2014 Updates and a Letter to You
Hello RISE Community!
In our values we state, “Honesty and self-reflection are necessary in understanding our participation in oppressive systems and holding ourselves accountable as a collective and individuals. Transparency is crucial in our meetings, our organizing, and within our community.” It is with this value in mind that we write to you to explain where RISE has been the past year, where we are today, and where we are hoping to go in the coming months.
After the 2011 Conference, the RISE Collective experienced a substantial shift in our organizing body. Organizers moved into new roles at work, started families, moved to other states, and became invested in other organizing and activist projects. While our capacity lessened, our investment with continuing RISE did not. We thought the solution was to recruit new organizers, and we held meetings to bring new folks on. A handful of dedicated, radical activists showed up to become part of the work we do, ready to hit the pavement. We didn’t know what event was coming next, but we now had a few more people on board to contribute ideas and push work forward.
Organizers who were involved in prior RISE event planning wanted something different than the typical conference structure we created in years past and still wanted to create a large scale convening. We struggled to vision what such an event would be because we were unsure at that time what need we would fill and what the purpose would be. Since the first RISE conference in 2009, many spaces have become available to share radical ideas and build community: Radical Social Work Group, InterSchool Council on Undoing Racism, Occupy Movement, and many, many more. We asked ourselves, what can RISE add? What do we want to accomplish?
We planned smaller events that were successful, but mobilizing the collective energy that was behind RISE events from 2009-2011 wasn’t happening. Internally, we were struggling.
RISE organizers that had been part of the group for some years did not have the capacity to bring new organizers on in a way that effectively integrated them into the group. Newer organizers felt they didn’t have a place in the group or that they had the power that “older” organizers had. The collective held meetings and retreats to work through our internal dynamics so we could move an event forward, but more and more time passed between our meetings and communication. Slowly the group drifted into radio silence.
Finally, in January 2014, we met to discuss “What happened to RISE?”, a question that had been burning in all of our individual hearts and minds that felt too painful to discuss. Was RISE going to end? Could we regroup and create something meaningful and new? What happened to us, and what will happen next?
Over the past few months we have worked hard to deepen our understanding of the dynamics of our group, particularly as they relate to power and oppression in our personal relationships with each other. We continue to do this work with each other because we are committed to this work in ourselves, with each other and to you, our larger community. We are committed to all our liberation from oppressive systems and ways of being. The process of reconnecting and reflecting on our work has been difficult and energizing. We continue to revisit our values, those commitments that make this group what it is, and will continue to update you on what we have in store for 2014. We thank you all for the collective energy we have created through the years and hope you’re still “with us” in this work.
In Love and Solidarity,
RISE is a grassroots collective of social workers and activists in NYC. We create spaces where progressive and radical ideas can be shared to build knowledge, skills and community. We want to inspire social workers to create a world where the need for social work is made obsolete.
RISE hosts an annual social justice conference and year round events intended to empower students and recent professionals to become effective agents of social change. It focuses on creating strong coalitions, increasing interdisciplinary dialogue, and developing skills in order to transform institutional social problems.