Week One 2021 Virtual Encampment: Forming a Social Justice Community

Encampers got to know each other by sharing some of the diverse experiences that brought them to the Encampment in the “River of LIfe” process.

What Does Call and Response Have to Do with Building a Social Justice Community?

In the EFC tradition, Encampers saw multiple examples of how call and response can be used to motivate people in various situations — from James Brown to BLM, the Freedom Singers to “El pueblo unido jamas será vencido” (the people united will never be defeated).

Jane Sapp asked the group what a call and response does.

Here are just a few answers:

  • “Be a part of something bigger than yourself, that is also a part of social justice.”
  • “Call and response is part of our culture as African Americans; it is our way of connecting.”
  • “A direct translation of justice, calling for action, for something to change.”
  • “It is calling to you to make a response.”

Jane Sapp and Michael Carter led the group in the process of questioning — why are we doing this activity? What is the relationship of call and response to social justice? 

The discussion explored different aspects of how call and response builds community and helps people become active in a cause. Responses from the Encampers included:


  • It is a shared voice.
  • It’s feeling the energy of people, it is not making you respond, but it is calling you to respond.
  • It makes us feel united, like we belong.

The Encampers produced their own chants in their breakout groups. For instance:

“You can ignore your history/but it won’t go away.” (Members of this group spoke about the need for Critical Race Theory to be taught in schools.)

“Justice Can’t Be/Just Us.” (Members of this group spoke to the need for everyone to speak up for others.)

What is a community?

The Encampers went through several processes to come up with a definition from everyone’s contributions to the discussion.

Here is the 2021 Encampment definition of community: A group of people who, even without common struggles, respect each other, have empathy, trust each other and co-exist; knowing that everyone needs to work together.

The Encampers continued the conversation by exploring “Who is responsible in a community to hold it together?”

Here are some reflections:

  • “Being a citizen, being engaged in the community, one has a duty to support the other people in the community.”
  • “Acknowledging the people in the community is one way to assist the development of a community; one person holding those values and sharing that is a big way to lead change in the community.”
  • “Speaking up when you are not happy with something going on in the community.”

The Day 4 morning inspiration and discussion was inspired by viewing Maya Angelou’s YouTube performance of “Still I Rise,”  which led to the day’s focus on culture.

What is culture? How does it connect to community and social justice?

The Encampers shared their thoughts about what makes culture, including:

  • “A series of customs and beliefs of a group of people.”
  • “It connects with music, any form of music — it can spread awareness and start a conversation about it.”
  • “It can be a type of food or things you do together, like a family meal or playing a sport.”
  • “A combination of experiences that may lead to a tradition or something to do with the community. Music culture and social media is a big way to show advocacy and spread values, and use as an outlet for people to gather to learn.”
  • “A mix of traditions, beliefs; it can be in the arts or a shared experience. There are different cultures for each generation, such as internet culture or home culture.”
  • “Historically, cultures have been displaced and been erased and overpowered, like with native people; they still feel the effects today.”
  • “Social media creates a world culture. Indigenous people here in Brasil were killed — it is crazy that they were here first and now they are minorities. Here in Brasil, people want to look and be more European.”
  • “Traditions and cultures that are passed down. We have a dinner party every Friday, called Shabbat, but shaped through our own experiences that are passed down. Even within cultures, there is subculture.”
  • “Culture is the foundation that you build yourself upon. You start off as a baby, and the culture around you starts to shape the person you are. Then as an older person, you can choose more.”

Encampers shared artifacts from their cultures, ranging from the Albanian instrument, cifteli; a Chinese jacket; masks and art from Haiti and Africa; a “plastic-free Hawaii” t-shirt; dominoes from the Puerto Rican and South American cultures; a photo of ancestors from Barbados; a book showing traditions from a particular Jewish family; a piece of art from Ghana; foods from Brasil; a surfboard from Southern California.

Inspired by “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou, the week ended with a talent show where the Encampers shared stories, poetry, rap, song, performing on an instrument, and an unusual talent—and underwater cave diving (that the Encamper shared on video).

A big welcome to program director-in-training, Jesus Salcido Chavarria, an invaluable part of the 2021 Encampment team.



Continuing thanks to our stalwart copyeditor, Ruth Thaler-Carter, EFC alum 1970 New York. Any errors were made after her edits.