One City

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday…That’s right – this coming Sunday, August 24th, 2008 from 12 to 2pm, we will be having the one and only Integral Activism Meeting at the Lila Center. Come one, come all.

There is an exciting agenda planned – to give a quick preview, the meeting’s agenda includes: a review of the basic goals of integral activism (building a non-violent spiritual activist movement/transformational politics), an update on the “Back to the Sack” work and related arts projects, followed by guided meditation, a discussion of our integral activism experiences, and last but not least, actionable items for people to do between now and the next meeting to work toward our goals.

Most of our time will be focused upon our integral activism experiences and practices. As a reminder, here are some selections from Eric Schneiderman’s Integral Activism Memo:

Integral activism is an approach to progressive social transformation that seeks to address the essential disconnect between our personal experience of being and our political work. It rejects the distinction between work on personal transformation and our efforts to transform society. The integral activist path necessarily includes both…. The fundamental principle of Integral Activism is the understanding that, while we all experience ourselves as separate, selfish and scared some of the time, we also experience a more progressive awareness of being. This sense of our basic nature is characterized by connection, compassion and courage (Our 3 C’s)… Integral activists seek to build more genuine progressive politics through our own inner work, our social conduct, and our collective efforts to transform society. The Integral Activist Forum is a vehicle for exploring the practical application of these ideas…

That is what is going to be happening on Sunday. However, I have a task for you right now:

Because we have a limited amount of time during the meetings for discussion, the Integral Activism blog postings (what you are reading right now) can serve an important function of allowing people to share their opinions on critical issues that tend to need more time, thought and exchanging of ideas. This way people can come to the meetings and feel like they are somewhat up to date on what has been going on, what the issues are, and what needs to be addressed during our meetings.

For instance, at this point in time the goal of the Back to the Sack initiative is to move New York City towards a ban and/or tax on plastic bags. This raises some questions for me (most of which are tied to the compassion and connection aspects of integral activism):

  1. If we are going to support a ban and/or tax on plastic bags, what are the implications of this choice?
  2. Who is affected by the ban/tax and how are they affected – both positively and negatively?
  3. How do we encourage what we want to achieve (no more plastic bags), while reduce the negative impact of a ban/tax?
  4. I personally think it is important to take into account the different voices and circumstances of the many people living in NYC. I also feel it would be very presumptuous for me to think that I can innately understand other people’s experiences that may be very dissimilar to my own. While there is a variety of views within IDP, how can we bring in other people/organizations who will give voice to the wide variety of NYC experiences? Will this also help us build the coalition that we need to move a plastic bag/tax forward? Who are people/organizations who we could work with?
  5. And in general, who are good partners for us to work with locally and nationally on this issue? We do not need to re-invent the wheel. Others have also worked on this type of legislation and awareness raising – what can we learn from them?

This is what I think of off the top of my head. You may have other questions, ideas, feelings, concerns, etc… This is the place to bring them up to brainstorm about. I hope we can have a good discussion and exchange of ideas that will lead to a great meeting on Sunday. Keep in mind that nothing has to be decided at this point. The plan is to continue researching into what has happened in other cities related to taxes/bans on plastic bag. The discussion can give us a better sense of what to look for when we do the research and what to ask when we talk to others who have already done some of this work.

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