Since being hired as the Healing Justice Program Director in April 2018, I have met and engaged with so many people who have had varying interactions with different parts of AFSC, our 100+ year old organization, and/or our two-person Healing Justice office, as well as our marvelous intern Citlaly and Associate Regional Director Sharon Goens-Bradley.
After exchanging pleasantries, we get around to my title, Healing Justice Program Director, followed by what our office actually does. My customary elevator speech usually includes something about helping to dismantle the cradle-to-prison pipeline, restorative practices in St. Paul Public Schools (SPPS), circle-keeping training for students and educators, helping youth build an analysis of race and organizing in our bi-annual Freedom School, and digging deeper in conversations with people participating in Youth Undoing Institutional Racism, coalition building, etc.
As an organizer/educator and a self-professed ambivert, I find that these conversations always give me anxiety. I always fret about how to adequately convey to the listener all that we do and the necessity for this work.
Did I give enough information about the storied history of the organization or complexity in thought around what Healing Justice actually is? The truth of the matter is I always leave out something that, in hindsight, I think I should have included, but for the sake of brevity and sparing the listener what could appear to be rambling, I didn’t. I am, after all, an ambivert.
In the last 10 months, I have traveled to Chicago, St. Louis and Michigan as part of AFSC’s Strategic Planning process to engage with people about what is needed in their communities by the year 2030.
I have listened and learned so much about Dominique’s organizing efforts as he’s planned and executed Know Your Rights Training and other initiatives to educate the community about Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) and the Joint Powers Agreement and their adverse impact on youth of color. During this time, we have collectively worked with SPPS, specifically Central High School and Battle Creek Middle, as community partners as each school focuses on repairing harm to relationships instead of assigning blame and dispensing punishment between students and teachers.
I forget to mention that lots of work went into our office planning and executing AFSC’s 2018 Midwest Staff retreat to build synergy among our programs.
The list of what we do could go on and on and, before you know it, the listener is either well into a much-needed nap or super charged to become part of our organizing efforts.
This will be the purpose of this newsletter. It will include a healthy balance of education about the issues that deeply impact our community, updates on what our office is doing, and a call to action in our organizing efforts. Sharon will also be providing occasional organizational updates and news to maintain our connection to the broader work of AFSC. And because we are a quirky, deep-thinking, oftentimes radical in thought and approach bunch of organizers who have unique taste in...well almost everything, you will get lots of “things that make you go hmmmm.”
Questions, comments or if you want to know how to get involved, find us on social media or contact us through email.