With Guest Athena Adkins
Many people understand abolitionism as something connected to the effort to end chattel slavery in the US that ended with the Civil War and Emancipation. In this episode of the podcast, Beth is joined by LaDonna Sanders Redmond to discuss modern day abolitionism as a paradigm for healing our institutional systems and ourselves from oppression.
LaDonna’s TedX Talk: Food + Justice = Democracy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydZfSuz-Hu8
My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending our Hearts and Bodies Resmaa Menaken https://bookshop.org/books/my-grandmother-s-hands-racialized-trauma-and-the-pathway-to-mending-our-hearts-and-bodies-9781942094470/9781942094470
LaDonna’s reading/discussion group: Abolitionist Virtual Community. https://columinate.coop/events/abolitionists
I am honored that this episode of the podcast is launched in partnership with Valarie Kaur’s People’s Inauguration https://
To discuss how to do this, in this episode I am joined by my friends and colleagues Kerrian Suarez, Executive Director of Equity in the Center, and Andrew Plumley, Director of Inclusion at the American Alliance of Museums and Board member of Equity in the Center. Our conversation was recorded just a week after the insurrection at the U.S. Capital. We discuss the background and the implications of the rise of more visible and radicalized white nationalist violence, and how to support people, organizations, and social systems at this critical time to move from awake, to woke, to work to put racial equity at the center of transformational progressive change.
Beth welcomes Nisha Anand from Dream Corps to the Beth Zemsky Podcast.
Links for more:
For this episode, Beth catches up with her longtime friends Antonio Cardona, LaCora Bradford Kesti, and Ernest Comer – three of the people who have been instrumental in the impact Public Allies Twin Cities has been making in the lives of young people and the broader community for the last ten years.
We dig into the history of the organization, the work they’ve done over the years, and about Beth’s involvement with the organization during key movement moments over the past decade.
We talk about the importance of leadership development, the pressure often felt by leaders to lead and rise to any given moment, how this pressure can sometimes by rooted in internalized oppression, and how penguins provide a great example for us in helping us shift our mindset around these concepts.
We also spend a few minutes chatting with the team about their plans and ambitions for the future, their current individual projects, and the way Public Allies has influenced the work they’re doing now and the work they plan to lead going forward.
Click the links to learn more about Ernest’s book, LaCora and Ernest’s work on Black Centered Design, more about the African American Leadership Forum and Antonio’s work at Pillsbury United Communities.
For this episode, via Zoom from California, Beth welcomes her old friend and colleague, civil rights attorney, writer, filmmaker, activist, and current world-changer, Valarie Kaur.
With her new book, See No Stranger (www.SeeNoStranger.com), hot off the press, and the Revolutionary Love Project (www.RevolutionaryLoveProject.com) she founded going viral online, we catch up with Valarie for a unique, intimate chat between friends about her work, her new book, and how it all came to be. Valerie shares with us, in a candid and effortlessly authentic way, about what first called her to activism, how her Sikh faith has shaped and influenced her work, and how the concept of Revolutionary Love has seen her through some of the darkest and most transitional moments of her life.
This episode will challenge you in ways that are perfectly timed for the movement moment we are currently working though. With Beth providing us the context as someone who has seen many movement cycles like the one we’re in now, whether you’re new to movement work, a lifelong activist, or transitioning from one form of movement work to another, Valarie offers us up her deepest wisdom, in a way that will speak directly to yours, no matter where you are in your journey.
Valarie’s book is available online now at www.SeeNoStranger.com. Get a copy for yourself and buy a copy for that special highly-experienced or aspiring activist in your life. Or… as a special gift from Beth, share your thoughts about this episode or Valerie’s work on Facebook (be sure to use the hashtags #BethZemskyPodcast and #SeeNoStranger), and email a copy of your post and your contact information to email@example.com. If you’re one of the first ten folks to do so, you’ll get a FREE copy of the book signed by Valarie, courtesy of the Beth Zemsky Podcast!
