Four things we want out of the conference -
1. Learn and practice more strategies/techniques/methods for doing what we do: popular education for liberation.
2. Gather the stories of others in resonant struggles using these strategies.
3. Connect with potential allies from around the world.
4. Make connections with potential funders and supporters from around the world
3 things that we offer the conference -
1. Lessons and strategies we've learned through doing this work in New Orleans over the last several years
2. Our warning stories of struggle in New Orleans, which is the front line for austerity measures in education and beyond
3. Our allyship
4. Sharing stories of our challenges and achievements working as a team across differences of race, class, and gender.
After returning to New Orleans, we also plan to host a Report Back to share what we learned and gathered with members of our community. We will write a corresponding written report and use the whole experience of attending the conference then reflecting on it (in the spirit of Freirian praxis: the ongoing practice of action-reflection-planning-action... and so on) to build toward a Forum Theatre piece (inspired by the work of Augusto Boal and the Theatre of the Oppressed community) that creates space for honest dialogue about the obstacles to racial, cultural, and economic justice in New Orleans schools.
Ashana Bigard is a trainer, advocate, and educator who has worked as a parent coordinator and lead trainer for local advocacy groups including Agenda for Children, New Orleans Parent Organizing Network, American Friends Service Committee and for the Highlander Research and Education Center of New Market, Tennessee. She has facilitated interactive workshops for over two-thousand parents and students, around community building/engagement, healing from trauma, and strategies for community development. She has consulted with a wide array of groups and individuals including: teachers, school leaders, executive directors, CEOs, graduate students in education (including Harvard University and Macalester College), teacher educators (including Tulane, Georgia State, and University of Illinois), and public officials to help them strengthen their capacities to serve their students and communities.
Derek Roguski is a trainer and popular educator with four years of experience using socially-inclusive and transformative facilitation methods, including Theatre of the Oppressed, Theatre for Living, and Story Circle Methodology in workshops with teachers, students, parents, community members, and organizations in New Orleans and elsewhere. His work in New Orleans includes the co-founding and directing of the teacher training and support group the New Teachers Roundtable. He has facilitated workshops at conferences with local, national, and international participants (including the International Deleuze Studies Conference and CEPNO’s Zooming Out conference series), as well as local groups (including Occupy New Orleans and Critical Resistance New Orleans).
We are interested in deepening our understanding of Theatre of the Oppressed because we believe in its capacity to create spaces for people to imagine and begin to practice a deep, honest solidarity that is a prerequisite to effective collective action.