This interview with the Rock Dove Collective was conducted in Brooklyn, New York on August 15, 2010 by Ben Holtzman with Kevin Van Meter.
Can you briefly discuss when, how, and the reasoning behind forming the collective? Can you mention any precursors or previous organizing that influenced the formation of this endeavor?
Rock Dove has a really clear birthday and birthplace. We met at the first New York Metro Alliance of Anarchists meeting. In the meeting, people broke out by groups about what might evolve into working groups and one of those was called “Alternative Therapies.” We met by the food table. We always joke that it makes a lot of sense that Rock Dove met by the food at the beginning because we – unlike most groups we work with and we know – are really committed to having our health and our well-being and our sustenance at the center of how we do our work. We had a second meeting with a subset of the people who had taken part in that breakout group within a few weeks and really from there set the main structure of the collective.
We know people in pain. Members in pain, leaders in pain and even organizers in pain. While there is the joy and relief that can come from a strong campaign victory, there are some battle wounds that endure. Standing on the shoulders of healers from past generations, a new cadre is emerging, integrating trauma and healing work into the everyday campaigns for social justice. Org Up’s Sushma sat with Tanuja Jagernauth, who enriches her organizing work in Chicago with young women and domestic violence survivors with trauma and harm reduction, skill sharing, and collective healing.
Q: What departures does healing / health justice work take from past practices?
I want to start with a working definition of healing justice. According to Cara Page, who wrote on Incite!’s blog about the Healing Justice work during the Detroit United States Social Forum (USSF), healing justice is “a framework that identifies how we can holistically respond to and intervene on generational trauma and violence and bring collective practices that can impact and transform the consequences of oppression on our bodies, hearts and minds. Through this framework we built two political and philosophical convergences of healing inside of liberation.”