A New Graphic Novel Celebrates Beloved Community and the Wisdom of MSC’s Transitions Initiative

Beloved Communities Network Launches Kickstarter for Ten Thousand Beloved Communities

Kristen Zimmerman of Root. Rise. Pollinate! (left) and Leila McCabe of Beloved Communities Network (BCN)

In the earliest and most precarious days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Leila McCabe of Beloved Communities Network (BCN) and Kristen Zimmerman of Root. Rise. Pollinate! hosted a series of powerful conversations with ecosystem buddies including Aisha Shillingford of Intelligent Mischief and Mimi Ho, then executive director of Movement Strategy Center (MSC). The focus of their Zoom calls, Zimmerman says, was the fact that, facing isolation and struggle, people “needed to be connected to community and needed to prioritize community.” 

The result of these rich and transformative conversations among friends is now a forthcoming graphic novel, Ten Thousand Beloved Communities. Zimmerman had just completed a program on creating graphic novels around this time, and along with McCabe, she believed the format would offer a beautiful way of inspiring others to commit to community.

Those early conversations centered on what McCabe calls “the arc of this long vision,” or the hundred year vision, along with the sort of portals and touchpoints needed to apply it. Zimmerman shares some of those prompts: “how do we deal with harm when it happens? What are alternatives to the justice system we have now? How do we feed people?”

“The world I imagine my son growing up in has to start with this strong foundation. I want him to have a daily community of practice with beloved community, because that is what will shift us all into the “big B” Beloved Community with big ideals and visions.”

It also coincided with McCabe’s early days as a core staff member at Movement Strategy Center (MSC). She was drawn to MSC a few years before, consulting on some of the Transitions Initiative work, which sparked her imagination. And, as a new mom, her idea of what Beloved Community “actually looked and felt like in practice shifted.” She calls out the sorts of things we can take for granted like “the importance of how we live and show up for each other day to day,” along with “smaller daily interactions” — phone calls, check-ins, help with meals or chores that helped her “feel held.” 

McCabe continues: “the world I imagine my son growing up in has to start with this strong foundation. I want him to have a daily community of practice with beloved community, because that is what will shift us all into the “big B” Beloved Community with big ideals and visions.”

That concept of Beloved Community is rooted in the legacy of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Grace Lee Boggs, and others, and is carried forward through many people investing in the idea that we can live in a world of economic and social justice.

These concepts — that Beloved Community started from the ground up and was much more than a big, overarching vision — didn’t just inspire Ten Thousand Beloved Communities — they also informed her launch of BCN. 

The organization, a Movement Strategy Network (MSN) partner, is a continuation of the years of work and wisdom that went into MSC’s Transitions Initiative, which focuses on the journey of transitioning to a world of love, interdependence, and resilience. McCabe calls the graphic novel “really important for BCN as it is sharing, publicly, the purpose of BCN — our place in this story and how we see Beloved Community. In some ways it feels like this is the launch of BCN.” Truly, it is one of BCN’s first large undertakings, and it acts as a springboard for readers looking to deepen relationships to people and places while becoming catalysts in radically accelerating the practice of Beloved Community through a lens of indigeneity. 

 “The beautiful thing about this project is it is very alive in the sense that it keeps growing and showing us new ways it can be useful.” 

Ten Thousand Beloved Communities’ 160 full-color pages define the story and lineage of Beloved Community, and feature stories of Beloved Community in action along with practices to help readers integrate Beloved Community and the wisdom of the Transitions Initiatives into their daily lives. In all, the book includes writings by 25 artists, cultural workers, movement leaders, and spiritual practitioners, along with a foreword by adrienne maree brown and Zimmerman’s illustrations. 

Zimmerman sees Ten Thousand Beloved Communities as a jumping off point. It already contains people centered stories about particular places and happenings plus quotes and facts about artists and political figures. She envisions postcards and other companion pieces in addition to multiple teaching and learning opportunities, and — hopefully — a proper publishing run with a values-aligned, independent publisher.

McCabe wants to see the book inspire people to embrace Beloved Community. She also sees it as a workbook or curriculum for trainings — “one of BCN’s foundational labs.” She adds, “the beautiful thing about this project is it is very alive in the sense that it keeps growing and showing us new ways it can be useful.” She envisions a stories series, a podcast, and “some other exciting projects that are on the horizon.”

Initially, McCabe and Zimmerman imagined self-publishing their book with a print on demand platform. Ultimately, they decided to launch a Kickstarter campaign instead — to build energy, momentum, and a sense of community around the project. MSC is helping fund the project, and providing copies of the book to core staff who are still learning the tenets of Beloved Community.

But the guide is intended for an audience well beyond the MSC ecosystem. Zimmerman says, “it builds on a lot of the wisdom and the voices of the transitions community,” and it “shares some core practices that people can apply in their own communities.” It’s a chance for anyone who encounters it to continue the work of Beloved Community, and Zimmerman hopes to see “a lot of people pollinating it in many different places, applying it, making it their own, and riffing on it.” She sees Ten Thousand Beloved Communities as a resource for “for people writing their own story, and creating their own community.”

You can pre-order Ten Thousand Beloved Communities here, at the project’s Kickstarter.

It seemed like an open and shut case.

