We are writing this from a place of deep love and reflection.
Throughout our 23-year history, the Audre Lorde Project has worked on multiple fronts -- developing LGBTSTGNC POC leaders, educating our people and allies, organizing 20 events per year, leading campaigns for justice, mobilizing over 3,000 people annually, and building capacity for movements towards liberation. We have often moved at the pace of crisis. We have moved with urgency because of the vast needs of our community, but also often have fallen victim to capitalist ideals of productivity over people. This has at times caused us to stumble - choosing punitive responses over transformation, placing healing on the back burner, and not being as transparent with internal happenings within the organization as needed. In solidarity with our members, current/former staff, and the community that we serve, we want to apologize for the harm that has been caused. As an organization, we are not exempt from causing harm, but we are dedicated to improving and internal change. This letter is to express how we will now intentionally begin that work and how community can collectively plug into this process.
We want to thank everyone who helped shape our work this past year. You have led, coordinated, volunteered, facilitated, and guided our work forward. Most importantly, you moved us to slow down. As a member-led organization going into our strategic planning process, we first listened and engaged with our membership and core leaders' concerns of the organization. What was highlighted repeatedly was the need for ALP to strengthen our internal work in order to best hold space for our members and their development. Working with former ALP Membership Coordinator, Irma Bajar, we have structured a 3-year plan and are excited to share it with our community when it is finalized soon.
Here are the highlights for our first year:
- Starting in October, ALP will enter a 9-month restoration period to better focus on deep internal study and alignment. This period will end in June 2020. During that time, our staff will come together to strengthen our political education tools and curriculum, evaluate our trainings, programming, and campaigns, and ensure that we are best positioned for the long fight to liberation. Safety and wellness will be uplifted throughout all of our work.
- We will refresh and relaunch our membership structure to make it easier for members to move through leadership opportunities at ALP.
- To do right by our people, our infrastructure will be strengthened. Our internal policies will be updated to more directly align with our values of healing justice and transformation. Our fundraising plans will be strengthened to help us act from a place of abundance when addressing support for our folks.
- We will work to address past conflicts with members and staff who have transitioned out of ALP, with a sincere intention to reconcile.
During this time, we'll also be moving from our Chelsea office back into our Fort Greene space full-time. Gentrification has made rents in NYC unsustainable and ALP is not immune to these pressures. From November 1 to January, our offices will be closed to the public while we prepare for our move: this means that we can't accommodate unscheduled drop-ins during this time. In order to honor community needs, we will update and share the Resource Guide created by our 3rd Space program to provide referrals for services needed. We will also work to keep our list of public events updated and accessible on our website and social media. Keep a lookout for our office closing party and ceremony in January 2020.
Our intention is to keep lines of communication open and transform our organizational habits to adapt to member needs. ALP exists because of and for our members. During this period, we will need to be in constant conversation with our people and our allies.
Here's a few of the ways that we are asking people to stay involved:
- We will be holding a series of Community Forums. These Forums will be a combination of report back, skillshare, and community discussion, similar to our monthly SOS Cyphers.
- Our monthly Organizing Coordinating Committee meetings, the space where leaders make decisions on our programmatic work, will be open to all core and active ALP members during this period. This will provide an additional monthly opportunity for community to check in on our progress, hold us accountable to our plan, and provide direction to our ongoing work.
- Weekly Moving Parties will begin on each Monday from November to January. We'll provide food, MetroCards, and a chance to dig into ALP's rich history to folks interested in helping us transition out of Manhattan.
- We will be restarting Board recruitment in 2020 for LGBTSTGNC leaders of color interested in helping us implement our members' vision.
- Are you an experienced trainer and facilitator? Keep a lookout on our Jobs page for an upcoming Request for Proposals and opportunities to come in and train with us.
ALP has been in a transitional place for the past 2 years and we appreciate folks for giving us the space to move closer to steady ground now. We could not move this intentionally without the support of our amazing members and allies. We will strive to honor the trust that you have placed in us. We will center transparency and vulnerability. We will foster a culture of continual learning and growth. We will continue to center our people who have lived on the margins their whole lives.
With grace, humility, and hearts open to critique, love, and change, ALP will continue to be in the fight for racial, gender, and economic justice with all of you.
Cleopatra, Maxwell, Kerbie, Kade, Rumi, and Janhavi