This afternoon at KI (Kheprw Institute) we will be having an open community discussion about Naomi Klein’s book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate.
Having been connected with KI for several years now, I know how important these community discussions are. They provide opportunities to the KI Interns to lead discussions on important topics, giving the youth experience in critical thinking, organizing, and public speaking.
They also serve as a way for the wider community to learn about, and participate in the work of KI. KI is a “safe” place to engage in discussion about social injustice and change. People know they can express themselves and have what they say be considered with respect. That is important because there aren’t many places where everyone is welcome and encouraged to participate, although that seems to be slowly changing, and that is a hopeful sign.
Naomi Klein speaks about that very thing in this book:
“Indeed a great deal of the work of deep social change involves having debates during which new stories can be told to replace the ones that have failed us. Because if we are to have any hope of making the kind of civilizational leap required of this fateful decade, we will need to start believing, once again, that humanity is not hopelessly selfish and greedy”
Denise Abdul-Rahman, Chairperson of Indiana NAACP’s Environmental Justice Committee arranged for the showing of the movie based on the book that was just released this past week. KI and others helped buy tickets to support the movie showing. Then, to further promote the discussion of this book and its ideas, Denise suggested, and KI agreed to host a community discussion about it.
Finally, a number of Friends (Quakers) at the Quaker meeting (which is how we refer to our worship services and our group) have been involved with KI in a variety of ways over the past several years, having a great deal of respect for the work being done there. Recently the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) has introduced a new program called Quaker Social Change Ministry (QSCM). As the name implies, the idea is to get Quaker meetings more involved in social justice work. The core concept of this program is to find an organization representing those who are being impacted by injustice, and see how we can work with them. There is a strong emphasis on avoiding the errors of the past, where those wanting to help actually more often got in the way by trying to take the lead, instead of listening to those who are experiencing injustice.
When we talked with KI about this program and asked if they would work with us on it, they graciously agreed. Several weeks ago we had our first combined meeting with KI and North Meadow Friends, to talk about the program, and how each of us felt about the possibilities of working together. One of the first steps identified was for Friends from North Meadow to participate in these community discussions. This is how we learn about each other, and each other’s experiences, and provides a way for us to explore how we might move forward, together.
I personally am grateful for these monthly book discussions also because they force me to read things that tend to get put off. I had purchased this particular book when it came out last year, but only completed the first half of it. One of the great things about electronic books are the ability to save sections that you highlight. Amazon stores those highlights for you online if you are reading a Kindle book, so I was able to quickly review those notes when I picked up the book again to prepare for this discussion.
As Imhotep Adisa, Director of KI often says, “conversation is undervalued.” These conversations at KI are priceless.