Community organizing is a tool for transformational social change. Collectively the staff and founders of Seed House have practiced in the field of community organizing for over 45 years. While The Seed House sees its approach to social change and Movement in its most natural and organic state, recognizing that most things are out of our control and a matter of working with “what is”, its facilitators are also aware of the importance of some distinctives in community organizing that is important in participation and moving with power in times like these. “People are the experts of their own problems” is a long held understanding and continues to be a critical element to changing the world as we know it into the world we want to live in. It is foundational that we entrust people who are directly affected by the problems we face as a society and discover and develop community in the process of finding their voice and developing their collective power. As Ella Baker said: “Give Light and people will find a way”.
We are artists, activists, and dreamers in Wichita. We create public art that tells the stories of our neighborhoods and our community. We invite people to think about important social issues by making art with us or by visiting our art all around Wichita. We believe that all people can create and act in ways that build up a healthy community. We celebrate the voices and vision of artists who are telling the stories of creative resistance to mistreatment and injustice. We are muralists, graffiteros, sculptors, potters, educators, learners, musicians, poets, dreamers, innovators, and community members. We are Artivists. Artivism is the creation of art at the intersection of social justice and activism. Artivism is a strategy for social change which engages people directly impacted by an issue in a process of creative expression. The voices of people targeted by injustice are amplified to the public realm, agitating all of us to create awareness and action.
Community & Culture
Intersectionality What are “women’s issues”? What does it mean to be a woman? Your answer to that question might change drastically, depending on other parts of your identity. Are you a white woman? A black woman? A recent immigrant? An indigenous woman? A poor or wealthy woman? A transgender woman or a cisgender woman? An old or young woman? A woman with a physical or mental health condition that impacts your daily life? A straight woman? A lesbian? What if you’re a man? What is your role in gender justice We believe that intersectionality must be at the core of social justice work. Intersectionality describes the way that various forms of oppression overlap or intersect with each other, affecting the impacts of privilege and oppression on individual people. Every person experiences multiple forms of privilege and/or oppression, based on their social identities (i.e. race, class, gender, ability, etc.). Our experiences of one type of oppression often intersect with or amplify our experiences of other types of oppression. For example, being a Latina undocumented woman means that you are targeted by racism and xenophobia, nationalism, and sexism. You may have privilege in other ways, such as being straight and cis-gendered. Throughout our lives, we learn social behaviors and attitudes that reflect our complex identities, our experiences of privilege and oppression. To think intersectionally is to recognize that no person’s experience defines that of all others in the same identity category. To act intersectionally is to intentionally include multiple voices in collaborative efforts, to speak from your own experiences and honor the wisdom of others in naming their own experiences. The concept of intersectionality was originally created by black feminist scholars Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw and Patricia Hill Collins, to name the experiences of women of color within feminist spaces dominated by middle-class white women. They saw white feminists promoting a universalizing narrative of “women’s issues” that left out the ways that racism and classism impact some women differently than others.
Language Access Language is powerful. Es un vehiculo de comunicacion, de conexion social, de la creacion colectiva de sabiduria y conocimiento. Language is a tool for sharing, creating, and connecting with each other, across differences of experience and identity. Language is also a tool of domination and colonization. The U.S. is a multilingual nation in a multilingual world, but many communities in the U.S. are marginalized by the dominance of English and the assumption that English should be dominant. So what do we mean by language access? We mean creating spaces in which multiple languages are spoken and celebrated. We mean stretching our imaginations beyond the limitations of our own languages to learn from the complex meanings of unfamiliar words. We mean honoring the creativity that happens when languages mix with each other, because languages are fluid and human expression is infinite. Because our work has focused in recent years within Latinx communities, we primarily operate in two languages: Spanish and English. We strive to communicate bilingually at our events and activities, on our website and social media, and in our relationships. Our work grows out of Spanish and English because our community is multilingual. Wichita is home to speakers of many unique languages, and we welcome opportunities to expand our linguistic breadth. In order to build broader movements for justice, it is important to create multilingual spaces where language is used democratically and as a tool of empowerment, so that people can communicate, learn and strategize together.
