Dine out with East Point and invest in peace!!!

East Point Peace Academy has been selected as July’s East Bay Eats recipient!

We are so excited to partner with East Bay Eats to help raise funds to sustain our work! Join us on Sunday, July 21st for a delicious meal at Oakland’s Boot & Shoe Service, and all proceeds will go to supporting our work!!!

Relying on the Gift Economy and never charging anyone to attend our programs means events like these are critical to sustain our work. Support like this allows us to continue our work in prisons, high schools and other communities without worrying about funding.

Please join us for dinner, and tell your friends by sharing this email and posting the link on social media! Even if you can’t make it, this is a great way to support us.

Thank you so much for all that you do!!!

JOIN US
Sunday, July 21st
Boot & Shoe Service
3308 Grand Ave., Oakland

5:30PM – 7:30PM
&
8:00PM – 10:00PM

Two Seatings for a multi-course, prix-fixe meal (wine included!)

 

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Our first San Quentin workshop, upcoming Day of Peace!!!

We are thrilled to announce that last week, we completed our first ever Introduction to Kingian Nonviolence workshop led by incarcerated trainers!!!

Since the founding of East Point in the fall of 2013, we have been working in several prisons and county jails throughout California, and have certified close to 100 incarcerated people as trainers in Kingian Nonviolence. These incarcerated trainers have gone on to train well over 1,000 people.

And yet, until recently, we have not had a training team in San Quentin State Prison, the prison closest to our home base of Oakland.

That is why we are so happy to partner with the Day of Peace Committee to bring back Kingian Nonviolence on a consistent basis in San Quentin!!! The members of the Day of Peace Committee have gone through an intensive four-month training to receive certification, and they just completed facilitating their first seven-week workshop!!!

Tony Detrinidad, a trainer who actually became a trainer years ago when he was in San Bruno County Jail, was transferred to San Quentin and is now a member of the Committee. After having facilitated workshops at the county jail – where the workshops are mandated – and in San Quentin, he commented on the difference in the participants.

“In San Bruno, half the guys wanted to be there and the other half didn’t want to. In here, 100% of the guys chose to be here, wanted to be here. The pressure was higher because of that, but the reward was also so much better.

“It was awesome to see them take in this legacy,” he went on. “To see them grasp King’s teachings. To watch the light bulbs go off in their head was so cool! It gives me hope, to know that it doesn’t end with me. There’s now a whole new group of guys armed with this knowledge.”

Francisco, a workshop participant, said that he learned that “nonviolence is not a choice, it’s a responsibility, and it begins with me.”

The Day of Peace is an annual, daylong peace festival that happens on the yard at San Quentin State Prison. The founding members of the Day of Peace Committee came together in response to a race riot that took place at the prison over a decade ago and organized the first event. Since starting this group, San Quentin has not experienced a single riot.

While East Point staff and volunteers have been going into San Quentin to facilitate workshop for years, we always prioritize empowering incarcerated people to lead the workshops themselves. After several attempts at building a training team in San Quentin, we are so glad to have found the perfect partners in the Day of Peace Committee! These men are already viewed as leaders in peacemaking in the prison, and we look forward to continuing to work with them to spread nonviolence!

We are also looking forward to attending and supporting the 2019 Day of Peace, scheduled to take place on Saturday, May 18th!!! Please join us, and over 1,000 incarcerated people at noon on that day as we take a minute of silence to honor all people who have been impacted by violence.

Also a special thanks to volunteer trainer Julia Rose for helping to lead our Training-of-Trainers and to San Quentin volunteer extraordinaire and Auntie Jun for all of her support of our work, of the Day of Peace Committee, and everyone in San Quentin!!!

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East Point, the Climate Crisis, and the Yet-to-be-named Network

East Point Peace Academy’s unwavering commitment to social justice, healing, and transformation can’t help but be deeply informed by the reality of the global climate crisis. We join countless organizations and initiatives that recognize that all of our social justice-oriented agendas — not to mention our very lives — depend on our planet’s life support systems. It is painful to do so, but we openly acknowledge, with recognition of our own complicity, that our extraction-based industrial growth civilization is rapidly destroying those irreplaceable life support systems.

In the face of this deeply unsettling situation, we endeavor to do what we can to bring about healing and transformation. We recognize that climate and social justice are inseparable, and we celebrate our unique opportunity to show up at that critical intersection in a meaningful, powerful way.

