Leader Gains Confidence Through Training
Nikki Lockwood, Fuse Washington, attended IAF National Training in 2016 and came back a more confident leader. In her own words, here is her reflection:
I had the opportunity to attend the national IAF training this summer. It was in downtown Chicago's Roosevelt University, known for its social justice origins, its historic architecture, and dorm rooms with panoramic views of the city and out onto Lake Michigan.
I've been involved with Fuse and the Spokane Alliance for two years, and feel like I am new to organized activism, a novice.
The diversity of the trainers and attendees in terms of organizing backgrounds, racial, religious and geographical make-up was impressive.
My suite-mates, for example, were a young Rabbi organizer living in L.A.; a young African-American gender-fluid organizer working in schools on the East Coast; and a Social Work student in rural Oregon hoping to organize around groups affected by substance abuse and mental health issues. In addition to the US attendees, folks from the London, Canada and Australia also traveled to this training.
Carol Prichard-Krawczyk (Spokane Alliance Lead Organizer) encouraged me to immerse myself in the experience and it was good advice. I did the readings they assigned ahead of time, something new to the national training. What are my strengths as a leader? What are my tendencies and challenges when confronting power? These questions were asked early and reflected upon throughout the training.
There was definitely an uncomfortable factor to some of the exercises or some teachers' ways of engaging, but that's when growth happens, right? The schedule was day and night, but with big breaks for downtime, scheduling relational meetings, and eating deep dish pizza.
The training went deeper than the local 2-day training into the core tenants of the IAF organizing model like power, negotiating (ask me about the Melian debate because now I really, really know), the importance of institutions, being "public", core team building, running meetings (very practical) and the importance of relational meetings.
The fishbowls I witnessed left a deep emotional memory, amazing testimonies to their power. Additionally, there was a broader scope of organizing examples and potential because of the diversity represented, something not possible in our local 2 day training. It was that experience of diversity that gave me a "take home" goal. I didn't want the richness of perspective that diversity provides to end there. We, in Spokane, would benefit and become stronger with a broader collection of voices- racially, institutionally, religiously and beyond.
I went to the training with some aspirations of building power in Spokane but feeling very uncertain and uncomfortable about pursuing them and came home with actionable goals and calm determination to do the work - because of the training.
In my fellow attendees I saw novices like me putting it all together and voicing their potential, as well as seasoned organizers with renewed resolve to build grassroots power.