August 9th Retreat Report Back

This is our sexy group photo! In the back Paul Jean, Lauren, Amalia, Ben, Nichole, Amanda, anu, etta, and the second row Erika, Tiffany, Julia, Rose, KT and Bucco the small dog

On August 9th 2014 WHAT’S UP?! Retreated at Raccoon Creek State Park The following our some notes and pictures. We have since established a Core Committee which is working on realizing a lot of the ideas we came up with.

(notes by Tiffany, Amalia, Rose, Amanda and etta)







the incomplete Hirstory of (W)WHAT’S Up!?

Founded the Fall of 2011

–etta held 2 report back from that Anne Braden Program the summer of 2011 looking for cohorts.

This shot from a car window. The beauty of this blue sky, lush hills sweeping the valley with a river running through it.

–first meeting happened at kiva han

— first study group from fall to winter 2012 at Randa’s awesome house – etta, ben, jean marie, rayden, courtn

ey, marisa, randa, corvy, evan, myles, lizzie, jessica, andi (who are we missing?)

–named ourselves WWHAT’S Up?! – Whites Working and Hoping to Abolish Total Supremacy Under

mining Privilege


–challenging racism at work committee – had a couple meetings fizzled out

–allies training at kinks locks and twists

–propaganda – caution white people – poster  stickers

–teeny harris musuem field trip

Clothesline technology in effect for the visual agenda! Thanks AORTA for all your guidance along the way! Our Agenda looks like a big pie chart with different patterns for the slices – 45 degree sector for planning, two 30 degree sectors for Visioning and Reflecting and a big piece of pie for chillaxin. We went swimming on our break!

–January – accountability workshop at summit against racism with pre meeting with POC at coffee tree

–Summit – met Tami

–the Dutchman at Bricolage

–book club – the new jim crow

–tabled at rhinestone steel

–conversation salons began – (there is a blog post about now)

–earth first! rendezvous – privilege and eco-justice – amanda, corvy, etta, and kt starring as wwhats up’s boyfriend

–Study Group # 2 starts! julia, jess gold, jenny j, marcin, tiffany, shaun slifer, amanda, etta, joy, michelle, lauren

–food justice meet up/discussion – failed initiative?



Nichole and KT were the BEST kitchen crew! Super healthy delicious meals! Thanks you two!

–summit against racism planning team, Challenging White Supremacy in the Workplace workshop at the Summit

–Carlin did anne braden

–book clubs – Medical Apartheid, How the irish became white

–Conversation Salons Summer of 2013: June – The Joys and Frustrations of Fighting for Racial Justice; July: Patriotism and White Supremacy; August: Family; September: Social Media- salon working group – anupama jain, Lynn Clarke, Lizzie Anderson, Carlin Christy, Chris Mason and etta cetera

–Rhinestone Steel workshop no structure = bad zimmer verdict same night = bad news. good to be together with so many peops to plan action

–Pgh for Trayvon

–Study Group at Erika’s – amalia, nichole, michelle, erika, tiffany, amanda, julia, kt, michelena, etta, alessundra, katherine, pj, judy, lauren,  allyssia? Chris

–Chris Crass workshops

–December planning meeting at Carlin’s



–Summit Against Racism planning team, workshops at the summit – talking circle, work, racecard

–Moving Against Racism workshop in partnership with KST & GPAC at dance alloy

–strategy planning workshop with Jenna at big idea

–Talking Circle at eastlib presbyterian

–Irish identity at bricolage

–some more history – people’s history, reparations and reconstruction, harvest of empire

–Rhinestone Steel – tabling and Gentrification workshop

–Retreat – Racoon Creek! August 9th


Reflections on What’s Up?!’s Main Activities

Study Group and Book Club

Intent – educate white people, provide a space to make mistakes without hurting POC, develop anti-racism leadership,

Investment – a lot of investment, but shared after the study group startsIMG_4193

Impact – builds community, provides a place to practice facilitation

What do we like?

  • We love it! Huge impact on most people who have participated
  • Continue to require a commitment to be at all or most of the meetings


  • It’s a good space to have mentor and mentee facilitators
  • Important to have a core planning team (with at least one past participant), always needs someone to bottom line
  • Promotion and outreach important before the first session


Conversation Salons

Intent – to provide a space to practice talking about racism, to workshop things to say and get feedback, to build skills, to build community and trust, to create a multi-racial space, to take conversations outside study group

Investment – significant, not an equal return on investment, 2-3 hours to plan + 1 hour to prep, lots of logistics (food, dishes, etc)

Impact – attendance has been declining –> impact declining, some of the events were frustrating but those might have been the most impactful, mostly served people in our networks, success always depended on the people who were there, large impact on people at the personal level (especially at the 101 stage)

What do we like?

  • These worked best in a good environment – backyard, home, etc.
  • small groups and variety of facilitated exercises was good

    Rose, Lauren, Amalia, Paula Jean, Juia and Amanda. Retreating!

What do we want to change?

