Emergent strategy at the SOKY Democracy Team meeting | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

Emergent strategy at the SOKY Democracy Team meeting

On Tuesday, July 2, the Southern KY chapter Democracy Team gathered for a meeting. During the meeting, emergent strategy was discussed. The elements of emergent strategy are useful to connect ourselves to our work and center our work in building grassroots power. We have many goals and objectives to get to our vision for our state and beyond, and the foundation of this work is and has always been about lifting up the voices of everyday people and connecting our stories to build people power.   

Notes on Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds. A book by adrienne maree brown. Listed are the elements of emergent strategy and a quote from each section in the book (italicized sections by Alexa Hatcher):

  • Fractal: “The micro reflects the macro and vice versa--Fibonacci patterns show up from space to cauliflower. The tiniest most mundane act reflects the biggest creations we can imagine.” -Kat Aaron What we do on the small scale shapes what happens on the large scale. We want our democracy to be fair and free, where everyone has a say and where our government is by us and for us. We have to work in our community to help more people connect to the issues that get them to turn out and vote AND participate beyond voting. Our technique of deep canvassing wasn't picked just because it’s fun and engaging. We do this because the science tells us that this is the way to get to the democracy we want to see. 
  • Adaptive: “Starlings murmurations consists of a flock moving in sync with one another, engaging in clear, consistent communication and exhibiting collective leadership and deep, deep trust. Every individual bird focuses their attention on their seven closest neighbors and thus manage a larger flock cohesiveness and synchronicity (at times upwards of over a million birds)” -Sierra Pickett In order to build mass movement around the values we hold so dear, we must partake in collective leadership and move at the speed of trust. Imagine if we all focused on seven people, even 5 people, who we work with to engage in our democracy (not just in our elections) and they get others to engage. How quickly could we reach the point where policies reflect our needs and our vision? There is no way to tell. But our only hope is to try.
  • Interdependence and decentralization: “When Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast, almost everything lost its footing…. But amidst the whipping winds and surging water, the oak tree held its ground. How? The oak tree grows its roots wide and interlocks with other oak trees...you can’t bring down a hundred oak trees bound beneath the soil! We must connect in the underground, my people!” -Naima Penniman We already know that grassroots power, meaning building power by getting more and more directly impacted people involved and leading this work is the way that we get to our vision. The way that we do that is by connecting to one another in a genuinely, real way, not a transactional way. We aren't going canvassing just to get people to register to vote and get them to go vote. We are going canvassing to connect our stories to others and bring them into what we are doing even beyond the elections.
  • Non-linear and Iterative: “I wonder if compost believes in life after death? Like compost, our work is not linear in a static timeframe. Not discounting set goals and objectives, compost has taught me how to reflect and grow from an action or effort in organizing beyond the breadth of conventional expectation.” -Sierra Pickett We have goals to build our democracy. That’s why you all are here. Our objective is to create a place where we all can thrive. We don't have to forget that or put that aside to spend time figuring out how each of us can participate in our own unique, beautiful ways. There are no specific ways that we have to perform collective action. To work toward our goal and objective we must find a sustainable place for ourselves within it. Step in and out as we need to. Practice what we love as the reason why we are getting involved and helping others do the same. Our work is not linear, it does not begin and end with us in this room or with elections. It must continue to be built outward to prevent burnout. We can't do it all on our own.
  • Resilience and Transformative Justice: “From starfish I have learned that if we keep our core intact, we can regenerate. We can fall apart, lose limbs, and re-grow them...We have to nourish ourselves with the resources we are surrounded by, with our community assets...by doing so we help keep ecosystems delicately balanced.” -sham-e-ali nayeem We might not get the results in elections that we hope for, and work for. We were reminded in 2016 that we cannot count on what is right or wrong in elections. We cannot count on fear and anger alone to get us to the results we want and need. Even if we win the election, our work is not over. That is why we have to do this work with not just elections in mind. Building a democracy means meeting people where they are and helping them participate how they can and want to during elections and not during elections and keeping our vision at the front of our work always. 
  • Creating more possibilities: “Water creates the ways for itself, moving with gravity, moving around obstacles, wearing down obstacles, reshaping the world. When there isn’t an overt way forward, water seeps into the land, becomes a vapor in the sky, freezes into ice...We humans are mostly water. And look how many ways we manifest.” -adrienne maree brown There is power in the diversity of all of us. We all deserve basic human rights, and our planet deserves to thrive too. Those things are not separate. We are, and our planet is made up of all the tiny particles of stardust that is collecting over and over again. All organisms on our planet need each other to survive and thrive. We have to keep finding our way to that truth and moving like water to what we know is possible. 

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