Are you and your organization, collective, family or friend group in a conflict and feeling stuck and unsure of what to do next?
Is your social justice organization starting to feel like Lord of the Flies?
Did you try to use transformative justice to deal with a situation of abuse or harm and things aren’t going exactly as planned?
Are you right at the beginning of mapping a TJ process and looking for more support and guidance than you can get from reading articles?
Are you trying to create a violence/abuse response and prevention policy for your organization?
Call me. I’ve seen it all, done some of the rest, and I have 20 years of experience to draw on to help you dream up and enact strategies, solutions and structures to address and learn from conflict.
I’m an educator, facilitator and trainer with two decades of experience mapping, facilitating and troubleshooting conflict transformation and transformative justice processes, with a focus on working within Black and brown, queer and trans, disabled and otherwise marginalized communities, especially communities doing radical social justice work. I have a long-term commitment to liberation work, ending the prison industrial complex and working as a queer survivor of violence to create new ways of dealing with violence and harm without using carceral systems, and also without throwing survivors under the bus.
If your group is navigating conflict, I can create a space where everyone can tell their stories and be heard, where I can listen and ask questions, help talk through options, offers tools and help think up possibilities you might not be able to access because of anger, frustration, freezing or fear. I am also happy to help you map out a transformative justice process or consult on one that’s in progress, as well as to support you in creating policies for your organization to address harm and conflict before and after they happen.
Who I am and what I do: Where TJ gets real
Out of my own experiences surviving childhood and adult sexual and physical abuse taking place with criminalized communities and/or tiny queer/disabled of color ones, I’ve devoted my life to studying and organizing to create options to the police and prisons to address abuse, violence and harm. With Ching-In Chen and Jai Dulani, I co-created the zine that became the book, The Revolution Starts at Home, which collected stories of people attempting to enact community based solutions to violence and abuse and because the first book-length resource of its kind, within a rich matrix of feminist of color anti-violence work.
I am committed to transformative justice and have seen it work in powerful ways to heal violence and harm in our communities. I also know that using TJ principles to deal with conflict and harm is a lot more complicated in real life than it is in in an article. Because of this, I run a small conflict transformation facilitation and TJ consulting practice, working with BIPOC majority social justice organizations and communities. I can’t promise that everyone will magically love each other at the end of working together, but I can promise that your organization or relationship will have a lot more tools, resources, options and understanding then when they started. (And people might re-discover a lot of love and compassion, too.)
I’ve been involved in movements for liberation for over twenty years. In that time, I’ve witnessed a ton of conflict in our communities and organizations. Yet our movements rarely speak about conflict except as ‘gossip” or “drama, ” in secret. Often, we feel like conflict means we’ve failed, or that one person in the conflict must be wrong and evil. The histories of trauma and oppression we all carry intensifies our reactions, and we rarely have clear models for how to make things right when someone makes a mistake, or deliberately or unintentionally causes harm.
I believe conflict is a normal part of the human experience and our movement spaces. I’m not (that) afraid of conflict. I think conflict offers us opportunities to uncover buried information and dynamics that can strengthen our way forward, even when it’s also scary or stressful. I deeply enjoy creating space for people to say the things they may have been afraid to say, and dream up options that panic, stress and anger may have shut them down from being able to see. Conflict work is an essential, neglected part of building the world we want. When we build stronger ways of dealing with conflict, our movements, relationships and communities get stronger.
How I work
If I’m working with a group of people experiencing conflict, my process varies, but often looks like:
- Talking with all parties one on one to get a sense of what’s happening in the conflict and what their bottomline needs are in addressing it.
- Asking them to do some homework to think through what their asks are, what goals or outcomes they want, and what resources would be needed to make that happen. I may also offer some models of reparation, restructuring or conflict repair for people to think over.
- Bringing people together to listen to each other’s stories, share possible goals/outcomes, and map next steps. I often start by asking people to name what they collectively value, and use that as a framework to hold being in the same room.
While processes often feel or are urgent, I find that giving people some breathing room between each step helps people slow down, be less reactive and more open to compromise and listening to each other.
