Recent Programs: 2020 Virtual Encampment
Due to COVID-19, the 2020 Encampment was virtual. While not an experience of living together for three weeks, it was an opportunity to learn, work and network with peers from different parts of the country.
“Super fun — Met great people — Became more aware of the world and social justice issues.” — Nicholas, NJ
“The Encampment brings out a better you. It helps enhance your skills as well as getting you ready to take on social problems as a leader.” — Jane, CA
“In the Encampment, you have a space for people who are all passionate about making change — it’s not common to have that. The Fellows make the space welcoming and safe for people to learn and grow.” — Hosea, MA
2020 Encampers Create the Encampment Community and Learn about the Encampers' Home Communities
2020 Encampers created their working definition of community:
In Community Mapping, Encampers take a closer look at their communities’ strengths and issues, using art.
This year’s Encampers live in urban and rural settings in Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Mississippi and California. In Community Mapping, Encampers shared aspects of their communities in creative ways, including poetry, songs, pictures or videos. Just a few of the many examples are pictured below. After this activity, 100% of the participants said they could identify political or cultural contexts in their communities.
Jane Sapp, activist, songwriter and educator, led the workshops “Telling the Stories of our Communities through Art & Creativity” and “Why is Questioning Important.”
Working together in small groups, facilitated by the EFC Fellows, 2020 Encampers found common themes by exploring words that describe their communities.
They then created spoken word pieces or songs collaboratively and shared those with the group.
Why is Questioning Important?
“Teaching the questioning process lights the fire of curiosity and teaches a skill and a way of looking at things that can be applied to all areas of one’s life. There is power and energy in questioning, and that dynamic, energetic process can serve as a motivator. Any effective social justice movement has to include questioning, internal and external. For instance, if you can bridge conflict or controversy — that is, two different points of view, ideas, perceptions or experiences coming up against each other — then you have a different level of communication. In some ways, to have deeper communication, you have to allow for differences to surface.” – Margot Gibney
“What does this phone have to do with social justice?”
Jane Sapp led a discussion that demonstrates the power of critical thinking — a core part of the EFC methodology. She began by holding up a cellphone and asking the group to wonder about the “who/what/why/where/when” of it. Encampers asked questions that covered the economic, political, social, cultural and personal context. A short list of their questions includes:
- Whose labor helped to make it (and what are conditions like for them)?
- What is the carbon footprint (and disposal issues)?
- Where was it made (and what is the political situation there)?
- How does the phone affect the user — and the people around them?
Jane: “You can use this questioning to unpack any topic or issue. You can think this deeply and critically about anything you are doing. It helps us when we are doing social justice work by making our strategies strong and helping us to understand the people we are working with.”
The group then had a spirited discussion of police brutality using this method. Jane led them through questions such as, “How did we get here?” “Why are Black men and women being killed?” “Why are police the way they are?” “What started it all?”
Taylor Branch, EFC alum (1966 DC) and author of the civil rights movement trilogy The King Years, spoke briefly about his Encampment and early civil rights experiences.
Encampers’ questions focused on similarities and differences between the civil rights and Black Lives Matter movements, including the power of images, such as Emmett Till’s battered body or George Floyd being suffocated.
“… the power of images that break through people’s resistance and their reticence to get involved … That’s a beginning. The question that I tracked through the books, through people like Bob Moses and John Lewis and many of the others around Dr. King, is you have to figure out a way to take those images and fashion them into something that can take root — a goal —that you can explain, that you can organize around, that you can move forward — and the answers are never easy. They argued all night for years about what the process should be, what the message should be, how they could get people to come out for their demonstrations, what the goal was. The similarity is we have issues and a readiness, a quickening, which you had in the civil rights movement around sit-ins and that you have around police demonstrations, around Black Lives Matter. They are similar in their beginnings, and where the Black Lives Matter movement will go from here is really up to you guys.”
Nexooyet Greymorning (EFC staff 1978–80) led the Encampers in a series of questions exploring indigenous issues. It was a powerful example of the EFC’s teaching approach, starting with: “What do you think it is like to be indigenous?”
Answers from Encampers who identified as indigenous and those who didn’t led to the next question: “If justice was crafted for indigenous North Americans, what would it look like?” Again, answers ranged all over the spectrum and there was a discussion of educational, political, even religious issues associated with justice for Native Americans.
The discussion got much deeper, looking at genocide and ethnocide and the loss of Native American sovereignty and treaty rights by the U.S. government. The session concluded with a reading and discussion of the work The Unravelling of a Colonized Mind by Jana-Rae Yerxa.
Faya Ora Rose Touré.
Faya Ora Rose Touré spoke about civil rights history, the power of images to motivate people, the sit-ins and voting rights. She gave an in-depth look at events, particularly focused on Selma, Alabama.
