Updates From the Winter and SpringApr 06, 2023
Wow, it's been so long since we last sent out an update. We are really grateful for your patience and understanding. These last few months have been a whirlwind of activity, loss, growth, connection and rupture for us as individuals and as an organization.
As we move into the spring of a new year, we, as the Sacred Warren stewarding the WildSeed Society, wanted to take a moment to reflect on the journey we’ve been on and share our high level plans for the future.
In 2022, we took a step back to gain a better understanding of ourselves as individuals and as a team in relation to our vision and capacity, and the context in which we were living. This meant prioritizing visioning, design and building the WildSeed Way (our praxis of shared risk, income sharing and purpose driven, valued aligned labor) over directly pursuing WildSeed's vision through a shared programing. So we spent a lot of the year taking the time to rest, cultivate our vision, and rethink our strategy to realize our vision. So we could move from center and in flow.
This was especially true for our Spirit Tender, Sandra, who realized that they were not living in a way that was supportive enough of their life’s purpose. Sandra realized they were being much more spiritually called than they had even thought before and that spirituality and mysticism needed to be at the core of what they offer to the world. This required them to reorganize their life in order to engage in deep spiritual training for a time. Their time away solidified their understanding that their online training and healing space holding work needed to transition to a different form to be in alignment with this deepened spiritual commitment. They are currently in conversations with Spirit to figure out exactly what form that will take. In the next couple of weeks, Sandra will share how our community can follow along with that emergent conversation.
Our Quartermaster, Chany, has also been stepping into deeper truths about their identity and purpose. Chany is becoming more clear that they would like to move away from providing administrative assistance and oversight and to move more into programmatic work. They are understanding that part of their emerging purpose is to provide coaching, deep care, and healing spaces for people.
For the rest of the Sacred Warren, 2022 meant being realistic about our capacity. After three major crises in as many years, our Ferryman to the Future, Reece had to come to terms with the fact that he would not be able to play the same role in movements as he had before. This spring is really the first time in almost a year that Reece has been in place to consistently work. It took a lot of grief work and therapy to come to terms with what movement support will need to look like from him going forward.
After personal and family tragedies, our Light Guardian, Erika, realized that she needs to turn her focus to her health and her family. This means working less, but unfortunately needing more money as her kids approach college. As many of you know, juggling health, family responsibility and financial need can be tricky. Inflation and the total lack of infrastructure investment over the past few years has made this even more difficult for working families.
For our Steward of the Pattern, Aaron, all of this meant that he had to grieve his vision for what he wanted WildSeed to be and by when. It's clear that the rise of the Trumpian right and the pandemic have devastated so many communities that our capacity isn’t half of what it was before. It is also true for Aaron who spent much of the past couple years recovering from long COVID-19 and the impact of his work in Louisville during the Uprising.
On top of all of this, our work on Revolutionary Aftercare has made it clear that we are not the only people or organizations experiencing crises of purpose and capacity. In fact, it's becoming obvious that the “new normal” is one in which we, as a society, are unwilling to admit that we simply don’t have it in the bag anymore. Whether its supporting organizers going through a crisis or just trying to contact our insurance provider, it's clear that our social, emotional and practical infrastructure of our society is in a state of collapse.
As a collective, it was clear that the strategies that first animated us weren’t necessarily the ones we would be carrying forward into the future.
The mission - supporting movements at the intersection of spiritual liberation, social transformation and economic revolution so that we can build portals to the future where we all got free- is still the same.
The vision - of a new kingdom of heaven that we build in the here and now, a world that can hold multiple worlds where everyone can get their needs met with dignity and joy- is still the same.
The desire to get free in a way that brings as many as are willing along with us is the same.
What has changed is the realization that we need the time and space to explore emergent and sometimes non-direct ways to pursue our mission and vision. The usual strategies of organizations are too tied to coercion, infinite growth, hierarchy, efficiency and profit to be useful to us. It's going to take time and effort to develop personal and organizational practices that work in our context.
So as a collective, we renewed our commitment to live our praxis out loud and in community even as we evolve it to better fit the times. This means that we are going to be building out some new spaces and avenues to talk about our income sharing and community of shared risk. We will be holding off on our plans for building out other programs until we have funding to hire staff to support the financial and administrative needs of the program.
Perhaps most significantly, we have decided not to pursue more programs that make money. One thing we learned about ourselves is that we are motivated by relationships and not money. Crafting ideas around how much money they will net us drains us of our flow and connection to each other. It makes us question if we are offering enough and, by extension, are enough.
So this means we are going to have to experiment with ways to communicate what we are prototyping and learning with the hopes that you, our community, will see the case for supporting us. We think that we live in a moment where having a small group of people prototype a new way of being for a few years is necessary and strategic. That being said, we don’t plan on being solely internally focused over the next 12 months.
