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Cultivating the Growth of Liberation Through Community Organizing

Posted by Jamee Greer at Jul 15, 2016 05:00 PM |

This June, Western States Center launched the 11th cohort of the Western Institute of Leadership Development, better known as WILD! Leadership comes in many different forms, and we are grateful to have another opportunity to work with a cohort of passion-filled participants from a vast array of diverse cultural and issue-based backgrounds. WILD has brought together people that embody the representation necessary for community organizing to move towards a new level with dedicated leaders that harness the power of their hearts and minds to enact change.

Cultivating the Growth of Liberation Through Community Organizing

The latest WILD class gathers together for a group photo in June, 2016

Update from Tashia Harris, Racial Justice Program Director at Western States Center:

This June, Western States Center launched the 11th cohort of the Western Institute of Leadership Development, better known as WILD!

Leadership comes in many different forms, and we are grateful to have another opportunity to work with a cohort of passion-filled participants from a vast array of diverse cultural and issue-based backgrounds. WILD has brought together people that embody the representation necessary for community organizing to move towards a new level with dedicated leaders that harness the power of their hearts and minds to enact change.

Participants in the program are fully invested in creating the changes they want to see in the world by grabbing hold of the root causes of oppression and cultivating the growth of liberation through community organizing.  We at Western States could not be more proud to add these individuals to our family and are excited to see not only what we can share with them, but also what they can share with one another, and what we as an organization can learn from them.

In true Western States Center fashion, we welcomed the participants and introduced ourselves, our work, and our gender pronouns as a way to lay foundation for who we all truly are in a holistic sense—and expanded on what brought us into a shared space. From the beginning of the weekend, we articulated that we are a community and that we all are interdependent, that we all have expertise, and that we all are leaders. The program also began with acknowledging that we don’t know everything—and that that’s okay! WILD is about a building process and we seek to not exist alone as islands. WILD has begun to build a new bridge with yet another cohort from Washington, Oregon, New Mexico, Montana, Nevada, Wyoming, Utah and Missouri!

In session 1, WILD participants took a deep dive into what community organizing is from a foundational standpoint. Session 1 was filled with concepts, theory, strategy, and community connection with the intentional space created that is necessary for building authentic relationships. We focused on the umbrella of community organizing, and we discussed the importance of self-assessment, movement building across issues, campaign strategy, the pivotal need to stand by values, and the contextual impact of intersectionality.

Our following sessions will be focusing on leadership within the participants themselves, positive organizational development from their roles, building the tools and skills of organizing—and will end with AMP!

We are certain that participation in the WILD program will help organizers gain useful tools, skills, language, and relationships. Graduates from WILD—going back to our first class in 1994—include a long and growing list of leaders from exciting social justice organizations and campaigns that improve people’s lives. The list includes our own executive director, Kelley Weigel, and Gender Justice Program Director, Amy Casso, as well as Nancy Haque and Amy Herzfeld, the Co-Directors of Basic Rights Oregon, and Laura Martin, Deputy Director of Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada. And just this week we heard the news that WILD grad Hop Hopkins has been named the new Director of Strategic Partnerships for Sierra Club!

We look forward to seeing the lasting community effects to come from the participant’s hard work and dedication; and we appreciate all those who continuously support their organizations as well as Western States Center.

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