Accompaniment Accompaniment happens when we walk alongside each other to offer support and presence. Accompaniment can only occur when activities, projects, or movements are led by the communities from which they originate. At The Seed House ~ La Casa de la Semilla, we walk with people and groups doing their own thing, finding their own solutions to the needs of their neighborhood or community. We support project growth, leadership development, and efforts to build new skills and stronger relationships. We don’t own the projects themselves. We work with people who are creating something from their own ideas and strengths. In this way we serve as an incubator, nurturing creativity and fostering new connections between people as they find the resources they need to put their creativity into action. This accompaniment model holds important implications for the power dynamics of our work within the community. Our job is not to take control, imposing or directing the flow of a project. Our role is to provide support, resources, spaces for collaboration, and questions for reflection and analysis.
Progeny is an advocacy group of young people who have been touched by the juvenile justice system who advocate for change in policy and how it impacts youth in the juvenile justice system. They meet once per week to discuss campaign strategy, actionable goals to connect in the community, their own life experiences, and issues related to reforming the juvenile justice system that create more proactive and healthy solutions instead of putting youth in jail. Protecting our voice and advocating for Kansas youth touched by the juvenile justice system. Progeny in New Jersey at our annual convening with our national partners Youth First, to talk strategy, organizing & mobilizing. Progeny hosted their first event: Taking Action on Violence Cypher & Community Meeting. Where the community gathered to talk about proactive solutions to countering the violence in their community. Afterwards there was a Cypher were young people show-cased their talents. Our story is BIGGER than the box, you try to put us in.
Popular education, or education for liberation, recognizes all people as co-teachers and co-learners. Each person's leadership abilities grow out of their own experience, as well as any new knowledge or skills they gain. Individual leaders are stronger when their communities are equipped and engaged. These principles shape our learning practices, which draw out people’s abilities and foster an active learning community for sharing new skills. Participants will be able to build relationships, think critically about issues, and act collaboratively in creating solutions. They will be encouraged to tap into their own abilities and wisdom as leaders, and to envision the steps of strengthening healthy communities. Popular Education is the way we do what we do. It’s also why we do things that way. Popular Education is rooted in the idea that people have the capacity to create solutions to the challenges they face as a community. Solutions imposed from outside, from the same sources that seek to dominate, will never be liberatory. Popular Education is a global movement. It grew out of the work of Brazilian educator Paulo Freire, who saw that public education in Brazil reinforced the marginalization of indigenous people within Brazilian society, rather than providing indigenous students with strategies to break free from oppression. Freire recognized that education is never neutral. It either serves to reinforce the dominant power systems in society, or to challenge them. Education can be used as a means of oppression or a tool for liberation. Here are some key concepts that we love about Pop Ed! Pedagogy the methods or strategies of learning (e.g. in a classroom, in a workshop, in a group reflection, in collective action planning or creative expression). In Popular Education pedagogy, we interact with each other in order to learn from each other. We engage our whole selves in learning (mind, emotions, body) because every person processes their thoughts in different ways: through physical motion, through visual arts, through storytelling and listening, through verbal dialogue, and more. Praxis putting theory into action. Praxis is the way we practice our ideas in our daily lives, in our work, and in our community spaces. For example, at The Seed House ~ La Casa de la Semilla, our commitment to language accessibility means that we write our public communications in both Spanish and English. Cycle of Praxis The Cycle of Praxis is See ~ Think ~ Act. This reflects the importance of integrating experience, critical analysis, and actions. In real life, the parts of the cycles are not linear – you don’t have to follow them in a certain order. Rather, it’s a tool for reflection, to ground our actions in critical thinking, and to translate our experiences into meaningful actions. I see …… (example of cycle applied to scenario) Expertise All people are experts of their own experience. In our dominant social system, only some people are recognized as experts, authorities, owners of knowledge. This paradigm not only privileges some individuals for having access to credentials, education, and power – it also values some types of knowledge and devalues others. We believe that all people have wisdom to share, and that the wisdom needed to bring about liberation exists within the communities directly targeted by oppression. In practice, this disrupts the idea that the folks with higher education, official positions of power, and honored credentials can teach oppressed folks how to overcome their oppression. As Audre Lorde said, the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. Co-teachers & Co-learners Knowledge is not a static thing that can only be shared from a teacher to a student or a leader to a follower. Knowledge is created collectively, and it has meaning within community. We all have something to teach each other, and we all have something to learn from each other. Spiral The spiral shows Popular Education in practice! People are experts in their own lives and carry within them what they need to engage in the struggle to improve their lives. Popular education, or education for liberation, honors the knowledge that people bring with them into any given space. This knowledge, gained through everyday living and disseminated through the sharing of peoples’ stories, is put front and center in any strategy, effort, and work. Knowledge, understanding, and wisdom come from the people and belong to the people.