We are the facilitators. Compact, anachronistic speakeasies of the justice movement. We make it smooth, entertaining, energizing and cool to do the impossible in a t
wo hour workshop. In an all day training, though a weekly series, at a weekend retreat.
How can we achieve more than the packaging of oppression and the production of cute funding digestible deliverables? What is the spiritual work of holding space for visionary encounters, those sacred spaces where what it is possible imagine shifts, where we become real to each other and spoken into history?
As June Jordan developed the Poetry for the People curriculum she and her community of poet-facilitators practiced the technology of what they called an “experimental and hopeful community” that was “safe enough” for the transformative process of the truth to happen. Jamaican theorist Sylvia Wynter teaches that after humanism “the ceremony must be found” for how we human/dehumanized beings relate to each other as we dismantle the oppressive logics that have been holding us back.
The Juneteenth Freedom Academy for Facilitators offers the proposition that we, the facilitators are the experimental hopeful people, making ceremony for a love that has not been spoken yet and for a triumph that is not supposed to exist.
And since we are designing the rituals to reclaim our lives, since we are continually creating site specific breathing installation invitations for ancestors and future to speak, since we are accountable to the anarchic potential of what it will mean when this particular, irreplaceable set of beings in this particular space, on this particular day, face the possibility of our collective freedom, the Juneteenth Freedom Academy for Facilitators is a space to support the work of facilitation as spiritual and creative work and to provide the necessary forms of sacred sustenance that makes the practices of
opening our hearts
and activating infinite love for our communities
possible and likely on a regular basis, and not just in the space of the programmed events that we are “facilitating.”
The Juneteenth Freedom Academy for Facilitators is dedicated to facilitating the possibility of freedom in all of our interactions and relationships and in the matrix of our daily lives.
We believe that powerful facilitation is not based on charisma, mirco-management, fancy machines or a dazzling show. We believe that the power of facilitation and the accountability of the facilitator is to:
1. do what it takes to be fully present to the moment and the people
2. co-create a context where the people can be fully present to the moment, themselves and each other
3. co-create and activate a context where everyone can be present to spirit, ancestors and possibility
If you are looking for a space to recenter your facilitation as a sacred practice with a cohort of transformative visionaries join us in Durham, NC Nov 1st-2nd for a two-day retreat/transformative training.
If you are available to participate in the weekend training:
Offer your $75 deposit here (and be sure to include the note Juneteenth Deposit):
Your registration is considered complete once you have completed all required questions on the registration form and offered your deposit.
If you are NOT available for the training you can register as an individual auditor and get the workbook/reader that participants will be using in November and sign up for a 45 minute session with Alexis Pauline Gumbs about taking your facilitation to the next level:
Offer your $75 here (and be sure to include the note Juneteenth Auditor):
If your organization would like to bring Alexis to lead a transformative facilitation workshop customized to the mission and needs of your organization email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a training.
Testimonials from some of my favorite collaborators!!!:
Alexis P. Gumbs is the facilitator you’ve been waiting for. Her generosity of spirit, thought, and action creates a circle around you which allows you to grow into your own potential as a leader and visionary. If you believe another world is possible, but you wish someone would take you by the hand and help you get to the threshold, Alexis is the person who can help guide you to the place where your own feet will begin to take hold. I have been fortunate enough to watch Alexis facilitate hundreds of meetings, workshops, and groups over the last fifteen years and with each passing year I am aware that she grows more into herself and more into connection with all of us. I wish that everyone would have the opportunity to sit in a room with Alexis and have her reflect their light back to them. I can think of no better gift you can give yourself or your team than to spend some time learning and growing with her!
-Tema Okun, Durham based educator and activist, author of The Emperor Has No Clothes: Teaching About Race and Racism to People Who Don’t Want to Know and participant in the Finding Poems Retreats
Working in a small group of survivors with Alexis on Lucille Clifton’s Shape Shifter poems changed my life: I stepped into the name “poet” with a trust in my own authority that was part me, part Clifton, and a large part Alexis’ faith in my authority to transform the materials of my life. I know Alexis approached the work with our group with great intentionality. A couple of years later, when I wanted to learn more about working as a poet, but wanted to learn in community, rather than in a traditional one-on-one mentorship, after speaking with me and others and after reflecting upon her own creative work, Alexis designed a six-session series, “Finding Poetry,” which influences me half a year after the last session. In that series, as always with Alexis’ work, I grew both as a poet and as a community member.
-Faith Holseart, poet, activist and former member of SNCC, participant in Finding Poems, ShapeShifter Survival School and School of Our Lorde
When preparing to lead or co-lead a workshop I often find myself wondering, ‘How can I be as calm, generous, and dynamic as Lex is when she’s facilitating?’ No joke. I really think this to myself. Regularly. That Dr. Gumbs is finding a way to actually share this practice with others is a great opportunity for all of us who seek to be transformative facilitators.
