The Big Bang of Collective Action: The Weaving of Age
This is part of “The Big Bang of Collective Action”, a nonlinear list essay by me, Jason Wyman, Impact Producer for The Alliance for Media Arts and Culture. It captures in its simple complexity the breadth of The Alliance’s Youth Media Collective Action Initiative.
Each “bullet” in the list contains both a visual code and a story. Some stories are metaphor. Some are poetry. Others are summaries. And even one is a worksheet. It is my humble attempt to synthesize the collective and manifest its wisdom in the form that works best for that collective wisdom.
“The Big Bang of Collective Action” is meant to be read in whatever manner moves you. At the end of this post is a visual table of contents. Click whichever CODE catches your eye or makes you want to click.
And please know, “ The Big Bang of Collective Action” is also a tool. It is meant to be used. So please interact with it by clicking links, leaving a comment, sharing it with a friend, sketching an idea, recording a video response, and/ or writing your own post.
The Alliance’s Youth Media Collective Action Initiative is produced by Myah Overstreet (20) and me (40) with guidance by Wendy Levy (50+), The Alliance’s Executive Director. The three of us are an intergenerational team working together through shared leadership to shape and implement the processes, directions, and outcomes of the Collective Action Initiative. With multiple generations participating equitably in the formative / creative process, we instill that which we want manifest through the Collective Action Initiative: shared leadership across age.
To achieve this outcome, though, we have to find the connective tissues between age. This connective tissue does not come from strategy. It comes from stories. So at each meeting, we share stories, learn more about each other as artists and citizens, and break bread. As we share and eat, we find ways to harness the varied (and sometimes divergent) ideas we have into more coordinated and strategic development. This includes finding opportunities to bring the stories shared via people engaging with the Collective Action Initiative into the greater work of The Alliance. There is a synergy where the individual relationships cultivated help strengthen not just the work of the Collective Action Initiative, but The Alliance overall.
Grounded in relationship building first and outcomes second (at both the organizational table — Myah, Wendy, and me — and within the broader network — the hosts of dinners, people on Video Roundtables, those who attended The Alliance’s Conference in June 2016, members, etc.), we allow for ideas, actions, and opportunities to emerge that are grounded in people and not just institutions. This grounding in people helps create deep connections to individuals dedicated to working towards larger collective actions, actions that are rooted in desired futures and not just a singular industry / sector / field.
The best metaphor for this action is weaving. Each dinner is a thread. So too is each Video Roundtable, planning meeting, phone call, and article / blog post. Together, these individual threads will create a fabric that can be cut, stitched, and made into forms both beautiful and functional.
And just like thread, there are many hands / resources needed to make each individual thread. Is the thread wool, and therefore needs to be shorn and spun before going into the loom? Is it cotton, and therefore needs to first be picked, washed, spun into string, and then twisted into thread? Is it a new material, one that yields something strong and synthetic?
The Collective Action Initiative is just about to sit down at the loom. It has started discovering the threads, began building the loom, and is experimenting with patterns for weaving. It is an iterative process made better through continually engaging people from its network and within the organizational leadership along every step of the way asking for feedback to make the loom better, the thread stronger, the pattern more cutting edge.
What will be made? Who will help make it? What are the commitments to getting that thing made? These are all questions without answers yet. And the conditions to discover ones that equitably support both the individual and collective are already in play.