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MNEA Week: Vidhya Shanker on AEA 2012: Minnesota’s Constituent-led Organizations Represent!

Vidhya Shanker here and I serve on the Local Arrangements Committee. Minnesota’s Scandinavian history is common knowledge, but our state is also home to the largest urban indigenous population in the country. Beyond a rich African American history, we also have the country’s largest Hmong and Somali populations and a growing Latin@ population. The Committee thus felt strongly that representatives from these communities participate as protagonists in AEA 2012.

Similarly, Minnesota is known for its strong philanthropic and nonprofit culture, but perhaps less widely known as the birthplace of the American Indian Movement. Many Minnesotan communities—new and old—continue pursuing racial, economic, and social justice through movement organizing. Organizing engages people affected by a situation in collectively identifying themselves, the situation they wish to address, the solutions they wish to pursue, and the means through which they will implement them. Having increased their bargaining power by joining forces and developing leadership capacity internally rather than relying on external expertise to speak or act on their behalf, they negotiate with individuals and institutions to change systems rather than provide services.

One way organizers raise critical consciousness among constituents and stakeholders is through the praxis of popular education and interactive theater. The Local Arrangements Committee is proud to sponsor Part 1 of The Revolution Will Not Be Culturally Competent (Thursday, October 25; 1-2:30PM in 205B), which is rooted in these traditions and will be led by three Minnesota-based organizations critically engaging with the evaluation system. Make a point of connecting with them while you’re here!

Rad Resources:

  • Headwaters Foundation for Justice has been funding constituent-led, grassroots efforts toward justice across Minnesota for 28 years. Its model places grantmaking decisions in the hands of the community of organizers to remove the root causes of injustice—the sources of poverty, discrimination, inequality—and connect those with means with those on the front lines of change.
  • Pangea World Theater, founded in the Twin Cities in 1995, aims to illuminate the human condition, celebrate cultural differences, and promote human rights. Providing a progressive space for transformation, it collaborates locally and internationally to create performances that experiment with form and content to create new processes for a new aesthetic that speaks across geography and culture.
  • Embodied Artsis a Minneapolis-based organization with a core commitment to racial and economic justice, social change, and the exuberant unfolding of humanity. It uses an embodied approach that includes deep listening, customized theater-sourced vehicles, and experiential body-informed laboratories to solve seemingly intractable problems.

Hot Tip: The Multiethnic Issues in Evaluation TIG is sponsoring Part 2, which will allow participants to engage in authentic dialogue around issues raised in Part 1 immediately after and in the same room.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Minnesota Evaluation Association (MN EA) Affiliate Week with our colleagues in the MNEA AEA Affiliate. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our MNEA members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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