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April 2021: Radical Action Circle

April 2021: Radical Action Circle

April 2021: Radical Action Circle

By: Abby Twyman   |   April 11, 2021

April is Autism Acceptance Month and the full moon this month is called the Pink Moon which is a name that "was used by the Algonquin tribe" in reference to the time of year "when the moss pink, or wild ground phlox, is in blossom".

This month during Radical Action Circle, we are focusing our conversation and action planning around Anti-Ableist Activism. We welcomed a few honored guests on the podcast this month who shared their perspectives on how we can work collectively toward realizing our shared vision of a world in which everyone is provided the supports they need to live a life of their choosing.

Our Honored Guests

Harry Hirsh

Sarah Alford Hart

Rachel Cullen

Reflections, Questions, and Actions from Gathering #1

Our crew gathered on April 10th, 2021, to set our intentions for this cycle.

Guiding Questions for this Cycle

  • What is ableism? How can we operationally define it? What does it look, sound, and feel like? How will you know when you witness it?
  • How are the problems in the educational, mental health, and behavioral health systems related to ableism, male dominance and white supremacy?
  • Where are biases evident in our systems? How could we course correct?
  • What would a fully liberated, self-sustaining community look like?
  • What programs should be adopted system-wide?
  • How will we know we’re on track?
  • How will we navigate course corrections?

Reflections and Questions from our Crew

  • Who are the people and organizations working to effect change?  What are they doing and how can we help?  How can we amplify their work and push for more robust and sustained change efforts?  
  • How can I take ownership of my past behaviors and non-behaviors? Can we do better?  Can we make that more widely heard? 
  • If we don’t have a common goal that’s beneficial for everybody, then what are we even designing the system for?
  • What are the steps to learning and becoming good at systems design? How do we provide opportunities for them to grow and develop those skills?
  • How do we construct that identity?  What are the steps?  How do we guide people on that path, if they need or want to do it?
  • What are the scarcities, disasters, stagnation, and conflict?  How do they manifest in the problem?

Committed Actions

  • We will read Ten Guidelines for Strategic Social Action in order to review core activist strategies. 
  • We will complete the guides provide by ADR: Anti-Ableism 101 in order to fully engage.
  • We'll look at a framework for examining our assumptions at our next gathering.  
  • I will empower people with articles on background mindset and observation mindset, and reach out to people to see if they’d like to talk about how to apply these concepts to their situations.
  • I will investigate what constructive non-compliance would look like in the field. 
  • I will research Sigrid Glenn’s approach and Israel Goldiamond’s nonlinear approach.

Reflections, Questions, and Actions from Gathering #2

Our crew gathered on 4/17/2021 to explore possibilities for our development as Anti-Ableism Activists.

Reflections and Questions from Our Crew

  • How can we calibrate our awareness of stagnation?
  • If we’re to be “victorious”, what are we replacing “fear, degradation, and control” with that will lead to victory? 
  • If we redefine who we think of as educators, what do they need to know?  What mindsets do they need and how can we help them develop that?
  • Building up from the basic mindsets: analysis, synthesis, semantics, and empathy, how does that work for education?  
  • How do people negotiate?  
  • Can we fit the concept proposed by Harry of individual grants into the education system somehow?  
  • What if we had a role based on tactics and facilitation, to help set people up with what they need? 

Committed Actions

Reflections, Questions, and Actions from Gathering #3

Our crew gathered on 4/24/2021 to make decisions about actions to take at the Me, We, and Us systems levels, share our perspectives regarding the next right actions for ourselves, our families, and our communities, and release our intentions.

