What Allies for Change Offers
In addition to the following options, we are happy to discuss other possibilities to meet your needs.
Please note: We rarely offer workshops, trainings, or retreats lasting less than 8 hours. Our programs are interactive. They invite people to do the deep work of exploring systemic injustice while practicing the strategic and spiritual resources necessary to be effective agents of change. Therefore, most Allies for Change events last at least two days and often longer. For example, the Doing Our Own Work anti-racism seminar is usually offered in a three-weekend format extending over a five month period.
If you desire a briefer introduction to our work, please see the section entitled Lectures & Keynote Speeches.
- Doing Our Own Work: An Anti-Racism Seminar for White People
(to learn more)
- Building Alliances, Sustaining Institutional Change (BASIC): A Social Justice Institute
(to learn more)
- Disability Justice – What Role Can You Play? A Workshop for Nondisabled Allies
(to learn more)
- Understanding Privilege and Oppression
(to learn more)
- United We Stand: Working to End Racism and Homophobia in Our Communities
(to learn more)
- Honoring Our Stories: The Personal Work of Social Change
(to learn more)
- Staying Power: Nurturing Spiritual Resources for Our Work of Love and Justice
(to learn more)
- Beyond Good Intentions: The Role White People Must Play in the Work of Racial Justice
- Telling the Truth About Our Lives: Seven Ways to Interrupt Historical Amnesia
- Solidarity Not Charity: The Work of Allies in the Struggle for Disability Justice
- Radical Genealogy: Examining our Ancestors through the Lens of Race and Racism
- Staying Power: Becoming Long Distance Runners for Justice
- Confronting Ableism: The Role Each of Us Can Play
- Interrupting the Habits, Practices and Policies that Protect White Privilege
Doing Our Own Work is an intensive seminar for white people who seek to deepen their commitment to confronting white privilege and challenging racism in all its forms. Offering more than 40 hours of “class time,” Doing Our Own Work equips participants with the analysis, skills, and tools needed to be more effective anti-racist allies. By limiting enrollment to 16 people, this seminar provides a context for in-depth reflection, learning and dialogue as participants work to deepen their knowledge of systemic racism, offer each other support and accountability, grow beyond shame and guilt, and practice the skills of interrupting racism.
Doing Our Own Work is designed as a supplement to, not a substitute for, contexts where people of diverse races discuss and strategize together how racism can be challenged and dismantled.
People from communities all across North America have taken part in this intensive seminar, experiencing it as a unique opportunity to engage in deep, strenuous, and soul-stretching work.
Anti-racist action and reflection form the heart of Doing Our Own Work. Each participant is invited to identify a “sphere of influence” that serves as the focus of action and reflection. Utilizing input from the leaders, reading assignments, videos, group discussion, and structured exercises, we will explore the following topics and issues:
- The four realms of racism and change: personal, interpersonal, institutional, and cultural
- Historical roots of racism in the U.S.
- Movements for racial justice in the U.S.
- White privilege and unearned advantage
- Claiming and shaping an anti-racist identity
- How to be an effective anti-racist ally
- Cultural appreciation versus cultural appropriation
- Guilt, shame, and self-love
- Practicing the skills of interrupting racism
- Strategies for institutional change
The facilitators are committed to working with the participants to create a respectful and truth-telling environment where we may bring our whole selves to this vitally important work. Doing Our Own Work's primary focus is on race and racism. It is also an intersectional learning environment where facilitators and participants acknowledge that multiple forms of oppression and liberation exist in our world.
For additional history and rationale, see “Why an Anti-Racism Seminar for White People?”
Building Alliances, Sustaining Institutional Change (BASIC) is a unique and innovative institute for organizational leaders who seek to deepen their commitment to social justice and institutional change. Meeting for six day-long sessions over three months time, BASIC invites participants to critically examine where they and their organizations stand in relation to three systems of structural inequality – racism, ableism, and classism – with the goal of exploring how these systems can be challenged and dismantled.
Enrollment in BASIC is limited to 24 participants to ensure in-depth conversation, community building, and learning. Recruitment of participants seeks to maximize diversity with regard to race, gender, age, sexual orientation, class, and disability/ability.
Utilizing the wisdom of the participants gathered, input from the training team, large and small group discussion, DVDs and videos, and experiential activities, the institute seeks to fulfill these goals and objectives:
- Assess our strengths and places for growth as social justice leaders.
- Deepen awareness of how oppression, privilege, and power are at work in our organizations at the personal, interpersonal, institutional and cultural levels.
- Explore the historical roots of racism, ableism, and classism in the U.S.
Learn about and from movements for racial, disability, and economic justice in the United States.
- Explore the qualities and actions of effective allies.
- Equip organizational leaders to recognize and decrease the disparity between their current practices and their inclusive ideals.
- Practice the skills of interrupting oppressive remarks, practices, policies, and structures.
