Background: Kitchen Table Activism (KTA) is a monthly activity by the Rural Organizing Project. The idea is that small actions can lead to powerful collective results when groups of people gather to complete the same action across the state of Oregon. ROP works to keep each KTA easily achievable so that groups with other projects or groups with limited immediate energy can still complete the KTA each month.
What is the activity?
Suzanne Pharr, a community organizer, movement elder, and longtime friend to ROP, recently released her latest book, Transformation: Toward a People’s Democracy. The book is a collection of her writings from over the past six decades. It reflects her work on the frontlines of the fight for a multi-racial, multi-gendered democracy and examines our social justice successes and failures as well as the growth and changes in anti-democratic movements over time. This month’s KTA is to host a Transformation book club with your human dignity group in order to deepen and reinvigorate local organizing efforts and to prepare for a virtual book talk with Suzanne in February 2022.
Why this activity?
As we move into the winter months and feel holidays and family gatherings fast approaching, this book offers resources to prepare for some of the tough conversations that will inevitably pop up around holiday dinner tables. Even if in-person gatherings are not part of your plans, Suzanne offers insights on movement work and breaks down important issues that continuously arise in community organizing work.
“Within these documents, there are examples of our great collective work for social justice as well as examples of how we failed or fell short of our dreams or missed opportunities to replace division with unity…In the spirit of this democracy, this collection is offered for any way you might use it on the path to ward off authoritarianism and to build a people’s democracy, to resist division and to build unity, to reimagine and bring about a radical transformation of the world.” – Suzanne Pharr, Little Rock, AR 2021
How to complete the activity:
- Download or purchase copies of Suzanne Pharr’s book for your group. Transformation: Toward a People’s Democracy is available for free as a digital download and for the cost of printing via Amazon.com.
- Decide as a group whether you will read the entire book or focus on one particular chapter. Suzanne herself suggests Chapter 25: Why the Women’s Project Would Support a New Trial for a Convicted Rapist—and an Introduction to the Women’s Watchcare Network. In this chapter, Suzanne calls for connecting the dots between issues and offers tools on how to hold complexity in our organizing for change.
3. Meet and discuss what resonated most for you.
a. In what ways are Suzanne’s reflections from over the decades relevant to your organizing today?
b. How does this book/chapter influence your approach to talking with your relatives and neighbors this holiday season? Especially those with very different politics from your own?
c. What is inspiring you or your group to take action? What have you already started planning?
d. If you could ask the author anything, what would it be? We’re gearing up to host a book talk with Suzanne on February 8th and we would love to hear some of your burning questions!
4. Extra Credit! Listen to Rural Roots Rising Season 1, Episode 10: Taking Risks, and hear Suzanne speak about how she came of age politically along with the founding of the Women’s Project and the establishment of the Women’s Watchcare Network.
Let ROP know how your discussion went! What questions do you want to discuss with Suzanne in February? How is the book influencing your organizing? Reach out to your local community organizer or email Monica Pearson at firstname.lastname@example.org