“Our goal is to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
It is with great excitement that we invite you to apply for the second annual Northeast Jam – a five day gathering of 30 dynamic and diverse changemakers for deep listening, learning, storytelling, systemic inquiry, and community building at Camp Common Ground in Starksboro, Vermont, April 20-25, 2016.
Any questions this invite doesn’t answer? Write to us at northeastyesjam[at]gmail.com
What Is the Jam?
The Jam is a gathering for exploring three different fields of transformation: the internal (self), the interpersonal (relationships), and the systemic (the whole). It is not a conference, seminar or a typical meeting. Regional Jams like this one are taking place around the world (read more about other Jams here) — empowering diverse changemakers to come together, practice and envision change. Participants come away from the Jam with a powerful array of strategies and tools for building community and sustaining the work of deep change-making, as well as a deepened understanding of their own personal capacities and dreams. Together, we co-create a community of practice and connection that renews us and supports our individual and collective work.
On the internal level, the Jam is a place to share and reflect on our life journeys and our work in the world. It is a time to replenish, recharge and renew, and to gain specific and practical tools for generating self-knowledge, deepened inquiry, and personal sustainability. It is also an opportunity to ask and be asked meaningful questions, to unlearn our fears and blocks, and to co-create new possibilities together.
On the interpersonal level, we come together to share our backgrounds, our stories and our struggles, and to deepen in our understanding of each other and ourselves. During the Jam, we hope to discover our commonalities and celebrate our differences. The intention is to build trust and friendship in a meaningful (not superficial) way. This means challenging stereotypes, being present with each other, speaking our unique truths, working through tough places and being open to giving and receiving support. We believe that the more authentic our relationships are, the stronger the foundation we will have for developing new and powerful collaborations within our region.
On the systemic level, through our work at the Jam, we become clearer about our individual and collective visions and work in the world. We get a chance to link issues that aren’t commonly linked, to notice crucial intersection points, and to get a clearer picture of the whole. We learn from each other about what is working, what mistakes we have made, and where we need help. Together, we connect the dots and generate a body of collective wisdom about change-making in our region.
[The Jam] offered a loving and unconditional embrace that helped me relax, slow down, have fun, and remember the joyful heart that approaches even great work with lightness and tenderness. You offered a hearth to gather around to hear the dreams and visions of others, to connect with my own, and to see that they are intertwined. They will buoy me and fuel and inspire me when I grow weary along this journey.”
– Uma Lo, 31, Permaculturist, Green Phoenix Permaculture, NY
Why a Northeast Jam now?
We feel that humanity hangs in a critical moment right now. There is deep pain, rage, and grief at the injustices and losses we face, and the inequality with which we face them. There is deep introspection about the many ways in which each of us is connected to systems of privilege, oppression and commodification, and about how best to acknowledge these connections and rework them. Through all of this, there is also deep joy and resolve being cultivated, new and deepening commitments to the incredible work of building a more just and healthy world. We, the conveners of this Jam, feel this all around us here in the Northeast.
At this time, we feel the need to have space to build relationships rooted in openness to both learning and unlearning. The Jam makes space to have challenging conversations in regenerative and healing ways. It enables us to listen and learn how to stay with the hardest parts of these conversations so that we may weave new, brave relationships, synergies, and solutions.
The Jam is not a retreat from the world, but rather, an opportunity to face it. It calls us to show up for exactly what is alive: in ourselves, in our relationships, in our communities, in our world. We jam to meet the world as it is, and we jam to help get closer to the world we want to see.
Who is invited?
The Jam seeks to bring together a diversity of people and co-create together a gathering that is truly accessible, compelling, and meaningful for each one of us. To that end,
We are looking for applicants with a range of experiences in:
leadership (from ‘person on the ground’ to ‘director and founder’);
years of experience (from ‘just starting out’ to ‘been at it for a while’);
methods and venues of engagement and change-making;
issue or work focus (community media, local economies and globalization, indigenous rights, education, climate justice, food security, cultural regeneration, cultural exchange, interfaith, health and physical well-being, ecology, arts, spiritual healing and trauma recovery, political participation, socially- and ecologically-conscious design and architecture, upholding and honoring diverse forms of human dignity, etc.);
place of origin and base of work (rural/urban/suburban, statewide, local, regional, national, or global focus, etc.);
racial, educational, ethnic, financial, political, and spiritual backgrounds;
gender, sex, and sexuality;
relationship to this region (as you choose to define it: “from here,” living here, native/indigenous to the region, born here, recently relocated, in transition, “from away,” questioning definitions of and relationship to the idea of home, unsure, etc.).
