Session 3: Peace Walk & Deeper Integration

Session 3 Reflection, by Dr. Amber McZeal

Dear Sugar & Decoloniality 2.0 Kin,

Sending each of you a warm summer greeting with the hopes that the full expression of light in this season inspires expansion and heart-centering. This has been an awe-inspiring collective journey over the past few months and I thank you for entrusting me to walk it with you.

The Peace Walk in Session 3 was an opportunity to take an experiential, embodied dive into some of the approaches to tending change through deepened relationships that have shaped the series. I wanted to take a moment to reflect on our process, as we edge closer to the final session in September.

Drawing inspiration from the work of adrienne maree brown’s Emergent Strategy (ES), and the leagues of ancestral wisdom that inform it, it was a great privilege to be welcomed back to the Tunnel Tops at Crissy Fields and commune with the wisdom of the natural world. We had an opportunity to experience collectively how sacred pause–attuning to an expanded relational field that includes plant kin, coupled with communal reflection around the fire–may inform a vision of generative change in ourselves, our work, and ultimately in the world. We explored the mythology and origins of fire from a cross-cultural perspective, beginning with a personal invocation for my Haitian Ancestors and their Petwo Fire rhythm.

While the rhythm holds a memory of courage and agency among my Haitian ancestors, their liberation success was rooted in a concept of radical harmony–a creolization concept introduced to me by a beloved teacher, Dr. Charlene Desir. Haiti named itself a nation of many nations in light of the fact that enslaved persons were taken from many different tribal groups during the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade, arriving on the island speaking many different tongues. Coexistence between the Indigenous, African and European human family conjured a new language, creole. In their pursuit of freedom, this new tongue signified a capacity to find ways of creating harmony–striking balance–as an affirmation of life, amidst devastating conditions. The new language was also used to evade threats. This radical harmony across lines of difference is a foundational principle in nature.

The Peace Walk was grounded in the principles of Emergent Strategy. These six elements are utilized as a metaphor in conceiving transformation within institutional spaces, and participants were invited to feel into how these elements might inform collaborations and generate ideas within their own sectors. ES describes a process of observing how and why nature collaborates, then applying this to change work. The six elements are:

  • Nature is Fractal–there is a relationship between the small and the large, a never-ending pattern.
  • Nature is Adaptive–it is driven by a pursuit of life and living, and nature changes to fulfill this pursuit.
  • Nature is Interdependent–one element depends on another, mutuality.
  • Nature is Non-linear and Iterative–changes and adaptations happen over time. Nature does not hold urgency in the pursuit of life.
  • Nature is Resilient–there is a constant movement of rupture, toward repair. Recovery is necessary to sustain itself.
  • Nature is Creates more Possibilities–when confronted with obstacles, nature exudes creative brilliance to find harmony.

ES grew out of a need to redefine how power was held collectively by emphasizing ethical leadership development models. It grew into plans of action, personal practices, and shared organizing tools to support organizational and institutional change. ES also provides a roadmap to move beyond pessimism, analysis & critique in our work. It is an invitation to focus on building collaborative strategies, organizing around a desired vision, & learning better ways of relating to ourselves, each other and the Earth.

“Life moves toward life, longing moves toward longing. The more we align with and understand what we want, the less likely we are to be reactive or settle into default postures that replicate the same outcomes again and again.” -adrienne maree brown

Finally, extending much gratitude to Presidio Activator Favianna Rodriguez who curated the Ancestral Futurism installation at Crissy Fields. Her work animated the Indigenous and ancestral memory of place, offering an opportunity to engage in embodied Sankofa.

While our time together was a mere glimpse into this strategy of redefining change, my sincere hope is that you each are inspired to continue the journey through the shared resources, or any other way that resonates with you. I look forward to celebrating together in September.

Sincerely, Amber


Moving More

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