“… the most-valuable contribution came when the students decided to protest about voting rights because people couldn’t vote in this place called a democracy … In 1963–64–65, there were less than 100 voters here in Dallas County. Next door in Lowndes County, there was not a single registered Black voter on the rolls in a county that was 75–80% Black. And you had the elders like Sam and Amelia Boynton and C.J. Adams, a veteran, who long before Dr. King came here, laid the foundation for this movement. When Bernard Lafayette from SNCC came here in 1963, he began to organize young people — you know why? Because old people were too scared excepting a few people. Bernard Lafayette trained the young people (and some elders) in non-violent protest. Young people from the surrounding counties began to join the movement — silently — there was no national coverage at first … Then more elders joined a meeting at the Tabernacle Church, and that became known as the first mass meeting of the voting rights movement.”
Ms. Touré is also a songwriter who uses singing as part of her arts activism. View the 2018 Encampers in Raymond, Mississippi, singing her song “I’m Gonna Lift My Sister Up.”
2020 Encampers & staff show their support for Black Lives Matter.
How Do We Create Another Way?
The last week of the 2020 virtual Encampment focused on the intersectionality of racism, health, land, voting and power, concluding with the 2020 Virtual InterGen(erational) Program. The 2020 InterGen(erational) Program keynote speaker was LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter. She is a profoundly inspirational speaker and her talk was a great way to start the InterGen.
An overarching theme that emerged in the speakers’ talks was the importance of creating a new way to move forward, since the existing systems are not working for a majority of people. Health was considered in its broadest sense, ranging from “How does taking care of your own health affect your ability to do social justice work?” to cultural ways of building resilience to the long-term health disparities that COVID-19 shines a light on.
Dr. Linda Quiquivix shared her journey as the daughter of immigrant farmworkers, through academia and popular education, and what it taught her about our relationship to the land.
COVID-19 Sheds a Light on Racially Based Health Disparities
Jon Kerner (EFC alum 1965, Berkeley, CA), an expert on health disparities with more than 40 years of experience, launched his presentation with the question, “Which groups are affected by race and structural racism?” Answer: all groups viewed as being non-white.
Through several examples drawn from the locations of the 2020 Encampers’ home communities, he showed that non-white groups are more affected by disease across the board. He explained that health is determined by a number of social factors, including education, income, employment, housing, health systems, transportation and more. He asked the young people to look at which of these determinants they might want to focus on when thinking about making changes in their communities. The Encampers spoke of several things that concerned them: people of color being more likely to be essential workers, at higher risk for contracting the disease; lack of access to good health care, sanitation or healthy food; people “blowing off” masks and partying in large groups, and some governors encouraging that behavior in some states.
Jon stressed the importance of community-based health initiatives through three examples: Salud America!, the Delta Health Center and Thunder Valley CDC Wakinyan Opha. He also showed a slide illustrating “Health Disparities — Then and Now” that included a 1966 quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane” — and current statistics such as “Black American mortality rates for COVID-19 are two times higher than for other races.” The discussion continued with Encampers delving more deeply into the social causes of health disparity, speaking from their own experiences in their communities.
Dr. Linda “Quiqui” Quiquivix, an EFC organizational partner in Ventura County, CA, shared her life journey and quest to understand the current system of land use and labor, and to look for alternatives that are more life-affirming. “We don’t have to relate to the land in an exploitative way and we should not relate to the land in an exploitative way. The land can be very healing — it can be a possibility for us to create those other worlds.” She is an educator at The Abundant Table, a nonprofit farmworker-run cooperative that has evolved in many ways to try to address some of the injustices of agriculture and pesticides and farm labor. “We are now a worker-run cooperative,” she noted.
Linda “Quiqui” Quiquivix.
“A lot of people don’t know Oxnard; it’s a place you drive through to get from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara … you see strawberry fields, one crop — a monocrop. Our farm at The Abundant Table is not a monocrop farm though we do grow strawberries in a small patch. We’re a farm that is focused on community. We grow a lot of different organic crops. We then distribute boxes of food to the community.”
2020 Virtual InterGen
BLACK VOTERS MATTER — AND WE NEED A RADICAL RE-IMAGINING OF AMERICA
The 2020 Virtual InterGen launched with more than 60 participants — Encampers, alums, parents and supporters — from around the country, meeting with LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter, powerhouse speaker and singer. Her talk was packed with information and a passion for justice. She started with the three reasons she and her partner Cliff Albright started Black Voters Matter.
- “Politics had begun to be held hostage by political parties and candidates in this country … the Constitution doesn’t say ‘we the party, we the candidates; it says we the people’… When half of the country is not engaged in the process, fundamentally, that is a weakening of democracy … 50% of the people are not even engaged in the process of demonstrating their own agency, of shaping their destiny and holding people accountable.”
