Committed to social change and a better world? Interested in connecting with like-minded people in a deeper way? Need a pause from the daily grind to reflect and regroup? We want to invite YOU — organizers, entrepreneurs, strategists, public officials, students, business leaders, thinkers, activists, builders, artists, educators, researchers, philanthropists, non-profit leaders, and all-around up-standers and visionaries – to join us for the third annual North America Jam!
When: August 17-24, 2014
Where: Santa Cruz, CA
Who: 30 dynamic and committed people (flexibly* ages 18-40)
What: a week of personal reflection, community healing and systemic visioning
APPLY NOW! Final application deadline: July 28, 2014
Our world is at a crossroads. We are in a unique and commemorative moment in history, watching as technology shifts the global culture and the political, economic, and social landscapes continue to change across North America. This decade will mark 50th anniversaries for many of the most visible Civil Rights Movement victories and tragedies. And people everywhere are still hungry for more transformative ideas, new resources, greater leadership, and quicker change. Thus, it is timely for us to come together and utilize this moment to articulate our struggles, passions, and interests and to support the collective change-work being done in our communities.
What Is the North America Jam?
Think of when musicians get together to jam. They meet, experiment, play off of one another, and create beautiful new music. Now imagine instead of music, it was experiences, stories and perspectives being shared… imagine the breakthroughs, insights, revelations and good times emerging from that sharing!
Jams are open-ended and unscripted gatherings of 30 or so changemakers, who spend seven days in the mountains of California reflecting, sharing, building community, and creating new possibilities. Take what you think you know about conferences, retreats, and symposiums and throw it out the window. Each Jam is unique, but you can expect a blend of facilitated dialogue, reflection, play and movement, artistic expression, deep inquiry, games, music, and meaning-making.
What Happens at the Jam?
Jams put forward a radical thought: It is good to slow down. Many of us, who want to make a positive difference in our lives, rarely have the space, or the time, to figure out exactly what ‘being the change’ actually means. The Jam is an opportunity to remedy that. Through a variety of activities, exchanges and just plain hanging out together, we get a chance to get real, go broad and deep, take stock and innovate.
The North America Jam works on three different levels in order to support change: the internal (self), the interpersonal (relationships) and the systemic (the whole). Throughout the week, we get to talk honestly and openly about some of the most difficult topics for us as individuals and as a society: race, gender, class, sexuality, our relationship with money, our relationship with power, our feeling of responsibility, and many other topics.
Who Is Putting the North America Jam together?
Meet the Organizing and Facilitation Team!
Lillian Hanan Al-Bilali has been inspired to deepen her understanding of how diverse communities can become more interconnected and, particularly, how shared experiences create space for dialogue — ever since she participated in the 2010 Leveraging Privilege for Social Change Jam. Since her college years, one of her most consistent passions has been issues of youth empowerment. Her student activism at Hampton University focused on societal inequalities especially in regards to substandard education and high incarceration rates for youth of color. Following graduation, Hanan became an administrator at Children’s Arts and Science Workshops (CASW), a non-profit agency in New York City. Here, she mentored young people from the Washington Heights and Harlem communities by preparing them for college and for the work force. Currently living in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Hanan has recently received her Masters in Social Work from the University of Michigan. Her concentration in Social Policy and Evaluations allows her to focus on strengthening services offered through the non-profit sector at the state and local levels. She continues to make people her priority as a committed collaborator with organizations and initiatives that support underrepresented communities throughout the Ann Arbor area.
Austin Willacy is a critically acclaimed singer/songwriter who has toured extensively throughout the U.S and Europe as a member of The House Jacks, a multi-award winning a cappella rock band featured on The Sing-Off on NBC and on Monday Night Football on ESPN. He is the director of ‘Til Dawn, Youth in Arts’ award-winning teen a cappella group and has facilitated over 35 youth retreats. Austin has also co-facilitated four Leveraging Privilege for Social Change Jams for YES! and served on the board of Rainforest Action Network for four years and is in his sixth year of service on the board of the Freight & Salvage. He donates his musical talent to a wide range of educational, social and environmental organizations.
