abstract design
   
nurturing connection and collaboration among allies working for change
 

 
 

Previous Events

BEYOND GOOD INTENTIONS: THE ROLE THAT WHITE PEOPLE MUST PLAY IN THE WORK OF RACIAL JUSTICE

2015 Sprague Lecture by Dr. Melanie S. Morrison

  • Date: October 30, 2015
  • Time: 9:30 am to 2:00 pm
  • Sponsored by: North Broadway United Methodist Church
  • Location: North Broadway United Methodist Church, 48 E. North Broadway, Columbus, Ohio 43214

 

2013


September 3, 10, & October 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, 2013

BECOMING TRUSTWORTHY WHITE ALLIES: A VIDEO CHAT SERIES

The Church Within A Church Movement (CWACM) invited Melanie Morrison, executive director of Allies for Change, to lead a video chat series for white people who wish to deepen their commitment to confronting and dismantling racism. This video chat will be based on Melanie’s article “Becoming Trustworthy White Allies.” There was suggested work to do in between calls to maximize our depth of understanding. We know that becoming a trustworthy white ally is a life long journey and we seek to do all we can to maximize this conversation.

The first video call lasted two hours. Each subsequent date was a 90-minute video chat.

  • Dates: September 3, 10, October 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 (participants committed to all seven sessions).
  • Times: 7pm CT / 8pm ET / 5pm PT
  • Offered by: Church Within A Church Movement

 

 

 


March 19-20, April 16-17, and May 21-22, 2013

BUILDING ALLIANCES, SUSTAINING INCLUSIVE COMMUNITIES: ALLIES FOR CHANGE SOCIAL JUSTICE INSTITUTE

Building Alliances, Sustaining Inclusive Communities (BASIC) is a unique and innovative institute for organizational leaders who seek to deepen their commitment to social justice, inclusion, and institutional change. Meeting for six day-long sessions in March, April, and May 2013, BASIC invited participants to critically examine where they and their organizations stand in relation to three systems of structural inequality – racism, ableism, and classism – with the goal of exploring how these systems can be challenged and dismantled.

Enrollment in BASIC was limited to 24 participants to ensure in-depth conversation, community building, and learning. Recruitment of participants sought to maximize diversity with regard to race, gender, age, sexual orientation, class, and disability/ability.

Utilizing the wisdom of the participants gathered, input from the training team, large and small group discussion, DVDs and videos, and experiential activities, the institute sought to fulfill these goals and objectives:

  • Assess our strengths and places for growth as social justice leaders.
  • Deepen awareness of how oppression, privilege, and power are at work in our organizations at the personal, interpersonal, institutional and cultural levels.
  • Explore the historical roots of racism, ableism, and classism in the United States.
  • Learn about and from movements for racial, disability, and economic justice in the United States.
  • Explore the qualities and actions of effective allies.
  • Equip organizational leaders to recognize and decrease the disparity between their current practices and their inclusive ideals.
  • Practice the skills of interrupting oppressive remarks, practices, policies, and structures.
  • Nurture collaborative action and authentic relationship across differences of race, social class, and dis/abilities.
  • Build alliances and collaborative relationships among individuals and organizations working for social change in Michigan.
  • Develop a sustainable network of allies who will consult and collaborate with each other, by offering support and accountability, as they work for change in their communities.

Because participants were intentionally recruited from a wide variety of social justice organizations, BASIC nurtured connection, community, and collaboration between organizational leaders who might not otherwise come in contact. Individually and collectively, participants explored strategies for recognizing and unlearning the habits, practices, policies, and structures that protect their privilege and keep these systems in place – both within their respective organizations and beyond. Core to this training is the assumption that we can become as passionate about dismantling the systems from which we unjustly benefit as we are about eradicating the systems that oppress us.

Building Alliances, Sustaining Inclusive Communities was made possible by an Including Our Neighbors grant through Michigan Disability Rights Coalition funded by the Michigan Developmental Disabilities Council.

