New York State Partners in Policymaking 2018 Speakers Series

June 8, 2018

Caitlin will be presented a workshop on Community Organizing for Inclusion as part of the New York State Partners in Policymaking 2018 Speakers Series this August!

Get all of the details by clicking here.

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My 2017 Year in Review

December 31, 2017

2017 was my first full calendar year working as a self-employed consultant. Self-employment has its challenges and it isn’t always easy or glamorous. I am proud of myself for quitting my full-time salaried job on a leap of faith and a commitment to continuing my values-based work while learning to prioritize my own self-care. Since it can be hard to pause and reflect on what I am doing when I’m in the weeds, I decided that I would do a personal year in review to celebrate some of the things I have accomplished and learned both personally and professionally. Because I am trying to write and share more about what I am up to, I decided that using my blog would be a good step in that direction.

When I left my job in May of 2016, I was burnt out and I was in bad shape mentally and physically. I was emaciated and malnourished and I had run my body into the ground. I had fallen into old patterns of neglecting my basic needs and was living in a constant state of anxiety, pressure, stress, exhaustion, hunger, shame and guilt. I’d lost touch with many people I loved, as I was either in full on work mode or I was shut down, non-functioning, and in need of solitude. My leadership coach, Dewey Schott, introduced me to the Trauma Exposure Response from the book Trauma Stewardship which I immediately read. This was the turning point for me when I realized that the only way I could get back to a healthy baseline was to find a dramatically different way to do my work and live my life. 

This year I am proud that I have stayed alive and am healthier than I have been in many years. I have learned that I am much better equipped to handle stress and keep my depression and anxiety at bay when I consistently get good sleep, eat regularly, stay on a routine and have permission to pace myself. For me this means avoiding staying in bed all day and sleeping too much, as well as not getting enough sleep. This year I was able to create new routines and stick to them (though trust me, I still totally do days in bed and nights without enough sleep on occasion!) I only recently realized just how sick I was as I have started to feel strong, healthy and connected again.

Even the stressful or high-pressure parts of what I do seem much more manageable because how I approach my work has changed, as has my ability to set and hold boundaries without guilt. I am able to be present, step back when needed and identify what my triggers are. I still have patterns that pop up, but I am able to notice and anticipate them in a way that gives me permission and space to imagine and then try new ways to navigate them.  

I have learned to continue to listen to and trust my instincts, my gut and my body. Throughout my life I have made many decisions that are outside of what people have expected me to do, and at times this has likely led me down a harder path to where I was going. Ultimately, living true to myself and trusting that I already know what I need has generally worked out for me in the long run. I have learned resilience, survival, discipline, frugality, and creating new ways to break into the places people say me and those I love can not go. What I call my “work” is not really work in the traditional sense, it is my life and how I live. But I have to stay alive and healthy to do it well and with integrity.

As usual, none of  this would have been possible without a strong community of friends, family, mentors, colleagues and co-conspirators. I am immensely privileged to be so connected, loved and supported by an incredible community of people. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of my year and have given me strength, made me laugh, connected me to work opportunities, challenged me, taught me something, told me their story, fed me and/or helped to keep me afloat in the more difficult moments. I think you know who you are, but I will keep working to do a better job of telling you directly.

Here are some of the other things that happened for me personally and professionally in 2017:

  • I worked my first legislative session as a Lobbyist and Legislative Consultant in the Georgia General Assembly and SB185 was introduced to lower the standard of proof for intellectual disability in death penalty cases. Though the bill did not pass in 2017, we had a hearing on the on the bill by the Senate Judiciary Committee and I provided testimony in support. I will continue my work to pass this legislation during the upcoming 2018 legislative session.
2017 Lobbyist Badge

My 2017 Lobbyist Badge

  • I helped to organize a celebration of the life of my friend and mentor Dottie Adams, who died at the end of 2016.
  • My friend Gabby and I completed over 75 individual quilt squares designed by folks who attended Dottie’s workshop at the 2016 Georgia Gathering.
Quilts Squares 2017

