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AMP: Grassroots²

 

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Ryann Holmes with bklyn boihood

What do you do? We create space for LGBTQAI people of color. By space I mean not just physical space, though that’s a part of it—spaces to celebrate, tell stories. This could be found in the anthologies we create, the parties we throw or our monthly bike rides. We started bklyn boihood in order to provide visibility for trans boys of color but now we are also trying to think about how we embody toxic masculinity. Ultimately we are about creating a sustainable space where our collective can continue to produce programs, be a resource, and support other LGBTQAI people of color to build out ideas, dream, and live. Living archive. One of my worse fears, I remember the places I used to go to and a lot of them don’t understand. We are connected to the elders in our community, there is an erasure that feels scary. The first thing that white supremacy attacks is our memory.

What is your why? Why do you do what you do? It’s fun and it allows me to be creative and do cool things in the community. I want to leave things better than when I arrived in this world. That is our duty as humans. I channel the younger version of myself to give younger generations the support I got and that I didn’t get. This is in large part for them so they can inherit a better situation.

What moment or experiences motivated you to become an organizer/fighter of justice? I was raised to seek justice in situations. My motivation comes from many experiences—being out-ed when I was younger, not having role models that I could identify with, feeling isolated, dealing with violence where I was afraid for my life. There were things that were pretty shitty when I was younger and I just want to share the other side of it.

What work are you most proud of? I’m proud of our “joy parties.” All kinds of people people come—not just LGBTQAI identifies. I’m proud that I was able to hire young cis male youth I mentor to work the parties. It’s been amazing to see how their whole worlds expand in these moments. They’re able to let their guard down and feel comfortable with queer and trans people. Doing the work in the community is always a dope feeling. I love building with people and feel so good when I can connect people at one of our events. When worlds that don’t always connect come together, that is when I feel most proud…like when I see an 80-year-old queer woman kicking it with a young cis male.

How has your work been different over the past year? We started throwing joy parties happened after the Orlando madness and this year we’ve been doing a lot more collaborations and integrating self-care (bike ride). Why? Because we are always being attacked. We are creating more events that are themed around joy and challenging the madness.

The ask: We would like folks to give between $1-100 to bklyn boihood and Lifecycle Biking for our ongoing LGBTQAI cycling series that introduces cycling to queer-trans people of color as a means for building camaraderie and wellness.

Viviana Rennella with Windcall Institute

What do you do? Executive Director of Windcall Institute. I am focused on exploring what it means to build a resilient social justice movement. I am concerned about the well-being of organizers and how we internalize the trauma and oppression we work against, and how it impacts our personal lives in the process of doing the work. Windcall has traditionally provided month-long sabbaticals for organizers and we are now expanding our programming with “Staying Power,” which are trainings for organizers and organizations in resiliency practices. Outside of Windcall, I explore practices in resiliency as a personal coach and consultant.

What is your why? Why do you do what you do? In my own personal experience – as an immigrant, refugee, and woman of color in the US – as well as in doing organizing work on the ground here and abroad, I experienced burnout myself. In my international work, I was brought in touch with various movements around the world especially in South America where I am originally from. Listening to indigenous movements I learned the importance of buen vivir – the imperative for all of us to live well and come into right relationships with mother earth, with ourselves, and with each other – our humanity.

What moment motivated you to become an organizer/fighter of justice? There wasn’t one defining moment, it was a series of ever deepening moments. I heard from indigenous communities that the time is now to radically shift how we live in the world. We are having to articulate a new meaning of sabbatical. For me, that is about cultivating spaciousness and showing people that it’s not taking a vacation but a deep practice. If we’re really fighting capitalism, oppression and imperialism, we actually have to live it. In the current system, it’s all about what we produce – as organizers, we completely buy into that. So cultivating resiliency and spaciousness are deep anti-capitalist practices.

How has your work been different over the past year? Organizers are thirsty for cultivating resiliency and spaciousness right now. We had a resident go through Windcall last fall, an ED of a reproductive justice organization for women of color, who is now contemplating moving to New Mexico. She recognized how much healing she needed. The process of becoming a very effective ED nearly broke her. How can we achieve success without destroying ourselves in the process? It’s not just about the individual transforming, Windcall is about building relationships. We have 9 elements or practices that we consider in our approach to build resiliency, including relationships and peer support.

The ask: We ask folks to support organizers’ resilience with a donation today. Donor contributions fundamentally uphold Windcall; $35/month gain cohorts access to transformative classes and practices, $50 covers orientation sessions and materials and $100 provides a coaching session for Residents to implement their Windcall vision.