  • Leaders: Melanie Morrison, Rahnee Patrick, and Dionardo Pizaña. (bios)
  • Dates: March 19-20, April 16-17, and May 21-22, 2013. Attendance at all sessions was required.
  • Location: Lansing, Michigan.
  • Enrollment: Limited to 24 people.
  • Accommodations: The meeting space is barrier-free. We offered accommodations to assure equal access to all.

 

 

 


May 28 – June 2, 2013

DOING OUR OWN WORK:
A SEMINAR FOR ANTI-RACIST WHITE PEOPLE

Doing Our Own Work is an intensive seminar for white people who seek to deepen their commitment to confronting and challenging racism and white privilege where they live, study, and work. It is our conviction that those of us who are white need to "do our own work" – educating ourselves, confronting racism, holding each other accountable, and demonstrating good faith as we seek to build genuine and lasting coalitions with people of color. Doing Our Own Work is designed as a supplement to, not a substitute for, contexts where people of diverse races discuss and strategize together how racism can be challenged.

People from communities all across North America have taken part in this intensive seminar. Here is what some of those participants say about the experience:

"Doing Our Own Work is life-changing. It has affected my choice of where to live, what do with my life, where my priorities lie, everything."

"After attending Doing Our Own Work, I am much more willing to take risks as a white person when working alongside of, and in solidarity with, people of color."

"Doing Our Own Work gave me a broader and deeper knowledge of anti-racism, white privilege, my people's history, and the way oppression functions."

If you are a white person who is ready and eager to do some deep and soul-stretching work with other white anti-racist allies, Doing Our Own Work is the place for you!

The seminar consists of more than 40 hours of "class time." Anti-racist action and reflection form the heart of Doing Our Own Work. Each participant is invited to identify a "sphere of influence" in her/his life that will serve as the focus of action and reflection. Utilizing input from the leaders, assigned readings, videos, group discussion, and structured exercises, participants explore the following topics and issues:

  • The four realms of racism: personal, interpersonal, institutional, and cultural
  • Historical roots of racism in the United States
  • Movements for racial justice in the U.S.
  • White privilege and unearned advantage
  • How to be an effective anti-racist ally
  • Cultural appreciation versus cultural appropriation
  • Discerning our spiritual resources for change
  • Practicing the skills of interrupting racism
  • Strategies for institutional change

The facilitators are committed to working with participants to create a respectful, loving, and truth-telling environment where we may bring our whole selves to this vitally important work.

  • Leaders: Allyson Bolt and Melanie S. Morrison (bios)
  • Dates: May 28-June 2, 2013
  • LocationPierce Cedar Creek Institute near Hastings, Michigan. Facilities are barrier-free.

 


January 18 & 19, 2013

BEYOND GOOD INTENTIONS: A WORKSHOP FOR ANTI-RACIST WHITE WOMEN

Indiana Voices of Women is offering an intensive two-day training for white women who seek to deepen their commitment to challenging racism and white privilege in every realm of their daily lives. We will examine our role as white people in the struggle for racial justice and explore how to build stronger alliances with people of color.

  • Dates: Friday, January 18 & Saturday, January 19, 2013
  • Times: Friday 6:00 9:00 pm; Saturday 9:00 am 9:00 pm.
  • Offered by: Indiana Voices of Women
  • Leaders: Melanie S. Morrison & Allyson Bolt (bios)
  • LocationYWCA Greater Lafayette, Indiana
  • Early Bird Registration (by Dec 3): $75
    After Dec 3 Registration: $100
  • Limited to 25 participants
  • Make reservations by contacting Indiana Voices of Women

Registration fee includes all workshop sessions, materials, lunch and dinner on Ssaturday.

This event is made possible by grant support from The Community Foundation of Greater Lafayette.

