The idea was that Symposium would bring together all of our community… As long as we live in these bodies, as long as we are on this earth, as long as we do this work, we cannot live in separation, because we don’t live separated lives.”
–Dr. Ibrahim Abdurrahman Farajajé
Starr King Symposium
January 13, 2018
First Unitarian Church of Oakland
685 14th Street, Oakland, CA 94612
Registration is free for current students enrolled in the course IDS-4205, which is 0.5 credits paid normally as you would another class. General admission is $120.00. If you are a student who wishes to attend without earning course credit, we ask that you please register by clicking the button above.
What is Symposium?
A tradition founded by former SKSM Provost Dr. Ibrahim Farajajé (1952-2016), Symposium is an annual gathering of our entire student body, faculty, staff, trustees, and community members. This “urban retreat” serves as a day of study, dialogue, food, art, music, community-building, service, and celebration of the Spirit of Life, as we cultivate multi-religious, counter-oppressive, just and sustainable communities.
Our Honored Teacher
This year we are thrilled to have the Rev. Meg Riley as Our Honored Teacher!
Meg serves as Senior Minister at the Church of the Larger Fellowship, a Unitarian Universalist congregation with no geographic boundary. Her wealth of experience includes founding two organizations (Faith in Public Life and Equal Partners in Faith) and serving in various leadership roles with the Interfaith Alliance, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, and the Unitarian Universalist Association.
Together we will explore the uses of technology for building extended faith-based community in the context of the 21st century “media revolution” and our rapidly changing world. Our Honored Teacher will share valuable lessons from her experiences with electronic ministry — including how to create spaces of justice, grace, and healing in an environment that lends itself to insularity, judgment, and self-righteousness — so that we may better utilize online tools to build collective stamina and commitment in tough times, like the ones we are in.
9:30-10:30am — Registration and Continental Breakfast
10:30-11:00am — Greetings and Opening Worship
11:00am-12:00pm — Keynote Address: Rev. Meg Riley
12:00-12:30pm — Q&A
12:30-1:30pm — Community Lunch
1:30-2:45pm — Workshop I
3:00-4:15pm — Workshop II
4:30-5:30pm — Conferral of Honorary Degree
5:30pm — Closing and Reception
Ritual Conversations and Support Following Abortion
By Rev. Susan Chorley and Mara Kassoff, Exhale Pro-Voice
This workshop will be co-facilitated by Rev. Susan Chorley, a co-founder of Exhale and the current Executive Director and an ordained American Baptist Minister and Mara Kassoff, Deputy Director of Exhale, who has been in engaged in community organizing in the Jewish community in the Bay Area for the past 11 years. Exhale is the nation’s premiere organization addressing the emotional health and well-being of women and men following abortion. Mara and Susan will provide a context for the “pro-voice” approach of Exhale in multiple communities and hold space for people to share stories of abortion in their personal lives or professional roles. The workshop will culminate with participants creating ritual practices together acknowledging the uniqueness and complexities of abortion experiences.
Holding Space: How the perceived limitations of online spiritual community can become the unexpected gifts that help us thrive!
By Amelia Monteiro, SKSM alumna
In this workshop we will use the theme of holding space to explore ways in which, by gathering online, we are encouraged to embrace new possibilities for: counter-oppressive leadership and facilitation, sharing in embodied practices, and inspiring Interfaith/Multi-Religious awareness, connectivity, and Love. Participants will share together in space-holding practices and reflect in multiple ways on related personal processes, patterns, habits, and inclinations – including how we uniquely prepare for and recover from the sacred work of “holding space.” All bodies and abilities are welcome. Please expect to move and dress accordingly.
Theatre of the Oppressed: Rehearsal for Revolution
By Jiwon Chung, SKSM faculty
Theatre of the Oppressed (TO) is a form of popular education that uses theatre as a vehicle for fundamental social transformation. Forged in the crucible of revolutionary movements, it uses the dynamized human body and the charged theatrical space as laboratories for exploring power, transforming oppression, and finding collective solutions to the fundamental problems of conflict, exploitation, violence, and human suffering. Harnessing the reflexivity of the theatrical form as a generative critical methodology, TO charges that there are no neutral observers, ideologies, or systems of practice: every spectator is a potential actor, every system potentially oppressive or liberatory, and that the collective artistic liberation of our human capacity, dignity, and creativity is an imperative for transformation and survival.