  • Keep accessibility in mind
  • Encourage more word of mouth promotion
  • Define the audience
  • We need events that attract people at different levels of knowledge
  • With all events, be clear in the promotion who we are trying to attract (101 folks, more experienced in talking/thinking about race, etc.)


  • If we continue, do fewer per year within a mix of other types of events
  • Perhaps keep a component of “conversation practice” within other workshops
  • Are there good facilitation exercises we can share and add to over time?


Workshops and Events

(Summit Against Racism, Rhinestone Steel, Moving Against Racism at Alloy Studios, 12 Years a Slave viewing, RACE exhibit talking circle, others!)

Erika! Note Reporter!!

Intent – expand outreach, reach new audiences

Investment – significant

Impact – high impact

What do we like?

  • etta takes items from the listserv and synthesizes on the blog (could use help – Shawn? Corvus? Lauren?)
  • We want to continue to try for some sort of event monthly (some partnerships which join up with other events)
  • Events that focus in on a topic are good and so are more broadly focused gatherings

What do we want to change?

  • Need more experienced/skilled facilitators – need to identify them
  • Remember to save time for debriefs and evaluation – both in the workshops and between the facilitators after


  • Mentoring – pair experienced facilitators with less experienced facilitators, provide honest and helpful feedback
  • Partner with Pitt Center for Race and Social Problems, at CMU –> CAUSE
  • Facilitator 101 sessions regularly, advanced facilitator trainings would also be helpful
  • Create an event checklist
  • Develop some standard curriculum
  • Continue AORTA workshops when possible for leadership development

    We are almost done and so tired amongst the piles of big paper! Amanda and Rose taking note!


Digital Presence & Resources – Listservs, Website, Resource Handouts

Intent – reach more people, provide an entry point for people to learn about What’s Up?!, a place to keep and share resources

Investment – currently falling mostly to etta

Impact – significant, shows transparency, a place for documentation

What do we like?

  • etta takes items from the listserv and synthesizes on the blog (could use help – Shawn? Corvus? Lauren?)

What do we want to change?

  • More What’s Up?!ers writing about anti-racism for the blog
  • Need a new designated blog facilitator
  • Once a year, clean up the resources
  • Clarify which listserv is which (currently about 60 on discussion list, __ on announcement list)
  • all what’s up members to write one article a year for blog. (etta’s dream. cuz then we would have lots of original posts)IMG_4225


  • Start a writing group!
  • Link to sound files of blog posts being read aloud by their author


Feedback from POC

  • It is important to POC to have white people to talk to who are engaged with this work
  • White people speaking up is important! So that POCs don’t always have to
  • Asian-American friends are often assumed not to speak English, or to be from somewhere else
  • Focus on specific policies/issues for two-year periods
  • Focus on economic justice; affordable housing
  • Give financial support to racial justice organizations
  • Articulate why you care!
  • Document our personal journeys, specifically around study group (journals)
  • Build more relationships with people of color
  • More social integration
  • Go beyond our group
  • What does it look like for WHATS UP to be multi-racial?
  • Work with kids
  • Step up anti-racism work within institutions
  • Focus on white people! Just fucking speak out to white people that need to hear it
  • Continue doing education work white people
  • Confront everyday racism which helps change culture
  • Be more public! Go beyond self-selecting folks
  • More listservs around specific projects/ working groups
  • More detailed feedback is available on request


Personal Impact Gemstones

anu is knitting around our circle and you can see our outside facilitator Dawn in this one! She was awesome!

How has WHAT’S UP affected you?

Made me understand that I am racist, living it everyday, given me space to work on it, informs the work I do in Haiti

Relief- less shame and anxiety about racism because I have a path to address oppression

Healing- As person of color working with the group, it’s awesome, I don’t need to be teacher

Hard to put into words, has had huge impact on my life, and leaves me wondering why there are not more groups like this

Helps me be the nun I always wanted to be- nuns do good social justice work and people accept it because they are nun

Gives space for love and courage, informs belief that we must love each other, strengthened and deepened my relationship with partner of different race in profound ways

After traumatic experience, had place to rebuild blocks of myself, coincided with being with Wwhat’s Up, constellation, open, vulnerable, present

Inspired by this group, really struck by racial tension in Pittsburgh when I moved here, grateful for this work

More full person, becoming myself, found ways to be a white man who is working for justice, deepened relationship with mom who is also in Wwhat’s Up

Moved back to Pitts and jumped right into Wwhat’s up.  This is the work I want to be doing and it was here right at the right time, I am on the right path

Wwhat’s Up has been a grounding center for working for justice when I haven’t had a lot of space to be present in other things that need so much focus.  Also, merging of Wwhat’s Up with dance related, body moving things has been the best.

Bigger than WHAT’S UP!? We are all connected

(Groups/Workplaces/Family/People we have connected with in effort to bring our  anti-racist WHAT’S UP!? selves)

Dismantling Racism in Organizations group

Union Project

Make it our UPMC/Carlin

CLP Teen Jobs

Extreme Energy Summit anti-racism group

CMNH Race exhibit, October Youth Summit

Three Rivers Arts Festival

Nichole reporting back on with a big smile!