 

 

 

RENEWING HEART AND HOPE:
A RETREAT FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE EDUCATORS & TRAINERS

Dates: June 29-30, 2012
Led by: Monique Savage and Melanie Morrison
Location: Michigan Friends Center in Chelsea, Michigan

RACE, DIS/ABILITY AND CLASS:
CONFRONTING INTERLOCKING PRIVILEGE & OPPRESSION

Dates: November 17-20, 2011 and January 19-22, 2012
Led by Allies for Change training team
Location: The Leaven Center in Lyons, Michigan

Race, Dis/ability and Class is a program designed by Allies for Change for faculty and graduate students of Michigan State University’s College of Education. It is made possible by a Creating Inclusive Excellence grant from the MSU Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives.

 

MOVING FROM TALK TO ACTION: A SEMINAR FOR ANTI-RACIST WHITE ALLIES

Dates: April 13-15, 2012
Led by Diane Schmitz and Melanie Morrison
Location: Seattle, Washington


RADICAL GENEALOGY:
PERSONAL UNDERSTANDINGS OF RACE
THROUGH OUR ANCESTORS’ STORIES

Dates: October 6, 13, 27, and November 3, 2011
Led by: Monique Savage and Melanie S. Morrison
Times: 7:00-9:00 pm
Location: Community Room, Great Oaks Cohousing Community,
500 Little Lake Drive, Ann Arbor, Michigan (Directions)

For more information…


DOING OUR OWN WORK:
A SEMINAR FOR ANTI-RACIST WHITE PEOPLE

Dates: October 14-17 and December 2-5, 2011
Led by: Melanie Morrison and Aaron Wilson-Ahlstrom
Location: The Leaven Center in Lyons, Michigan

For more information…

 

2011


August 16, 2011

INTERRUPTING RACISM:
PRACTICING THE SKILLS OF CREATIVE INTERVENTION

A Workshop at the United Methodist Women’s National Seminar Event, “Mission: Reconciliation” in Birmingham, Alabama.

We’ve all experienced times when we failed to speak up and challenge racism because we feared saying or doing the wrong thing. This workshop will provide an opportunity to explore positive approaches to confronting hurtful or offensive words and actions. In a supportive group setting, we will practice the skills of interrupting racism, as well examine the dynamics that lead to authentic dialogue and change.

Dates: August 16, 2011
Led by Melanie S. Morrison
Location: Birmingham Sheraton Hotel

 


Moving from Talk to Action:
A Summer Institute for Anti-Racist White People

Dates: August 2 & 3, 2011
Led by: Melanie S. Morrison and Diane S. Schmitz
Location: University Baptist Church in Seattle, Washington (corner of NE 50th & 15th Ave. NE)


 

 

 


From Talk to Action:
An Anti-Racism Workshop for White Allies

Dates: August 5 & 6, 2011
Times: Friday 7 pm - 9 pm; Saturday 9 am - 9 pm
Led by: Melanie S. Morrison
Location: Grandview Calvary Baptist Church, 1803 East 1st Ave., Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

 


Doing Our Own Work:
A Seminar for Anti-Racist White People

Dates: July 19-24, 2011
Led by Allyson Bolt and Melanie Morrison
Location: The Leaven Center in Lyons, Michigan

 


Tools for Justice:
An Anti-Oppression Training for Young Adults

Date: July 30, 2011, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Led by Melanie Morrison
Location:St. Peter's Episcopal Church, 1950 Trumbull St., Detroit, MI


 

 

June 7, 2011, Tuesday, 7:00 pm

RADICAL GENEALOGY

Join us for an evening in Durham, NC, with RCWMS Women Writing the South scholar Melanie Morrison. Drawing on the strength of her Southern roots and the spirit of her social and racial justice work, Melanie is exploring the untold stories of activists in the 1930s in Birmingham, Alabama. Her project centers on the abduction of three young white Birmingham women in 1931 and the wrongful arrest and conviction of an African American man named Willie Peterson. By focusing on this tumultuous event, Melanie seeks to illuminate the historical antecedents of forces that still tear us asunder. She also hopes to retrieve stories of Birmingham activists, both black and white, who resisted the politics of division and built coalitions across race, class, and gender. Melanie will present some of her findings and invite us to explore how each us might utilize the tools and methods of radical genealogy in our own ancestral research.

  • Speaker: Melanie S. Morrison, Ph.D., M.Div., is founder and director of Allies for Change, a national network of anti-oppression educators based in Michigan.

