Most people who come to know of East Point’s work are introduced to the organization through a training or public offering of some kind. So it may come as a surprise to learn that one of our main focal points during 2022 has been a behind-the-scenes collaboration with a dynamic and innovative performing arts organization.
Since its founding in 2008, the Embodiment Project (EP) has been sharing transformative stories of harm, survival, and liberation through dance and multimedia performance, in and far beyond the Bay Area. Begun as a hip hop healing collective of street dancers, EP honors and expresses Black social dances and street dance, and recognizes them as healing modalities.
East Point has had the privilege of serving as consultant and coach for EP for the past several months as they undertake a major organizational restructuring process. This exciting collaboration is strengthened by fortuitous timing. The Embodiment Project has opted to implement Sociocracy as their governance and decision-making model. At the same time, the two of us offering them consulting and coaching (Leonie Smith and Chris Moore-Backman) are in the process of earning our certification as Sociocracy trainers through a year-long training program and community of practice, Sociocracy for All. This has set the stage for rich mutual learning and experimentation in the arts of liberatory governance, nimble decision-making, and co-holding of power and initiative—all of which Sociocracy is designed to foster. A key experiment in this mix is to leverage the flexibility of Sociocracy to imbue its structures with practices that open up relationships between collaborators to address repair, trust building, and care. (East Point, by the way, is also in the process of adopting Sociocracy!)
Our coaching and consulting work with the Embodiment Project has catalyzed other powerful possibilities for collaboration. After learning more and more about one another’s work, we have begun to envision ways of blending East Point’s community organizing and direct action work with EP’s dance-centered liberatory storytelling model. New dreams abound: of public gatherings infused with dance, grief-tending, installation art, music, and direct action for racial and climate justice. We’re also exploring visions of prison-based offerings that combine restorative dialog, East Point’s Kingian Nonviolence training, and the Embodiment Project’s embodied movement approach.
For years now, East Point has been reflecting on the dilemma we’re in given the limitations of conventional organizing and activism in the face of social and ecological collapse. Our instincts have steered us again and again to visions of culture-shifting work that will open up space for a fuller collective experience of our humanity during this extraordinary time. We wonder if such culture-shifting work can serve a much needed evolution of activism, nurturing our spirits and relationships as we go. We’re excited to see the fruits of our unique collaboration with the Embodiment Project as we continue to move in this direction.
Stay tuned: We may soon extend an invitation to you to join us in direct action that’s very different from what many of us are used to!