Nurture collaborative action and authentic relationship across differences of race, social class, and dis/abilities.
- Build alliances and collaborative relationships among individuals and organizations working for social change in Michigan.
- Develop a sustainable network of allies who will consult and collaborate with each other, by offering support and accountability, as they work for change in their communities.
Because participants will be intentionally recruited from a wide variety of social justice organizations, BASIC nurtures connection, community, and collaboration between organizational leaders who might not otherwise come in contact. Individually and collectively, participants explore strategies for recognizing and unlearning the habits, practices, policies, and structures that protect their privilege and keep these systems in place – both within their respective organizations and beyond. Core to this training is the assumption that we can become as passionate about dismantling the systems from which we unjustly benefit as we are about eradicating the systems that oppress us.
If someone appreciates your work and leaves you feeling powerful, they are probably an ally; if they leave you feeling grateful to them, they may be a pseudo-ally. – Aprille Annette
This two-day workshop is designed for nondisabled people who wish to deepen their understanding of the disability justice movement and what it means to be an ally with people with disabilities. The workshop will also provide an opportunity to connect with other allies to build a community of accountability, discuss questions and concerns, and practice the skills of being an effective ally in the struggle to dismantle ableism.
Utilizing the wisdom of the participants gathered, videos, resources created by people with disabilities, large and small group discussion, and experiential activities, we will explore the following topics and issues:
- The history of the disability rights and justice movements
- Nondisabled privilege – what it is and what to do with it
- Disability identity, culture and pride
- How to be an authentic ally
- Discerning the difference between solidarity and “helping”
- Challenging the notion of pity and the myth of independence
- Practicing the skills of interrupting ableism
- How to be a partner working for institutional change.
Racism, sexism, ableism and every other form of structural inequality are simultaneously systems that oppress some people while granting privileges to others. Understanding where we stand in relation to systems of privilege and oppression is life-long work for all of us, without exception. This interactive workshop will give participants the opportunity to explore the dynamics of different systems of privilege and oppression, examining how these systems intersect and reinforce one another. Participants will also explore strategies for recognizing and unlearning the habits and practices that protect their privilege. Core to this workshop is the assumption that we can become as passionate about dismantling the systems from which we benefit as we are about eradicating the systems that oppress us.
At this historical moment, when public debates about issues such as gay marriage and affirmative action are once again at the center of public discourse, it is crucially important that multiracial alliances and coalitions emerge demonstrating that it is possible and necessary to confront simultaneously both racism and homophobia.
This training is designed for people of different races and sexual orientations who are passionately committed to making explicit the connections between racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of oppression. Through dialogue, reflection, and group work, we will explore what it means to be allies who stand with one another in our struggles for liberation. Drawing upon historical examples of the ways that racially and sexually oppressed peoples have been divided from each other, we will explore how such divisions might be healed now and prevented in the future.
If you had abundant time and space to...
- be with others who share a deep and abiding commitment to social change
- grapple with issues of privilege and oppression, exploring how they affect our lives personally and professionally
- reflect – with compassion and clarity – on where we have been and where we are going in our work for social justice
- engage in individual and group reflection about what is life-giving; what is depleting
- mourn the losses and defeats with people who can hold the anger, grief, and vulnerability
- celebrate the breakthroughs and victories with a community that can share the laughter and joy
- wander the meadows, woods, and orchards on 20 beautiful acres of land
- be productive in a different way that allows yourself to relish silence, sanctuary, companionship and community.
Too often, we are so absorbed in the never-ending work of social change, we grow forgetful of our need for each other as we strain to sustain hope in isolation. This retreat offers a different way. If your spirit longs for rejuvenation, deeper connection with other activists, and the nurture of a beautiful natural setting, we invite you to be part of this unique three-day retreat.
For many of us, the work of social change is a source of great energy, joy, and inspiration. This work can also lead to exhaustion, frustration, and bitterness when we experience disappointments, setbacks and the tenacity of structural injustice. If your spirit longs for rejuvenation, deeper connection with other activists, and the nurture of a beautiful natural setting, we invite you to be part of this unique retreat.
Utilizing small and large group conversation, individual reflection, music, videos, and ritual, this retreat will help participants explore the links between spirituality and social justice organizing through attention to questions such as:
- What resources from contemporary and historical movements for social change can guide us in these troubled times?
- What spiritual practices can we develop that will help us stay connected to the source of our wisdom in the midst of the disappointments and unpredictability of the work for justice.
- How can ritual help nurture a greater connection to spirit for those of us who are struggling for racial, economic, environmental and political justice in the world?
- Where do we draw hope and strength for ourselves, our communities and our nations, as we work for peace and justice?
The facilitators are committed to creating an inclusive environment where diverse spiritual experiences and traditions are welcomed and honored.
Come join us for this extraordinary weekend of conversation, music, movement, and "beloved community" as we seek renewal of our spirits and revitalization of our commitment to social change.
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