 

 

 

 

2010


DOING OUR OWN WORK: A SEMINAR FOR ANTI-RACIST WHITE PEOPLE

  • Leaders: Melanie S. Morrison and Aaron Wilson-Ahlstrom (bios)
    Dates: October 15-18 and November 19-22, 2010.
  • Location: The Leaven Center in Lyons, Michigan. The main floor of the Lodge and Guest House are barrier-free.

 


February 1, March 8, April 19, and May 17, 2009

A SACRED CONVERSATION ON RACE

The Sacred Conversation on Race is a national program of the United Church of Christ (UCC) launched in April 2008. This four-part series, sponsored by First Congregational UCC of Angola, Indiana, will address a variety of topics including:

  1. The sacred work of racial justice
  2. The dynamics of privilege and oppression
  3. Building authentic relationships across difference
  4. How to be an effective anti-racist ally
  5. Discerning our spiritual resources for change
  6. Practicing the skills of interrupting racism
  7. Strategies for institutional change
  • Leaders: Monique Savage and Melanie S. Morrison (bios)
  • Location: First Congregational United Church of Christ, Angola, Indiana

February 28 – March 1, 2009

ANTI-RACISM WEEKEND

Anti-Racism Workshop, Saturday, Feb. 28, Lecture/Sermon, Restoring Hope: The Sacred Work of Confronting Racism, Sunday, March 1,

Workshop presenter and preacher: Melanie S. Morrison
Location: Unitarian Universalist Church of Flint, Flint, Michigan

JULY 2009

 


July 7-12, 2009

DOING OUR OWN WORK:
A SEMINAR FOR ANTI-RACIST WHITE PEOPLE

For 15 consecutive years, Doing Our Own Work has a provided a unique context for white people who seek to deepen their commitment to confronting and challenging white racism. Offering more than 40 hours of “class time,” Doing Our Own Work equips white people with the analysis, skills, and tools needed to be more effective anti-racist allies with people of color and to help bring about institutional change. Learn more about the seminar.

  • Leaders: Melanie S. Morrison and Aaron Wilson-Ahlstrom (bios)
  • Location: Tower Hill Retreat and Conference Center, Sawyer, Michigan

 


September 11-13, 2009

CELEBRATING OUR CREATIVITY AND CULTURE: THE 9TH ANNUAL RETREAT FOR DISABILITY ACTIVISTS & ALLIES

The Disability Rights Movement has a long and powerful history of resisting oppression and generating pride through the creation of art, music, literature, poetry, and other expressions of disability culture. This annual retreat will provide a space for disability activists and allies to celebrate disability culture, reflect on our lives, and nurture creative resources for sustaining our struggle for justice.

We encourage you to bring poems, films, music, and other creative expressions that have inspired you or that you yourself have created. We will weave these offerings into our times together and we will also provide opportunities for new creations. You need not think of yourself as an “artist” ~ you need only bring a desire to celebrate our incredible disability culture!

There will be ample time to enjoy the beauty of the land by traversing The Leaven Center’s accessible trails. There will also be time to rest, relax, and be in community with disability activists and allies who are committed to confronting ableism in ourselves and the world around us.

This event is a collaboration between Allies for Change and The Leaven Center

  • Leaders: Mike Ervin, Rahnee Patrick, and Melanie Morrison
  • Location: Leaven Center in Lyons, Michigan (www.leaven.org)

 

 


October 25 – November 22, 2009

SPIRIT & PRIDE: REIMAGINING DISABILITY IN JEWISH AND CHRISTIAN COMMUNITIES

Spirit and pride are powerful forces in the disability rights movement and in the lives of many people with disabilities – calling forth a radical wholeness and a passion for justice. All too often, however, theological traditions of pity and charity shape how Christian and Jewish communities treat people with disabilities. There are prayers for healing that aim to “make whole the broken,” scriptural passages that describe disabled people as “blemished,” religious images that depict disability as spiritual deficiency: “I once was blind, but now I see.”

