Backwards Planning for the Revolution #2: This Time It’s Personal

Hooray for another round of backwards planning, this time for my own political work! I tried to make the scale reasonable, so I’m giving myself a year to figure things out as I move toward my final outcomes. That kind of makes this a new years resolution. Kind of cute that way.

One thing I noticed from last time is that I missed a whole category: pre-assessment. That is where you acknowledge where things currently stand, so that your planning actually starts in a grounded way. I added that section into the plan. So, let’s go.

1) Final Outcome: What do I want to be contributing to the movement by the end of 2013?

    -I am a proud and excited member of some kind of organized political formation—ideally a mass-based organization. This organization is energetically building movement infrastructure and is capable of efficiently utilizing people’s contributions at varied levels of intensity.

    -I am involved in at least one organized group or campaign that leverages my position as a teacher to support youth, family, and community base-building in South King County.

    -I am helping to build a cultural dual power by contributing my ideas in workshops, published writing, and some forms of electronic media. I have at least playtested one of my revolutionary board game designs.

    -In writing, workshops, or some other media, I have collaborated with others to distill and share lessons we’ve learned from years of organizing problems. I am able to propose and advocate for practical solutions to various problems that political groups face.

    -Glendi and I have expanded our Guatemalan holistic school project into a full non-profit fundraising project, so that we can raise money at the scale we need to make it happen.

    -While there are natural ebbs and flows, my activity is more or less stable throughout the year, and is balanced with my commitments to family, friends, work, and self-care.

2) Pre-Assessment: What are my current contributions, capacities, and challenges related to these outcomes?

    -I’ve been re-reading this past blog and…man! Although I tend to be really insecure, I think I can safely say I’m a pretty good writer. I have a ton of rough, partial, sometimes really cool ideas that could probably be helpful if published and shared in the world.

    -But, I really do tend to be insecure. I’m ridiculously sensitive to people reading and criticizing my stuff. This will be a big challenge if I actually want to try writing or speaking for an audience. (Quick aside: Why am I not insecure at all about teaching? My principal watches me all the time, and 120 students have all sorts of mixed opinions about me every day! Yet I actually get a thrill from all that.)

    -I am also ridiculously hot and cold with my political engagement. I get hot streaks like this week, then I go months without checking emails, returning phone calls, or reading anything. Like I’ve said before, underneath that is a lot of anxiety and self-medication through escapism.

    -With my current new teacher work schedule and child care responsibilities, I have from 4pm-6pm free each evening, with weekends being a lot more free. From 6pm-8pm, I tend to be doing baby-care while Glendi works, so if I found child friendly spaces for organizing, that could give me more time. As for weekends, I fiercely guard them for Glendi, Amanecer, and I. But I think I need to flex this more.

    -Right now, with this free time, I’m spending about 2-4 hours a night either playing video games, internet window shopping, or watching TV with Glendi.

    -Our Guatemalan school project has land, and our Secret Cafe fundraisers are making enough each year to at least pay a few scholarships. The ground has been laid for more ambitious planning, fundraising, and building.

    -I know parts of South King County communities relatively well, because I’ve worked there for cumulatively almost 6 years. If I am patient and dedicated, I think I could be a true asset to grassroots base-building there.

    -I feel almost completely out of touch with current anti-authoritarian organizing in Seattle. I know folks in the Black Orchid Collective and a few in Seattle Solidarity Network, but if I don’t want to be a lone wolf type—and I don’t—then I have my relationship-building work cut out for me.

    -Because I am so out of touch with the local scene, I don’t even know if meeting my goals involves joining existing groups, or the much more exhausting work of collaborating to form new groups.

    -Further, because of my life-long tendency to want to feel distinct and special, I will have a dangerous temptation to assume that existing groups aren’t the right fit. I might be right, but I must be careful.

3) Evidence of Success: How will I quantitatively and qualitatively know if I’ve accomplished my outcomes?

I think my final outcomes above mostly do the trick. In backwards planning for teaching, this is where we think of what specific test questions or assignments will let us know that a student has learned what we want them to. But in planning for just myself, it’s challenging to think of evidence beyond just straight-up meeting my goals.

