Reporting from the Allied Media Conference

June 22, 2008

We wanted to create a world for you, a world that looks back a decade and to the beginning, that looks forward a decade and beyond imagination. We wanted to create a world beyond the media of now where a voice speaks at you and you can't respond - tonight you will hear many voices from all around you, from those not in the room, from those who are never heard. Speak back, revel in the experience of each other tonight, this is the world we will be heard in, the world we will create, the world we must be ready for.

Notes from the Keynote Opening:

We wanted to create a world for you, a world that looks back a decade and to the beginning, that looks forward a decade and beyond imagination.

We wanted a world where music and dance are the beginning, where we enter the room together at the pace of stop action animation from within our midst, so we invited Hardcore to dance and start us off with that amazing energy, and we asked Diana Nucera to create a video to get us here.

We wanted to create a world for you that didn't forget our history of community radio, newsletters and armed resistance in the face of southern lynch mobs, that looked at the future with a knowledge of the level of professionalism we need to bring to our own creations. So we brought you Mabel Williams.

We wanted to create a world where we recognized the expertise and dedication that goes into locally created media, and how our voices locally are shouted pinpoints in a massive network, a movement so diverse that it is only our desire to connect, on paper, in space, beyond borders and behind walls, up through the cracks in the city, it is our desire for each other that defines us…so we bring you Ron Scott, Mariana Castaneda and Lotty Spady.

We wanted to create a world in which poets enfold us in their perspective and gentle goad us into seeing the truth so we can see our next steps. We called upon Alixa and Naima of Climbing Poetree to send us a missive from their new show Hurricane Season. We called on Alexis Gumbs, who crafted a historic sci-fi echo chamber of a poem and engaged 8 other beautiful women to present it you.

We wanted to create a world for you without borders, a world where every human life is so valuable to us that we would take action to protect it, protect it with information and guidance, guidance towards water, guidance towards a just home. So we brought you Ricardo Dominguez.

And finally, we wanted to create a world for you where our ancient, natural, feminine wisdom about the structures of community and the communal possibility of leadership is allowed to blossom up through our forgetfulness and into our future. We have brought you the words and images of some of the women from Sista II Sista, Paula Rojas, Isabel Gonzalez and Nicoles Borrowes (in spirit from NY).

We wanted to create a world beyond the media of now where a voice speaks at you and you can't respond - tonight you will hear many voices from all around you, from those not in the room, from those who are never heard. Speak back, revel in the experience of each other tonight, this is the world we will be heard in, the world we will create, the world we must be ready for.

archeology of freedom

(evolution beyond survival)

by alexis pauline gumbs

water:

1761
chained in a nightmare atlantic
little phillis
survived
meter by meter
dreaming your face

2022
poets who write
sci-fi worlds with drinkable water
called reckless dreamers
by thirsty critics
octavia smiles and swims home

and everyone in this room
wears something now
that could have easily been ocean

ground:

one.
thrown rocks now sand again
heat skin smooth palms
loving press to
answered prayer

two.
turning over the garden
children find fossils
imprinted with strange and angry eagles
the fashionable break them
into necklaces

three.
heirloom seeds
spout human names:
purple perennial sydette
toni cade fire breathing cups
sweet fall from audre trees
grace lee roots grow winterdeep

body:
a.
the m printed in your left palm
stands for malcolm
for mahalia
manju
moya
matt
mike
mia and mingus
the m in your palm
stands for movement
for me

b.
at birth
the midwife screams
zeee-ha!
not a gender
just a welcome

c.
prison
an obscure word
in the footnotes of a dictionary
scholars say
it was how the ancients wrote
"we are not yet ready"
on their wrists every morning

air:

a six year old
at the Nadia Abou-Karr community school
hums
live for the people
die for the people
work for the people
love the people
keeping time jumping rope

these days
the slang term for love
is "breathing"

put both hands on your heart
look at the person next to you
and
repeat after me
we are ready now
louder
we are ready now
we are ready

for now.

--

Notes from Keynote Closing:

When we tell our own stories we expose our own prophets.

Octavia Butler is a foundational prophetic mind behind many of the philosophies presented as cutting edge ideas today. In her novels, she traversed the space between genders, between sexualities, between races and classes – between survival and evolution. Her characters, driven by survival and marginalization, evolved. She is the thread throughout this keynote presentation.

She said Change is God. She said to pack a bag and be ready for any possibility.

I often speak of my Octavia Butler bag, with a towel, bandages, water purification tablets and granola. But I believe we are collectively building that bag here and now with all the ways in which we cut through the monotony of oppression with our anger and our solutions, artistic and unstoppable.

These Octavia Butler collages you are seeing are sent from Krista Franklin, who couldn't be here but sent her love.

The thing to remember is that Evolution is always born of necessity! I can't foresee our next physical evolution, but I know what we need now is an evolution of how we communicate with each other.

I work at The Ruckus Society, and we train people in nonviolent direct action and civil disobedience like Ricardo was talking about. The main barrier we run up against is people's fear to be heard, to confront their oppressors.

I say, If you are not willing to be heard - which is understandable, it is scary - then creep away and stop complaining. You lay no claim to what's coming.

But if you can own it, that we are the media makers thru the end of the Mayan calendar, possibly thru the rapture, possibly thru nuclear war, or unveiling the heaven in our cities. We are the ones to show us the way to our next society.

It's not when we get there. It's how we are with each other, now, and every day.

Too often we debate process vs destination. We neglect an innovative process when presenting our revolutionary ideas. This Process of our media is the destination.

To understand why this work we do here will change everything, you must ask yourself:

Who told you you were black?
White?
Gay, retarded, Arab, straight, Asian, displaceable, fat, stupid.
Smart. Pretty. Violent. Normal. Weird.
Who told you that this way of society was unchangeable?
Who would you be if no one had told you?
How would you express your essential self... in battle? With your ego? As a wounded, rejected creature?

Or as a miracle, the carrier of a completely unique world view.

You have all been given blank cards on which to write our own history and envision our future. Put your lessons and dreams on there, it will be up all weekend. On Sunday we will compile it and bring it back to you – this is our shared history.


Adrienne Maree Brown is the executive director of The Ruckus Society and an advisory board member of WireTap. A co-founder of the League of Young Voters, Adrienne is obsessed with learning and developing models for action, community strength and movement building.


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