Art of Purpose and Strategy School Launched!

Update —
April 17, 2024
Group of people sitting around a table laughing.

On April 17th, The Action Lab launched both the The Art of Purpose and Strategy School, two brand new fellowship cohorts for organizers, in a powerful three-day retreat at our center in Ossining, NY. Across the two cohorts, we are excited be working with a group of almost 40 participants over the next year from some of the most impactful and inspiring organizations in the area, including Black Men Build, Brandworkers, Bronx River Alliance, Brooklyn Movement Center, Caring Majority Rising, Church's United for Fair Housing, Citizen Action of New York, For the Many, Make The Road New York, Make the Road NJ, MediaJustice, New York Abortion Access Fund, New York Communities for Change, Policing Project at NYU School of Law, The Flossy Organization, and VOCAL-NY.

The first of three shared cohort retreats over the next year, we spent a lot of our time together on political education. With openness, generosity and curiosity, participants deepened their exploration of complex concepts like racial capitalism, the state, and the conjuncture. Together, we strengthened our understanding of history and got creative and flexible by testing our collective strategic muscles by building shared working definitions of and analysis of the ideas at the root of our work through a range of interactive activities.

On the very first day we established the value of learning together and undertaking political education as organizers and movement builders. That was our launchpad. We went on to learn about the history, mechanics and system of racial capitalism. Shout out to our partners at Brooklyn Institute for Social Research, especially Nara De Silva, for enriching our understanding of Du Bois and helping us zoom in on contemporary case studies of racial capitalism.

On the second day we strengthened a complex understanding of the state and how it shows up in our lives and movements. On the third day we delved into working on our strategy muscles and how to adapt our organizing work in our current moment with the creativity and flexibility to suit our changing circumstances.

But we didn’t just study! Every day, we played games, sang, danced our hearts out to the incredible band called La Rueda De Oro, and continued to strengthen our connections to one another.

In this first combined session of the two cohorts, we did spend a little time in our separate cohorts and will be spending more soon. While Art of Purpose focused on the emotional, relational and cultural aspects of organizing, Strategy School shared the challenges of individual organizations and engaged campaign strategy. But the fellows enjoyed one another’s company so much that they did not want to be separated. So we are continuing our retreats together, two cohorts as one, for the time being. Stay tuned for a report from our next gathering in midsummer!

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