In our first ever Zoom episode of the Beth Zemsky Podcast (and our second one featuring Beth’s dog, Bert), we focus in on how opportunities for introspection and systemic change are often brought about by crisis. We talk about how crisis can often reveal things about ourselves and our organizations that we’d maybe rather not see, and about the temptation to leverage whatever privilege we might have to simply look the other way. We talk about how crisis can disrupt entrenched power structures and about how taking inventory of our ideas about diversity and inclusion can be even more important during crisis than when we think things are going smoothly. We also talk briefly about Beth’s experience working in the early days of HIV, and about the impact it had on the work she does today. We talk about the importance of being intentional in identifying the opportunities presented to us by this or any other crisis, and how the movement work we’re called to in times of crisis can be some of the most important work there is.
For more on this topic from Beth, check out this recent blog she wrote for the Dodge Foundation at: https://blog.grdodge.org/2020/05/08/dodge-ta-implementing-diversity-inclusion-and-equity-during-a-pandemic
In this episode of the podcast, we talk with Beth’s longtime friend and colleague Cynthia Zwicky about the ancient tradition and emerging movement work field of Restorative Justice. While we talk about Cynthia’s experience primarily within the context of the education system, we also reflect on how the practice of restorative justice can provide a vital foundation for much of the social justice work we do. We also discussed how institutionalized power and privilege in the pursuit of justice often results in prioritizing the peace and comfort of those in power rather then well being of the community as a whole. Finally, Cynthia shares her experience first bringing restorative methodologies to her North Minneapolis school, the challenges she faced in doing so, and the ultimate successes her school achieved as a result.
Beth also catches us up on what she’s been up to so far this decade, what she’s got coming up, how to get in on her upcoming “Facilitating Cultural Change” workshop, and gives us a sneak preview of our next few episodes.
For more on the topic of Restorative Justice, check out the links Cynthia provided us with below:
Minnesota Department of Education: Restorative Practices
Living Justice Press
Cynthia wrote a chapter in this book (Chapter 4) that talks about the journey of implementing restorative practices in two school districts.
This book has great stories of implementing the circle process in schools.
And here’s a link to register for Beth’s workshop, Facilitating Cultural Change:
On today’s episode, we tackle the huge topic of leadership with Beth’s longtime friend and colleague, former Executive Director of the Headwaters Foundation for Justice, David Nicholson. We take a bit of a “thinking-out-loud” approach to the topic and frame it within the scope of the many kinds of leadership currently on display in this country in different arenas, and about the impact they’re having on the movement moment we’re in.
We talk about how various parts of our identities can impact our individual styles of leadership, how leadership doesn’t always look like or need to look like we might be accustomed to seeing it, and about the role of followers in effective community leadership. We talk about accountability, responsibility, leadership as a relationship with the people we’re leading, accepting feedback and criticism with grace and gratitude, how basing leadership on listening, empathy, and identifying and creating shared values is usually not a terrible place for any leader to start… and we only just scratched the surface!
We also talk briefly about Beth’s just announced Facilitating Cultural Change workshop this coming April. Be sure to check out Beth’s website for more information!
In this episode, Beth sits down with her longtime friend and colleague, Dave Mann for a chat about the emerging and evolving individual and collective narratives of the upcoming 2020 Presidential Election. We talk about what messaging is gaining traction, what isn’t, and what’s maybe just starting to. We talk about how this election already echos elections past in some ways and about the opportunities that some candidates might have to potentially pull away from the fray by framing their messaging in the values behind their positions on the issues. We talk about why leading with an anti-Trump narrative is a problem, we touch briefly on a few of the candidates who are doing a few things right, and talk about why and how all of this matters in the larger scope of movement building beyond just the upcoming election.