We’re at an exciting juncture. East Point’s longstanding prison-based training work in nonviolence, trauma healing, and restorative justice has begun to deeply influence our role in helping to build a national network of direct action teams positioned at the intersection of racial healing and climate justice. This yet-to-be-named network (check out the network’s zine here) is being launched by a coalition of changemakers from around the US, including key organizers and activists from the Possibility Alliance, Climate Disobedience Center, New Community Project, and East Point. The folks steering this project share the desire to bring a new spirit into direct action spaces — a spirit captured in a special phrase which you may have noticed is the name of East Point’s newest workshop offering: Fierce Vulnerability.

Within a wider movement that shouts “Shut It Down!” the yet-to-be-named network longs for direct action equally determined to “Open it Up!” The network seeks to harness a power far beyond what conventional marches, rallies, signs and slogans can offer, and to experience a life-affirming, militantly loving quality within the movement for justice and environmental sanity. The network longs to imbue activist spaces with deep silence, sacred song, bold risk-taking, soulful strategy, and revolutionary creativity. For this emerging direct action network, the phrase Fierce Vulnerability points to all of the above.

This exciting new initiative resonates deeply with East Point, and we are well poised to contribute to it. The inmates we work with at San Quentin and Soledad State Prison, and in the County Jail in San Bruno, have taught us invaluable lessons about the true meaning of Fierce Vulnerability, and about the deep transformation that can be brought about through its practice. We are overjoyed to serve as a bridge between those courageous men and this new network committed to two of our most central aspirations: racial healing and climate justice.

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Leap and the Net Appears: Our Continuing Journey with Gift Economics

East Point Peace Academy’s commitment to gift economics often elicits praise from workshop participants and others we work with. Our organization’s refusal to place a price tag on our offerings, which would invariably exclude people, is experienced as a breath of fresh air by many who are uninspired, if not dismayed, if not furious, with the unjust impacts of winner-loser capitalism.

In the spirit of another key commitment here at East Point – the commitment to transparency – however, I want to confess that every couple months or so, Kazu or I admit out loud to one another that we’re worried about the organization’s finances. To put it simply, our commitment to Gift Economics sometimes really stresses us out. The worry usually comes after a workshop where our basic costs weren’t met by the contributions of those who attended, or during a week when an unexpected number of monthly donors decide they need to discontinue their giving for a while. Sometimes the worry or stress comes when one of the very few grant proposals we send out is rejected, for no apparent particular reason.

These moments are important for us personally and organizationally. They bring us back to the core of our commitment to the Gift Economics model, which is faith. We operate on faith that if the work we’re doing is of true benefit to our community, our community will come together to sustain it. The presence, or absence, of that sustaining support represents vital feedback about the way our community views the contribution we’re making in the world.

At the end of 2018 Kazu sent word to the wider East Point community that we were quickly heading towards a $20,000 loss for the year. This was definitely one of those moments when we were feeling the weight of our Gift Economics commitment and the woozy feeling that often comes after a leap of faith. The community response to the simple year-end plea that Kazu shared was amazing. At the end of January, when all the numbers were in and all the pledges tallied, we had actually surpassed, by a few hundred dollars, our fundraising goal of $20,000! Contributions ranging from $5 to $5000 brought us to financial equilibrium at the beginning of 2019.

This gives us renewed confidence in our plan for the year, which is already off to an amazing start. This week East Point will launch a new Kingian Nonviolence training series in San Quentin Prison, to be facilitated by our newly trained team of inmate facilitators. We’re developing a new restorative justice program to be launched this Spring in Soledad State Prison. Our newest workshop offering, Fierce Vulnerability, continues to fill up faster than any previous workshop, and the groundwork is now being laid for a fierce vulnerability-inspired direct action program, which is being developed in tandem with a national network of direct action teams that East Point is helping design and launch. All this and much more is made possible by all those who continue to meet our faith with the assurance that East Point’s work matters. Sometimes this assurance comes in the form of financial support, sometimes it comes as a word of appreciation, sometimes as occasional hands-on volunteering, sometimes as serious involvement in carrying out East Point’s work and vision, as a trainer, board member, key advisor, or (soon) direct action teammate.

We’re grateful and humbled by these expressions of support and solidarity. And we’ll do our best to remember them the next time the stress and worry settles in! It makes sense that forging new ground brings up feelings of uncertainty and doubt. Our habits as members of a consumerist, materialist society are hard to break. But little by little that’s what we’re doing, together.

Click here to learn more about East Point’s commitment to Gift Economics.