Katie Greenman is an activist, facilitator and academic. As a doctoral student in Human Development at Tufts University, Katie focuses on how our social and emotional development shapes who we are, and the importance of self-awareness, shame-awareness, self-acceptance, social connectedness and community. For ten years, Katie has co-created and facilitated experiential workshops and presentations that focus on self-expression, interpersonal communication, expanding social consciousness, and leveraging privilege for social change. Most recently, she serves as one of the Founding Directors of Invest in Yourself @ Nexus (IY@N), an initiative whose mission is to promote the social-emotional well-being, personal coherence and purpose journey of individuals engaged in next-gen philanthropy and social entrepreneurship for more sustainable impact. She also serves on the National Board of Directors for Challenge Day. Through academia, workshops, coaching and interactions, she aims to model and inspire others to embrace our humanness, tear down the walls that separate us from ourselves and each other, prioritize our own well-being and fill life with more humility, levity and compassion. She believes that the collaboration of fully realized individuals is our most powerful tool in creating a healthy, just and sustainable world.
Ashoka Finley works on issues concerning energy, food, and sustainability community scale. He works both locally and internationally in an effort to find shared best practices. In his life and projects, he seeks to connect diverse groups of people along common lines with dialogue and inclusiveness. His dedication to the empowerment and liberation of all people makes him determined to develop greater capacity within himself to be open and caring in every endeavor in his life.
Will Grant was the co-founder and Executive Director for 10 years of BLAST, a multicultural organization that developed networks of leaders from marginalized communities to democratize education and social service systems in New Mexico. He was the national trainer for VALUE, developing democratic education systems in 10 states. He just left a gig on the other side of the class divide, working at a progressive High School to teach the children of privilege how to use their social position to design a world that integrates environmental regeneration, multiculturalism and participatory democracy. His current project is the Community Pungwe, a yearly gathering of change makers to integrate our work in ecology, the arts, law, education, spirituality, healing, and body-mind consciousness. The Pungwe develops networks to generate a new culture and the systems to make the world just, beautiful and a lot more fun.
Shilpa Jain is currently rooting herself in Berkeley, CA, where she serves as the Executive Director of YES!. Prior to taking on this role, Shilpa spent two years working as the Education and Outreach Coordinator of Other Worlds and ten years as a learning activist with Shikshantar: The Peoples’ Institute for Rethinking Education and Development, based in Udaipur, India. Shilpa has researched, written numerous books and articles, facilitated workshops and hosted gatherings on topics ranging from globalization, creative expressions, ecology, democratic living, innovative learning and unlearning. She had been the main coordinator of the Swapathgami (Walkouts-Walkons) Network for five years. She is passionate about dance and music, organic and natural farming, upcycling and zero waste living, asking appreciative questions and being in community. All of her work seeks to uncover ways for people to free themselves from dominating, soul-crushing institutions and to live in greater alignment with their hearts and deepest values, their local communities, and with nature.
Sounds Great! How Do I Get Involved?
If you like what you have seen, the time to apply is now. You can find the application here. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis, until the final deadline of July 28, 2014.
Tuition to participate in the Jam is $1000, of which $500 covers your food and lodging costs and $500 covers program costs. Note: this tuition does not include travel to California, but we can help with rides to and from the local airports.
Money should never be a reason to not apply; partial scholarships are available on a limited and on a first-come, first-serve basis. We also invite work trades and monthly payment plans. In fact, we figure out with each applicant the right combo of tuition, work trade and scholarship that can work with them. However, nothing happens without an application first. Remember, the sooner you apply, the better your chances of receiving a partial scholarship, if you need one.
“The North America Jam has been a deeply moving and transformative experience for me. The Jam provided me the space to explore my internal capacities while providing me the tools needed to expand my interpersonal capacities. This process was made possible by being held in a loving community, which empowers and has equipped me to take these skills out in the world and my work.”
– Isaac Graves, 24, Coordinator,
International Democratic Education Conference, Boulder, CO
“Each session was so relevant to my life as a North American, a youth, a mother and an activist. I have learned skills to better my life significantly with my relationships to myself, my loved ones, co-workers and fellow community members. I am leaving feeling inspired, loved, reconnected, pushed and pulled in all the best ways possible.”
– Amber Buchanan, 26, Gaelic Activist,
Nova Scotia, Canada