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Jam Principles

The core of our work at the Jams is to create a space where inspiring young change-makers can build community, and together forge bridges of solidarity and partnership towards the creation of a thriving, just and sustainable world for all. To us, friendship is the very root system of rapidly emerging movements for positive change. These eight core principles guide the Jams:


  1. ALL ISSUES ARE CONNECTED and CENTRAL: The Jam does not seek to push any particular issue or position, but to hold space for and honor the intermingling and contrast of a diversity of issues. We believe that the more aware we are of other people’s work and how it connects to ours, the more effective we are.


  1. CONNECTING THE DOTS: When some of us were children we used to love to play the connect the dots game. Probably because it was so simple. The full and complete picture was already there. A series of dots that, when connected, formed the outline of a picture. When we first saw one, we may have been very confused. It looked like chaos. There was no order to it. But then someone showed us how the dots connected. The movement for social change is too big for any one of us to imagine taking on. Each one of us is a moving dot on this page. Every new idea for the healing of this planet is a dot. Every new network, group or business that is committed to a better world is another dot. The Jams connect some of those dots.


  1. SUFFICIENCY: As mass marketing and advertising sweeps the globe with its endless message that “you aren’t enough unless you buy our product” we believe that it is a radical stance to believe that there is enough and that we are enough. We don’t have to wait for anything or anyone to feel powerful and to take effective action. We believe that every person on earth is whole and complete. We believe that our work is stronger when we build out of what we do have instead of what we don’t have. The Jams are rooted in honoring the sufficiency in each person. We believe that it is possible to create a world that works for everybody; a world where everyone wins. We do our best to create the Jams as a space where everyone can win, where everyone feels honored for who they are and what they bring.


  1. INNER WISDOM: In a world vying for our energy and attention, it can be supremely difficult to stay centered. It is so easy to give in to the flow of events around us. The Jams work to create a space where people can reconnect to their own inner authority, to what matters most to them. We believe that people, if they take the time to listen to themselves, know what is best for them and will do the best they can, given the resources they have. We affirm people’s intuition as well as their reason. We believe that decisions made from a place of inspiration will universally be more healing than choices made from a sense of obligation. It is often the sense that weshould do something that we don’t want to that ends up distracting us from that still small voice of our inspiration and conscience. So many conflicts in the world are fought over “the truth” as decided by outer authority. We hold that people can speak their personal truth and share their honest feelings without imposing them on others. At the Jams we honor this inner wisdom by asking that we each speak only for ourselves and from our own experience.


  1. COMMUNITY IS BUILT ON SAFE SPACE and TRUST: We believe that the movement for better world is first and foremost a web of people, not a book of concepts. And the stronger each strand of trust in this web is, the more resilient the web becomes. We are much stronger and smarter together as a community than we are as individuals. We understand that no one group, person or network holds the whole truth. Truth is, by its nature, collective. But to work together collectively we need to remember that the movement is made up of people with relationships, and relationships require trust. Trust is the foundation of effective collaboration. We believe that the basis of creating trust is to create a safe space. We believe that the roots of true community and safe space are uncompromising truth and unconditional love.


  1. THE FINE ART OF HANGING OUT: We believe that building community requires human to human contact on a small scale. We’ve found that a group of no more than 30 works ideally for our purposes. We believe that you can’t build a sustainable activist community with a list-serve. It takes some serious hanging out together and the Jams are seven days of intensive ‘hanging out’. The most highly rated sessions at many conferences are the coffee breaks. We have found, again and again, that there is a power in coming together to hang out and build relationships. It’s covert activism. It’s building deep foundations. It’s pausing to let the roots of our activism sink into the deeper waters that will sustain us. We are human beings, not human doings.


  1. NONVIOLENCE: We honor a diversity of tactics and strategies in the struggle for a world of peace, justice and sustainability. In our work, we advocate for the principle and active implementation of nonviolent resistance to systems of exploitation and injustice. We believe, with Cesar Chavez, Mahatma Gandhi, Rosa Parks, and many other successful social change activists, that non-violence is a powerful strategic method for addressing the roots of the fear, greed and violence that plague our times. When properly applied, we believe that nonviolence has a unique capacity to awaken the conscience of adversaries and turn enemies into friends, and that it is a potent and even revolutionary commitment. We envision a world that works for everyone; even those who would, in the current context, oppress others for their own perceived gain. We believe that no one is free until everyone is free, and that material gain at the expense of others leads to a poverty of the spirit. While a world where everyone wins may be far off, we affirm that it is possible, and in fact, necessary.


  1. SOLIDARITY: The Jams support bridges of solidarity and partnership being built across the lines of historic (and often current) separation, including race, class, gender, religion, geography, and area of focus. Fundamental to this work is the recognition that we are facing profound injustices and savage inequities in our world today, and that certain people have received material benefit, while others have been profoundly marginalized by the oppressions of our times. Also fundamental to this work is the belief that injustice hurts all of us, and that building a world that works for everybody will take all of us. This is easier said than done. Years of prejudice, ignorance and hurt often prevent us from completely hearing one another and relating as human beings and allies. This is the distinction between charity and solidarity. Charity was once defined as love in action. Sadly, at its worst, modern charity says, “Let’s go help those people, over there, with their problems.” Charity, by itself, can diminish the ‘giver’s’ own connection with and responsibility for the problem. It can even be used to justify the privileges that come at the expense of others. This is not to downplay the important role charitable acts and giving play in the world. Charity is vital, but it is not enough. Charity is made complete when it is grounded in solidarity. Solidarity is not an action you can take, so much as a stand you can embody. It is grounded in partnership. While charity may help those on trial by the system, solidarity may put the system on trial. It not only gives resources, but it actively works to change the very systems that unfairly put resources into the hands of some at the expense of others. Solidarity says, “I don’t want to benefit unfairly from a system that is unjust.” It knows that “If you’ve come because you want to help me, you’re wasting your time. If you’ve come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” We are all hurt by the oppressive cultures we live in, in different ways, sometimes economically and sometimes spiritually. Solidarity is borne of knowing that we are all connected, and so the choice of ‘us’ versus ‘them’ is a false one. We choose to serve one another because we know that to serve others is to serve ourselves. What harms anyone harms everyone. No one is truly free until everyone is free.