Excerpt: adrienne maree brown - Emergent Strategy Grows from Heartbreak

This month marks one year since the election of Donald Trump. The Laura Flanders show released a special report at that time, in which we asked our guests to reflect on social change. How it happens, how it doesn't, what they planned to do the day after the election to keep resistance movements alive, and what they do to support their own spirits. Here's adrienne maree brown.

Emergent Strategies are ways of looking at the world, the natural world that we're a part of and searching for collaborative efforts, like where does collaboration happen, where is a right relationship happening between humans and the planet, between different parts of the planet, and what can we as a species learn about how to be in right relationship with each other and with the planet that we're living on.

We're filming this in September, and this comes through a week where there were three hurricanes, an earthquake, a potential tsunami, there was flooding, there's droughts, there's a fire raging the entire West Coast. At the same time all the news is coming out of the White House is devastating for our folks we have people who are like "DACA is the thing that has kept my family together the thing that has allowed me to be in the place that I'm from". Everything feels like it's so heavy and so intense and how do we survive this moment, it doesn't feel like we can. And Emergent Strategy posits actually all of these changes, these are something we need to figure how do we embrace and also how do we shape them. So Emergent Strategy is really life moves towards live, longing moves towards longing. And if we're not also organized towards what we really want and what we long for, we will always settle into just reacting and trying to stop something bad from happening.

The trick of this book is that everything you need to know is on pages 41 and 42, and on page 50. If you just read those two pages, or you can look at page 15, page 15 also basically has the entire thesis everything about the book is right there.

This Octavia Butler quote "All successful life is adaptable, opportunistic, tenacious, interconnected and fecund. Understand this, use it, shape god."

So from that, Emergent Strategy is learning how to be fractal, small scale reflects the large scale, how to be adaptive in right relationship to change but also with intention. Because if you change all the time you're just changing all the time you're just a mess you're just a leaf blowing in the wind. But changing with an idea of like "oh I'm a bird I'm trying to get to Mexico for my migration and a storm came, how do I still get myself to Mexico?"

Then non-linear and iterative, resilient, being in a practice of transformative justice which I think we are just beginning to understand what transformative justice is or could be for us as a species, and then interdependent and decentralized and always creating more possibilities.

One of my favorite possibilities right now from the world of nature has been in this flooding that's been happening with the hurricanes, watching how ants have come together to survive and they form ... they basically create a foundation of their own bodies that then other ants climb on top of and climb on top of until they create this floating mound that is able to make sure that the majority of them survive until they come across something that is a higher ground. Right now we are drowning in the overwhelm of this political moment and the overwhelm of hard decisions. How do we reach out and hold on to each other, knowing that holding on to each other knowing that holding on to each other makes us a more stable body that can actually float and not pushing each other down that ... pushing each other under.

One of my favorite examples in the human world is actually the work of Black Lives Matter and the movement for black lives. And feeling like this is a emergent, It's not like someone sat down at a table and was like “I've got it all figured out, I know how we're going to catalyze black people into their liberation fight and taking direct action right now. That’s not what happened. Was just a heartbreak. It really to me just grows out of a heartbreak. If you look at the original post Alicia put it was like “My heart is broken and our lives matter” and that that heartbreak was so catalyzing and people were like “Yeah” ... how do we mobilize ourselves for what we long for and what we believe in this moment when everything is telling us that we don't matter we know we do, how to we move that?

And that so many people have answered that call and that they have really tried to hold like “what does decentralization really look like? How do we keep adapting to changing conditions?” Things that organically emerge from a real desire and a real longing, those are the ones that catalyze most other people. They’re super compelling. Like when you see someone feeling a real emotion, that’s what you want to move towards, and be like “I want to be a part of this” it’s not just getting me to sign my name on a petition, it's not just getting me to be a number in the street, you actually want me to care about my own life and my children's life. Yeah, I'm down for that.

One thing I say in here several times is "What you pay attention to grows". So this administration wants us to put all of our attention on them and I would rather starve them of all of that attention and put all of it on the amazing work that's happening here in Detroit or in Jackson, in the Bear and that's what I'm gonna keep doing.


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