Reflections and Questions from Our Crew

  • It's hard to know how or what to celebrate, even small things and small actions can be celebrated. We call that “reinforcing approximations to the goal” in the behavioral sciences.  
  • Applied practice is evolving towards a more humanistic behavioral science, particularly with Scott Geller’s work which starts with care, compassion, and humanity.    
  • During one of my parent training sessions, I coached parents through a 2.5-hour extinction burst. My advice was to just ignore the child, that everything would be fine.  I can’t imagine the memories the child has of that.  We need to come to terms with these things that we’ve supported, that have caused damage and continue to cause damage, and that’s one of the reasons why autistic people are against what we do.  We need to change the narrative, to make sure we’re not doing these things ourselves, and to push back against other people doing them.  It’s very ableist and oppressive.  
  • I’ve been struggling with understanding what people want specifically rather than abstractly.  Most people don’t want to change the world; they just want normal things in life.  Many people are afraid of people changing what they want because they’re afraid that people will stop wanting to contribute towards maintaining the systems we’re used to. 
  • I don’t have to be afraid because what I do doesn’t depend on what other people want, but that also means I don’t know how to help them and establish and maintain relationships of support.  
  • I had some experiences similar with an extinction burst that was an hour-long.  Now it seems insane, and I can’t believe I bought into it, but that’s what compliance and following the rules will do. 
  • I’ve transitioned from a rule-follower to “abolish the systems and start from scratch.”  I don’t have letters yet, so I’ve struggled with whether my opinion carries any weight, but now I see that it does and I can call people out on it.  Minimum qualification for behavioral analysis is important, but that hasn’t protected me from harm.  I’m grateful to be here with other people who care.  
  • Can we teach others about the Foundational Toolbox for Life? 
  • Can we teach others systems design? 
  • Can we teach others how to define themselves? 
  • Can we teach others to define their own priorities and goals, as part of figuring out their identity? 
  • Can we teach people to create grant proposals for funding? 
  • Could we support people on their individualized paths, as guides to help with this framework, to help them in a more person-centered way? 
  • Could we possibly put together a comprehensive package including things like collaborative and proactive solutions, RIE parenting, the Morningside model of generative instruction (Kent Johnson), direct instruction and precision teaching and standard celeration charts (various), actively caring for people (Scott Geller), and 6 box performance management (Carl Binder)?  
  • Can I focus on incremental change as a victory in and of itself, instead of just a sign pointing towards an ultimate destination? 
  • Can we focus on building constructive systems that are based on specific goals to ensure social validity, which are still able to change as people’s goals change?
  • Can I spread ideas to people and also take actions that align with spreading their value, so they can have that positive change and will be inspired to do the same for others? 
  • Tiny Habits is a book about helping people do what they already want to do.  Can we help people spread this change on a larger scale? 
  • I started reading The Explosive Child and am very excited.  Trying to approach humans from a place of compassion and cooperation rather than opposition.  When someone does something we don’t like, we assume XYZ is wrong with their character, but people do well if they can.  
  • We live in a world of human beings, but there are subgroups who have different goals.  Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: If we’re not attuned to what’s important to the individual, and we just look at the fundamentals of what everyone needs, we’ll miss a lot. 
  • Skill-building strategies that help people do what they want to do are an important direction to go.  
  • Most people do want peace.  I heard a child say something once: “This is all fine and well, but nothing is going to change.”  If that’s how we approach these conversations, we’re already behind.  How do we shift that narrative?  Only by demonstrating that things can change.  If we focus our resources on the high-priority things, we can get small wins that generate momentum.  We can get steps in the right direction.  “Reinforcing approximations to the goal.” We all need to learn how to celebrate these!

Committed Actions

  • Establish a list of the specific ideas and concepts that need to be consolidated into a systematic plan. The end goal being able to help people see where they fit within the redesigned system, to then generate more growth and help people build momentum and take the things they want but haven’t been able to act upon yet, and see the path forward and their role in that. 
  • Become a member of communities: intellectual, local, cultural, professional.
  • Find a present that is satisfying instead of only chasing after a future.
  • Take on challenges and get stronger without catastrophic failure.  A failed attempt can be a reward.
  • Find stable, supportive systems, or build them.  Systems that aren't zero-sum, and that don't create escalating power disparities.
  • Stop people being confused.  Empower them with understanding.
  • Educate people about the pervasiveness of ableism, by sharing reading materials with colleagues and friends.  It will help shift their worldview.
  • Participate in regular community activities.  People generally want similar things, like peace, a safe place to live, food and shelter, et cetera, to be happy and free in one’s environment.
  • Make time to read the books shared by the honored guests, and to help share the work they’ve done that will change people’s worldviews and how the world works.
  •  Be present.  First, you need to be there so you can listen and observe.  If you’re limiting the information stream by not putting yourself out there and taking those risks, doing things even though they’re hard, in the presence of strong feelings, then we’re not going to have any sort of impact.

