This last month, I presented some of my findings from my dissertation at the International Writing Centers Association Conference in Columbus, OH. It was my first opportunity to share the work I’ve been doing over the course of the last two years with one of my main scholarly communities. In particular, I wanted to share what the Lesbian Avengers have taught me about community organization, and how those lessons can apply to my discipline (Writing and Rhetoric) broadly, and to writing centers, more specifically.
In this presentation, I discussed findings from my work with the Lesbian Avengers on their experiences of making — making signs, protests, shrines, and eating fire— and how those acts of making impacted their practice of community building, or world-making. I also discussed how the lessons these Avengers taught me about lesbian direct-action organizing can be applied in academic communities, and in this case, in the writing center. Finally, I provided some take-aways for writing center administrators to consider for their own centers. Here are a couple of those take-aways:
- There are multiple levels and scales of making. Putting together an organization (like a writing center) is the first act of making, but then communal acts of making within the organization is what keeps it running healthy, and allows it to be continually remade.
- Senior and junior members have different stakes in an organization, and both of those priorities are incredibly important.
- Theoretical discussions tied to no direct action plan (can) lead to un-making/degeneration of an organization.
- Action leads to responsibility, which leads to power, which necessitates action.
Over the next few months, I hope to discuss the reasoning behind these takeaways, and how they relate to my CHI project. I’m looking forward to mapping the actions of the Lesbian Avengers and discussing how their activism can provide lessons to other communities and activist organizations.