A few of the quilt squares

  • I facilitated an introductory Asset-Based Community Development workshop for a the Beloved Community in Statesboro, GA.
  • I completed a 1-day graphic facilitation training and a 2-day MAPS/PATH training facilitated by Lynda Kahn and Jack Pearpoint.
  • I applied for and got an interview for a dream job.
  • I designed and facilitated 6 trainings on Intellectual Disability and the Death Penalty in Georgia.
  • I presented about community building for inclusion alongside my dear friend DeAmon Harges to a group of folks involved with Neigbours Inc. in New Jersey.
  • I co-designed and co-facilitated two workshops,”Equity and Community Engagement in Grantmaking” and “Leading by Stepping Back: Meaningful Resident Partnership in Service Provision and Community Development” with DeAmon Harges and Lisa Duran in Denver, sponsored by Grassroots Grantmakers, the Denver Foundation and The Learning Tree.
  • I organized a quilt photo shoot with photographer Robin Rayne Nelson (in space donated by Pride School Atlanta) of some of Dottie Adams’ quilts.
  • I celebrated 19 years of veganism in April.
  • I celebrated a year of self-employment in May.
  • I got to work with and support some of my favorite Community Builders in different ways.
  • I realized that many of the people I worked with over the years have become my close friends and I have enjoyed spending more social time with them.
  • I stayed connected with my with my mentors and colleagues and continually found ways to stretch, learn and challenge myself personally and professionally. 
  • I participated in the Hall County Relay for Life in honor of Dottie Adams.
  • I met with many legislators and got to explore new towns in rural Georgia that I had never been to before.
  • I served as a group leader for Power of Roles trainings in Morrow, Dublin, Tifton and Columbus.
  • I spoke at the launch of a Lush Cosmetics bath bomb at Perimeter Mall which gave proceeds to groups working to abolish the death penalty.
  • I went to San Francisco for a vacation with some of my closest friends and didn’t just do family stuff.
  • I celebrated my partner, Lis, getting a new job in June and we celebrated 2 years together in July.
Lis and Caitlin at Robins wedding

Lis and Caitlin

  • I paid my quarterly federal taxes and stayed super organized with my receipts, mileage logs, and book keeping.
  • I helped my best friend pack up several generations of stuff at his parents house and box up important family heirlooms.
  • I helped organize the Georgia Disability History Symposium at the University of Georgia and facilitated a panel as part of the event.
  • I traveled to Savannah for the annual birthday party we throw for my friend, Johnny.
  • I hosted my brilliant, young, cat-loving and aspiring attorney friend, DeJanae, for a week. I got to introduce her to some of my favorite ATLiens, take her to the Cat Cafe and bring her along to some of my work meetings that were law-related, including one at the State Bar of Georgia.
  • I applied for and didn’t get a fellowship I really wanted.
  • I talked to a group of local high school students about community building and why I love my neighborhood.
  • I successfully completed and assisted with a 4-day Introduction to Social Role Valorization training in Tifton, GA.
  • I threw a party for one of my best friends to celebrate 10 years since we almost lost him in a motorcycle accident.
  • I celebrated the marriage of a dear friend.
  • I applied for and got a grant.
  • I said “no” when I needed to and “yes” when I wanted to.
  • I was able to show up and support friends in ways that I wouldn’t have been able to a couple years ago.
  • I reconnected with many friends I’d lost touch with when I was working way too much.
  • I attended the Georgia Advocacy Office‘s 40th anniversary gala.
  • I co-designed and co-facilitated the workshop “Equity and Community Engagement in Grantmaking: How Grantmaking Benefits When Residents Are Involved In Philanthropy” with Lisa Duran and DeAmon Harges in Atlanta sponsored by Grassroots Grantmakers, The Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation.
  • I group led What is a Home and assistant group led Meaningful Day workshops in Savannah.
  • I took on a freelance writing project for a group that I love and I got to hire a talented friend to do the layout and design.
  • I was able to drop everything and make a last minute trip to visit my grandmother in San Francisco when she had been in the hospital.
  • I co-designed and co-facilitated a 4 hour “Community Building for Inclusion” workshop at TASH in Atlanta with Basmat Ahmed, Jenna Quigley, and Teri Schell and it was a huge success!
Jenna Teri Basmat Caitlin TASH

Jenna, Teri, Basmat and I after finishing our workshop at TASH

  • I secured 4 contracts for work in 2018 before the end of 2017.
  • I remembered how much I love designing and facilitating spaces for folks to come together to learn.
  • I finally made it down to Monroeville, AL and got to leave a camellia on Harper Lee’s grave.
Harper Lee Grave

Harper Lee’s grave in Monroeville, AL

  • I read more books.
  • I wrote (which is something I plan to do more of next year!)
  • I kept a beautiful and lush garden of flowers alive and thriving with only a few casualties. I also successfully grew vegetables in the container garden on my porch.
  • I kept a dog alive and helped her to learn how to trust again (and honestly, she could probably say the same about me!)
Sleepy Jessie

Jessie the dog

  • I drove 4,965.65 miles for work in my car (and way more if I count the miles I drove on other people’s cars!)

Here’s to these lessons learned and adventures had in 2017 and the ones yet to come in 2018!


Community Building for Inclusion at the TASH Conference in Atlanta

October 6, 2017

TASH is holding their annual conference in Atlanta, GA December 13-15, 2017.  I will be presenting a 4-hour workshop on Community Building for Inclusion on Wednesday December 13th from 8am-12pm alongside Community Builders Basmat Ahmed, Jenna Quigley, Teri Schell. To register or get more information, visit the conference website here.