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Fierce Vulnerability: An intimate illustration from Astrid Montuclard

A Letter to My Partner

After East Point’s Fierce Vulnerability Workshop

~

My Dear Love,

When we met up after I attended East Point Peace Academy’s Fierce Vulnerability two-day workshop, waves of emotion were running through my body. You noticed the contrast between new sparks in my eyes and greater fatigue in my voice. You asked about the event, and for a long time, I told you stories about it. These were stories about authenticity, shame, human connection, and the courage that our community needs to nurture in order to face the environmental and social crises in front of us, and to nurture our inner selves within the chaos.

You asked me what is meant by fierce vulnerability, and although I had no formal definition to give you, I gave you the words that arose from my experiences at the workshop. Fierce vulnerability is the art of showing yourself to others as you truly are – whether you’re full of fear or compassion – and to do so out of great love for both your friends and your opponents. This ability springs from a strong conviction in the interconnectedness of all beings and all things, whose imperfect wholeness is worthy of deep appreciation. Being fiercely vulnerable may also imply being ready to put your body on the line to stop unjust, harmful practices that hurt others at a systematic level.

Upon our arrival at the Oakland Peace Center for the first day of the workshop, an array of quotes about vulnerability welcomed us on the walls of the main hall. After reading them, everyone connected one-on-one to share about why they had decided to commit to this weekend journey together. My peers’ willingness to learn how to show their full humanity moved me, and I shared about my own longing to work on my frequent, hurtful need to show friendliness and confidence in social spaces while hiding my deeper longing for genuine connection. In the process, four trainers sat with us in the circle of chairs on the wooden floor, surrounded by the quotes, which had begun to guide us into the mindset of the workshop. Our trainers were Kazu, nonviolence teacher and restorative justice activist from Japan; Sierra, African-American healer and nonviolent activist; Nirali, socially engaged meditation teacher from India; and Chris, peace activist and movement builder. They all introduced one another with great respect and friendship, something I would soon have for every one of the attendees surrounding me.

The two days went by quickly, punctuated by activities that carefully threw us into the wide depths of self-awareness, supported by the community we shared in this space. One afternoon, we had the chance to open about our deepest sources of shame. Tears wet many cheeks and hugs interwove many arms. Standing in the hall, I witnessed and held in my gaze strangers hugging, expressing immense relief after finally bumping into another soul wandering on the same dark path they once imagined to be walking alone. In this community of compassion we built together, we gathered the tears of each other’s hearts, expressing a shared, unspoken pain that had remained hidden for so long. Recognition and determination flourished on the faces that surrounded me, and on my own, and planted seeds for greater connection and future willingness to expose our hidden shadows to the sun.

Protected by the circle we formed, facing and knowing each other, we spoke aloud about our refusal to continue believing untrue stories that had taken root in our bodies and had damaged our hearts for too long. We brainstormed which unique gifts each of us could apply to change “this system that hurts us all.” The weekend concluded with a memorable simulation of what fierce vulnerability might look like in socially engaged spaces.

My dear love, as I talked and talked to you about this workshop, you listened to me for a long time, and when I was done, you asked to sign up for the next workshop with an enthusiastic smile. For your heart-full understanding, I loved you more. Despite not being a frontline activist, you got it; you got that change starts with every one of us cultivating enough resilience to show and connect over our shared scares everywhere and at all levels, under the sun of interconnectedness.

For simply listening, deeply listening, and giving space to my pain and excitement and fears and hopes that night, I loved you more, too. Many of us have forgotten how to unveil and accept the darker corners of our own hearts, but also – and maybe as a result – how to stay present with openness, compassion, and courage when another heart’s truest voice sings and cries at the same time, as it so often does when it is alone.

Wishing you great joy, great bravery, and most of all, great kindness on your path to deeper connections,

Astrid

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Radical, vulnerable transparency (and faith)

Year at a glance

Most of you are aware of our commitment to financial transparency.

Some of you also know that we are beginning to live into our evolving understanding of a new theory called Fierce Vulnerability. Among other things, this means that we are also transparent about the things that are hard to talk about.

With those two things in mind, we want to share some news about our current finances. It’s not all bad news, so hang in there with us.

It looks like this year, we will come in about $20,000 under budget. This means that when the calendar switches over to 2019, our savings will have dwindled and we will be close to a zero balance.

This feels vulnerable to write and to share so publicly. But we want to be clear that this is not a panicked, end-of-the-world “we need to save East Point NOW!” type of email. Believe it or not, we are actually pretty confident with where we are today.

