I’ve been there. The organizer rushing from one campaign training to the other; the policy wonk at the desk delving into legislation, reports and volumes of data; or the advocate preparing testimony and fact sheets for the next accountability meeting. At the ready for verbal combat at a moment’s notice, I was lost deep in my thoughts, my head disconnected from my body.
I suppose this is why I was so intrigued by an innovative approach to movement work developed by Forward Together. Based in Oakland, California, this organization takes on big issues by supporting the leadership of the people most affected by them. Issues like youth and sexuality; reproductive rights; the realities of modern-day family structures and the community services that fail to meet their needs. Forward Together makes it happen through a progressive analysis of race, gender, class and community that grounds their work—work that is conceptualized and actualized by a staff that is predominately women of color.
It is out of this microcosm that Forward Stance was developed. Putting the move in movement, Forward Stance is a tool that reconnects activists and advocates with what Forward Together calls “the physics of social change work.” That means getting out of our heads and into our bodies in a way that values the whole person and brings a different type of wisdom to our efforts. In the short video interview below, Forward Together’s Culture and Training Director, Dana Ginn Paredes explains the vision, core elements and the success of Forward Stance.
Dana Ginn Paredes, Culture and Training Director
Dana has worked for social justice organizations for over 12 years as a field organizer, trainer, national program director, organizing director, and training director. Her previous work to promote racial equity and healthy families within welfare policy led her to develop a strong interest in reproductive justice issues for women, youth, and communities of color. Since joining Forward Together in 2003, she has directed research to advance comprehensive sex education policy for California public schools, led electoral campaigns that advance reproductive justice, and initiated and overseen the development of Forward Together’s current youth and worker organizing projects and climate change initiative. Dana was a 2008 fellow in the National APAWLI Signature Program of the Center for Asian Pacific American Women, a 2008 participant of the CLEAR Executive Training Program of the Communications Leadership Institute, and a 2007 fellow of the Women’s Policy Institute. She also serves on the steering committee for the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative, and holds a BS in Political Science from the University of California at Berkeley.