Pasted below and linked here is a description of the workshop:

For nearly nine years, a group of ordinary people living across the state of Georgia have been actively learning together how to work for social justice and build opportunities for intentional and reciprocal relationships between people with and without disabilities.
Drawing from approaches and philosophies such as Asset Based Community Development, Popular Education, Intersectionality, Person Centered Values, and Visionary Organizing, we have learned much about the conditions that encourage all members of a community to contribute and meaningfully participate in civic life, enhance social connections through collective action, and build more avenues to natural supports and relationships outside of human services. Our approach centers people who live at the intersection of multiple marginalized identities, whether they have a disability and/or they are a person of color, LGBTQ, poor, an immigrant, a refugee, or have experienced homelessness or incarceration. We are finding ways to build solidarity and reciprocity across and among identity lines and are learning to become better allies with others working to overcome the injustice of social exclusion, whatever its cause.
This workshop will include an in-depth overview of our work and approach through storytelling and interactive, experiential large and small group activities. Participants will be offered practical ways of how to take these ideas and use them back home.

 


Two Upcoming Training Opportunities in Denver!

February 15, 2017

A PDF Flyer is available here: denver-trainings-april-2017 and images are pasted below:

denver-trainings-april-201700002


Leading by Stepping Back: Building Community Partnerships that Actually Work

January 15, 2017

I am thrilled to share this upcoming opportunity for students, faculty and community partners of Loyola University Maryland. For more information or to register, visit http://www.loyola.edu/department/messina/calendar/abcd-workshop

Leading by Stepping Back: Building Community Partnerships That Actually Work

Friday, October 7, 2016 & Saturday, October 8, 2016
Sponsored by Messina, the Center for Community Service & Justice and Campus Ministry

About the event:

Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) is an approach to community building that focuses on discovering and mobilizing the assets that exist in every community. When we focus on what is already there—lift up and mobilize the gifts and talents of everyday people, and build and honor intentional and authentic relationships—we have the opportunity to begin asking new questions that can lead to sustainable and reciprocal community-centered change.  Ongoing and intentional application of ABCD makes our communities healthier, happier and safer for everyone.

Guided by two powerful speakers, Caitlin Childs and DeAmon Harges, this interactive workshop will take participants through the basics of ABCD while offering practical tools that you can put into practice in your communities, schools and organizations. Choose one of the Part I workshops and consider signing up for Part II on Saturday afternoon for a more intensive training.

Part I of the workshop will be offered twice:

  • Friday, October 7th from 4:00pm-7:00pm in Cohn Hall 133 (light dinner provided) 
  • Saturday, October 8th from 10:00am-1:00pm in Cohn Hall 133

Part I participants from either session may also sign up for a the Part II training:

  • Saturday, October 8th from 2:00pm-5:00pm in Cohn Hall 133 

Lunch will be provided for all Part I and Part II attendees on Saturday, October 8th from 1:00pm-2:00pm.

To facilitate richer conversations, we have reserved equal number of spots for students, employees and community partners.

Register now for the ABCD Workshop

Community partners who are interested in attending this workshop may register here.


About the Presenters:

Caitlin Childs and DeAmon Harges have a friendship based on trust, understanding and healing. Over the past 7 years they have used their connections to make social change with the people with whom they work and live. In their community-building work, they use a variety of tools and practices including Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD), popular education, intentional listening, and art to creatively generate sustainable dialogue and action.

Caitlin Childs is a community organizer, writer and consultant from Atlanta, GA. She has nearly 20 years of experience in grassroots organizing working on a variety of social justice issues. She is passionate about interdependence, intersectionality and building movements that cross identity lines and support communities to create their own solutions to their problems. You can learn more about her by visiting www.caitlinpetrakischilds.com.

At Broadway United Methodist Church in Indianapolis, DeAmon Harges is the original “Roving Listener.” By listening, he discovers the gifts, passions, and dreams of citizens in his neighborhood, using them to build community, economy, and mutual delight. DeAmon’s work is based in the Asset-Based Community Development Institute (ABCD), joining neighbors and institutions to discover the power of being a good neighbor. His organization, The Learning Tree, brings those ideas and others to the forefront of community and organizational life. As an artist, DeAmon uses his art for social change and community building. He characterizes his work as “deep listening” and “positive deviance” a big difference from typical models of neighborhood organizing.

Resources for Attendees:

Recommended books:

  • Portfolios of the Poor by: Stuart Rutherford, Jonathan Morduch, and Daryl Collins
  • The Careless Society: Community and Its Counterfeits by: John McKnight
  • The Long Haul: An Autobiography by: Myles Horton
  • The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twentieth Century by: Grace Lee Boggs
  • Asset Based Community Development: When People Care Enough to Act by Mike Green with Henry Moore & John O’Brien

Questions for Discussion and Reflection:

  • What is power? Do you think that marginalized people have power?
  • What do you think the phrase “lead by stepping back” means?
  • Is it possible for well-meaning outsiders, large institutions, and people with privilege to be involved with community organizing in marginalized communities without taking over or perpetuating charity approaches and savior mentalities?
  • What do you think communities can do to create and implement their own solutions and supports around folks without relying on the human services or government to do it for them? How do we create structures to support this?
  • Who is missing from the table?