Friday, August 03, 2007


I am in Portland at the Community Strategic Training Initiative (CSTI) and am having a blast. It is so liberating to be around people who are just as committed to social justice as I am. There is also a wonderful balance between workshops on such "serious" topics such as fundraising and rejuvenating ones on creative visualization and theatre (which of course I went to :) )

This morning we created a wall of red paper bricks on which we placed barriers that get in our way. I picked "anger" because while I see that my anger is the result of truly seeing and that it can be a catalyst for change, I also worry that my own anger shuts people down and actually decreases the positive impact that I make. A constant question. Later this weekend, we plan to break down the wall and offer flags of hope in its place.

I am also enjoying myself so much because of the diversity of the participants. All of the workshops have Spanish interpreters present and some workshops are entirely in Spanish! I am planning to go to an all-Spanish workshop on Sunday.

I am so appreciating the inclusiveness here. Even the bathrooms are gender neutral. CSTI's bathroom policy is as follows:

CSTI is a place where we try to model the change we want to see in the world. One of the places where oppression happens is in bathrooms. Because of this, we have both gender neutral and gender specific bathrooms designated across the campus.

Why gender neutral bathrooms? There are a significant number of Trans people (Transgender, Transsexual, gender queer and more) who are part of the CSTI community.

In bathrooms, many Trans people face harrassment that can lead to anyhting from deep discomfort to arrest or even death. regardless of what bathroom you use, please let everyone use the facilities in peace. Each of us can decided for ourselves in which bathroom we belong.

Respectful allies, who learn and then educate others, are important for the successful liberation of us all.



Frida said...

Hey - I hear you on the anger. I think anger is an appropriate response to injustice, but I also know that I have to use my anger to motivate my work - not let it turn towards people. I'm so glad you are at this great event and I love that they are modeling respect for diversity in such a vital and yet simple way. I've been thinking about a range of gender issues in the context of being made the national focal point for gender in our section and I feel like I have to find a way to push the mission to at least become aware of gender issues beyond women's rights (which are a big enough issue in Afghanistan but not the whole story). Challenging and I need a realistic approach...

margaret said...

Have you heard of the group helem? They are based in Lebanon. They are trying to add language in the Lebanese national code that looks at gender issues more broadly. I also was reading a book called Unspeakable Love a fe months back and I know it did mention that there is some work being done on this at the level of human rights. Perhaps the UN? I would be interested to hear what you are able to accomplish.