We're kicking off a new series in the news section of our website to help you better get to know our team and the work that we do here at ALP! In this interview between Kade Cahe, ALP's Member Engagement and Leadership Coordinator, and Janhavi Pakrashi, the Communications Coordinator, we discuss the role and impact of membership development within our organization and our community. At our most recent Membership Orientation on January 30th, 22 new members joined us to learn more about how they can engage in work toward building safety and wellness for LGBTSTGNC people of color, become more deeply grounded in our organizing principles, and get to know our staff and each other. During the gathering, folks broke into group exercises that set the tone for sharing and conceptualizing the roles they might envision for themselves as participants in intersectional feminist movement building with ALP! Read our full interview below.
J: What’s your name and what’s your role at The Audre Lorde Project?
K: My name is Kade Cahe. Kade Pronounced, as in K D, like the basketball player maybe, or the poet, I don’t know. My role at the Audre Lorde Project is Member Engagement and Leadership Coordinator.
J: And what do you do?
K: What do I do… I am constantly working on building our base and engaging people with our events and the things that we do, such as through our programs, Outsiderz Series, supporting our other programs and making sure that we have people who are engaged coming into this organization, finding community, but also building between the four different programs that we have. And then the leadership part is so that we’re all developing a sharp political lens and developing leadership skills from our community and within our community to help us thrive.
J: Can you tell me about the membership orientation that you just gave?
K: Yes, that happened January 30th from 6:30 to 9. That day was really interesting, there was a mini blizzard that happened for 3 hours beforehand, and people still showed up! I had a lot of people emailing me being like, “I want to come, but the snow!” Not everybody made it but lots of people RSVP’d and still, 22 people came out. I still have people emailing me today, being like ,”Ahhhh what did I miss?” So… what happened at that orientation? Well, people got oriented in what it means to be a member here at The Audre Lorde Project, which includes what is The Audre Lorde Project, who is Audre Lorde, so… yeah, we started off with some introductions to get to know the people in the room, we did a small icebreaker, we then broke up into groups and read A Littany for Survival, by Audre Lorde, so that folks could understand the legacy that this organization is built on and the poem asks us to explore which parts of us do we focus on in the fight for liberation and the truth is that here at The Audre Lorde Project we don’t want to have to choose one of those things and so we discussed from that poem what the folks in the room wanted to bring to the Audre Lorde Project space, and also what they saw that we’re doing in the space, which is really cool. Then we did a queer kiki where folks got to walk around and respond to some of the questions that guide our organizing work, like how do you define gender, what would it mean to live in a world without borders, what does wellness mean to you, what kind of leader are you, etc. And that was sweet, just seeing people talk to each other and build that community. And then we went through what does it mean to be a member, we have three different membership structures- general, active and core members, and within that we contextualized it with the rest of the rest of the Audre Lorde Project’s structure, as an organization. And our program coordinators gave a hot two minutes, some gave a hot six minute presentation about their programs, and also the campaigns that we have, Safe Outside the System, TransJustice, those are our two campaign programs, led by Kerbie and Rumi, and we have 3rd Space, in which Chauvet, a member, presented on that day and we also have my program, the Membership Program that is invested in integrating all the programs and developing that leadership, just so that folks could get a sense of how they could engage in the space or even bring in new ideas and work. And then that’s it! We ended there, I think. Just ended in a moment of reflection and understanding more what we do here at ALP, we’re not a service organization, we are about organizing and direct action and developing leadership and community.
J: Wow, ok, well… I feel like you just let me know what the agenda was, you kind of gave me the rundown, that’s great. Now I’m going to ask you about 3 magical things, for you, as someone who exists here at ALP.
K: The Staff! You know that. You know that it’s the staff. I love the staff. I would even say that it’s the staff and members. You, we, we are magical, I’ve never seen such people who are so dedicated and passionate about this kind of work and really trying to make it possible to have a space like this that exists. Which brings me to my next thing which is our organizing principles, and our politics, right? I’m an abolitionist, so that’s pretty explicit for many of us on staff and I think is a place where we want to develop our members. A lot of members also push us on being true to our organizing principles and our politics. So yeah, I love working in a place where I can be explicit about what i believe in and it does create a lot of powerful conversations, and regrounds us every day. I feel like we’re asking ourselves, what do we actually do, and what is our capacity, and how do we make this happen? And one of the things, apart from abolition, the organizing principle around accessibility is something that we do struggle with and we are also constantly trying to embody, which i appreciate.Then the third thing is just the joy. Random dancing, twerk sessions, laughter, art, celebration, creativity, all that stuff
J: Yeah, a lot of laughs here. Well, thank you KDK for giving me a lovely interview. I appreciate your time, and that’s a wrap!
Interested in joining the magic? We're celebrating Audre Lorde's 85th Birthday on Monday, February 25th, from 6pm-9:30pm at The Peoples Forum! RSVP on our website, and share the event on Facebook! The event will feature food, music, performances, and a silent auction/raffle to benefit our year-round work. If you're interested in contributing to the silent auction, please email firstname.lastname@example.org!