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Thoughts on Emergent Strategy

I thought Emergent Strategy was a business book, or maybe a management book, likely because I saw that the Software Leadership Book Club was going to read it (I didn’t make it).

I was very wrong about what the book was about.

Emergent Strategy is a collection of thoughts, approaches, and ideas that relate to organizing, community building, and movements (such as a social justice movement). In addition, the author is inspired/is drawing from the works of Octavia Butler so … it’s a collection of ideas informed by speculative fiction/sci-fi. In the case of Octavia Butler, her work is considered or argued to be “visionary fiction,” or fiction that uses those constructs to help us (readers) imagine a “better world.”

I would definitely recommend it, and would really love to talk about it, and it’s probably worth buying a copy so you can highlight/underline, because it really is chock full of references and quotes and things you’ll want to look up later (brown is very thoughtful in attributing ideas and resources throughout the book).

The following are the pieces of the book I made the effort to put little torn pieces of my library receipt to mark for later, and now I’m writing them out here so I can actually do that looking up!

Things I learned and bookmarked

I bookmarked the Complex Movements art collective.

I learned the term “woe,” which brown uses throughout the book. It stands for “working on excellence” — those friends/people in your circle with whom you’re working on improving yourself constantly.

I’m looking up/gonna learn about Movement Generation.

These quotes this section (I wanted to slim down to just some of this, but the whole thing is so good):

Do you already know that your existence–who and how you are–is in and of itself a contribution to the people and place around you? Not after or because you do some particular thing, but simply the miracle of your life. And that the people around you, and the place(s), have contributions as well? Do you understand that your quality of life and your survival are tied to how authentic and generous the connections are between you and the people and place you live with and in?

Are you actively practicing generosity and vulnerability in order to make the connections between you and others clear, open, available, durable? Generosity here means giving of what you have without strings or expectations attached. Vulnerability means showing your needs.

Emergent Strategy, adrienne maree brown

I’ve bookmarked the Social Transformation Project.

This quote makes me think of RC (and the “not a cult” joke) and self-directed learning and unschooling, and some light pondering I’ve been thinking about how to do more of this in Philadelphia (as relates to computing):

When people think the same idea and move in the same direction, that’s a cult. When people think many different ideas and move in the same direction, that’s a movement.

Loretta Ross, a co-founder of the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective

Overall, I really enjoyed it and highly recommend it! I talked with someone who didn’t like it, but I think if you know what it is (a collection of thoughts) versus expecting it to be something different, you won’t be disappointed.

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