The Architecture of Oppression:

Locating the Live Wire

A Day-Long Workshop

What’s This Workshop About?

Workshop Description

What is the nature of systems of oppression? Where do they come from? Why do we participate in them? And how can those of us committed to ending their violence learn to work directly with the “live wire” that animates them? 

This workshop is for people of all identities who have devoted some portion of their life to dismantling systems of oppression. It provides both a framework for exploring the above questions alongside internal exercises that support our work toward liberation. It is premised on the belief that the essence of oppression does not live in culture, practice, language, policy, technology, or belief systems. Rather, oppression works through those things. Working to change things like culture and practice is both urgent and extremely important, but those efforts will ultimately fall short if we do not also learn to work directly with the “live wire.” Absent that, oppression will continue to replicate itself from the place it really lives: within the generational and collective trauma that all of us hold as a result of the overwhelming violence we have experienced at its hands. 

If we are going to work directly with the thing that animates these systems, we need to understand how to metabolize and heal that trauma that feeds them. When we learn to do that for ourselves, our relationships, and our communities, we magnify the positive effects of our external work to change the world. To that end, this workshop will include a mixture of theory and internal work devoted to helping people engage with and heal the collective trauma that drives systems of oppression.

Who’s the Presenter?

James Boutin is an educator, facilitator, and trainer for social change. He is a national board certified teacher who worked as a high school teacher in public schools across the United States for fourteen years. For most of that time, he worked as a union organizer around community-based social justice issues.

James has a master’s degree in secondary social studies education as well as a master’s degree in process-oriented facilitation and conflict studies (also known as Processwork). He has been facilitating conversations about systems of oppression and their history in and out of schools since 2006. He believes that the crises humanity faces in the 21st century boil down to a crisis of human relationship, and particularly how human relationships tend to show up within inhuman systems. You can learn more about him on his About page.

What You Can Expect

If you choose to attend this workshop, you can expect:

  • A mixture of theory and exercises that support both systems and personal transformation work

  • A trauma-informed, healing-centered, relationship-forward, humanizing style of facilitation

  • Opportunities to build relationships with like-minded folks

  • Conversation and exercises around some potentially triggering topics like oppression, abuse, addiction, violence, and recovery. We won’t go too deeply or too personally into any of these (and you’re welcome to opt out of any of the exercises), but if you choose to sign up for the workshop, please check with yourself to make sure you feel resourced enough to engage with this type of material.

Who Is It for, and Why Might You Want to Attend?

If you find the description of this workshop intriguing enough to want to sign up, then this is for you. It is intended for folks who are passionate about systems transformation and see the important role that personal, relational, and communal transformation play in that work.

You will likely find this workshop most useful if you: 

  • are passionate about dismantling systems of oppression and have dedicated some amount of your personal or professional life to doing so

  • have background knowledge about systems of oppression and have done at least some personal work around your own identity within those systems.

  • are interested in and willing to engage in the personal and interpersonal work necessary to sustain systems transformation 

  • wonder often about root causes

When and Where?

Friday, October 13 from 9am-4:30pm
In partnership with the Equity in Education Coalition
Pacific Tower, Seattle, WA
Click here to register on Eventbrite

Sunday, October 15 from 9:30am-4:30pm
The Processwork Institute, Portland, OR
Click here to register on Eventbrite

Saturday, November 18 from 9:00am-4:00pm
Othello-UW Commons, Seattle, WA
Click here to register on Eventbrite

How much does it cost?

This workshop is offered on a unique pay-what-you-can basis. It costs $23.18 ($3.18 for Eventbrite fees) to register and reserve your spot. Any amount that you pay beyond that will depend on the value you feel you received from the workshop and the financial security you feel in offering it. James will walk you through a brief reflection exercise at the end of the workshop to help you determine an amount that feels good to you, even if that amount is zero.

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