Life Seems A Whirlwind

Authors: Dave Room, Green For All Academy Fellow Life seems a whirlwind since the 2010 Green For All Academy Training ended for me. After the Friday night dinner (Vietnamese) and some excellent impromptu performances at the Green For All office, I picked up my daughter Melia from my Mom in Richmond and drove back to the Humanist Hall, where I had been the past three days of Academy traiing, to catch an hour at Movement Generation’s Rhythms of Resilience fundraiser. Bay Localize was a $500 sponsor of the event, so I walked right in. The next morning, I had to skip out on the last day of the Academy to lead a workshop "Storytelling for Social Change" in the Hayward High School library as part of the Leadership in Environmental Action Forum. It’s part of my Take Back the Mic Bay Area initiative. I was assisted by Bay Localize intern, Brenna Young; my daughter Melia was playing with Bucky Balls, a toy I got for her birthday after seeing this amazing video. They are named after inventor and ecologist Buckminister Fuller who said many things including “there is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it is going to be a butterfly.” Our workshop had about 15 high school students and several teachers. As I packed up, I couldn’t help smiling when one of the girls exclaimed “that was my favorite workshop all day.” We anchored the conversation on the theme food, using the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ One Penny More campaign as an example of effective digital storytelling. After the workshop, Melia and I headed to the SF Green Festival to meet up with Uday Joshi, who is leading the Take Back the Mic charge in the Newark, New Jersey and his colleagues Sandra and Shinaz. We chatted for 15 minutes, and they walked back to their conference. We then met up with Rue Mapp of Outdoor Afro and her daughter Arwen who is friends with Melia. They met at Roots and Grooves, the Story Based Outdoor Experience (i.e., camping trip) presented by Take Back the Mic Bay Area, Outdoor Afro, and Red Bike Green. (Check out a funny video on Outdoor Afro and a video of Rue’s daughter talking about camping.) In the last week, I finished two grant proposals. To Echoing Green, I pitched the I-Verse project. Underlying all action and inaction is the way we think, the story we tell ourselves: our worldview. The worldview in communities of color too often helps discourage participation in the movement for a better world. Transforming that narrative to one of vital connection to all life in an immersive culturally relevant and co-creative experience will inspire the leadership needed to create resiliency and engagement in their communities and in the broader movement. We bring this message in a mobile planetarium equipped with software that can place the viewer at any point in the universe, facing any direction, and seeing any depth. Using these tools as well as film, music, and theater games, we awaken participants and then engage them in a co-creative process to develop a narrative that speaks to their community. To California Story Fund, I pitched the story of an East Oakland elementary school in transition. Last week, I also participated in the Oakland Climate Action Coalition Retreat, took GFA Academy fellow Ietef Vita (DJ Cavem) to the Pacific Ocean on Monday, went to the Launch Celebration for Janelle Orsi’s Sustainable Economies Law Center at the Hub in Berkeley, and spoke at both the Global Summit and the Green Festival. The best thing that happened last week, however, was the results of the Oakland mayoral race. After the first choice votes had been counted, Jean Quan was trailing the heavily favored Don Perata by 12%. Perata had spent twice as much as Quan who mounted a community organizing campaign with 1,000 volunteers. The election used Ranked Choice Voting (RCV):

a voting system designed to elect one winner. As a form of preferential voting, voters mark candidates in order of preference with the numbers 1, 2, 3, etc.

The RCV expert that happened to be consulting with Perata’s campaign said Quan had no chance. (Incidently Perata attempted to block RCV from going into effect for this election.) Yet two days ago, in what some hailed “a stunning victory”, Quan was named the Mayor-Elect with over 51% of the vote. If your city is strapped for cash and/or the vote for positive change is splintered, consider bringing RCVto your city. Here in Oakland, I’m enjoying the more-rare-than-it-should-be feeling that the system actually worked this time…. Dave Room co-founded Bay Localize – a for-impact organization that helps Bay Area residents build equitable and resilient communities, and coordinates the Local Clean Energy Alliance. He leads TakeBack the Mic Bay Area, an initiative that inspires, supports, and provides a platform for communities to tell their own stories.

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