Reflections, Questions, and Actions from Gathering #4

During our final gather on 5/1/2021, we shared with the circle the committed actions we are taking or plan to take and accepted feedback from the collective wisdom generated within the circle, we collectively contributed to the Radical Action Plan, surrendered our intentions to the universe, committed to continued engagement in Anti-Oppressive Action, and express our gratitude to those who shared their wisdom.

Our Additions to the Radical Action Plan

  • Develop an online learning community that specifically utilizes direct instruction and precision teaching to not only teach the basic skills (e.g. reading, writing, math, creative expression, and sciences), but to include things such as the Foundational Toolbox for Life, Appreciative Inquiry, and other related topics.  
  • Engage with Tony Biglan and his Values to Action organization, which is on a whole other level.  He’s connected with several high-level professional organizations, and involvement with this movement provides a unique opportunity to take action. 
  • Reparations to the Nth degree: Harry made a statement on the podcast that individual grants would make a strong case for Universal Basic Income because it would clarify the needs for us all, individually and as a collective, so the government would know what we need and not just what they think we need.  People could drive their own change and get their first level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs met.
  • Learn more about marketing, to reach the people we know are out there waiting for us.  We need to generate more content that is useful and relatable.
  • Get better at using analogies in order to teach. 
  • Continue to affirm myself and show up authentically.  
  • We need to show up for ourselves, to reflect the change. 
  • Being aware of how we may be showing up in non-beneficial ways; we need to reflect on that. 
  • Start thinking of others and how they may perceive what we do and say daily, even/especially when we’re frustrated. 
  • Keep learning and diving deep into these questions.  
  • Showing up ourselves. 
  • Media outlets should stop doing things that are detrimental to society.  People are susceptible to that.  If the big picture isn’t promoting what we’re talking about, movement forward to where we’re trying to go as a society will be slow. 
  • People need to act out of love and push their personal and cultural agendas to the side.  
  • Get comfortable and calibrated with applying organization mindset to yourself, and combine it with empathy to maintain relationships based on understanding what other people want while setting boundaries.  
  • Practice, test, and update the tools we need to help other people with overhauling oppressive systems by replacing them with better ones. 
  • Step into situations, observe them and what people want, offer help, and learn and update from what is less effective than we hope.  
  • Learn to observe and reflect more, but at the same time deliberately lend a hand to people who have made their living on a culture that doesn't do things deliberately.  
  • Distribute 5-minute open mic signs.  Give people opportunities to listen to and be heard by their neighbors, across cultural lines, so they can connect and start doing things as a community again.  
  • Pass out the socioeconomic health survey at the open mic hotspots.  Also, grant proposal forms, and a link to Don’t Read This Book!
  • We need to stop being scared of each other, and living our lives.  Everyone’s afraid of losing things and getting in trouble, and our giant ridiculously complicated system makes inaction safer than action, but if people practiced living and got experience and used it, they’d find they don’t need to be on guard all the time.  There’s a risk, but it’s manageable.  People need to interact in person, even if it’s outdoors.  Hopefully, people will start mending bridges and not being scared of each other.  
  • Throughout human history, the law of the jungle has been the way things are unless we build on it.  If we run on automatic, that’s how it’ll be.  We need to actually try and be creative with solving problems. 

Our Invitation to YOU!!!

Join us for the next cycle of Radical Action Circles during which we will celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month and continue our conversation centered on Anti-Racist, Anti-Sexist, and Anti-Ableist Activism. Our conversation begins on 5/8/2021 at 10:00AM Alaska Time (11PST/2EST). Click here to register (register once for access to all gatherings). Our Honored Guest this month is Akilah S. Richards of Raising Free People and the Unschooling/Self-Directed Education Movement!

Give a Gift of Generative Gratitude!

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