The Birth Circle (Julia, Lizzie, informing doula services for women on medicaid)

Center for Coalfield Justice

Disability Justice (spinoff led by Lizzie after accessibility discussion on the listserv)

Children’s Museum (Etta and ____ led race discussion as part of a larger exhibit)

Nichole’s multi-racial family – communication around how children are raised

Center for Race and Social Problems (Pitt Social Work School)

BIG IDEA bookstore and cooperative

BWR/Summit Against Racism 2012, 2013, 2014

KST?Alloy Studies Partnership

Inclusant – Anu’s new business

Polish Hill Community Alliance + WHAT’S UP addressing racism in the neighborhood

Pittsburgh Coalition for Racial Equity in the Arts (GPAC)

Human Rights City Structural Racism Committee

Vietnam Family Culture Camp

“talking to our kids about race” – WHAT”S UP helped mostly white parents with kids of color plan and share links on blog

Anti-racist parent group in pittsburgh

Tiffany with some big paper and makers!!

AGAPE Church Group (Judy!) share WHAT’S UP resources and field trip to race exhibit

Lost Boys Men Group (Casey) – feminist mens group which grew out of Chris Crass workshop

Shalefield Justice Spring Break – Marcin, Mary, Lizzie, bring a strong influence of anti-racist values in their work


HRC – Fed-up

Let’s get Free

Yellowbridge Childcare Collective

Workshop at Association of Performing Arts Service Organizations

GPAC Town-Hall on Racial Equity in the Arts

Values/Beliefs Brainstorm

  • We are enough: whatever, where ever, whoever we are, we can contribute
  • The self is inherently good and inclined to connecting

    etta with a pretty egg in the front pocket of her jean jacket and tired camping eyes
  • Everyone is important and accountable to our community small and great
  • My liberation is tied to yours. We’re not free until we’re all free
  • Love! – As a tool
  • Know yourself and your family history
  • Care – self and community
  • Healing trauma through education and communication
  • Recognize privilege and working to end oppression
  • Value of intersectionality
  • We work as whole people acknowledging intersectionalities of oppression
  • Create spaces for the participation of all fully
  • We will have non-hierarchical leadership structure
  • Anti-capitalist
  • Personal transformation is necessary
  • Creative interventions
  • Historical trauma affects our everyday life
  • IMG_4240
    Chocolate cake baked in an orange. Yeah Julia! show it off! Yeah Nichole! It was your idea!
  • Good work = life-long work – change is slow
  • Reflection
  • Positive whiteness

Mission –>  – End oppression

What’s Up?! Working and Healing to Abolish Total Supremacy Undermining Privilege

Commitments & Projects

–the dates are not necessarily have the whole project finished by this date but have started process by this dates and all open to others jumping in and participating. we need you!

  • 4th Annual Unlearning Racism for White People Study Group Fall 2014

–Nichole (head honcho) PJ and Lauren on  back up support co-facilitating

  • Real Life Problem Solving – Workshop/Salon – Sometime this fall

–etta, lizzie

Idea – “create a space for people to come in and workshop real life problems like my job is racist help me figure out how i can make a difference.” structure undecided. multiracial yes!

  • Curriculum Kits – January 2014

–anu, PJ, etta

Idea – To create curriculum so whats up can expand its political education empire 🙂 focusing on privilege workshops for varying levels of study and structural racism

  • Racism in the Classroom Workshop for (white)Teachers at Pitt – Fall 2014

–Nichole, anu

Nichole is setting this up at Pitt

  • Social Justice Summer Camp! summer 2015

–Amalia and etta

Idea – Partner with other groups around town to create a one day, weekend or week long social justice Summer Camp – focusing on skills to fight for justice and against oppression

  • Art Team


Idea – we need more art!

  • Organize the first WHAT’S UP?! Meeting – B4 Sept. 15


  • Training for White Adults who work with youth Feb- 2015


  • Retreat Documentation – This week!!

-Amanda, Rose, Tiffany, Amalia and etta

  • Partnerships

-anu -lead singers, Nichole & Tiffany – back up singers.

Idea – plan meeting to talk about structuring partnerships/outreach(maybe?)

  • Writing Group – By November?

-Amalia, PJ,

kt and bucco making beans

Idea – Form a regular group that meets to write together about race for potential blogging or sharing

  • Facilitation Training – We didn’t pick a time

-Ben, etta, lizzie

idea – build facilitation skills. lizzie and i talked this morning that it would be cool to do the training with 2 people who want to build skills then we would step back and support others to do.

  • Put Money Where Your Mouth Is – By December 2014

-etta and lauren

idea – create a monthly financial giving structure to be donated to racial justice organizations or freedom fighting groups led by POC. low investment – high impact.

  • Ask – Members of WHAT’S UP!? write one article/essay/journal entry a year to be posted on the blog.

Agenda for First Big Meeting


–Working Group for Advocacy Policy Issues -See brain storm notes. idea to infiltrate city government with anti-oppression training – 5 year plan

–wide sweeping curriculum for middle school/public school 2 year plan

–Work on refining What’s Up?! Description, Tagline, Mission, Values –> revise About Us page on website



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