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Actively Taking RC into the Wide World

The following are excerpts from postings—on the RC e-mail discussion lists for leaders of wide world change and leaders of Jews—by people who attended or read about the Actively Taking RC into the Wide World Workshop led by Tim Jackins, in New York, USA, this June.

A highlight of the workshop was a group that focused on five questions: (1) What conditions are needed to allow society to change? (2) What can we do to create those conditions? (3) What are we already doing that is moving in that direction? (4) What are we not doing that would move us in that direction? (5) How do we develop all else that is needed to change society?

Tim gave us “homework.” We were to pick one person each week and try hard in their direction (even for a few minutes) in a way that would make a difference in their life. It could be someone we pass on the street or someone we see just going about our day [doing the usual activities of our day].

Rachel Beck

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

For the last fifteen years I’ve taught a young people’s RC class as part of my wide world organization. Each year different young leaders help me teach it. It’s an open class; people can bring their friends. The eight to twenty young people who attend are most often poor and have hard lives. When they become young adults, things get even harder.

I keep trying to figure out how to keep people active in the Area, but so far many more people go through the classes than are able to stay. When you work three jobs, have a baby, or have abuse in your household, it’s hard to figure out how to stay in RC.

Young people are fun to teach RC to. For the most part [usually] they are not so defensive about their feelings or so scared of them. We regularly have big sessions in class and then eat pizza and have fun together.

Jenny Sazama

Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, USA

I met the RC team at COP21 [the United Nations climate talks] in Paris, France, in 2015, then joined RC in Nigeria in 2016.

Re-evaluation Counseling has given me more meaningful definitions of “activist” and “leader.” I have introduced RC to my colleagues and students. Most of them have become better listeners. My work on care of the environment has helped me influence the protection of the environment in my community. Smallholder women farmers are now practicing climate-resilience agriculture. I have been going to high schools with members of my RC Community to increase student awareness of the need for a clean environment and for planting trees. People are joining our Community because of the work they see us doing.

Adekunle Akinola

Akungba Akoko, Ondo State, Nigeria

 During the last decade I have led a bunch of sixteen-week naturalized RC classes for a number of organizations. I have framed the classes as opportunities for “leadership development.” People have had to apply to get in. They have also had to agree to attend all the classes, have a weekly session outside of class, and apply the principles discussed in class in their organizations.

I‘ve run [conducted] the classes like regular RC classes—with “news and goods,” mini-sessions, a theory talk, a few demonstrations, and a closing circle. People have reported every week on how they are using their new insights in their work. I have seen the ripple effect of sharing RC.

Most activists, organizers, and leaders in not-for-profit organizations in New York City are extremely busy and feel too overwhelmed to commit themselves to an organization like RC that seems to be about their personal well-being. However, they are always game [eager and willing] to join a “leadership development“ activity that is held during their work hours and addresses work-related issues. They are hungry for our theory and insights. They treasure the opportunity to connect with others in a confidential, non-competitive setting; to work on the challenges of leadership; and to learn how to lead and organize more effectively.

Azi Khalili

Brooklyn, New York, USA

 The Left Forum, a large gathering of leftist activists and scholars, has met annually for thirteen years. At its recent gathering, fifteen RCers did a United to End Racism project. We staffed a table, distributed fliers, talked with people, and held a workshop called “Reclaiming Our Humanity: A Revolutionary Tool.” Our goal for the workshop was to share RC tools that activists could use in their respective areas of struggle. We focused on listening and discharge. 

During a go-around, each of us Co-Counselors shared how we had used RC in our activism—for example, to make art from a liberation rather than an oppression perspective, to sustain relationships, to deal with conflict and differences, or to be able to act outside of internalized colonization.

We will be having an introduction to RC for those who expressed interest.

Maritza Arrastia

New York, New York, USA

 I make RC accessible to the world by talking openly and simply about it while building environments that are safe for discharge and in which there is lots of contradiction to fear, isolation, and shame. I also try to be non-defensive and transparent about my own struggles. As a singing facilitator, I have the extra tool of group singing, which seems to help people bond more quickly and keep their attention away from distress. I work with hundreds of people. As the leader, I can have a strong influence on the culture of the group.

One of the courses I teach, “Reclaim Your Voice,” is for people who think they can’t sing or who are shy about singing. It is a combination of exercises and information that are big contradictions to distress.

The first night is really an introduction to RC. I talk about releasing fear and grief and explain that people may cry a lot during the weekend and that if they do, it’s because they sense the safety. I ask, “Why would our bodies do this if it wasn’t useful for us?” It is not at all hard to convince people. Sometimes just stating, “You may feel like crying,” is enough to start people discharging. Encouraging people to yawn improves their singing. And people love to laugh—it’s not hard to get people laughing.

I set a “rule” about confidentiality and ask people to refrain from giving advice to each other.

People who have never sung publicly agree to singing on their own in front of the group. And they shake and cry during and after. I give people permission to “pass” [not participate], but they rarely do.

I have experimented with mini-sessions but have found it’s better to have regular “check in” rounds in which people have my attention and the attention of the whole group.

My being skilled at teaching singing probably helps. People trust me because they get amazing results and move forward quickly with their singing. Many of them accept RC theory within that context. I think that anyone who is competent at his or her job, and well embedded in RC, would be able to share RC information effectively in the wide world.

Nikki Berry

Christchurch, Canterbury
Aotearea/New Zealand

 I’ve been leading occasional Listening Circles at my synagogue on Sundays. Each time we have a few new people as well as a number who attend regularly.

I talk briefly about having a safe place to be listened to and about listening to others without interruption, debate, or judgment. I put a box of tissues on the floor and say it’s okay to show feelings. I talk about confidentiality, not referring to what others have said, and being open to different opinions and life experiences.

We’ve divided into three groups, of three or four people each, and done two rounds of three- or four-minute turns. Here are the prompts I used this time:

  • How have anti-Semitism or Nazism and white supremacy affected your life? What old fears or hurts does the present situation stir up for you?
  • What are some ways you can tell [notice] that the current situation is different from the past? What new opportunities do you see?

Then I’ve brought everyone together for a third round, with shorter turns for each person, so they can hear each other’s next steps. This time I had them answer these questions:

  • What steps would you like to take to stand up against anti-Semitism and racism? How will you reach for greater unity with both Jews and non-Jews?

Afterward I always give people a chance to reflect on the experience and what they noticed about listening and being listened to. I point out how simple it is to set up something like this and encourage them to try it in other groups they are a part of.

At the end of this Sunday’s meeting, people asked if we could meet on a regular monthly schedule. 

Ruth Hartman

Castro Valley, California, USA

(Present Time 189, October 2017)

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00