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Condemning Violence and Colonialism and Stands with Palestinians

Movement Strategy Center's thoughts on Israel and Palestine

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This week, Muslims around the world are celebrating the end of Ramadan and the holiday of Eid-ul-Fitr. In Palestine, however, days meant for families and communities coming together in joy and prayer have been marked by brutal violence and oppression. As we view the images of families being evicted from their homes and brown-skinned people being viciously attacked by officers, we at Movement Strategy Center are struck by the parallels to the struggles of low-income, BIPOC, and LGBTQIA communities here in the United States.

As we fight for the preservation of indigenous sovereignty for Native communities here in the US, how can we turn a blind eye to the occupation and illegal settlements in Palestinian territories?

As we speak out against police brutality and militarism here in the US, how can we remain silent when armed officers storm into a mosque full of worshippers using teargas and stun grenades?

As we seek to transform our world towards racial equity and economic justice for all, how can we ignore the system of apartheid that the Israeli government has established against the Palestinians?

We can’t.

As an organization whose goal is to support movements working to dismantle unjust systems of inequality and oppression, we must add our voices to those condemning the persecution and killing of innocent civilians, including children. We welcome and echo the many statements in support of the Palestinian people from community leaders and elected officials. Unfortunately, the lack of empathy for the Palestinian people has become so normal that many withheld any condemnation of the Israeli government’s violence until rockets had been fired from the other side.

We are well aware from the police brutality we see here at home that the monopoly on violence belongs to the powerful, and that the right to self-defense is not afforded to people with brown and black skin. We must also not forget that it is American tax money being used to supply the weapons and training behind this violence.

The lethal hold used to kill George Floyd is also used by Israeli officers on Palestinians.

Just as we call for the de-escalation and an end to violence in policing here in the United States, we call for the de-escalation and an end to violence from the Israeli government.

For our brothers and sisters spending their Eid holiday mourning their family members under an endless barrage of bombing and brutality, we send our deepest condolences and radical love.

Relief, reflection, a reminder to keep fighting

Movement Strategy Center thoughts in the wake of Derek Chauvin's conviction

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We at Movement Strategy Center acknowledge Derek Chauvin’s conviction for the egregious murder of George Floyd last May for what it is: A bittersweet victory that won’t bring Floyd back. His loss is one his family and our communities will forever contend with.

We hope Chauvin’s guilty verdict signifies an opportunity in Minnesota and across this country for more accountability in the age-old brutal violence against Native Americans, Blacks, Latinx, and other people of color at the hands of law enforcement.

Does it mean an authentic and honest federal investigation of police brutality at large in Minneapolis will occur? Does it mean that our representatives at the Federal level will be re-energized and refocused on last summer’s police reform bill bearing Floyd’s name?

Does it mean that we and our communities will continue the fight to transform the role of law enforcement and what it means to keep our community safe?

You better believe that MSC and the communities we represent and support will continue fighting with love and intention for radical change!

It is very clear that if not for Darnella Frazier’s footage of Floyd’s slow and tortuous murder, the intentionally false narrative of the Minneapolis police department would have prevailed.

So yes, we are not stopping our fight for honesty, accountability, and equitable justice for Black lives, Brown lives, and the lives of the Indigenous and poor.

Let’s not forget that while Chauvin’s verdict was being determined, we learned that instead of using other methods to defuse a dangerous situation, police in Columbus, Ohio killed Ma’Khia Bryant — a 16-year-old Black child.

These over-policing and shoot-to-kill tactics resulting in the senseless killing of people must stop!

Per The New York Times, roughly 1,100 people are killed by law enforcement officers each year, with at least 64 fatalities occurring between March 29 (the day testimony in Chauvin’s trial began) and April 21. More than half those recent deaths were among Black and Latino individuals.

So we must always say their names: Duante Wright, Eric Garner, Ezell Ford, Tony McDade, Michelle Cusseaux, Tanisha Anderson, Tamir Rice, Natasha McKenna, Stephon Clark, Jayne Thompson, Walter Scott, Bettie Jones, Philando Castile, Botham Jean, Atatiana Jefferson, Eric Reason, Dominique Clayton, Breonna Taylor, Adam Toledo, and every other Black life extinguished by law enforcement officers.

And we must pressure our elected officials. We must demand restorative justice and equity within our public safety and criminal justice systems. We must support our movement leaders in their tireless work dismantling systems of inequality and oppression. And, we must step up and speak out for true justice for our Black and Brown Brothers and Sisters!

Our hearts go out to the family of George Floyd; and to the friends and families of all victims of police brutality.

Supporting Our AAPI Friends and Neighbors

Movement Strategy Center stand with the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community 

Movement Strategy Center (MSC) recognizes that the world we live in is dominated by white supremacy and Anti-Blackness, and we have spent our first 20 years incubating a diverse coalition of BIPOC- and women-led activist organizations as they tackle systemic racial and environmental inequities from the ground up.

Our staff, board, and movement leaders are devastated by the tragic murder of eight victims in Atlanta, Georgia last week. This crime, committed by a white male, claimed the lives of eight individuals — six of whom were Asian women. We stand with the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities in solidarity, now and always — as violence against our AAPI neighbors and friends has escalated over the last year in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic and the incendiary remarks of the former United States president.

On the same day as this brutal shooting, Stop AAPI Hate — an organization formed just last year to prevent Coronavirus-related discrimination — released a report stating that nearly 3,800 hate crimes had been reported against AAPI individuals (mostly women) in the last year alone. We call on our elected officials and philanthropy at large to stop overlooking AAPI populations and organizations. In the meantime, here are some actions you can take to help fight violence against AAPI communities; and here are three pieces that highlight the voices of and issues facing Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders right now.