Part of how we ended up here is that one of our major funders shifted the timeline of their giving, so instead of receiving a significant gift at the end of this year, we anticipate that gift coming in early next year.

Soledad TrainersAnd part of it is that we have been so busy this year expanding our programs and spending significant time re-imaging our infrastructure and creating organizational systems and practices that is aligned with our values that we have not had much time to ask people for money.

We have been having a lot of intentional conversations about our relationship with money, and how much of our time we want to invest in raising it. While we are still in the midst of this complex conversation, we are leaning towards putting the vast majority of our time into the work, and having faith that our community will come together to sustain that work.

Part of our understanding of the Gift Economy is that we rely much more on faith than in fundraising strategies.

So we are putting this out there: we need to raise $20 – $25,000 by the end of this year. It’s a big ask. But this is another experiment in faith; faith in our community, faith in our work, faith in the generosity of people.

Here’s a little bit of what we’ve been up to this year.

  • Through trainings, lectures and presentations, we reached over 1,200 people, including community leaders, incarcerated people, high school students and more!!!
  • Organized workshops in 10 different states!!!
  • Sponsored programs in four prisons, four colleges, two high-schools and eight faith based communities!!!
  • Co-sponsored a week-long, national gathering of nonviolent action trainers!!!
  • Launched a new training curriculum, Fierce Vulnerability, for which we had 50 people on a waitlist!!!
  • Launched a new, four-month self-transformation program in the San Bruno County Jails called Peace from Within!!!
  • Entered into a process of completely reimagining our organizational structure!!!
  • Officially received our 501c3 nonprofit status (more on that in the coming months)!!!

In the first months of 2019, we plan to launch a new website, begin a long-term restorative justice program in Soledad Prison in partnership with the Ahimsa Collective, launch a decentralized network of Direct Action teams and so much more!

Please give as generously as you can by clicking here to help make sure that all of these programs happen!!! As an organization that relies almost entirely on our community for support, and as an organization that is committed to staying small (in 5 years, we have never spent more than $90,000 in a year!!!), every dollar truly counts.

Thank you so much for all you do to support building a new culture!!!

In Peace,

Kazu and Chris

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Synchronicity

We’re thrilled that our announcement of East Point’s first “Fierce Vulnerability” workshop is being met with great enthusiasm. In just a few days over 40 people have signed up for the two-day workshop. The theme of Fierce Vulnerability, rooted in the desire to build a heart-centered movement of healing and transformation, is clearly speaking to a deep longing in many changemakers. Never before has registration moved so quickly for an East Point offering.

Fierce VulnerabilityOur announcement of the Fierce Vulnerability workshop coincided with the release of a new zine describing a very complementary project I’ve had the privilege to work on for the past several months: an emerging yet-to-be-named national network of direct action teams positioned at the intersection of racial healing and climate justice, rooted firmly in the principle of Fierce Vulnerability. The zine was produced as a promotional tool for the first trainings for prospective members of this new direct action network, which will be held this coming December here in the Bay Area. (One of these trainings will be held right here at the Oakland Peace Center!)

Just over a year ago, when Kazu and I first began discussing the possibility of my joining the staff at East Point, we were quick to notice the confluence of many aspects of our work and analysis. Two synchronicities struck us with particular umph: the first, our separate but simultaneous re-imagining of a nonviolence framework and narrative for this specific moment in history. This re-imagining, which many other changemakers are also engaged in, appears to be taking shape under this mysterious, powerful, and emergent banner of “Fierce Vulnerability”. And the second synchronicity: our shared sense that a critical mass of serious nonviolence (read “fierce vulnerability”) practitioners are longing to join together in direct action teams in order to put into concrete practice the philosophy and skills that have been at the heart of East Point’s trainings these past five years.

We’re hoping that November’s Fierce Vulnerability workshop will serve as a launching pad for a new and seriously exciting East Point program, an East Point Direct Action Team (and/or eventually multiple East Point Direct Action Teams knit together by shared ideals, practices, and friendships). We hope that many of the participants in the November workshop, and in future Fierce Vulnerability offerings (we’ve already scheduled three more for 2019!), will join with one another to form teams, with East Point serving as a hub for ongoing trainings, organizing, relationship-deepening, and direct action deployment. A further hope is that some (all??) of these teams will feel called to affiliate with the previously mentioned national network that’s now gearing up for launch. Participants in the November Fierce Vulnerability workshop who are interested in exploring this possibility can reach out to me (chris@eastpointpeace.org) to learn more.

