Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A brief open letter to the community

English: Magnolia × soulangeana Français : Mag...
English: Magnolia × soulangeana Français : Magnolia × soulangeana (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
May 14, 2013

Dear members and friends of Interfaith Solidarity Cascadia,

Last summer, we have had discussions over re-envisioning and re-structuring this group, formerly known as the Interfaith Guild of Chaplains.  We are a group born and emerged out of the heydays of the Occupy Movement and continues our alliance with Occupy Portland and potentially all remaining Occupy-based groups in the Pacific Northwest.

The reality is, however, this group has ceased to function as an active community organization, and I note that even announcements I post in our internal communications Facebook group appear to be rarely read by anyone any more.

Just as Occupy has evolved and continues to evolve into various shapes, I feel that last summer's re-envisioning plan is no longer relevant or suited to the current situation.  From what I see is that of all surviving former Occupy Portland groups, only those that are growing and still active have one thing in common: a building of an alternative community -- a new way of being a community, something I was strongly drawn to when I spent over a month at the original Occupy Portland encampment.  Certainly, there are those who view this trend as a repeat of the mistakes the Baby Boomers made back in the 1970s.  Back then many people who were politically active and militant became withdrawn, "dropped out" and created counter-cultural movement and communes, while both neo-conservatives such as Ronald Reagan and the Religious Right movement gained in the absence of the organized social justice movement.  I, too, am concerned by this.  Will we as a movement become more effective, or become yet another forgotten chapter in history?

Having said this, however, we simply cannot be effective or even exist without a vibrant community.  People do come and go, and that is natural.  The last thing we should be doing is to be attached to the glorious legacy of the past and fooling ourselves that we are still the same as the "good old days."

As it is pretty clear at this moment that I am the only remaining active member of ISC, I am taking the prerogative -- like the very day I put out a call to organize this group during the first week of Occupation -- to release all the inactive members from our roster and re-initiate this group from the scratch.  This means if you have been inactive and would like to maintain membership you would have to re-join after the new roster is created; otherwise by default you will be removed from membership.

I have two plans for this group:

(1) A much heavier emphasis on community-building rather than "just" activism or "just" chaplaincy.  In fact, the group's role as providers of spiritual support probably would diminish although we aim for creating a visible presence within the movement and beyond.

(2) A rebranding -- "Interfaith Solidarity" sounded too abstract, too sterile, and too political.  "Interfaith Guild of Chaplains" sounded too exclusive and limiting.  The word "interfaith" especially for those who are not members of Abrahamic faith traditions often evokes negative feelings (as most "interfaith" organizations only include mainline Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish denominations) and also too "institutional" and even "elitist."  Although "Interfaith Solidarity" was chosen last summer as a self-explanatory moniker, it did not quite work.  I am looking for something that is more welcoming, fosters a sense of belonging and community, and at the same time clearly communicates the group's history and visions.

I would love to continue and maintain honest dialogues on this topic, both from those who were part of this group and those who weren't.


Sarah Morrigan
ISC general manager
Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments:

Post a Comment