Same Strategy, New Tactics
The more we sat with the realities of the current moment, the more we realized that the Liberating Retreat is still the right meta strategy. We still believe that the way forward is to stop engaging with the sometimes addictive dysfunction of this moment so we can focus on BEing in Radical Refugee, BLOCKing with Effortless Action and BUILDing the WildSeed Way.
Yet it was also increasingly clear that we don’t have the capacity to pursue all three aspects of that strategy at the same time. So we committed to focusing on Building (and sharing) the WildSeed Way.
Looking ahead to 2023, our focus is on finding and trusting our sense of flow. This means getting in touch with what is at the intersection of what we feel called to offer and what we have the capacity to offer.
We are going to think about WildSeed as a vehicle for individuals pursuing their purpose in alignment with a vision of the future where all are free. That work is going to start with the Sacred Warren, but we are already thinking and planning how we can invite fellow travelers like you along with us for that journey.
1) Sharing Our Theory and Journey with You
As an example of this, we will be opening up a series of Patreons as a way for folks to support us as we seek and follow purpose and flow. These Patreon accounts will offer real time lessons and struggles as we develop our praxis.
Another thing we are excited to offer is getting really creative about how we share our theory and praxis with you all. Aaron spent a lot of time developing, writing and producing essays, comic books and graphics that break down our analytical lens, theory, praxis and vision that we are excited to share.
We hope that these publications will also catalyze some much needed cultural change around how we think about making social transformation. We hope to pair these publications with Spiritual Talks and collective world building sessions that invite our community into ideating and creating alongside us.
2) Refocusing Our Programming
We will also be transitioning our Caring Circle, Collective Care Pods, Healing from Internalized Whiteness courses. Sandra is still trying to think of a more sustainable and accessible format for these offerings that don’t require her to spend hours in front of a computer. Part of that strategy is also working on expanding our back-end capacity including working with fundraiser and OD consultants to build the capacity to hire more administrative staff.
Similarly, we have had to pause the Emotional Emancipation Circles and the Love + Liberation Book Club in response to Erika’s capacity shifts over the past few months.
This is all part of us shifting into thinking in longer timelines, and moving from a right-now approach to building out the relationships and structures that will allow our new programs to be sustainable, high quality, and adaptive.
3) Relationship Building
We spent a great deal of time last year building relationships with potential partners and retreat centers that could help us expand our work.
This includes Erika’s work with Black Women in Philanthropy and Hispanics in Philanthropy. We have been excited to bring the Wildseed Way to two groups trying to decolonize philanthropy. Erika’s work has also led to WildSeed receiving grant funding for the first time. As you all know, Wildseed Society has always been skeptical of grant funding and the ways in which philanthropy can co-opt radical work. This is why we have committed ourselves to the following principles:
- We only accept general operating grants from foundations to ensure we are always in control of our programmatic vision.
- We refuse to change our language for funders. Our grant applications sound exactly like our blogs and Spiritual Talks.
- We don’t accept grants with cumbersome reporting requirements. We don’t want to waste programmatic time proving our legitimacy to the managers of wealth.
- We push for multi-year funding and long-term relationships. We don’t want to be constantly chasing philanthropy.
Another partnership we are excited about is a labor exchange with our friends at Change Elemental consulting. For the past few months, Aaron has been working with a small team there to help think through a more equitable and liberatory compensation model for their organization. Aaron offered his time as a gift to a values and strategy aligned group and Change Elemental decided to offer a labor exchange as gratitude. We are very excited to be able to draw on their expertise as we try to become more financially sustainable and able to offer more programming to our community.
4) Revolutionary Aftercare
Our exciting and sustainable new program is building out our Revolutionary Aftercare [RA] work. RA comes out of work supporting BLM chapters during the uprisings and the amount of unprocessed pyrrhic grief that movement had. Revolutionary Aftercare is our proposal for building a healing infrastructure to complement our existing fighting infrastructure so that movements can be sustainable and grounded in the ways of the worlds that we want.
Practically this has meant giving grants out to organizers who, while not a formally part of the WildSeed Community, have been doing values aligned work. This has meant grants to organizing dealing with cancer diagnoses, supporting the care of visionary leaders recently released from incarceration like Mutulu Shakur and supporting organizers still reeling from the Uprisings. For a handful of movement stewards, this has also meant a more in-depth, long term commitment to offer accompaniment and crisis care as their deal with multiple, overlapping crises that are a direct result of their organizing work.
This is our first attempt to expand the work that began with BLM DC and BLM Louisville to organizers who we were not in such deep pre-existing relationships with. We hope to expand the scope and scale of this work through new partnerships with folks like the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL).
As of March, we are officially a member of M4BL and have been working with the national leadership to see how we can bring Wildseed’s healing interventions into their ecosystem. We are excited at the prospect that this vital work might finally start operating at scale. We look forward to updating our community as that relationship develops.
In closing, we want to express our gratitude for your continued support. We are excited about what the future holds and look forward to sharing it with you. We are committed to being transparent and open with our community, and we welcome your feedback and ideas.
Thank you for being part of the WildSeed Society community.
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