Complex Movements is preparing for our Beware of the Dandelions homecoming residency in Detroit, October 6-31. This exciting opportunity led us to reflect on our time touring in Dallas and document the experimental model of community engagement we have been developing.
It is important to note that we also had unique experiences and relevant lessons when we toured with Beware of the Dandelions in Seattle, but we focused on Dallas here because the process is exemplary of what we hope to work towards with other communities in the future.
Beware of the Dandelions: Community Engagement Process
The Beware of The Dandelions community engagement strategy begins with building community cohorts and advisory circles consisting of artists, organizers, and other community members in host cities. Through these community cohorts we listen and learn about community resistance and resilience in the face of challenges, and exchange stories and strategies between each city and Detroit.
Relationship building through multiple residencies in Dallas was imperative to having shared ownership and collective visioning of the community engagement process for Beware of the Dandelions.
Dallas community members informed and shaped everything from the installation venue location to the community workshop series. After the engagement ended we followed up with the community cohort members and partners and learned that over 40 new relationships were formed in this process. We hope these relationships facilitate ongoing collaboration and emerging solidarity across communities, sectors, issues, and neighborhoods.
The true outcomes of this process is something that only ongoing relationship building over time will show.
We are beyond grateful for the opportunity to work with SMU Ignite Arts Dallas and the community members who gave so much to make this all possible. Read more about our residency in Dallas and our timeline for community engagement below.
Beware of the Dandelions: Performance, Installation and Workshops
During the full engagement of Beware of the Dandelions in Dallas we worked with SMU Ignite Arts Dallas and the Dallas community cohort and partners to present:
- 12 Beware of the Dandelions performances
- 3 Movement Memory Map viewing sessions as part of the installation
- 6 invitation based strategy sessions and workshops
- 2 Public community events
All performances were free and open to the public. Each performance was introduced by a community cohort member, and culminated with learning more about their work. Attendees were invited to participate during the performance, and speak more with the community cohort member after each performance to become more involved in local social justice movement building work in Dallas.
Dallas Community Engagement Timeline
- We connected with Clyde Valentin at the Allied Media Conference, who took interest in the work and later became our Dallas presenter through Southern Methodist University's Ignite Arts Dallas.
- We connected with Nadia Mohamed at the Allied Media Conference, who was working with Race Forward on bringing the Facing Race conference to Dallas in 2014, and was interested in the possibility of Complex Movements doing something at the conference.
- Nadia introduced us to Sara Mokuria, lifelong Dallasite and organizer, who was one of the main community liaisons for the Facing Race conference. Sara later teamed up with us as one of the community cohort coordinators for Dallas.
- We also invited our friend Jodi Voice, another lifelong Dallas resident and movement worker, who we met years prior through organizing work, to coordinate the Dallas community cohort.
- These conversations were the seeds that grew into over two years of partnership with artist and organizing communities in Dallas
- We hosted our first network gathering at AMC2014, convening community partners from each of the cities that were considering bringing out Beware of the Dandelions. Jodi Voice attended to learn more about the project and bring back more information to the Dallas community.
- We began preparing with Clyde, Jodi, Sara, and others to present about our work in Dallas before and during the time of the Facing Race conference that fall.
- In November of 2014 five of us were in residency in Dallas for a week. This residency included facilitating workshops at a youth leadership conference, attending a community forum organized by American Indian Heritage Day in Texas, and facilitating a community info session at the Dallas Peace Center. Many of the community members we met during this first residency went on to become core members of the Dallas community cohort, and extended community partners.
- We installed our mini pod (podzuki) at the Facing Race conference, during which we presented a workshop about our work which also highlighted the Dallas organizing of Mothers Against Police Brutality, American Indian Heritage Day in Texas, Susu Economics, and the North Texas Dream Team.
- In February of 2015 we returned to Dallas for another 10 day residency, where we engaged in the activities as well as workshops inside classrooms at Southern Methodist University, University of Texas-Dallas, and El Centro Community College.
- During the months following this we began forming the community cohort more cohesively through phone and email conversations.
- In May we opened Beware of the Dandelions in Seattle, and a crew from Dallas came out including Clyde, Sara, and Jodi to meet with the community cohort members from Seattle and exchange more about their organizing projects and learn lessons from the Seattle engagement.
- In June both Jodi and Sara (along with her son Amari!) attended the second network gathering during AMC2015 in Detroit. They connected more with our Seattle community cohort members and had a chance to build more deeply with Detroit and other city cohort members.
- We began meeting regularly with the Dallas community cohort after the AMC.
- In September we visited Dallas for a tech visit with Clyde from SMU Ignite Arts Dallas at the venue (Fair Park's Tower Building) and also had an opportunity to meet face to face with our entire cohort.
- Our full engagement in Dallas ran November 9 - December 7 2015!