If you have ever organized in the South, then you know the key to effective organizing in the South: food. Not just food, in and of itself. Food, as in prepared meals, eaten together food. And not just a couple delivery pizzas and two-liters. (as a disclosure, I love pizza) But food that you have to sit down with to eat. And that’s where the real magic begins – sitting at a table with others, enjoying a meal, in a social justice incubator, where people have come together because it’s their neighborhood. That’s where the magic happens. If you are struggling as an organizer in the South, there could be many reasons for this, but I encourage you to think through this. And not just the motions themselves, but the spirit of it as well.
So what does this have to do with NC3? If you were in Louisville anytime prior to this time last year, than you may have been to Network Nite. As NC3’s most famous trademark, Network Nite was where it was at for a meal, great conversations, networking in our communities, a sense of hope, and a resurgence of energy to get up the next morning and keep fighting for social justice.
Network Nite was more than a meal. Network Nite was a space where people bonded, where we shared our personal selves and well as our professional selves, and our intimate family moments. We brought our children, our family, and our friends. Many Network Nites, my oldest child and I shared a meal and bonded with others. After a few meals together, you knew to expect anywhere from 150 to 250 people at Network Nite. As an organizer, this was your dream coming true. Several friends that I have today, I met at Network Nite.
NC3 was more than Network Nite. It was their Network Weaving that has built so many bonds across Louisville between organizers and communities. Data mapping our communities was something that NC3 spent a considerable amount of resources on. Even today, you can still access their West Louisville Neighborhood Data.
I can go on and on about the projects that NC3 worked on around the city, but I want to share with you why NC3 still holds a special place in my heart. I had been to Network Nite and experienced the magic there, but it was Network 101 that took me to another level, personally and professionally. One of the things that we learned and practiced daily was “Centering”. If you have never centered before, you should definitely give it a try. Turn the lights down, cancel any noise or distraction, close your eyes, and look inside for a few minutes. I’ve heard it said that if you want to see God, you only need to turn around and look inside. Fighting for change in our communities, carrying the shared torch of Social Justice everyday – these drain your soul, and we all need to be refreshed from time to time. Give it a try.
The second reason the nearly six weeks of centering was so important: the personal connections made & bonds reinforced. With our group centering practices, we checked in with each other daily. This was more than just holding each other accountable for performing processes, this people caring about ourselves and the well-being of others. I will just leave this hear so that you can think about how powerful, impactful, and important this is.
So, what does all of this have to do with an NC3 Reunion? Well, thanks to the Jefferson County Chapter of KFTC, Kurtis Creative, Power Members, and many others, we had an NC3 Reunion on August 6, 2015. As you know, NC3 closed their doors last year, and since then, the spirit of NC3 has stayed alive & thrived. Community power is continually being built using the connections made through Network Nite, people are sharing wellness practices, and folks from worlds continue to work together building a better tomorrow.
At the reunion on Thursday night, it was such a great feeling to see so many folks: people that all share a common bond in NC3. There was plenty of food, laughter, hugs, and family. Some of us hadn’t seen each other in months, but instantly felt the sense of family and love for each other. I would go so far as to say that many, if not all, of us walked away from Thursday feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to continue the fight for social justice, to continue building our communities, and to continue caring about each other. And we Thank NC3 for that.
Bonifacio Aleman, BSSW