One of the things that I strongly believe is that no small part of our culture's current weakness and danger is our social isolation and that, although I love social media, it is not a replacement for real, face to face, support. On November 17th, I wrote a post about the Resistance and part of that, an essential part, is that this is a marathon, not a sprint...so we must build into our daily lives ways to increase our own resilience and capacity and the resilience and capacity of our communities. In order to do that, we must meet in community face to face.
Based on this, I founded the Symposia of the Resistance shortly after that post. For me, it has been an essential support and I have had others tell me that it is for them as well. These are my guidelines for such a group:
1. Schedule it on a regularly recurring rotation so that people can plan for it. Not everyone will make it every time, but everyone will know when it is happening.
2. Make it EASY to host - potluck, order a pizza, pick up a rotisserie chicken or something - don't overcomplicate. I kind of pick up my house, and maybe run the vacuum and wipe down the bathroom sink - but the main thing I am doing is giving people a place to come. I don't really clean for the group. I lived in a studio for years - if you can't host, choose a restaurant.
3. Name it. This will help everyone remember that it is a Resistance Group. We talk about the Resistance. We talk about Resisting. As long as it stays on related topics, that is fine. But don't let it devolve into a regular social group that has no purpose.
4. No prep work! I do have a component (a book) that is helping build our capacity BUT we have one copy, we read aloud and discuss as we go, meaning that there is NO pre-work. We all have too much to do and I want people to spend their free-time outside of the Symposia actually resisting and keeping updated on the relevant topics, not preparing for the Symposium. Besides, this is, actually, how we used to run symposia - there was no mass production of texts. We sat and read aloud together and discussed. Reading can be incredibly social and it becomes much more awesome that way.
Basically, what I do is that every other Friday, I open my home, I always have something easy to eat (pasta, rotisserie chicken, pre-made pot pie) and people bring food. I always have some wine and people have been bringing some other drinks if they want them. And we get together for a few hours and talk about the Resistance. I have a book that is on a topic useful to the resistance (right now it is Don't Think of an Elephant by Lakoff) that we are passing around the room, reading aloud to the group, and discussing. Now, honestly, after about 15 or more hours of the Symposia, we are on page 12, so, clearly that is not mostly what we are doing. However, several of us have said how even those 12 pages are shaping how we are doing some things and that we are consciously thinking about framing (the topic of the book).
Mostly what we are really doing is:
- Processing the events and sharing information
- Sharing analysis and strategic areas to watch and areas of our individual interests, such as information about Whitford v. Gill, in depth information about the Russian connection, environmental information, data security, etc.
- Sharing our various experiences in Resistance - what we are doing, what effects we are seeing, and reflecting on them
- Sharing opportunities - such as information about making calls for special elections, including local state legislature elections in red and purple areas
- Sharing resources (e.g. this is the best place to buy pocket constitutions, it is cheaper to order a ton of post-cards to send to Congress and local representatives than to buy them or print yourself)
- Sharing information from other groups that are engaged in the Resistance and linking people up to training, opportunities, or others who have special knowledge, skills, connections
- Strategizing and trying to think through short and long-term priorities
- Reaffirming our patriotism, our love and care for our communities, our nation, the earth, the vulnerable, and our willingness to STAND UP in their defense
- Communal, social, human support. This is huge. We are talking openly about our fears, our wounds from past oppression, our hopes, our dreams and all of this, ALL OF THIS, openly discussed in a group of people who are also part of the Resistance fortifies our resolve in profound ways.
Now, in the Symposia of the Resistance, we are not, at least at this point, taking specific action TOGETHER. We have a bunch of people who are involved in a bunch of actions, who are involved with other groups, and there are subgroups of us are working together on specific actions. However, in your group, you could decide that you are strategically planning and taking action as a group. We are beginning to consider if we want to link up with a Sister District in a purple or red area: https://www.sisterdistrict.com.
Call to Action
If you are not in a group like this, really, consider creating one. It will help your resilience, it will build resilience in others, it will strengthen your community, and all of that is needful work.