Facilitating “Reclaiming Economic Theory with the #PersonalManifesto – A Guided Arts Workshop” at #CommonBound : a Reflection


Reclaiming Economic Theory with the Personal Manifesto – A Guided Arts Workshop

How do we release creative potential so we too can contribute to new economy theory? A first step is to represent our truths. In this workshop we will create personal manifestos that both vision global movement towards new economy rooted in local need and remain true to our innate creative expression. The mission is to get clarity for ourselves and inspire conversation when disseminating our manifestos to our communities. When people see their neighbors articulating economic theory in a creatively unconventional and critical non-didactic way, the hope is they too may get inspired to engage topics typically made to appear daunting.

cbWhen the notion of new economy came up in the form of The CommonBound New Economy conference, I knew I wanted to participate. No more fears. I thought about how as a culture worker and dancer I might grapple with something like “economic theory,” and I realized I am grappling with it every day. I’m economizing because what I’m meant to do in this world is not only not valued, but not valued because true understanding of the expressive arts is one of the greatest threats to the dominant economic theory globalizing our view of the world. In fact culture workers must be resourceful and resilient – we embody the actualized creative body. Every day we stick to our calling, we refuse to give up the tools to our wellbeing, our humanness. And we refuse to do this alone: Whatever I learn I share in community. I know without community I won’t survive. How else is dance one of the least valued professions? We’re dismissed as frivolous and decorative. Non-essential. And to some extent dance as we know it is: it is often elite-facing so it has in essence been diminished of its root power through an emphasis on show and spectacle. This dynamic makes me think about those professions valued even less and the people tasked to do them – dismissed as undeserving (diminished cognitive capacity, lazy, ignorant) so by default deserving to clean society’s filth. Yet when I first heard directly from and continue to listen to people from communities that are oppressed, the absolutely disgusting and injurious myths I was taught to believe as a casted child with a middle class upbringing was thankfully shaken and broken down. I now understand that such tasks are designed to dehumanize and imprison people to such fates. I also now understand that these communities have as long a history of resistance as their oppression. And I am very moved. I become more whole when I reject magical stories of entitlement. Life has no deus de machina. In fact, life has no deus. The divine is in each of us to flourish. And it is our duty to dismantle everything we individually benefit from that is rooted in magical entitlement.

Over the past six years I have dedicated myself exclusively to community. I am blessed with gifts and I won’t waste one bit on missions that do not go back to community. Of course I know as part and parcel of a genocidal nation, I can’t have unbloodied hands, but I’m trying my darndest to both not be a naive purist about it but also intentionally seek alternate ways to practice values that counter genocide: the practice of loving.

titleReflecting on the workshop:

What worked: Warning people we are packing in 3 hours worth of work into 75 minutes on an early Sunday morning and checking in about the pace intermittently seemed very effective in keeping people engaged and moving. Everyone had the option to go at their own pace and were great sports throughout!

And the pace and the content wouldn’t be what it is without Linda. She was time keeping, scribing, holding space during the workshop, and leading up to it, allowed herself to be vulnerable, recounting her seed memories, when we were shaping the exercises for the workshop.

Rooting and dedicating the practice in the Dallas shooting that had just happened helped ground me. I was distraught reading Micah Johnson’s tormented manifesto earlier that morning and my mind was with the blm organizers active that weekend. I am grateful participants stood with me.

Modeling self care and connection in community as embedded and inherent to the framework of the workshop was also well received. We incorporated a brief grounding meditation that allowed participants to center on a meaningful image from their past as vividly as possible in the present. The exercise engaged deep breathing and notes of proper posture and body alignment for breath.

troyearthParticipants really enjoyed having their partners shape and read to them “why they are in this world” after identifying their strengths.

Also powerful were participants being intrigued how their childhood memories of a first time their internal values were challenged by the outside world was facilitated: working in groups of four, together they teased out the resources embedded in the stories and mapped the resources to privileges each storyteller walks with and then mapping those resources to the types of capital. The implications were meaningful: allowing participants to understand that while their manifestos may be personal, they need to be accountable to their communities.

What didn’t work The timing itself, but I knew it may not. I wanted to hold space for as many people as I could, but it is always tricky facilitating an already condensed workshop. We were ok with accommodating people coming in later. The goal from the beginning was to share the workshop and let participants get a taste for the power of expressive arts. Not being able to get to the final section where people articulated their personal manifestos was truly sad.

What I learned Communicating and adaptability are my strengths as a facilitator

What needs more work Next time we run it we can incorporate my excellent co-facilitator Linda more smoothly so she feels comfortable facilitating some sections. Part of modeling community care is to reflect principles of share in facilitation and encourage multiple voices and facilitation techniques.

In this process I have learned a lot. Mostly how tender hearted one must fight to be in order to engage this life’s work.



In Divine Company,