Resources referenced in this episode:
Grassroots Policy Project: https://grassrootspolicy.org/
Building Organizations in a Movement Moment (the article Dave & Beth wrote): https://bethzemsky.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Building-organizations-in-a-movement-moment.pdf
Social Movement Organizational Strategic Planning: https://bethzemsky.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Social-Movement-Organization-Strategic-Planning.pdf
Stewardship, Justice, & Democracy – An example of values based framing from the Land Stewardship Project: https://landstewardshipproject.org/posts/1220
New Social Contract – Organizing by values: https://bethzemsky.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/New-Social-Contract-Organizing-by-values-.pdf
LSP Narrative case study – https://grassrootspolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/ANarrativeOfRuralAbundance.pdf
A special bonus on location edition of The Beth Zemsky Podcast featuring Barbara Satin and Rebecca Voelkel. Together, they and Beth celebrate 195 years of collective activism along with a room full of their closest friends while raising funds to support the important work of the National LGBTQ Task Force.
Buckle up for an all-star edition of the Beth Zemsky Podcast as Beth welcomes back Rev. Dr. Rebecca Voelkel and welcomes for the first time to the podcast, community icon Barbara Satin. Together, we reflect on their collective 195 years of service and activism as we approach their triple birthday bash and fundraiser for the National LGBTQ Task Force on May 30th, 2019. We talk about what brought each of them to activism so many years ago, some of their earliest activist experiences, how those early experiences shaped who they are now, and their thoughts on the future of the Progressive movement. We talk about the importance of recognizing the shoulders upon which each of us stand in our work, carrying the mantle and memory of those we meet along the way, and the process of realizing and learning to accept our eventual roles as role models to the next generation of activists. We also talk about our tendency to sometimes “silo” ourselves into issues, ideologies, and generations, and about the power in breaking through these barriers. We wrap with thoughts on the legacies that Beth, Barbara and Rebecca each want to leave, along with an assurance that neither one of them is anywhere near finished yet. We also include details about the birthday fundraiser at the end of May and how you can join us to both celebrate and help support the National LGBTQ Task Force.
In this episode, we sit down with Beth’s longtime friend and comrade Rox Anderson, Director of the Minnesota Transgender Health Coalition and Rare Productions. We touch briefly on a few of the complexities surrounding the recent events involving Minnesota State Representative Ilhan Omar and talk about how moments like these can be leveraged by outside forces to create polarization and division between and within various marginalized communities. We talk about Rox’s recently awarded Bush Fellowship, their vision for an LGBTQ Center in Minneapolis, their work addressing inequities within LGBTQ POC communities, a brand new comic book in the works featuring real-life Transgender-identified superheroes and much more. Beth also talks about her next workshop with Phyllis Braxton and reveals some big news about her upcoming birthday bash/fundraiser with a couple of her longtime friends.
Happy Hanukkah! In this episode we sit down with Beth’s longtime friend and colleague Susan Raffo to talk about Healing Justice. We talk about its history, how the concept itself is rooted in the ancient wisdom of cultures around the world, and how it’s just recently begun to gain greater visibility in the broader Social Justice movement in the United States, thanks largely to the work of Queer Black women in the South combating the lasting effects of the legacy of slavery.
We talk about how healing has traditionally been understood in Western and American society and offer some alternatives to the parts of this understanding that continue to contribute to the very things we aspire to heal – both on an individual level and collectively. We also discuss a few ways that practitioners of all kinds can integrate Healing Justice concepts into their work and how anyone can implement it in their daily lives.
We also talk briefly about Beth’s upcoming Facilitating Cultural Change workshop and her all new website!
Roll up your sleeves and join us for a deep-dive discussion of a heavy topic that might actually be a lot simpler on some levels than it seems to be, and that in a lot of ways couldn’t be more timely.
In this episode, we talk about the state of our democracy, our world, the challenges our communities are facing from inside and out, and what we as individuals feeling lost in the middle of it all… can do about it. We also talk about how the lessons and traditions from the Jewish High Holidays (and really, most religious traditions) can help us find peace, community, forgiveness, our way back to those we’ve alienated and a calling to be our best selves. We talk about how even with the best intentions, we can often “miss our mark” – as individuals and as a community – and how that’s okay.
