is thus a new initiative that is born from the shared intents of members of Word & World and local Detroit community organizers.
  • Detroit Spirit & Roots begins with getting to know each other, consciously working in a process of relationship building as a precursor to working together
  • Detroit Spirit & Roots  is not the same as “faith based organizing” which usually focuses on members of organized religions as the main voices.
  • We will constantly be on the look out for how privilege affects our organizing and be willing to change our process while we are in process.
  1. Decolonization, as a shared value that needs to be continuously refined/ defined, requires:
  • Placing movement building in a framework of long-term, multi-generational historic processes of liberation/ confronting injustice/ transforming systems
  • Opening up to unique (cultural, geographic, social, cosmological) relationships with the (spiritual or nonmaterial) forces around us
  • Engaging in cultural exchange/ communication, NOT appropriation
  • Embracing cultural healing as personal and communal
  • Paying tribute to our ancestors because it is on their shoulders we stand upon. This is an important part of our personal healing and collective liberation
  • Recognizing that Christianity is an organized colonizing force
  • Recognizing that Afrikans in this hemisphere are NOT defined by lack; Africanness was never completely taken away
  • Acknowledging the conditions of war indigenous and Afrikan nations have been historically forced into; nonviolence is one spiritual response but not the only spiritual response.
  1. This is a gathering to explore new identities, new possibilities, and new processes, especially emphasizing that:
  • The goal of movement building is to create accessibility to the possibilities and powers of liberation in all of its varied modalities
  • We will be looking for ideas, actions, and identities we can share with communities back home

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