- “We wanted to create an organization that could support building from the ground up … we believe in the power of grassroots movements and organizations … just like trickle-down economics doesn’t work, trickle-down power doesn’t work either …”
- “Voting has been reduced to a participation activity — voting is the extent that people participate — No! that’s not how we see voting — we see anything we are doing in that process is about building power … we unapologetically say, we want and deserve power … getting more resources in our communities, having a representative reflective democracy, having a government of people who are aligned with our values — that’s what’s critical and important to us …”
She also said that “our theory of change is that we believe that there is already infrastructure in place and people in grassroots groups in communities all across this country — and in the South, where the majority of Black people live — that’s where you usually see the least amount of political investment — that’s where our people are — and not only our people, but when we’re thinking about this country right now — Welcome to the South! We all are living in the South right now ... Guess who is running America right now? … We are all now dealing with policies that are being driven out of the capital of white male patriarchy — white supremacy — which has rooted itself in the South.
“… it’s going to take an effort of all of us to make sure we are disrupting it in a way that is literally ‘Don’t we deserve an America that looks like this [Zoom] screen looks right now?’
“… to get there … we have to take on and change systems and take our democracy back …”
In response to an Encamper question, she ended with this point: “What will the future of voting look like? You will determine that — you don’t have to accept a broken system. We’re running this like a relay. I’m going to move my part forward and then you move your part forward … We have to take the time to use our radical re-imagining of what we want, and do the work to create and bring that into being in the world.”
Saturday’s morning session was devoted to small groups where Encampers shared their ideas for action plans — specific ways to make positive change in their communities — with alums, parents and supporters. The Encampers then asked questions of the other members of the group, drawing on their areas of experience. This format allowed for some in-depth exploration of issues such as addressing racism in schools, creating a recycling system in a boarding school, gentrification and voting rights.
In the afternoon, the Encampers shared what they had been learning and thinking about in the summer intensive in creative ways that ranged from drawings, paintings, slideshows and poems to a music video.
“I'm inspired by the social construct of authentic learning. As an educator, this is the way we need to allow youth to learn. Find their passion, what is important in their community, learning and connecting to see various perspectives and creating an action plan to improve their communities ...”
— Veronica Rauschenberger, EFC organizational partner and supporter
“I had been in a state of despair for the past few months over the direction the country is heading. The InterGen has given me reason to have hope, and to know that continuing the effort for change is worthwhile. The determination of the youth and creativity is inspiring.” — Jackie Frank, EFC alum 1971 Arizona
“Intergenerational conversation is important because social justice work can be tiring and I know how negative one can get ... By talking to younger people who haven’t been worn down by the system, you can share that experience with someone who is really positive and also give them a head start.” — Lilia, 2020 Encamper
“Seeing leaders leading from their heart. What's my commitment? It’s more a renewal of my commitment to justice and equality.” — Ronald Pineda, EFC alum 1992 California
“Thank you, organizers — as a parent, I am so glad about the work the Encampment does with the young people and the intergenerational knowledge and skills-sharing that occurs.” — Demetria Shabazz, parent of 2020 Encamper
“My commitment is to the youth! You inspire me.” — Steve Davis, EFC Board
“I’ve been inspired by the personal vulnerability and courage of today’s Encampers and by the desire of alumni to be supportive. I’m committed to spreading the word among Ethical Societies, where the Encampment started.” — Anne Klaeysen, EFC board member
“AMAZING presentations. Thank you all for being you and for your inspirations. This is the Encampment!” — Carol Ahlum, EFC alum (1966 KY)
“People in my [InterGen] breakout group encouraged me to make my action plan work – to go in ready to make a change. It’s inspiring and helpful that people believe that I can make this plan work and make a difference in my community.” — Nicholas, 2020 Encamper
2020 Fellowship Program
The Encampment launched the EFC Fellowship Program in 2020. The Fellows Program is an educational training position designed to expand leadership in the organization including development of EFC summer staff and year-round workshop facilitators. This fellowship provides further skills development for former EFC interns or Encampers who have similar internship experience. The three fellows were an invaluable part of the 2020 virtual program. During the summer intensive, with initial and ongoing training, and under the direct supervision of core staff, they facilitated large and small group discussions and activities in the particular methodology of EFC. They are also key to the follow-up action planning program facilitating smaller action planning groups that provide support for the Encampers action plans.
The 2020 Fellows are Rachel Godfrey, Angel Mendez, and Jeromiah St. Louis and each brings their particular skills and gifts to the program.
NEW IN 2020 – Follow-up 6-Month Action Planning Program
As part of the EFC’s ongoing vision to provide more follow-up support for the Encampers’ action plans, the young people were given an option to extend their EFC experience through November. This takes the form of large group Zoom meetings, smaller group meetings with EFC Fellows and individual support for specific challenges in implementing their action plans. Orientation began in June and the above picture shows the progression through November.
“I’m continuing in the follow-up program because I always feel motivated to do the work when I’m around these folks. They truly bring out the best in me and their support means everything.” — Ijeamaka
“I’m doing the follow up program because support is a vital part of any action plan. My advising fellow, Rachel, has been a very helpful part of my action plan. I’m looking forward to coming up with some sustainability protocol at my school! We need to help sustain the planet for future generations!!! — Nicholas
View more information on our Year-Round Programs.