IMAGE: Octavia Butler with her left hand on her chin looking forward. There is a row of her book below her.
All that you Change
The only last Truth
-Octavia E. Butler, Parable of the Sower
As the summer is ending and the school year is starting, we want to reflect on how care is an essential element of belonging. As our community grows and changes to meet the times, it'll be amiss not to remember and hold that dear as we move forward. Please check out the ways we explored the theme.
Erica and Christian
Jason Reynolds | Cultures of Care
What would it mean to care for young people as whole people, not half-formed beings? How does knowing oneself allow us to find a resonant frequency with others?
IMAGE: East Bay Relief Fund for Individuals in the Arts is written in white on a background orange translucent box
East Bay Relief Fund for Individuals in the Arts
The Fund is for artists, teaching artists, culture bearers, and nonprofit arts workers who need financial help as a result of this federally recognized qualified disaster. Grants will be distributed to reflect the diversity of the East Bay—Alameda and Contra Costa Counties—including those who are of historically underserved communities and whose marginalized status have made the economic impacts of COVID-19 more difficult financially on them. Apply by September 28 at 12 p.m. PT
The East Bay Fund for Artists Initiative
In 2019, the East Bay Fund for Artists refined its programmatic focus to invest in individual artists and arts organizations rooted in low-income communities of color and other disadvantaged communities to commission new work that advances racial justice and social equity. The East Bay Fund for Artists at East Bay Community Foundation (EBCF) Initiative will be awarding grants of $5,000-$25,000 for the commissioning of new works by Bay Area artists. Awardees must hold a public presentation of their work within a year of receiving the grant award. Applications will be accepted through October 3, 2022.
IMAGE: Poster that reads: DEVELOP a deep understanding of self in order to be in better relationship with others. Below are other answers that are written on strips of papers.
Dispatches from Chicago: Cultures of Care at NEA
In June, the Cultures of Care project team led workshops for educators at the NEA Conference on Racial and Social Justice that explored insurgent and unconventional collective care practices.
Over two days, with groups of thoughtful, dynamic, and dedicated educators, we applied the 14 practices of care to iterations of the self, collective, and place. Throughout our time together, we continuously reflected on this essential question: What is a practical and essential way I can cultivate and contribute to a culture of care in my space of education (classroom, school, lab, playground, etc)?
Expanding on the concept of “resonant frequency” shared by Jason Reynolds, we invited participants to write letters to themselves at an earlier age. Here are some of the beautiful notes of care from those letters.
IMAGE: Poster that reads - CELEBRATE, Enjoy, feel it, life is about options and creativity. Be different it's okay. Lean into your joy :-) orange trip of paper with green tape. Walk in the world as Grandmother Lelia see's U on a green strip with blue tape.
Inspired by the concept of “party as congregation” that Rich Medina so vividly describes in his Cultures of Care interview, we collectively imagined new spaces of joy and celebration as sites of collective care. In groups, participants envisioned congregations around music and food that were co-created by hosts and guests alike through assigning unique roles that suited each individual’s interests and skills best. There were welcoming committees designed to ensure guests were greeted and felt appreciated for attending.
Finally, We drew connections to place by mapping the ecosystem and history of human and non-human relationships we hold, drawing from the wisdom of Annalisa Tripp and Vikki Preston.
Our team left feeling inspired, invigorated, and full of gratitude for the educators we got to engage with and for NEA for inviting us to lead these workshops.
IMAGE: A Black man is posting a yellow strip with red words on a white poster labeled Cultivate Intimacy. There are is a poster with TEND to your archives and a green strip that reads - I am in awe of your resistance. The poster on the right reads - NURTURE Imagination with three yellow strips with green text.
IMAGE: credit: Yomani Mapp. Caption: OBI staff Evan Bissell (in white shirt) stands with Safe Return Project director Tamisha Walker, ACCE organizer Edith Pastrano and other Richmond residents after a workday on the Staying Power anti-displacement mural, 2018
Looking back on five years of Arts & Cultural Strategy as I step away
I love what we do as artists and cultural practitioners of all types and sorts. When I’m in my own moments of overwhelm, I turn to you all; the music, food, dance, humor, colors. The way you put words together that push my heart off-balance just enough that I notice gravity again. The way you put a bass line together that reminds me gravity only holds me so much. So much of what you do is shift what I notice, what I value and how I am in relation to these.
As an Institute whose core work is based in research, Arts and Cultural Strategy (ACS) opens up worlds of data. It opens up worlds of questions. It also just opens us up. One of the through lines of the work I’ve had the privilege of leading over the last five years is that Arts and Cultural Strategy is a vital methodology for creating belonging that is sticky and holistic. Perfect pitch still needs soul. We have done this by extending the reach, relevance, rigor and regenerative impacts of our work as an Institute. At a base level, this is about shifting what knowledge is made actionable in creating belonging. It's also about shifting the processes by which that knowledge is developed, expressed and iterated upon.
As we confront dead ends in climate, democracy and capitalism, we must expand the ways of knowing and being that can guide our aspirations for belonging without othering. Cultures of Care, the Artist Circle on Climate Displacement, Staying Power and many other projects of ACS have aimed to do just that. More work is coming.
I am so honored to have been able to work with incredible colleagues, comrades and friends to grow this unconventional work here. I am equally grateful to you, the larger community who have responded, reached out, guided us and demanded more in loving ways. As I prepare to step away from the Institute, I am excited for the continued growth of this work and the exceptional people who now carry it: Erica Rawles, Sarah Crowell, Mina Girgis, Cecilie Surasky, Richard Aviles, Christian M. Ivey and Erfan Moradi in particular, but really the Institute as a whole. For those who want to step in closer, please stay tuned for future opportunities
Arts & Cultural Strategy Coordinator
Othering & Belonging Institute
Othering & Belonging Institute
University of California, Berkeley
460 Stephens Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
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