This (double session) workshop will introduce the basic language of Theatre of the Oppressed (Demechanization, Dynamization, Image Theatre, Forum Theatre, Rainbow of Desire) while exploring TO-specific approaches to grounded, spiritually informed activism. These techniques will be shared as practical and essential tools for artistic development, creative expression, social engagement and as a method of collective problem-solving, resistance, resilience, and transformation at this historic moment of backlash, racism and violence.
Discussing Hip-Hop as a Liberational Theology
By EbonyJanice Moore, SKSM student
This discussion is an opportunity to introduce hip-hop and various other contemporary, popular cultural ideologies as liberational theology. We will start by introducing and exploring liberation theology, womanism, and hip-hop womanism through a musical ethnographic lens. Participants should come ready to explore hip-hop as a socio-political and spiritual/religious praxis while also considering what other contemporary, popular cultural ideas might we consider liberation theology if we were to shift from centering ourselves and centering the marginalized groups represented by those particular phenomena.
How to Live the Life We’ve Been Called to… and Actually Enjoy it!
By Rev. Jessica Shine, The Chaplaincy Institute
Learn to live sustainably and build margin in time, finances, and community so that you start well and end well.
Spiritual Activism: Beyond Resistance – Strategies in the Age of Trump
By Cat Zavis, Network of Spiritual Progressives
Only water or water bottles are allowed in the sanctuary. We also ask that we all attend the entire day completely free of fragranced hair, skin, and clothing, including ‘natural’ or aromatherapy personal products. A list of fragrance-free products, including those that are especially good for people of color is given here: eastbaymeditation.org/accessibility/scentfree.html. Parts of this event will be photographed/filmed. If you have any concerns about being on camera please contact email@example.com.
Invite a friend to our Symposium Facebook event.
Fore highlights of last year’s Symposium, click here.
Required Reading for Students:
Students must read all these articles in advance of Symposium.
Adetiba, Elizabeth. “Tarana Burke Says #MeToo Should Center Marginalized Communities.”
The Nation. 17 November 2017. https://www.thenation.com/article/tarana-burke-says-metoo-isnt-just-for-white-people/.
Anderson, Monica, and Andrew Perrin. “Disabled Americans are less likely to use technology.”
Pew Research Center. 7 April 2017. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/04/07/disabled-americans-are-less-likely-to-use-technology/.
Anschuetz, Nika. “Is Hashtag-based activism all talk, no action?” USA Today College. 26
October 2015. http://college.usatoday.com/2015/10/26/hashtag-activism/.
Cone Communications. The 2014 Cone Communications Digital Activism Study. 28 pp.
Demontigny, “A Precious ‘Second Life’ Online?” Lion’s Roar: Buddhist Wisdom for our Time. 25
February 2010. https://www.lionsroar.com/a-precious-second-life-online/.
Hutchings, Tim. “Real Virtual Community.” Word & World 35.2 (2015): 151-161.
Jackson, Sarah J. “(Re)Imagining Intersectional Democracy from Black Feminism to Hashtag Activism.” Women’s Studies in Communication 39.4 (2016): 375-379.
LeBrón, Devalois. “I Am Not Alone.” Pages 131-2 in Testimony: The Transformative Power of Unitarian Universalism. Edited by Meg Riley. Boston: Skinner House Books, 2018.
Walker, Nathan C. “Together We Know Freedom.” Pages 245-51 in Testimony, ed. Meg Riley.
Students are encouraged, but not required, to read these articles in advance of Symposium as time allows.
Anderson, Monica, and Paul Hitlin. “Social Media Conversations About Race.” Pew Research Center. http://www.pewinternet.org/2016/08/15/social-media-conversations-about-race/.
Mitchell, Scott A. “Shin Dharma Net as Virtual Dōjō.” The Pure Land 20 (2003): 208-227.
Towne, Phil. “Spirituality in an Age of Technology.” Stone-Campbell Journal 17.2 (2014): 195-205.
Other articles available at the Pew Research Center regarding the “digital divide” between privileged and marginalized communities: http://www.pewresearch.org/topics/digital-divide/.
Materials related to the theme that students may find to be of interest in the future.
Boggs, Grace Lee. The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011.
ISBN: 0520269241 MSRP: $20.95
brown, adrienne marie. Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds. Chico, CA: AK Press, 2017.
ISBN: 1849352607 MSRP: $16.00
In a 4-5 page (1,000-2,000 words) essay, draw upon the Symposium experience and the readings (cite at least three) to provide your own critical evaluation of the benefits and drawbacks of cultivating spiritual community and/or activism online, and consider how emergent digital practices may shape your calling as a religious or social-change leader.