Yet religious communities can provide powerful resources in the struggle for a more inclusive and just society. Spirit & Pride invites disability activists, students, members of congregations, clergy, and others to a four-week process of self-reflection, study, and dialogue. This series draws upon ancient and emerging traditions of liberation to help participants become more effective catalysts for change where they live, work, and worship.

  • Leaders: Rabbi Julia Watts Belser and Rev. Melanie S. Morrison (bios)
  • Location: Sunday retreats at Church of the Servant, Grand Rapids. Thursday evening sessions at Ahavas Israel, Grand Rapids.

Enrollment in Spirit & Pride is limited to 40 people in order to facilitate in-depth conversation. Attendance at all sessions is required to assure commitment, continuity, and community among seminar participants. If possible, we encourage participants to attend in teams from congregations or organizations.

During this series, there will be time for personal reflection, journaling or creative writing, text study, and small group conversations. We will draw upon poetry, music, videos, case studies, and stories that reimagine disability in ways that are liberating for people with disabilities. Together we will explore:

  • How disability is viewed within Christian and Jewish traditions, practices, and sacred texts.
  • Learn about the histories and cultures of people with disabilities and the disability rights movement.
  • Study the writings of Jewish and Christian scholars, theologians, and spiritual mentors with disabilities.
  • How individuals, congregations, and community organizations in West Michigan can work together to challenge ableism and enhance justice for people with disabilities.

Spirit & Pride is sponsored by:

 


JANUARY 2010

 


January 15-17, 2010

STRENGTH FOR THE LONG HAUL ~ A DOING OUR OWN WORK REUNION

Over the past 15 years, nearly 200 people from all across North America have taken part in the Doing Our Own Work seminar for anti-racist white allies. If you are a Doing Our Own Work graduate who yearns to deepen your connection with others committed to this work, please join us for this reunion weekend at The Leaven Center.

This will be an opportunity to reconnect with those you know and meet new friends and allies. It will also be a time to pause and reflect – with compassion and clarity – on where we have been and where we are going in our work for racial justice.

We will “check in” with each other, exchange resources, share stories of our continuing efforts to confront racism and white privilege, and consult with each other about our spheres of influence. Most of all, it will be a time for reinvigoration and renewal as we encourage and strengthen each other in this never-ending work of dismantling racism.

Space is limited so we encourage you to register early.

  • Facilitator: Melanie S. Morrison (bio)

 

 


January 21-24, 2010

UNDERSTANDING PRIVILEGE AND OPPRESSION, PART II

Understanding Privilege and Oppression (UPO) is a two-part training for faculty and doctoral students in the Michigan State University College of Education. UPO explores the dynamics of privilege and oppression by focusing on three systems of structural inequality: racism, sexism, and heterosexism. UPO examines the histories and dynamics unique to each of these systems as well as identifying how these systems intersect and reinforce each other. Participants also explore strategies for recognizing and unlearning the habits and practices that protect their privilege. Core to this training is the assumption that we can become as passionate about dismantling the systems from which we unjustly benefit as we are about eradicating the systems that oppress us. Registration for this training is now closed.

Understand Privilege and Oppression is funded by grant for Creating Inclusive Excellence Office of Inclusion, Michigan State University

Leaders: Melanie S. Morrison and Monique Savage (bios)
Location: The Leaven Center near Lyons, Michigan

 

 


February 19-22 and March 19-22, 2010

DOING OUR OWN WORK: A SEMINAR FOR ANTI-RACIST WHITE PEOPLE

Doing Our Own Work is an intensive seminar for white people who seek to deepen their commitment to confronting and challenging racism and white privilege where they live, study, and work. It is our conviction that those of us who are white need to "do our own work" – educating ourselves, confronting racism, holding each other accountable, and demonstrating good faith as we seek to build genuine and lasting coalitions with people of color. Doing Our Own Work is designed as a supplement to, not a substitute for, contexts where people of diverse races discuss and strategize together how racism can be challenged.