In this mix, we seek to bring together people who:
feel connected, and/or find meaning and relevance, to a Jam specific to the Northeast region of the U.S.;
are interested in, and are striving to act from, the intersection of internal, interpersonal, and systemic change;
seek to challenge and stretch themselves by examining their own blind-spots, assumptions, and perspectives in order to learn and heal, internally and externally;
want to engage in meaningful self-inquiry and learn from/through other people’s stories and experiences;
are innovating and looking for new ways to face systemic challenges in their personal lives and communities;
start from, celebrate, and build upon what is strong, healthy, and good in themselves, their relationships, and their communities.
This experience provided a safe space for stretching, reaching out, taking in, and strengthening my ‘roots’. It has given me new-found courage to engage and trust in knowing that allowing things to “get messy” at times paves the way for clarity and new beginnings.”
– Elizabeth Cooper, 60, Environmental Advocate and Naturecologist, Vermont
A note about the Northeast
We recognize that this region is defined by individuals and communities in myriad different ways and carries many unique associations. In 2015, this Jam was called the “New England” Jam. We’ve changed the name to Northeast U.S. Jam to reflect a broader geographic region and a broader set of connections to this region and in recognition that the name “New England” bears colonialist roots that we choose not to reinforce. We found in our conversations as an organizing team that the complexity of describing the characteristics, qualities, history, and culture of this region is a large part of what draws us to convene this Jam.
In many communities in the Northeast, there is a lot of questioning about who is “from here” and who is not, and each of us has an individual story in relation to those questions. We welcome the diversity of relationships to the Northeast, and to the idea of “New England,” and their many meaningful and challenging associations. We welcome people for whom this region feels like home, as well as those who feel estranged here, and everything in between. We hope to co-create a space that makes room for all of us.
Guiding Questions for the Jam
As people from this region seeking empowering connection and envisioning change, here are some of the questions we hope to explore together during the Jam:
What questions are alive for you in your life right now? For your community? For this region and beyond?
How has your understanding of the story or stories of the Northeast or “New England” shaped your identity? Your work? Your life?
What is your relationship to the Northeast as a place? How does that relationship impact you and your work?
How have you experienced structures of power and privilege in the Northeast? And in relation to the rest of the country and world?
What are the core points of healing for you? For your community? For this region and beyond?
What is your vision for yourself and for this region over the next twenty years? What are your deepest hopes and fears in pursuing these visions?
What do you need to sustain yourself and your work? What are you craving? What can you offer to others in terms of support, collaboration, inspiration, feedback, and care? How can these exchanges be bold, restorative, and renewing?
As an organizing team, we’ve brainstormed these questions as a foundation, but each Jam is co-created by the community that convenes it. We like to say that the Jam is always “on.” There are sessions where facilitators offer a set of activities meant to engage the heart, soul, body and mind. These are designed to engage themes that emerge in participants’ initial applications. These sessions grow, shift, and change based on who is present in the room and what emerges for the group. Outside of the sessions, there is time and space for small group conversations, scheming, playing, FAOHO (the Fine Art Of Hanging Out), reflecting, hiking – whatever the group or individuals choose to create.
While every Jam is different, they are all designed to meet the intentions of each person who attends. It is from these intentions, and in response to our collective questions and ideas, that we structure our time together.
I appreciate how my body was a part of the Jam, how my creativity was a part of the Jam, how my spontaneity was a part of the Jam, how my inner child was a part of the Jam. The brilliance seems to reside in the fact that the Jam provides time, space, and activity that leads to friendship. And at the end of the day, friendship is what fuels collaboration.”
– Tobiah Sola, 25, Meditation App Developer, Vermont
Who Is the Organizing Team Behind This Jam?
Daniel Shearer loves to play hard. And to figure something out as a team or on his own. A career revisionist, he often spends time improving processes and systems by coming up with new or adjusted components rather than coming up with the big idea to begin with. He has served many years as an EMT and fire fighter, enjoying learning the mechanics of each and helping to keep a small community volunteering tradition alive. He works with friends to assist environmental organizations with their communication tools, helping them effectively connect with their constituents. He is particularly interested in issues around energy use and conservation.
Heather is a co-founder of the Field Academy, an innovative high school program that builds transformative educational experiences by combining travel and in-depth field-based study with critical pedagogy. Recently, she has been working with educators who are interested in implementing field-based curriculum in their contexts, and considering the role of this type of education in building and sustaining social movements. Heather also works with the Resilience Hub in Portland, ME – a collective of permaculture-inspired designers, organizers, and facilitators doing projects towards local resilience building with food systems and economies. Heather is currently a M.A. Candidate at Prescott College, studying Transformative Leadership and Applied Organizational Development. Her research has focused on participatory leadership, experiential and popular education, and systems thinking as tools for organizational and social transformation. Her systems-based approach to the study and assessment of organizations draw inspiration from ecological patterning. Previously, Heather was the Academic Program Director of the Traveling School, a study abroad program for high school girls. Heather has managed leadership teams and led over 100 students on trips in 13 different countries around the world. In each context, she has facilitated extensive group dynamics, leadership training, and challenging conversations around a variety of social and political issues both within the group and more globally. Heather has extensive experience with the use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) as a diagnostic tool in conflict transformation processes and group and organizational decision-making. Heather enjoys runs in the woods, telling and hearing really bad jokes, and any experience that feels like summer camp.
