“Working With the Live Wire of Oppression”

Virtual Introductions


Day-Long In-Person Workshops

What Are These Offerings About?

My Main Message:

If you’re working to dismantle systems of oppression, you’re working with trauma. The more you know about trauma, the more effective, sustainable, and authentic your anti-oppression efforts will be.

Two Offerings

There are two offerings you can sign up for on this page: the virtual introduction and the day-long in-person workshop. Although not required, the virtual introduction will help prepare you for the day-long workshop.

Both of these offerings are about the complex connections between systems of oppression and trauma.


Saturday, February 24 from 11:15am-12:45pm
90-Minute In-Person Introduction
UW Husky Building, Seattle WA
Part of Network for Edwork Convening: Journey Toward Liberation
Click here to register for the 2-day Convening

Workshop Description

Intended Audience

These workshops are for people of all identities who are actively working to disrupt, dismantle, and replace systems of oppression. 

Groups of people who’ve told me they especially appreciated the workshop in the past include…

  • Organizers and Activists

  • Social Change Leaders

  • DEI Trainers and Consultants

  • Educators and Facilitators

  • Coaches, Counselors, and Therapists

(Scroll a bit further down on this webpage to see more information on who this workshop is for and why you might want to attend.)

Underlying Assumptions

In my experience of anti-oppression work, we tend to focus on three main questions: 1) What are systems of oppression?, 2) How do they work?, and 3) How do we change them?

These questions are crucial, and I’m glad we’re focusing on them. And there’s a fourth question I think we need to begin grappling with more often: Why do systems of oppression exist?

These workshops are premised on the belief that the “live wire” of oppression does not live in culture, practice, language, policy, technology, or belief systems. Rather, systems of oppression work through those things. Working to change things like culture and practice is both urgent and extremely important. But the place from which these systems arise - their true “live wire” - is within our unprocessed collective trauma. I’m afraid our systemic change efforts will ultimately fall short if we do not learn more about how to work with this trauma.

What Are These Offerings About

I often find that people who know a lot about disrupting systems of oppression sometimes lack a strong understanding of trauma. And folks who know a lot about trauma sometimes don’t know so much about systems of oppression.

“Working With the Live Wire of Oppression” is about bringing those two bodies of knowledge together. 

My main message is this: If you’re working to disrupt systems of oppression, you’re working with trauma. The more you know about trauma, the more effective, sustainable, and authentic your work will be.

In the virtual introduction, we’ll establish working definitions for oppression and trauma, and we’ll begin identifying the connections between them.

In the day-long workshop, we will go much deeper into the connections between trauma and oppression. We’ll build community and create the opportunity for networking with like-minded people. And we will also do some internal and relational exercises intended to highlight how trauma-awareness can make our anti-oppression work more effective, sustainable, and authentic. You’ll also receive access to a free 30-minute follow-up coaching session with me to go more deeply into any of the content or apply it to your anti-oppression efforts.

It should be noted that both of these offerings represent a small taste of a much larger amount of learning and practice needed to make meaningful pivots in our work. The one-day workshop could easily be expanded to a two-week intensive or three-month course for interested communities or organizations. Feel free to email me at james.boutin@mailfence.com to inquire into a workshop or series of trainings on this material tailored to your needs.

What Will You Leave With?

If you attend the virtual introduction, you will leave with…

  • a conceptual framework for understanding trauma, oppression, and the connections between them

  • a stronger sense for the importance of trauma literacy for those of us committed to replacing systems of oppression

If you attend the day-long workshop, you will leave with…

  • a deeper understanding of trauma, oppression, and the connections between them

  • exercises that will help you more skillfully navigate trauma when it arises in your anti-oppression efforts

  • skills for navigating difficult conversations

  • ideas for moving forward in new and potentially transformational ways

Who’s the Presenter?

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

I have 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). I’ve been teaching about the history and psychology of systems of oppression in and out of schools since 2006. I’ve spent the most recent years of my life earning a degree in Processwork, working as a counselor in a community clinic, and learning everything I can about methods for processing trauma. I believe 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 me on my About page.

"James does a masterful job convening a group to talk about very important and difficult topics. The trauma-oppression framework provides a common language that enabled the group to quickly make connections and grapple with "live wire" issues. I left the event motivated to apply what I learned in my own day-to-day and to further my learning of trauma-informed approaches."

~ Julie Rajaratnam

"James provided a phenomenal space to authentically engage, reflect, and learn. The model of oppression that he offered was incredibly useful to my work and to me personally. As a content creator and facilitator myself, I am well-aware of many of the challenges that come with planning a full-day workshop that requires folks to be vulnerable and stay engaged. James' ability to hold the space, read the room, and to find a balance between instruction and activities was excellent. I would highly recommend this workshop to anyone who is involved in activism, social justice work, or the nonprofit sector. You will not regret it!"

~ David Goldenkranz

“James is a gifted teacher who researches well and presents in a way which is invitational, inclusive and values the input of participants.”

~ Anonymous

What You Can Expect

If you choose to attend one of these workshops, you can expect:

  • A mixture of theory and exercises that support both systems and personal transformation work. (There is more theory in the virtual introduction, and there are more exercises in the day-long workshop.)

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

  • Opportunities to build relationships with like-minded folks if you attend the day-long workshop.

  • Conversation and exercises around some potentially triggering topics like oppression, abuse, trauma, and violence. 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 actively working to disrupt, dismantle, or replace systems of oppression on any level.

You will likely find this workshop most useful if you: 

  • are passionate about replacing 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


Saturday, February 24 from 1:45-3:15pm
90-Minute In-Person Introduction
UW Husky Building, Seattle WA
Part of Network for Edwork Convening: Journey Toward Liberation
Click here to register for the 2-day Convening

How much does it cost?

There are two ticket options for these offerings: one for individuals paying out of their own pocket, and a different ticket for organizations (or individuals who prefer to pay a flat fee upfront).

For Individuals Paying Out of Their Own Pocket

These workshops are offered on a unique “pay-what-you-can” basis for individuals paying out of their own pocket. It costs a small amount to reserve your spot ($5 for the virtual introduction and $20 for the day-long workshop). 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. I 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 (based on the value you feel you received, your existing relationship to me, and your degree of financial security), even if that amount is zero. This is the best way I currently know of for practicing the principles of financial equity.

For Organizations (Or Individuals Who Prefer to Pay a Flat Rate Upfront)

For organizations purchasing tickets for their members, or individuals who prefer to pay a flat rate upfront, the virtual introduction is $40, and the day-long workshop is $200.

Contact Me

Subscribe to my mailing list or email me directly at james.boutin@mailfence.com

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