Synchronicity, unforced and undeniable, is so often a sure sign that something really good is taking shape, that life is on the move, that a new threshold is about to be crossed. We stand ready to take life’s lead, in service to healing and justice.

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The Numbers Are In! The first six-months of 2018!

It's been half a year already! I know I'm not alone in feeling like every year goes by faster and faster! As usual, East Point Peace Academy has had a busy first six months, and we're here to share some of our numbers with you.

First of all, in accordance with our practice of financial transparency and the Gift Economy, the Profit & Loss Statement from the second quarter of 2018 is in.

In the first half of this calendar year, we raised a total of $53,052.95, and spent $56,915.87. Click here to see the details of our finances. As always, we will update our numbers to you all each quarter.

In addition to the financial numbers, here are some programmatic ones: we've hosted 29 events and workshops in nine states, including four prisons, three Buddhist meditation centers, six Christian churches, one elementary school, two high-schools and six universities, reaching over 880 people!

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A Post from the Road

June is over!!! It's been a crazy year and it's hard to believe that we're already halfway through it!!! The past month has been incredibly busy for us here at East Point, so we just wanted to share a few words about what we've been up to with this quick post.

It's Sunday, and I'm currently writing from Seattle, where I will be working with the Fellowship of Reconciliation to facilitate a two-day organizing workshop for their youth group.

From Wednesday to Friday this week, my friend Nathan and I were in Soledad prison, where we co-facilitated a Intro to Kingian Nonviolence workshop for over 60 incarcerated men. The workshop was led largely by our inside training team, who continues to amaze me with their level of commitment.

Group picture from our March workshop in Soledad Prison

We held the workshop in a large gym, with three simultaneous groups happening, including a Spanish language group. Many of the participants are men who typically do not go to other programs and groups on the inside, but word about Kingian Nonviolence has been growing in this prison so they joined us for a full two-days. A huge majority of them enjoyed the workshop so much that they've already signed up for our next workshop in September so they can go through it again!!!

Our inside training team has already led workshops for over 650 men in this prison, and the work continues to spread!!! This workshop was followed up with a day-long advanced training on Friday for our trainers, where we went deep into the study of the history of the Civil Rights movement.

On Tuesday this week, I facilitated a day-long workshop for Stanford students who are part of a program at the Haas Center for Public Service. The students will be spending the summer working with middle school students, tutoring and mentoring them while building Beloved Community. The day-long workshop was to give them some skills around restorative justice and circle-keeping.

URI Nonviolence Summer Institute

I also recently came back from the University of Rhode Island, where I was honored to join Dr. Lafayette and Gail Farris in leading the Level II certification training for Kingian Nonviolence. This year, 66 people from over a dozen countries were certified as Kingian trainers!!!

In June alone, we have also:

  • Facilitated a conversation about race for the senior leadership of a Buddhist monastary.
  • Facilitated a two-day nonviolence and organizing workshops for street outreach workers in partnership with the New York Justice League.
  • Continued our ongoing programs in San Bruno County Jail and San Quentin State Prison.
  • Led a day-long Buddhism and Nonviolence retreat at the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City with our friend Nirali Shah.
  • Presented at a conference of young progressive Christian leaders in Atlanta.

All that has happened just in June alone, thanks to your support.

We are looking forward to continuing our work in July. Chris is getting ready to head to Minnesota for a series of workshops and speaking events on the Gandhian Iceberg, and I am preparing for our next two-day workshop in Oakland as well as a big weekend visioning retreat for the leadership of East Point Peace Academy.

We will have a TON of exciting updates for you all coming out of the retreat. We look forward to updating you more then!!!

Thank you all for your ongoing support of this work!

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Exploring the Iceberg

When faced with unanswerable questions and seriously challenging work, what a powerful blessing it is to be in the company of inspiring, creative, and big-hearted people!

2018 has marked the expansion of East Point Peace Academy’s menu of workshop offerings, which now includes The Gandhian Iceberg, a weekend devoted to deep consideration of our own lives and work through the lens Mohandas Gandhi’s social change philosophy. Over the weekend of March 24 & 25, I was moved time and again by the 25 workshop participants who joined us for the first-ever Gandhian Iceberg workshop hosted under the East Point banner. Together we learned from, wrestled with, resonated with, and deliberated over this fascinating teacher’s ideas and practices, and we accompanied each other as we dug into some terribly important, and often difficult questions:

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