What a way to open an event – for some who’ve never met and others who are reuniting under the umbrella of connectivity and unity. Food! As stated by a great philosopher, “Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity." It was a great pleasure to meet such an illustrious body of activists and organizers at the dinner table. We started the evening with a huge meal, excellent in taste and large in portions. I really ate too much. . .there goes my diet! If more of us valued food, cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. Food, like a loving touch or a glimpse of divine power, has that ability to comfort. And I felt extremely comfortable.
The after dinner session started off just like a family reunion would, with cultural exchanges and personal stories of motivation and triumph. The staff planned for everything. Of course they knew that folks would be suffering from over-indulgence after dinner and amply worked in a bit of a competition to get the juices flowing. Rock, Paper, Scissors. Some twenty contenders entered the competition for the first annual Rock, Paper, Scissors championship, of which the writer of this blog was this year's WINNER!
Although, I know that we are here for serious strategizing and organizing business, it’s great to add a bit of human spiritual connection to the space. I walked in and felt immediately part of the family. Over the next few days we will visit, parse, and discuss the purpose of the Network: find ways to build for collaborative fundraising, ground ourselves in a shared vision, function as a network, connect leaders and foster community learning and exchange. Our goal is to strengthen capacity and develop stronger relationships.
Finally, the real focus – movement building! These movements and the networks within them represent tremendous creative energy for promoting peace, love, fairness and sustainability. Yet the movements and networks are fragmented, which limits their power to bring about the transformational changes needed at this time. While many share underlying values, each group focuses on a particular constituency or a particular topic, and members generally communicate less with those from other movements and networks. MAG-Net is designed to address movement building issues for the collective whole. I look forward to the coming days and will grow as a result of this training. Stay tuned….
Carol Ammons is the Operation & Program Director of the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center.