-R.J. Maccani, community organizer, co-founder of Regeneracion Childcare Collective, co-facilitator of Embodying Abolition at the Allied Media Conference
Alexis Pauline Gumbs facilitates by formulating questions that invite groups to think deeply about ways to live into their values and connect personal commitment to social action. The activities and exercises she designs reflect her belief that our inner brilliance will show us the way when we open to its voice.
-Barbara Lau, director Pauli Murray Project (where Alexis recently co-facilitated a workshop series for the leadership team)
A few years ago, I had the blessing of sitting in a circle of changemakers and creative workers at the Critical Ethnic Studies Conference – we gathered to celebrate the work of novelist Octavia Butler. i expected a lively, enriching conversation, but got so much more! Alexis conjured a space of transformative sharing and collective creativity. From drawing images of our girlhoods, to experiencing live performances and writing poetry of our own, that conference ‘workshop’ became a sacred space. Sista Docta Lex is more than a facilitator – she is a bonafide Healer.
-Savannah Shange, educator, board member at June Jordan School for Equity, co-facilitator of All Black Everything: A Workshop on Afro-Pessimism at the Allied Media Conference
I have been a part of many meetings, workshops, and gatherings facilitated by Alexis Pauline Gumbs; she also designed and facilitated a one-of-a-kind after school program for my daughter and other girls her age. Alexis brings, above everything else, love to the spaces she creates for people to learn. She shapes interactions that deeply connect people. She shares the wisdom, art, and guidance of those who came before, and insodoing, offers a context in which we can place ourselves and our work now. In a sense, Alexis holds up an ancestral mirror and allows us to see ourselves more clearly. Through careful listening, she validates her participants’ experiences and truths. The activities Alexis facilitates allow people to acknowledge what they are bringing into the room, manifest creativity, and learn from one another. I have learned so much and watched my daughter grow so much as a result of Alexis’ facilitation practices, and without hesitation I would recommend to anyone that they take the opportunity to engage in one of Alexis’ workshops.
-Emily Chavez, writer, activist, parent of an afterschool participant in the Indigo Genius Afterschool Program
Born from the Brilliance Remastered arm of Alexis’ Black feminist (well)spring of sustenance, “Need: Cyber Performance Ritual,” was a webinar named after the performance-prompting poetry of Audre Lorde in which I was fortunate to participate in early 2013. Whether embodying what love feels like or co-creating a group poem speaking to what we need or our own kind of open, in that online space I felt whole, held, safe, and soul-nourished. Under Alexis’ guidance, I learned about the plethora of possibility that can sprout from the seeds of Black feminist truth, both in- and outside the dance studio. In just a week’s time, a handful of brilliant individuals from all over the continent had come together to carve out a little piece of community on my computer screen, wrapped up in only the finest of radical love.
-Cantrice Penn, choreographer, guest facilitator for the Indigo Afterschool program, participant in the Need Webinar
Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs moderated a panel on April 21,2012 at the Durham County Library as part of the Humanities Programming Series. The program was called “Coming Out In the South.” Dr. Gumbs was brilliant in her wisdom and sensitivities, beginning the program with a moment of silence–which had never happened at a library—to remind all that this was a topic that could be painful and to encourage the space to become a safe one for all. She kept that spirit present during the entire hour and half long program. The evaluations of the program mentioned time and again how much they appreciated Dr. Gumbs skillful handling of the people and topics involved. Dr. Gumbs is moderating and helping to organize a panel of young organizers for our largest program of the year, Durham Reads Together. Her panel will be called “We Who Believe in Freedom: The Next Civil Rights Generation”. She is bringing together youth to talk about their work and lives. Dr. Gumbs is a joy to work with and the Durham County Library is always honored when she brings her gifts to one of our programs.
-Joanne Abel, Humanities and Adult Programming Durham Public Library
Alexis Gumbs values everybody and takes mess off of nobody, creating spaces for all to participate, and none to dominate. She listens carefully and skillfully and synthesizes sentiments where others lack the diction. Alexis’s presence looms large in a room, though she always uses that space to open and help people get where they need to go.
-Bryan Proffit, community organizer and history teacher at Hillside High School (Durham’s last remaining historically black high school), presenter for Juneteenth Freedom Academy on Palestine
Excellent facilitators are a rarity. They must be supremely knowledgeable, possessing keen insight and emotional mastery- enough to carry any room. Most importantly, one must be facile in a shamanic role – to move into uncertainty, take inspired risks and create magic. Quite simply, Alexis has the gift.
-Lisa Powell, Co-Founder Black Lesbians United (BLU)
Alexis Pauline Gumbs has given birth to an oracle which mandates the immediate summons and awakening of freedom within the black soul. We are blessed that the oracle has visited upon us.