The seminar consists of two extended weekends, providing more than 45 hours of "class time." Anti-racist action and reflection form the heart of Doing Our Own Work. Each participant is invited to identify a "sphere of influence" in her/his life that will serve as the focus of action and reflection. Utilizing input from the leaders, assigned readings, videos, group discussion, and structured exercises, participants explore the following topics and issues:

  • The four realms of racism and change: personal, interpersonal, institutional, and cultural
  • Historical roots of racism in the United States
  • Movements for racial justice in the U.S.
  • White privilege and unearned advantage
  • How to be an effective anti-racist ally
  • Cultural appreciation versus cultural appropriation
  • Discerning our spiritual resources for change
  • Practicing the skills of interrupting racism
  • Strategies for institutional change

The facilitators are committed to working with participants to create a respectful, loving, and truth-telling environment where we may bring our whole selves to this vitally important work.

  • Leaders: Melanie S. Morrison and Aaron Wilson-Ahlstrom (bios)
  • Location: The Leaven Center, Lyons, Michigan (www.leaven.org).


 

February 26-28, 2010

A SACRED CONVERSATION ON RACE

Our goal is to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.  ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The 2008 Presidential election vividly illustrated the contradictions that continue to surround race and racism in this nation. On the one hand, the election of Barack Obama as President was a profoundly transformative moment in our nation's history, demonstrating that racial barriers once thought intractable can be overcome. On the other hand, we continue to experience daily how race is used to breed fear and suspicion, and divide us from one another.

Racism remains a wound at the heart of our nation that cannot be wished away or treated carelessly. As unemployment rates soar and jobs are outsourced overseas, frustration and rage are unleashed upon the most vulnerable within our borders – immigrants and those we call “illegal aliens.” The divide between rich and poor is greater than at any time since the Great Depression. Despite the rise of a Black middle class over the past 40 years, the average financial net worth of White families in 2009 remains ten times greater than the average financial net worth of Black families.

In May 2008, the United Church of Christ called upon its local churches to engage in a sacred conversation on race, recognizing that racial healing and reconciliation are crucial to our spiritual, physical, and mental wholeness as a people. In response to this call, Community Congregational Church has invited Dr. Rachel Harding of Denver, Colorado, and Rev. Dr. Melanie Morrison, of Lyons, Michigan to lead us in a sacred conversation that promises to be challenging, soul-stretching, and enlivening. Together we will explore:

  • The sacred work of racial justice
  • Dr. King’s vision of the Beloved Community
  • How to nurture authentic relationships across differences
  • How to be an effective anti-racist ally
  • Where we draw hope and strength for ourselves, our communities, and our nation as we work for peace and justice.

During worship on Sunday, February 28, Dr. Harding and Dr. Morrison will share their personal journeys as women – one African American; one white – who are passionately committed to the sacred work of racial justice.

Join us for  this extraordinary weekend of conversation, reflection, and "beloved community" for the renewal of our spirits and the revitalization of our commitment to social change.

  • Leaders: Rachel E. Harding and Melanie S. Morrison (bios)
  • Location: Community Congregational Church of Tiburon, Tiburon, California.

 

 

 


May 24-28, 2010

MINISTRY ON THE MARGINS ~ J Term Course at Chicago Theological Seminary

This course will explore existent and emerging models of ministry with people who are estranged from traditional church settings or are relegated to the margins of religious institutions. For example, we will examine theologies, rituals, spiritual practices, and faith communities that are being forged by people with disabilities, LGBT people, and those who live on the streets. We will also examine the challenges, stresses, and joys of doing ministry on the margins.

  • Instructor: Melanie S. Morrison (bio)
  • Location: Chicago Theological Seminary, Chicago, Ilinois

 


So the Ramp Is Up, Now What?

Date: February 19, 2011
Lecture by Melanie S.Morrison
Location: Temple Emanuel,
1715 Fulton Street East, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Beyond Guilt: The Role that White People Must Play in Confronting Racism

Date: March 9, 2011 ~ 3:30 p.m.
Lecture by Melanie S. Morrison at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan


For information about any of our programs, please contact us.

 

 

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