Questions and answers about the Barnraisers Project
Keep your expectations low for a "real" White Pages this week and you won't be disappointed... this one is straightforward and self-promotional
It’s my kids’ spring break and we’re back home in Montana, staying with my folks, living a very, very blessed life. Basically, we wake up, go on a hike, stop by some coffee shop or another for a vacation-level ration of cookies and bars and then retire back home for a lazy afternoon. Sometimes we get ice cream instead of cookies. Currently, my youngest is napping and my oldest is reading a book about dragons. When he’s done with that he’ll likely play a game of Monopoly with my mom using our extremely weathered 1970s era game board. All the pieces were lost decades ago, replaced with various board-game-sized knick knacks. There’s a random mini praying hands stauette, a tiny headless torso, a green piece that’s very obviously from Clue, Chase from Paw Patrol, etc. My kids can’t unpack the board without doubling over in laughter. It rules.
I’m writing (quickly! before nap ends!) with a reminder. As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, registration for the Barnraisers Project Spring Organizing Cohorts closes TOMORROW.
If you’ve been a White Pages reader for a while, you’ve heard about these cohorts, but usually in some hurried parenthesis. Given that, I thought it wouldn’t hurt, what with the deadline at all, to clarify a few things for folks who may have been intrigued but weren’t quite sure what all this was about.
And yes, techincally I’ve now sent out two White Pages since telling you to not expect White Pages for a while. As it turns out, I may be very bad at not sending newsletters. But, in my defense, this one took literally fifteen minutes.
What is a “Barnraisers Project Organizing Training?”
It’s a place to learn how to organize in your corner of the world, especially if your corner of the world is a majority-White community. We focus on White spaces (like mostly White schools, neighborhoods, religious institutions, etc.) not because those are the only places where organizing for a better world needs to happen (goodness no!) nor because those are the communities that should be leading the way towards justice. We do so because White communities create a specific set of challenges for all of our efforts to build a better world and therefore deserve a very specific type of organizing approach. Here’s the curriculum, in case you’re wondering.
Not everybody who joins a Barnraisers cohort is White, nor do our folks solely focus on White communities— there’s a lot that’s transferrable to other organizing space. The space is focused, however, on the particular art of organizing in communities with a lot of societal power, so if you’ve got no interest in that conversation (totally fine!) this won’t be the best place for you.
You talk a lot about organizing projects and campaigns. What if I don’t have any good ideas for anything like that? Or alternately, what if I have never considered myself to be an activist or an organizer and that language intimidates me?
You are both more than welcome to join and you will be in very good company. Most cohort participants are in exactly that boat.
To be honest, one of the biggest mistakes I make in promoting the cohorts ist to use high falutin’ language (like “organizing campaigns”) that makes people’s inferiority complexes kick in and cause them to assume that they need to be some big time gold star activist to join this space. I’m working on that. Maybe this paragraph helps.
When do the cohorts run? What kind of a time commitment are they?
They start the week of April 11th (not this coming week but the next) and then run for ten weeks. Only half of those weeks are “class” weeks, though. The other half are homework/office hours/off weeks. The schedule looks like this, in case you’re wondering.
On class weeks, we have one session, for 90 minutes. There are a bunch of times that I offer them- from AM to PM, Monday-Friday. Most folks find at least one time that works for them, and we do our darndest to give people that time.
Do they cost money?
The short answer is no. The longer answer is that I ask folks to donate (commensurate with their means, and on the honor system) to Black, Brown or Indigenous organizers whom they admire. On the back end, I also do a “pass the hat” request for either volunteer or financial help for Barnraisers, but I don’t bother or prod anybody who can’t give either. I am grateful to be able to do this for a living thanks to donors (most of whom are past participants) but I also really want everybody who wants to learn with us to do so without feeling any pressure to contribute.
Why might I not want to do these?
Well they’re virtual (and on Zoom) and maybe you’re very excited to not be doing things on Zoom right now because it’s Spring and you’ve been weathering a global pandemic and virtual things don’t seem cute or fun anymore. Or maybe you’re just busy! As an Officially Busy Person myself, I get it!
Other reasons: You want a space that’s more about processing racism and Whiteness, or learning more about how not to be racist. Maybe you read the curriculum and were realizing that you already knew all this stuff. Or maybe you’re just getting a sense of my vibe and you’re like “oof, not for me!” All good reasons!
Why might I want to do these?
If you’ve been overhwelmed by grief and anger and information-overload and you feel like whenever you log onto the Internet you just ping pong from one outrage or another and sometimes that outrage is big and profound (like a war) and sometimes it isn’t (like one famous person slapping another famous person) but it’s all pitched at the same volume and it all hurts your brain.
Or alternately: you feel all that but have a sense that the antidote is to become more locally connected and grounded, that rather than getting in social media rock fights you should build something with the people closest to you.
Most of all, though, you should join if you feel all that but don’t know how to start and you enjoy learning in a space where all of your co-learners are kind and non-judgmental and the whole vibe is…actually fun.
What if I really can’t do the cohorts but this all sounds great and I’d like to support?
Donations to Barnraisers enable me to keep the cohorts (and other projects, like this newsletter) free while still allowing both myself and my colleague Carly to do this work professionally.
When does registration close again?
TOMORROW! Like, at the end of the night (though if you email me and request an extension, I’m often quite nice about granting them).
Garrett, are your kids done napping yet?
My youngest is still sleeping! So I hit my goal! And my oldest decided to play soccer with my mom in the backyard, so forget everything I said about Monopoly. Time for me to press send on this and get back to Spring Break! Thanks for reading!