Bart Westdijk is the program director for the New England Grassroots Environment Fund. Born & raised in the Netherlands, he spent the first 21 years of his life in Zwijndrecht, a town just south of Rotterdam. Before coming to Vermont, Bart spent a semester in New Zealand and lived a year in China (2004-2005) working as an English and Business teacher. Seeing the conditions in which large parts of the population lived, further fueled his interest in genuine development and true local problem-solving. With the Grassroots Fund, a non profit providing support to local volunteer leaders in the form of grants, tools, training and stories, Bart focuses on a variety of tasks ranging from strategic program development to fundraising, and from Grow grant program review to Local Food-related research and network participation. Driven by an urge to stretch the comfort zone of philanthropy (aim high, right!), Bart is excited to explore the spectrum of local acts of revolution and transformation, supporting a range of changemakers and listening to local volunteer leaders develop into powerful voices representing their ‘community’. A participant in the inaugural 2015 New England Jam, Bart is honored to now help shape the 2016 gathering. Currently feeling local in Burlington, Bart lives in a co-housing project with his son, Liam.
Jen Lazar is a co-founder and the current Program Director of the Field Academy, a traveling high school program that strives to make learning and life indistinguishable for both students and educators. Jen has been working alongside students and teachers to re-imagine and re-create education in the United States for ten years (and spent many years prior to that designing her own high school and college experiences). Prior to her current experience with the Field Academy, Jen was the Associate Executive Director of the DREAM Program where she co-created mentoring and adventure programs with college students and high school students from affordable housing communities throughout Vermont. She also served as a public school commissioner in Burlington, Vermont for three years during a period of socio-economic integration and transformation of the city’s elementary schools. Jen believes in listening to young people and learning from and with them and is committed to creating spaces where that is possible. In addition, she loves to bring people together around food, cook brunch, play Capture the Flag, and revel in the outdoors in just about any weather. You can learn more about Jen at www.fieldacademy.org.
Daniel Little specializes in coaching and consulting with mission-driven individuals and organizations. He holds a BA in Transpersonal Psychology and a Graduate Certificate in Integral Theory and is a Certified Integral Master Coach™. Daniel has more than two and a half decades of study and experience in the nuances of human development and 15 years of experience as an owner and manager in mission-driven organizations. His passion is the design and application of Integrally informed frameworks for human healing, transformation, and thriving. Daniel is a longtime meditative practitioner and lover of the outdoors. A current focus is deepening his somatic intelligence and having a ton of fun though ecstatic dance and contact improv. He’s proud to be step-father to a 20-something change maker and partners in life and work with the ever-inspiring Cecile Green.
Shilpa Jain is currently rooting herself in Oakland/Berkeley, CA, where she serves as the Executive Director of YES!. YES! works with social changemakers at the meeting point of internal, interpersonal and systemic change, and aims to co-create a thriving, just and balanced world for all. Prior to taking on this role, Shilpa spent two years 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, where she served as coordinator of the Swapathgami (Walkouts-Walkons) Network. Shilpa has researched and written numerous books and articles, and facilitated workshops and gatherings on topics including globalization, creative expressions, ecology, democratic living, innovative learning and unlearning. Her publications include A Poet’s Challenge to Schooling, Reclaiming the Gift Culture, Other Worlds of Power, Paths of Unlearning, Unfolding Learning Societies volumes one, two and three, and several issues of Vimukt Shiksha (“Liberating Learning”) and the Swapathgami (Walkout-Walkon) newsletter “Making Our Paths of Living and Learning”. She is also co-author of “Connect. Inspire. Collaborate”, a highly sought-after facilitation manual.
Location, Travel and Costs of Attending
The Northeast Jam will take place at Camp Common Ground, in Starksboro, Vermont. Participants will share rooms in doubles and triples and delight in delicious and nutritious, primarily vegetarian, food for the Jam.
Travel costs are the responsibility of the participants, though we will help in arranging carpools from around the region, to the best of our ability.
The tuition for the program is $850 which breaks down into $425 for lodging and food and $425 for program (materials, childcare, stipends for organizers and facilitators).
We never want money to be a barrier in participating in a Jam, so we will do everything we can to make it work for you to attend. Some partial scholarships and work trades are available. We can also create a monthly payment plan that works for you. Additional donations above the event price are welcome and help us provide scholarships to support the broad spectrum of participation on which this event thrives (they are also tax-deductible).
We look forward to welcoming you to the JAM. You can apply on-line!