We talk about how putting each other through ideological perfection tests is always a losing battle, as everyone of us, at some point, will fail. We also talk about how as bad as things might feel right now, and as much as it might look on cable news like our movements might be starting to fracture from within… things might not actually be as bad as they seem – and it might actually be nothing new.
We also touch briefly on Nike’s “Believe in Something…” campaign with Colin Kaepernick and how its core message reflects something Movement Builders have been saying and doing for a long time.
Join us for a special “thinking out loud” edition of the Beth Zemsky Podcast and let us know how your faith tradition or values frame drives your work and helps you find focus, accountability, forgiveness, a calling to be your best self, and guides you back to others when you fall.
In this episode, we talk Narrative Strategy with Beth’s colleague Eleonore Wesserle, Communications Consultant and founder of the new Narrative Strategy Consulting firm Dreams To Power.
We talk about Eleonore’s “Now Wow How” issue framing system and how it can be used to maximize our Movement Building work. We also apply some basic Narrative Strategy concepts to some current events and suggest a few alternatives to some of the dominant Progressive narratives around them employing the “Now Wow How” system.
In Episode 8, we talk about the events taking place around immigration, Trump’s performance in North Korea, the trend of celebrities reinforcing polarization by responding to hate with hate, the media’s obsession with the Mueller investigation (to the exclusion of other news), the Right’s most recent attack on pre-existing conditions, the increasing radicalization of the Right at the Primary level, and more.
We also cover the annual “Night of a New Day” event at the Kaleo Center and talk about “The Opposite of Hate”, Beth’s most recent book recommendation.
Welcome to a very special edition of The Beth Zemsky Podcast! For episode 7, we venture deep into the caverns below the University of Minnesota on an epic quest to officially archive the first 6 episodes of The Beth Zemsky Podcast, and to commemorate Episode 100 of The Twin Cities Pride Podcast. For our expedition, we bring along Beth’s longtime friend and colleague, Lisa Vecoli, Curator of The Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection in GLBT Studies, to help us tell the story of how this archive, that documents and preserves LGBT culture and movement building, came into being.
We also talk about the importance of archiving and other forms of cultural work as vital to supporting long-term social change.
We close the episode setting the stage for the next 6 episodes of the Beth Zemsky Podcast by talking a little about where we’ve been so far and about where all of the deep intersectional movement energy in our country right now might be leading us.
In this episode, Beth talks about the recent Facilitating Cultural Change workshop, her experience at the 30th Annual Creating Change Conference sponsored by the LGBTQ Task Force, the truth behind Trump’s “booming” economy narrative, and other slight-of-hand tactics that the Right continues to engage in behind the smokescreen of the day-to-day distractions and trauma. In the curriculum segment, we talk about Beth’s recent trip to Northern Minnesota to speak with leaders of Rural Non-Profits about doing Equity work in this current polarized climate. We then discuss some concrete tips for building dialogue and relationships with others in a way that undermines the “Us vs. Them” ideology that leads to polarization.
Click here to download the .PDF document referred to in this episode!
Beth and Phyllis talk about how organizations can work towards equity and make a difference in their communities through Intercultural Organizational Development. Along the way, we also briefly discuss Net Neutrality, the CDC’s list of newly banned words, the Alabama Senate race, and reacting to trauma in a polarized world. Beth and Phyllis also share about the importance of practitioners connecting with others in their space and how trainers can elevate their skill sets by taking part in the upcoming workshop Facilitating Cultural Change in January 2018.
A special double-length episode with Rev. Dr. Rebecca Voelkel. Beth and Rebecca reflect on lessons regarding values-based intersectional movement building that they gleaned from their history of faith-based organizing. They also talk about the implications of these lessons for secular organizers in this time of deep polarization, particularly the difference we each can make through Graceful Engagement.