Still, maybe a few things could be more specific…

    -I am a member of no more than 2-3 groups: 1) an explicitly revolutionary group, 2) a group that leverages my teaching work for South King County base-building, and 3) maybe some group related to radical parenting, mutual support, or radical gaming.

    -My email inbox is cleared out by the end of each week, with responses to all who I need to respond to. Same for my phone voicemail and snail-mail inbox. Being personally organized is critical to meeting my outcomes.

    -When I ask my family members, friends, comrades, and coworkers, their responses are relatively similar that I seem to be balancing my commitments well, and they are satisfied with my efforts.

    -In collaboration or on my own, I have published at least 3 pieces or facilitated multiple workshops that I’m proud of. After soliciting feedback, people express that my contributions are helpful.

    -Any strategic or tactical contributions I suggest are taken seriously by at least a handful of other radicals, who are able to share with me how they concretely benefited from my help.

4) Key Milemarkers: What are key moments, accomplishments, or stages on the way to success?

    -At least privately, I am able to roughly map the political constellation of radical Seattle, and I am able to clearly identify spaces where I am excited to work, instead of feeling like I 100% need to do or start my own thing.

    -I find a group for myself!

    -I revise and publish my first piece, and then follow through by engaging with any comments or critiques without hiding in a hole for 6 months.

    -I have made it through 6 months of slow but steady political presence without dropping away too badly…which means that I’ve made it to the end of the school year as well!

    -The group related to my teacher role has its first event—hopefully by spring/summer.

    -I have my first play-date with other radical parents.

    -I have created a playable prototype of my revolutionary board game.

    -Our Guatemalan school project has a Board of Directors and we have completed our 501(c)(3) application!

    -I have political friends who I share meals with at least a couple of times a month.

5) Daily Projects and Activities: How will I move toward my final outcomes on the day-to-day level?

    -I want to coordinate with Glendi to have guests over for meals 3 or 4 times a month. I want to really put some effort into relationship building and maintenance. Oh, how many friendships I’ve lost and squandered from simple lack of presence and care!

    -I reserve about 4 hours a week for political work outside of the house. This is meetings or hang outs. I need to push to make sure my time here is compatible with my baby-care.

    -At first, my out-of-the house time should be focused on a little political tour of spaces and groups, to get a feel for what’s happening. Additionally, I’ll want to keep a calender of events so I can prioritize events that 1) are most interesting, and 2) where I can be more useful than just another body in a room.

    -I reserve another 4-5 hours a week for writing, reading, and creative work in the house. I’d like to be reading at least one blog entry or article a day, and responding in comments 2-3 times a week.

    -I already have some prospects for some cool teaching related work, so I want to follow-up on that and see where it goes.

    -I want to create a personal wants/needs/non-negotiables list for what a political home should look like for me. Then I want to slowly and thoughtfully look for a group in Seattle. If I really don’t find one, then I need to identify individuals who I want to build a new group with.

    -Using my “Lessons Learned From…” as a starting point, I want to reach out to some other people I have in mind to create a deeper synthesis of lessons that we could share as a zine and electronic resource…maybe even a short video project?

    -I need to purge my email, mail, and voicemail. Make a list of outstanding correspondence, and then work through 2-3 of these a day until I’m caught up. From there, I should be clearing these out every couple of nights.

    -To make sure I’m doing all this stuff, I need some explicit mentor or motivator relationships. I need 1 or 2 people who will agree to support me and push me when my downs hit me. I have a list of a handful of people in mind already.

    -I keep writing in my blog. About 1 entry a week or 4 a month feels good.

    -I need to avoid feelings of perfectionism, and be prepared to scale back 1 or 2 projects if I’m getting too overwhelmed. The trick is to scale back smartly, rather than just dropping completely off the planet like I usually do. For now, I feel like really pushing my writing forward is my biggest priority, and so meetings would be the thing to scale back if I had to. I have never invested enough into my writing, and I really want that to change in 2013.

Damn, that was fun, too. My, oh my, how good I feel to have taken the slow, deliberate, and wordy road to move myself from political stagnation and crabbiness to this inspiring plan for my work in Seattle. I am mighty excited. Now, it’s all about the implementation. I think one of my first orders of business, maybe even while I’m still in Guatemala, is to get my mentors/motivators lined up.

Currently Reading:

-Dispersing Power by Raul Zibechi