Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Normalizing Justice

This reflection is taken from the content I am currently developing for the Welcoming Path formation program. It serves as an introduction to readings and discussions on Martha Nussbaum's Creating Capabilities: The Human Development Approach. I have edited it to be a stand alone piece here. 
The Welcoming Path Formation Program is oriented around giving us concepts, skills, and tools that help us relate to our experience, and especially our efforts to bring about social change, in ways that are more sustainable, resilient, life-giving, wise, and kind. We began with reflexive practice - identifying our theories of change, looking and listening deeply to our experiences with the expectation to adapt our strategies to better meet our needs, creating communities where we expect to learn and grow together, and working together across personal, relational, structural, and cultural dimensions to make robust movements.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Faith Communities & Trans Demands

As part of the ACLU-Missouri's Transgender Education and Advocacy Program and the launch of the Trans Ally Toolkit, trans activists and organizers in Springfield were invited to join Jay-Marie Hill in hosting a Trans Demands event focused on Faith Spaces. It was a beautiful experience to join with others in planning the event, which took place on October 7, 2018. You can read more about the event at the Springfield News-Leader. As a former minister in a conservative Christian denomination, I was asked to speak to my experiences as a genderqueer person. Below is the main text of what I shared, lightly edited. 


CN: Bullying, suicide, gender and sexuality antagonsims

Here at the beginning, I want you to know that I am wonderfully happy about my gender and sexuality. I love – I really love – being genderqueer. I love belonging to the transgender family. I’ll be focusing on painful and difficult experiences this afternoon as we continue to call faith spaces to accountability, but I don’t want there to be any confusion. There is so much joy in my life. There are so many incredible, beautiful, fantastic people I’ve met and you are so important to me, and to our community. I am so grateful for the time and life we’ve shared together. I am so grateful for you. The joy and life and love we share are why I am willing to stand here and assert our humanity and speak what religious folk often call “a hard word.” I am angry, to be sure; but I am angry because all this suffering is unnecessary and cruel, and I am so exhausted from feeling and seeing my transgender siblings suffer so much. I hope that, in the anger, you also can hear this love. 

Friday, October 5, 2018

To Suffer Is Not Enough: The Negativity Bias and Sustainable Activism

I delivered this talk at the Community Christian Church on September 30, 2018. It has been lightly edited. 


I know it may be difficult to remember those now idyllic times before the endless news cycle revolved around the tweets of a certain horrible person turned celebrity turned president, but that world did exist. If you happened to love obscure news, you may have noticed a social experiment in December 2014. The City Reporter, a Russian news website, decided to publish only good news for one day. They teased the experiment by asking, “Do you feel like you are surrounded by negative information? You don't want to read the news in the morning? … Do you think good news is a myth? We'll try to prove the opposite tomorrow!” And they did. They featured positive headlines, like, "No disruption on the roads despite snow.” They made announcements of mundane progress, celebrating “that an underpass would be built in time … .”

The result was overwhelming, but not positive. The website lost about 2/3 of its readers that day. The deputy editor reflected, “We looked for positives in the day's news, and we think we found them, … . But it looks like almost nobody needs them." (https://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-news-from-elsewhere-30318261 ) There’s a popular narrative that news outlets drive negativity, that consumers are hungry for something positive but just can’t get it. The trouble was that, when The City Reporter went out of their way to report good news, the people went looking for bad news.