I recently had the opportunity to connect with Themis Gkion, a Creative Empowerment Facilitator with Partners for Youth Empowerment (PYE). Connecting via Zoom between Greece and the United States, we enjoyed a wide-ranging conversation about the PYE approach to learning, about larger trends in education, and about what is possible when the power and potential of young learners are unleashed. As an outcome of our conversation, I’ve been personally inspired to take an online Creative Facilitation 1 course from PYE in June. —Marnie Jackson Read More →
Making Magic: A Conversation with Themis Gkion
Our friend Larry Daloz recounts a time when he explored the Whidbey Institute woods with ecofeminist scholar Joanna Macy. As I recall the story, Larry—who possesses an extensive knowledge of moss—said something to Joanna about his admiration of it. With her hand, she pushed his face into the plush green carpet and held it there. “Now you know moss,” she said. Read More →
Langley WA Stands for Racial Justice: An update from Whidbey Island Social Justice Solidarity Net [That] Works (SJS)
City Council Passes Resolution that Advocates Hope will Inspire Other Small Towns
Langley, WA—At its meeting on Monday, July 6, the small Whidbey Island town of Langley, Washington’s City Council unanimously passed a racial justice resolution. The “Commitment to Dismantling Systemic Racism” orients the town’s elected leaders toward a world in which Black Lives Matter, and small towns and big cities alike create space for the racially just world so many are calling for today.
On Wednesday, June 3 we launched an Open Zoom series. These lightly facilitated, social calls are open to all and run from 10 am to 11 am weekly through the month of July.
Three folks attended our first Zoom call, and conversation focused primarily on racism. As white people we discussed how to overcome our own internalized white privilege, how to help other white folks be less harmful, and how to be authentic, repair, and heal. We talked about the role of trauma as a root cause of so much violence, and we talked about the death of the illusion of individuality and the myth of American exceptionalism.
A quote from the call:
“We need to make the journey from head to heart.”
A resource mentioned during the call: The Characteristics of White Supremacy Culture
As representatives of a predominantly white-led organization, we at the Whidbey Institute are wrestling with our responsibility after watching a man murdered—George Floyd, a father and beloved son and the victim of yet another cruel, racialized crime. Our hearts are broken and our sleeves are rolled up. There is hard, vital work underway—the work of coming home to a deeper and better part of ourselves.
We wake again this morning to a nation roiling with the pain of 400 years of structural, institutionalized violence against people with black and brown bodies. A nation founded on the genocide of indigenous people and built by the labor of enslaved Africans. If we are to heal and manifest collective liberation, our systems and institutions must be undone and remade. Our minds and hearts must be undone and remade.
“How is it possible to blossom, fully into me, when there are parts of me that are not allowed to be known? To be realized? . . . . how does [one] re-member herself, through truth songs of the past, present, and future? Can I be whole again?” ― From Scars, a novel by Dr. A. Breeze Harper
Pictured at our February 2020 program leader gathering, from left: JJ McMinds, Helena Hennighausen, Larisa Benson, and Mary Holscher.
Dear Friends of Whidbey Institute,
In this time of confinement, one form of entertainment my husband Paul and I have recently enjoyed is deciding how we will give away the part of our $2400 stimulus check we don’t need. We understand that some of you reading this have had severe financial losses and will need every bit of whatever you receive. This letter is directed to those of you who will receive a stimulus check soon and have, like me and Paul, suffered only modest financial impact. Read More →
I recently had an opportunity to connect with program leaders Plácida Gallegos, Akasha Saunders, Steve Schapiro and Carol Wishcamper (pictured above, left to right). Their program, Dare to Connect WE-LAB, provides a space to explore and support participants’ capacity to embrace differences and to connect with one another across those differences with curiosity and love. The program is coming to the Whidbey Institute in March, 2020 and registration is open to all.
During our conversation, I not only got a feeling for the facilitators (a fantastic team) and the program (a wonderful offering) but I also became convinced that there is little the world needs more than work like this. Supporting people across diverse social identities and circumstances in creating brave, vulnerable, and authentic connections can help us begin to heal the rifts of racism, sexism and other oppressive systems in our bodies, hearts, communities, and societies. Read More →
From May 17 to 19, Victoria Santos and Debra Baker will be at the Whidbey Institute hosting Nourishment: A Gathering for Women of Color. I recently had the opportunity to speak with them about the program and their vision for what women will experience here this spring. —Marnie Jackson
Victoria Santos, on how this program came into being:
I have been thinking of women of color . . . the amount of work we’re doing and have done in this society, and the amount of stress we’re carrying. I realized how important it is for women of color to come together and engage in nourishing practices. This is life-giving, and we really need to make the time to do it.
Reflecting on this idea, I asked myself, “who do I know, personally, who is living into the principles that need to be amplified right now in this culture, for all people but especially for women of color?” That’s when I thought of Debra. She really embodies a way of being that we need right now—for all of us. We ended up having dinner and I approached her about the idea. She said yes!