We exist within a culture that is built on the economics of extraction and the politics of domination. Since time immemorial, the world’s wisdom traditions have told stories that show that those politics bring death, not life. They cannot set us free.
You might characterize that culture as an Imperial Death Culture. The Imperial Death Culture celebrates and reinforces those things that cannot bring us life or joy. It offers us the false god of white supremacy. Imperial Death Culture gave us the Doctrine of Discovery, global capitalism, and the ongoing colonialism that extracts material resources from the world, and funnels them into the hands of fewer and fewer people. This culture is built on the great lie of scarcity, that there is not enough for the flourishing of everyone. It is constructed on the sandy soil of domination, which harms, traumatizes, and leaves places haunted and in need of healing.
The answers to Imperial Death Culture, as with the ancient Israelites in Egypt, lie in the wilderness, a place of extravagant abundance and fecund creativity.
At QC Family Tree we seek to resist Imperial Death Culture by practicing anti-racism, decentralized wealth, mutual aid, and sharing of resources. We practice accountability by working for right, equitable relationships. We practice anti-colonialism by learning about and respecting the history, traditions, elders, and stories of the land, place, and people. We commit to practices that keep us well and able to continue the long distance journey for justice. We commit ourselves to intervene and interrupt individual and collective generational trauma by sustaining practices for our collective physical, emotional, spiritual, and environmental wellbeing, knowing that this healing and resilience is already and always accessible and available.
When we fail at this, and we will fail, we move toward repair and reconciliation. We seek to address any harm we have caused and learn from our missteps so that we will not repeat them.
We are always working to create from what we have been given. Our staff and neighbors are artists using their various media to help our village of neighbors, friends, kin, and supporters to tell a different story about the world. We believe that deep imagination is necessary for deep change. We cannot create a world we cannot imagine.
In late 2020, QC Family Tree staff chose to revise our visioning documents to better reflect the ways in which we have pivoted and adapted throughout the year. Approaching a visioning process in the midst of constant change and unearthing can be quite the daunting task. How do we set goals and measurements when the sands seem to be shifting below our feet? Can we even imagine ourselves past stay at home and social distancing practices? One way we chose to approach the visioning process was with the principle of intentional adaptation.
“Intentional Adaptation” is a strategy coined by adrienne maree brown in her book, Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds. She puts it this way, “Intentional adaptation is the heart of emergent strategy. How we live and grow and stay purposeful in the face of constant change actually does determine both the quality of our lives, and the impact that we can have when we move into action together…. A first question to ask ourselves is, how do we practice creating our ease with what is? Change happens. Change is definitely going to happen, no matter what we plan or expect or hope for or set in place. We will adapt to that change, or we will become irrelevant.”
We took adrienne maree brown’s concept to heart as we moved through the difficult moments of naming aspirations while also standing in the midst of difficult change. Giving ourselves permission to not get it all right provided us the space we needed to explore, dream, and be real with ourselves about what we can and cannot accomplish individually and collectively. Not having to write down and document every single goal and expectation gives us wide open space to experiment, fail, and learn. Aligning our practice with our principles helped us to feel strong and certain about our direction and the cohesiveness of our team. Intentionally adapting set us free to grow.