If I’m working with people in any stage of working on a TJ process, my process begins with one on one time to listen to what’s happening, and ask similar questions: what does justice, safety and healing look like in this situation? What resources are needed to make that happen? I may offer reading materials, models or other resources for the people involved to look at. Together, we’ll map a plan with a flexible timeline, mapping support people and resources, asks and Plans A and B.
- Lead facilitating a 2 year, 25+ person conflict resolution process for a 300 member national POC arts and social justice organization.
- Ongoing consulting with social justice organizations, with a focus on those doing cultural work, on developing protocols to address sexual and physical abuse.
- Co-designing and facilitating a 9-month cohort of 25 disabled BIPOC in Oregon and Southwest WA to build power and do political education about race and disability justice.
- Designing processes involving high-profile individuals where discretion was a must.
- Individual consulting for 100+ TJ processes, including recent successful 2+ year process involving survivor, perpetrator of harm, multiple support teams and multiple community stakeholders.
- Working on processes that involved weapons threats and threats to physical safety.
- Co-Coordinator of Safetyfest, an annual queer and trans anti-violence conference with a TJ focus, held by CUAV from 2010-2011.
- Created and coordinated Safetyteam at the Allied Media Conference from 2011-2015, including creating training for and training 30 volunteers and liasing with conference staff
- Created or co-created and taught transformative justice trainings and workshops at conferences, community-based organizations and universities, including the Femme Conference, 5 College Gender and Sexuality Conference, TJ Learning to Action Group Toronto, Color of Violence 4 Conference, Wesleyan University, the University of Calgary, the APIA Spoken Word and Poetry Summit, Humboldt State University, Hampshire College, APIA-CHAYA, the Northwest Network, Evergreen State College, and at the Strathcona Community Center of Vancouver, BC.
- Co-organized the 2010 North American Feminist of Color Transformative Justice Organizer Convening, Miami, Florida, in conjunction with Audre Lorde Project.
- Co-coordinated three transformative justice tracks at the Allied Media Conference in 2010, 2011 and 2014.
- Currently co-editing Exploring Transformative Justice” A Reader with Ejeris Dixon, to be published by AK Press in fall 2019.
- Safety planning (both in terms of intimate violence and about sensitive information and finances)
- Extensive experience with BIPOC social justice community and how dynamics of abuse and harm can play out in those communities.
- Experience with mental health, CPS, police and other systems.
- Non judgmental, harm reduction approach to substance use.
- Trained crisis counselor with experience working with survivors of sexual, physical and emotional violence.
- Ability to work effectively both in person and via Skype/Zoom.
- I use Protonmail and Signal as secure communication channels.
- Graduated from 2011 Philly Stands Up Transformative Justice Winter Training Camp.
- Understanding of movement security culture needed.
- Strong grounding in disability justice, which allows me to build processes that are accessible to all participants and go at a sustainable yet effective pace.
- Committed to figuring out solutions that do not rely on the legal system or vigilanteism.
- Extensive resource list for event security, trauma stewardship, communication and access.
Other things about me
- I am down to earth, funny, and compassionate without being annoying.
- I speak working-class English and will use a ton of jargon.
Strengths based approach that reminds you about what you’re already doing right.
- I will not make you do non-violent communication. I will not make you build an altar out of post-it notes.I will not make you do Theater of the Oppressed exercises.
- I will create space where, if wanted, you can examine how past traumas are showing up in the conflict, and share tools to contain and soothe trauma based responses.
- I have great boundaries and will let you know if there’s too much overlap for me to work with you.
- I will keep your process confidential.
- I have supervision, and debrief with my supervisor to get support, professional development and ongoing training, without using identifying details about your organization or process.
- Sex work positive. Trans and nonbinary positive and competent.
- Identity wise, I’m a 43 year old queer, nonbinary disabled femme writer, organizer and cultural worker of Burgher/ Tamil Sri Lankan and Irish/Roma ascent, born and raised in the rust belt, mixed working/lower middle class with some experiences of both poverty and educational access.
References available upon request.
To schedule an initial consultation or to ask questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org