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[Xmca-l] Re: Does the All-Stars article document a social movement?

In her post, Lois refers to a previous post where she gave a detailed and beautiful description of the project development community of which the All Stars is part. That previous description can be accessed here:


From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu <xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu> on behalf of Lois Holzman <lholzman@eastsideinstitute.org>
Sent: 12 October 2017 18:14
To: ablunden@mira.net; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Does the All-Stars article document a social movement?

I’ll jump in here to comment on two issues brought up in relation to the
All Stars and Carrie’s article—one on social movements and another on play
and performance.

We usually think of social movements as efforts/activities where people
protest, take to the streets, demonstrate, make demands, etc. The All Stars
is a different approach to social change and cultural transformation. Its
approach is to build alternatives to the failing, oppressive, authoritarian
institutions that suppress us economically, culturally, socially,
emotionally and to build self-sustaining, self-governing institutions, to
build something *other*, and to involve masses of people from all walks of
life in that effort.

The founders of the All Stars (both the official founders Lenora Fulani and
Fred Newman, and the unofficial hundred or so others like myself) were (and
as Mike referenced related to the move in NYC to privatize public housing)
still are engaged in more traditional-looking protest. I say traditional
looking because I don’t think it is typical protest because of who is
leading it and what it is part of. It is an organizing effort, an effort to
engage people in activities through which they can see differently and can
qualitatively transform. Fulani did not run for US President in 1988 and
1992 to win, but to organize people to see new possibilities for
themselves, their communities and their country—and to take action. I think
that the All Stars is a new way of engaging poverty than those that we’ve
witnessed and perhaps been involved in, a way that over the decades has
involved thousands of people, poor, wealthy, and in-between. This kind of
work takes the long view, something Micah White, co-founder of occupy Wall
Street, writes about (among lots of other things) in his book, *The End of
Protest: A New Playbook for Revolution*. Please read the book!

With regard to play and performance and their similarities and differences…
In some ways, the two terms are interchangeable for the All Stars (in ways
that, apparently, are provocative). In this regard, the All Stars’
methodology is part of what’s come to be called the performance turn, and
the recognition (at long last!) of the necessity of play for human
development and learning—and cultural transformation. This methodology
plays loose with Vygotsky’s understanding of children’s pretend play and,
if you will, “exploits” the richness of his dialectical understanding of
play being how and where children are “a head taller” (going beyond what
you can do and normally do do in “real life”). For teens and adults,
performing is a way to break out of “real life”—the rigid identities and
the roles that a society casts us in and the ones we develop as reactions
(protests) to them—and to actively and continuously create who we’re

Building something outside of the state apparatus, and working with a
methodology of play and performance to support human/community development
come together in the emergence of what I like to call a new kind of social
activism—performance activism. It’s not just the All Stars; thousands of
people and projects in every country of the world are engaging not only
poverty, but violence, environmental destruction and every manner of social
justice and human rights violation through the building of independent
organizations and projects in which people play and perform their way to a
modicum of de-alienation. I don’t know if this constitutes a social
movement. What I am sure of is that people are in motion, creating new ways
to see and be together. Given our world, I don’t know how else, other than
performing it, we can do this.

I hope this is helpful in moving the discussion along.

By the way, back many months (maybe February) I described the community of
which the All Stars is a part in a post responding to interest on this list
in Richard Schechner, who is a friend of the All Stars, and his work in
performance. No one commented on it. Perhaps this is another chance.


On Thu, Oct 12, 2017 at 7:53 AM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

> David the typical kind of social movement discourse I find
> useless is the demarcation issues which academic departments
> and learned journals engage in to decide whether some social
> process fits in their subject area. This kind of discourse
> takes the peace, civil rights, anti-war, feminist and
> environmental movements of the 1960s and 70s as models and
> something is a "social movement" by comparison with these
> models.
> So I am saying it adds nothing to prove that the All Stars
> Project is or is not a social movement.
> The study of social movements has given us theoretical and
> empirical material to understand how ideas (practices)
> spread, the conditions which promote or inhibit their
> growth, the kind of life=process movements have, how they
> interact and influence each other, etc., etc. This material
> turns out to be useful across a wide range of social
> processes, processes which are in fact generically connected
> with one another. What is the purpose of ruling out
> activities which have not (yet) begun to proliferate, or
> which have faded out or been displaced by other activities
> or been co-opted or institutionalised, from study using
> concepts derived from social movement studies, and vice versa?
> Andy
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> Andy Blunden
> http://www.ethicalpolitics.org/ablunden/index.htm
> On 12/10/2017 10:03 PM, David Kellogg wrote:
> > ... Andy. (I also
> > think that your own position makes no sense. On the one hand, the whole
> > question of what social movement is can be dismissed as "useless". On the
> > other hand, the moment when a social movement stops moving is a "useful
> > lens".)
> >
> > On Oct 12, 2017, at 3:53 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:
> >
> > Helena, the assessment of the All Stars Project Inc. as a
> > "social movement" is nothing to do with what takes place
> > between the kids who are recruited into the program and the
> > adult organisers. It is to do with the process described on
> > pp. 221-222 in which group of good citizens around the US
> > and in other countries pick up the All Stars franchise, or
> > emulate it under a different name and do what they take to
> > be good work in helping poor kids. What makes it relevant
> > from a social movement point of view is this *proliferation*
> > and emulation, with people freely associating themselves
> > with the project by their own free will to join with its
> > objective, rather than for reward. Apparently this process
> > has been rolling on for 36 years.
> >
> > Generally speaking I think the question of whether this is
> > or is not a social movement is a useless question; it is the
> > dynamic of spreading from an isolated solution to a social
> > problem, proliferating through others freely participating
> > towards the project's object and eventually either dying out
> > or becoming an institution which makes the "social movement"
> > lens useful.
> >
> > Andy
> >
> >

Lois Holzman
Director, East Side Institute for Group & Short Term Psychotherapy
119 West 23 St, suite 902
New York, NY 10011
Chair, Global Outreach, All Stars Project, UX
Tel. +1.212.941.8906 x324
Fax +1.718.797.3966
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