Building a Grassroots Social Movement


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Grassroots social movements are curious, living, evolving beings with many centers. Their success rests in the energy and vision of individuals and their strategies for creating and sustaining community. So, what will it take to transform Transhumanism, a largely intellectual movement, into a grassroots social movement?

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Building a Grassroots Social Movement

  1. 1. Building a Grassroots Social Movement (& the Futures of Transhumanism) Darshan Elena Campos @darshancampos
  2. 2. ______________________________Darshan Elena Campos educator. historian. futurist. @darshancampos
  3. 3. ______________________________Darshan Elena Campos first, an open secret. i’m transhuman. @darshancampos
  4. 4. ______________________________Darshan Elena Campos first, an open secret. i’m transhuman. @darshancampos I survived. My young student didn’t.
  5. 5. @darshancampos Mission Objectives: 1. Define grassroots social movements & transhumanism. 2. Outline a method that I use to teach these concepts. 3. Model a simple method for creating community.
  6. 6. @darshancampos What are grassroots social movements? ● People. ● Alive, social, evolving. ● Mechanisms to promote genuine security & meet basic human needs like food, housing, education, etc. ● Open invitations to find community, share knowledge, & change daily life.
  7. 7. @darshancampos And the movements that last & grow? ● Inspire participation & personalization. ● Harness collective intelligence. ● Distribute responsibilities. ● Cultivate leadership. ● Share power.
  8. 8. @darshancampos Examples? Black Panther Party & INCITE! Cau Napoli Collettivo/Flickr
  9. 9. @darshancampos Black Panther Party ● Founded in Oakland, CA in 1966. ● Launched ‘survival programs.’ ● ‘Citizen Patrols’ to end police violence. ● ‘Free Breakfast for Children’ to end hunger. ● BPP lives on because it captured the collective imagination & still speaks to basic human needs for genuine security.
  10. 10. INCITE! ● Founded in Santa Cruz, CA in 2000. ● Provides a lens for seeing violence in its many forms. ● Changed its name from ‘INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence’ to ‘INCITE! Women, Gender Non-Conforming, and Trans People of Color Against Violence’ to better reflect a shared vision of freedom from violence. @darshancampos
  11. 11. @darshancampos Grassroots social movements & the classroom. ● Educators are guides, not experts. ● Students direct the learning process. ● Open learning experiences honor student expertise, foster collaboration, & promote higher order thinking. ● Course work reflects the demands of different career paths. ● Evaluation is an exchange & daily practice.
  12. 12. @darshancampos So how to teach transhumanism? I ask students to put transhumanism on trial for racism. Yes! In my class, “Race, Gender, & Science Fiction,” we play... Ethnic Studies Freedom Brigade versus The Transhumanists. introducing….
  13. 13. The scenario: The Ethnic Studies Freedom Brigade has charged The Transhumanists with racism! The case is now before Oakland’s Human Futures Commission, which works to protect and promote the right to dignity, justice, and equality for all peoples and sentient creatures, including the planet, for seven generations to come. The Ethnic Studies Freedom Brigade and Defense Counsel for The Transhumanists are calling on the following expert witnesses: Andrea Smith, Harriet A. Washington, Ramez Naam, and Nalo Hopkinson. Reporters from the East Bay Express, Youth Radio, and New York Times are writing articles on the case and will be present during the trial. @darshancampos
  14. 14. How it works: ● Students works in small learning teams to explore different perspectives & find their personal truth.
  15. 15. Why it works: ● The scenario is silly. ● It builds on previous course work. ● The trial is structured like a formal debate. ● The research process is open, playful, & collaborative. ● The teaching method invites exploration, not resolution. ● Above all, students teach each other & share knowledge. @darshancampos
  16. 16. So what is transhumanism? ● A means to surpass our biological limitations. ● A rising paradigm and cultural reality for today’s youth. ● A practice of science & technology that deepens violence due to issues of access, social justice, & equity. ● A ‘deathist’ ideology because it advances space colonization, rather than space exploration. ● A future vision that seeks to evolve the species through science & technology. ● An open invitation to ask questions of science, tech & @darshancampos
  17. 17. Can we build a transhuman social movement? Yes. The simple method for creating community and building grassroots social movements? It’s called… socializing! @darshancampos
  18. 18. Let’s socialize & explore these questions: ● what brings you to this event & learning community? ● what are transhuman innovations (research techniques, medical practices, etc)? ● what does transhumanism mean to you, our lives, and our living planet? @darshancampos
  19. 19. Tips on building grassroots social movements... 1. share knowledge in community ● throw a smart dinner party! ● organize playshops! ● host a book club! 2. make space for critiques, questions, & challenges ● attend to emotions & feelings, yours first. ● listen, learn, change, repeat. @darshancampos
  20. 20. More tips…. 3. Don’t sell an idea (that’s marketing). Instead, explore questions in community (that’s learning). 4. Eliminate barriers to participation (cost, access, language, etc). 5. Remedy social issues & change together (that’s what grassroots social movements do; they reflect the needs & goals of their people. When they don’t, they fail, and people move on.) @darshancampos
  21. 21. And ‘people’ are? By people, I mean every thinking creature – human, transhuman, transhumanist, and what comes next! @darshancampos
  22. 22. ______________________________Darshan Elena Campos @darshancampos So long, and thanks for all the smarts!