Category Archives: artivism and activism

Popular Education for Social Change: An Economic Justice Teach-In at Agnes Scott College

This audio podcast is a concrete example of popular education for movement building and social change. As defined by the Highlander Research and Education Center: “Popular Education is a participatory process that combines people’s experiences to develop collective analysis and strategies for action for positive social change.”

 

This campaign has been “a long haul”, and we are continuing to “make the road while walking” (Myles Horton’s terms). The struggle for a true living wage is complex. For example, our dining hall staff are divided into Agnes Scott employees (Laborer’s International Union, with Facilities staff) and Aramark (four years unionized with SEIU). Aramark staff have four months a year with no work or pay as seasonal school employees in Georgia. For another example, our outsourced landscaping staff have zero sick days and greatly reduced vacation time with the new company. So there is a continued urgency to do this justice work. In addition to working on undoing structural oppression, the campaign has over the past 25 years founded an employee emergency fund and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses. Hourly staff and students are the core leaders of the movement, and any significant change is from their coalition work, along with support from community partners.

How do we educate at an institution that has as its mission statement: “AGNES SCOTT COLLEGE educates women to think deeply, live honorably and engage the intellectual and social challenges of their times”? We in the living wage campaign take this mission seriously and stand with our colleagues to work for a just campus. In the words of one custodian: “I choose to stand and make a difference.”

On Feb. 16, 2018 (Founders’ Day at Agnes Scott) the Agnes Scott College Living Wage Campaign held an Economic Justice Teach-In to raise awareness, educate, and movement build. The Living Wage Campaign has three major focus points: just wages, institutional respect, and democratic workplace. We are a coalition of hourly staff, students, a few salaried staff and faculty, and fabulous community partners (Atlanta Jobs with Justice, the Teamsters, WRFG (Radio Free Georgia) Labor Forum, Project South, Atlanta 9-to-5, Georgia Interfaith Power and Light, and Faculty Forward).

Alumna and former ASC living wage campaign organizer Jillian Wells (2010) served as emcee for the hour and a half event. Another alumna activist, Helen Cox (2010), joined us and offered historical perspective. Dr. Nathan Grigsby, music director for the Joyful Noise Gospel Choir at ASC, brought two soloists to add music to our event. Zion Martin sang “You Are Good Medley” by Todd Galberth, and Victoria Wallace sang, “Rise Up” by Audra Day. Neil Sardana of Atlanta Jobs with Justice spoke, as well as Anne Olson (Human Rights Atlanta), student activists Emma Fischer and Kristina Kimball, and hourly staff.

For the full video of the teach-in click here:

At the event we celebrated the work of past activists: Della Spurley-Bell and Carrie Wells, co-founders of the first and oldest unionized facilities staff in the U.S. South. Hear the story of the union founding here (retired custodians Della Spurley-Bell and Maggie Ivy):

The first Living Wage video was made in 2007 by ASC alumna Mia Mingus, who worked at the time at SPARK: Reproductive Justice Now:

A few days before the teach-in, Della Spurley-Bell and Tina Pippin appeared on the WRFG Labor Forum and were interviewed by Diane Mathiowetz and Paul McLannan. A summary of the history and issues of the campaign are here:

Videos from our alumnae, faculty, and community supporters are here:


The Agnes Scott Living Wage Campaign can be found on social media:

 

Facebook alumnae group is Agnes Scott College: Living Honorably
Facebook page is ASC Living Wage
Twitter is @livingwageasc
Instagram is @asclivingwagecampaign

Dr. T.J. Jourian Podcast, Part 1

For those who teach in K-12 and higher education: do you have classes/courses that do not include trans voices?

In Part 1 of our conversation with Dr. T.J. Jourian on transpedagogies, we discuss his mentors and influences, including activist Grace Lee Boggs (see his educator’s statement on his website: http://www.tjjourian.net/ )

In this conversation with Dr. T.J. Jourian, we discuss the emerging field of transpedagogies. Jourian has a Ph.D. in Higher Education from Loyola University Chicago (2017) with a dissertation entitled, “My Masculinity Is a Little Love Poem to Myself”: Trans*masculine College Students’ Conceptualizations of Masculinity.” T.J. is also the co-creator of the Journal of Critical Scholarship on Higher Education and Student Affairs. He has written extensively in intersectional teaching and justice-centered curriculum and pedagogy.

On his website T.J. offers a definition: “Trans*formational pedagogy foregrounds trans people in achieving the democratic and emancipatory principles of higher education.” Trans* is a method, based in constructivist educational theory, to expose binary thinking and imagine a new dynamic model in gender and sexuality studies. Transpedagogies go beyond mimesis—the mirroring of heteronormativity—to explore the evolving nature of sexual orientation and gender identity. T.J. describes a justice-centered approach to curriculum and pedagogy that all teachers/faculty need to study and incorporate.

T.J. talks about “artivism”—creative activism, the silo-ing of student affairs staff and faculty and ways to cross that divide, and how faculty can address their own excuses for trans-exclusion in their syllabi, aka, the “there is no room” excuse—and setting new, more inclusive priorities in whatever discipline. It’s important to learn to be vulnerable about possibly messing up (and many of us will mess up), and to have students construct learning with us. How do we include pronouns but also move into deeper, structural issues?