Report-Back: CAGJ Membership Gathering Part 1

Jeremy Simer skypes into our Membership Gathering!

Last Saturday, 20 people CAGJ Members gathered to dive into the history of Community Alliance for Global Justice and reflect on our role in the food sovereignty movement. Scott Winn, our consultant for our year-long Strategic Assessment & Planning Process, facilitated us through a full day of reflection, learning, and interactive activities. We started off the day with founding Director Jeremy Simer, who joined by video chat to give some context for the founding of CAGJ, including discussions about how to continue the momentum of the 1999 WTO protests.  Jeremy recalled the year of consultation with community members whose input helped to shape CAGJ into the organization it is today.  Jeremy’s stories were an important reminder of the role of relationships and community building to organize at the intersections of food and trade justice.

Heather then led us through a timeline of pivotal moments in our 18 years, including our early work on free-trade agreements, our emergence as a food sovereignty organization through our SLEE Dinners and international networking, and the development of our AGRA Watch campaign and multiple phases of the Food Justice Project. The presentation also highlighted phases of CAGJ’s anti-oppression work.

Breaking into small groups, everyone got to tell our own stories of how we entered CAGJ, and what has been meaningful to our experiences. Some key words reflected back to the larger group capturing CAGJ’s purpose included:

Relationships, community-building, joy, holistic, shared values, solidarity, roots of problems, connecting local & global, political education, trade/food sovereignty, “hard” issues, grassroots, summer school, SLEE, events, programs, farmworker justice, campaigns

After enjoying lunch, we reviewed CAGJ’s focus today, and had an interactive assessment conversation through an activity called “laying it on the line”. Scott led us through a series of poignant questions, and  we lined up on a continuum from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree” and then discussed where we stood as a whole and individually. It was a meaningful way to embody our reflections on CAGJ, and visually see how participants in the room aligned, or didn’t, on significant questions.

Simone presented the analysis of our Membership Survey, developed with Dream Team members; we noted that the previous exercise reinforced many of the survey findings. Thank you to everyone who replied – we were excited that over 90 people responded! The next phase is to consult with our solidarity campaign partners, after which we will publish the results of the survey, incorporating our partners’ feedback.

With all this feedback fresh in our minds, we broke into small groups to dive into an assessment of the strengths, areas of growth, and ways our work is enacting  our anti-oppression and racial justice values in 5 areas: Mission and Vision; Organizational Structure; Racial Equity Values/Anti-Oppression Commitment; Programs and Campaigns; Theory of Change and Organizing Strategy. Everyone had an opportunity to walk around the room to see each group’s analyses, and add their thoughts. Discussion of our collective insights was an exciting way to wrap up our day, and left us with many thoughts on how to move forward.

We closed out the day with an evaluation, appreciations for each other, a song*, and excitement for what is to come. As Scott, staff, and the Dream Team continue to move this process forward, we invite you to be in this with us! Our second of three Gatherings will happen early next year; we’ll announce the date soon. In the meantime, we hope you will stay engaged with us in all of our exciting work happening this fall!

*We flood the streets with justice, We are freedom-bound, We have come too far, We won’t turn around! – a song shared by Heather, who learned it in the streets of Seattle during the WTO protests.

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