In 2001, Deborah Frieze walked out of her career as an executive in the high-tech industry. She was disillusioned by a business culture that emphasized short-term results, looked upon growth as an end rather than a means, and cared more about compliance than community. A year later, she met Meg Wheatley and a community of pioneering leaders who, like her, were walking out of organizations and systems that were failing to contribute to the common good. These were friends and colleagues of The Berkana Institute. She currently lives in Boston but can more often be found visiting friends and colleagues around the world who are creating healthy and resilient communities.
We begin a conversation about Margaret Wheatley’s and Deborah Frieze’s book, Walk Out Walk On [ http://walkoutwalkon.net ], and we explore how the Occupy movements and Educamps might reflect some of the principles in this book.
Monika Hardy wrote recently that she is “absolutely swimming in Walk Out Walk On.” She goes on to explain:
We have been working on a quiet revolution the last four years in Colorado [ http://labconnections.blogspot.com ], both outside and in the public school system, in order to create the communities the authors, Margaret Wheatley and Deborah Frieze share and describe so poignantly, so beautifully in their book.
Mary Ann Reilly joins us this week. Mary is also be inspired by Walk Out Walk On, and has been trying to get a group of teachers together to talk about the book. Mary is a progressive educator, artist, photographer, and writer of Deepening Literacy Learning: Art and Literature Engagements in K-8 Classrooms. [ http://infoagepub.com/index.php?id=9&p=p4b917a12e9f4a ] We are delighted when she is able to join our conversations at Teachers Teaching Teachers.
I wanted to spark some interest and also to make this unit relevant for my students. To get started, I showed the students these two videos: “UC Davis Protestors Pepper Sprayed” [ http://youtu.be/6AdDLhPwpp4 ] and “UC Davis Chancellor Katehi walks to car amidst protesters” [ http://youtu.be/nmfIuKelOt4 ] These videos sparked some interesting discussion about non-violence and the violent reaction. Some students were shocked by the violence of the direct pepper spraying on the docile students, and the lack of reaction on the students’ part. Why did they just do nothing? Why didn’t they fight back? They also remarked about the silence on the second video. We talked about the impact of that silence and the effect of the sounds of the heels hitting the pavement. Again, someone questioned why they didn’t get up and get in the Chancellor’s face.
Reading Walk Out Walk On, one can’t help but wonder if the Occupy Wall Street movement might a place to find “Communities Daring to Live the Future Now,” as it’s put in the subtitle of Walk Out Walk On.
One of the authors of the book, Deborah Frieze also wonders in a blog post last month, “Is Occupy Our Opportunity?”
In Walk Out Walk On, we found ourselves often in the conversation about “building the world we want today.” The communities we wrote about were walking out of failing institutions and walking on to experiment with new ways of feeding and sheltering themselves, of creating health and safety, of learning together and rebuilding relationships. This has never been about creating utopia. It’s about confronting the reality of our situation with new eyes, being willing to abandon limiting beliefs about what’s possible and who’s qualified to make a contribution. Walking on is an invitation for a different kind of social order to emerge in community. So, too, is Occupy. Dewey Square [Boston] is in some ways a microcosm of our society—for better and for worse, it amplifies our gifts and diseases. It places our social impoverishment under a microscope and invites us to do something different. It challenges us to re-learn what it means to be citizens who take responsibility for one another. [ http://www.deborahfrieze.com/2011/11/understanding-occupy-as-a-space-to-... ]
Also joining us on this episode of TTT is Liam O’Donnell, an award-winning children's author and educator [ liamodonnell.com/graphic-novels-books ]. He will help us wonder about communities and to talk about his work as an educator in the Occupy movement. He writes:
I’ve been bringing the Occupy movement into my work with Grade 5/6s studying government and protest (with videos, twinke fingers in the classroom, etc) As a member of the OccupyToronto Education work group, I can speak to the curriculum we're developing for schools around issues of social justice, and poverty.
Also, in a recent blog post, “How Twinkle Fingers turned my classroom into a General Assembly” Liam writes:
Instead of shouting out agreement or disagreement, students showed their “Twinkle Fingers” of agreement or their down low twinkles of disagreement. Confusion or questions were shown by making a letter ‘C’ shape with their hand. This “General Assembly Guide” [ http://www.nycga.net/resources/general-assembly-guide ] from the New York City General Assembly shows what each symbol looks like. And to ensure all voices were heard, not just the loudest, a “stack” or speakers list was put on the chalkboard. [ liamodonnell.com/feedingchange/2011/11/how-twinkle-fingers-turned-my-classroom-into-a-general-assembly ]
Fred Mindlin also joins us to reflect on his nine years of “living at Black Bear Ranch, one of the original 60's "back to the land" hippie communes, and perhaps the only one which survives on the same terms on which it was founded: radical free.”
Enjoy and plan to join us for follow-up episodes on Walk Out Walk On in the coming weeks.
Click Read more to see a copy of the chat that was happening during the webcast.
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