How To Build a Movement video

As organizers, we know that our work is built on relationships, interconnection and focused on making significant systemic change. Why then, is it sometimes so hard to explain what we do? In this video Beth describes the difference between a movement and a campaign and how they are used to motivate involvement and build power. In just two minutes, she offers a frame and a clear analysis of what movement work is, why it matters, and how we can amplify our impact in the world by choosing effective narratives that lift up our values and our interdependence. This video is a must-see for anyone doing work in social movements, and for anyone training organizers to think beyond campaigns and towards movement-building. Special thanks go to Team Dynamics for their prodding, partnership, and support to create this video.

Here is what Beth’s friend and colleague Liz Loeb as to say about the video –

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BEHAVE podcast

On February 11, 2020 Beth joined Alfonso Wenker and Trina Olson from Team Dynamics as their first ever guest on their podcast BEHAVE to talk about movement building.

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This podcast was recorded during a POLLEN live event at the Mia in Minneapolis. Photo courtesy of POLLEN.

The Beth Zemsky Podcast: Episode 17

Restorative Justice with Cynthia Zwicky

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In this episode of the podcast, we talk with my longtime friend and colleague Cynthia Zwicky about the ancient tradition and emerging movement field of Restorative Justice. While we talk about Cynthia’s experience primarily within the context of the education system, we also reflect on how the practice of restorative justice can provide a vital foundation for much of the social justice work we do. We also discussed how institutionalized power and privilege in the pursuit of justice often results in prioritizing the peace and comfort of those in power rather then well being of the community as a whole. Finally, Cynthia shares her experience first bringing restorative methodologies to her North Minneapolis school, the challenges she faced in doing so, and the ultimate successes her school achieved as a result.

I also chat about what I’ve been up to so far this year, what I’ve got coming up, and a sneak preview of our next few episodes.

Outfront MN – Gala Legacy Award Acceptance Speech

I am honored to receive this award and recognition. And at the same time it is a bit odd and awkward because this recognition is of me and my work, when as an activist and an organizer, I think of movement work in the context of us. It is our work, our accomplishments, our losses, our joys, our dreams, our movement for justice.

Having said this, I am really happy to be here.

Honestly, I never imagined that I would be here. When I started doing LGBTQ activism in 1980, it never occurred to me that I could have a career as a professional lesbian that spanned three decades. I also never imagined that this work would ever be celebrated by anyone; certainly not at a big swanky event at the International Market Square in which I got to wear a sparkly dress and heels.

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The Beth Zemsky Podcast: Episode 16

Leadership with David Nicholson

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In this episode, I am thrilled to talk about leadership with one of my closest friends and former Executive Director of Headwaters Foundation for Justice, David Nicholson.

With the context of impeachment and the 2020 election as backdrop to our conversation, we deconstruct what passes for “leadership” in current political arena versus what we believe our movements need to create a transformed future. We consider questions about power, values, accountability, and integrity. We also discuss how our multiple identities inform and impact how we think about leadership, how we show up as leaders, and some unique challenges POC and LGBTQ leaders face in exercising different leadership styles.

The Beth Zemsky Podcast: Episode 15

The Emerging Narratives of the 2020 Presidential Election with Dave Mann

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To see the resources mentioned in this episode, please follow this link

In this episode, I sit down with my longtime friend and colleague, Dave Mann for a chat about the emerging and evolving individual and collective narratives of the upcoming 2020 Presidential Election. First, we reground in why value based narratives are so essential for this political moment. We then reflect on what narratives we hear emerging and gaining traction as some of the candidates potentially pull away from the pack by framing their issue positions in values based narratives. We also examine why leading with an anti-Trump narrative is a problematic not only as an election strategy, but also in the larger scope of movement building. Finally, we suggest some resources to learn more about framing and the construction of political narratives.

Birthday Bash Celebrating 195 years of Activism: Beth’s Remarks

Beth Zemsky, Rebecca Voelkel and Barbara Satin celebrated their 60th, 50th, and 85th birthdays and their collective 195 years of activism on May 30, 2019, during an event hosted by the National LGBTQ Taskforce at the Dodge Nature Center in West Saint Paul, MN. In this video you can watch the event slideshow and hear Beth’s remarks. To read Rebecca and Barbara’s remarks, continue below.

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Intercultural Organizational Development: Leaning into Change

Published on the Geraldine R Dodge Foundation Dodge Blog on January 8, 2019.

Beth wrote:

“Change can be challenging. It disrupts our sense of equilibrium, safety, and security. To manage change, we often try to overemphasize that which we believe we can hold constant. However, the only thing that is really constant is the ongoing state of change. Biologists call this “homeorhesis” — being in a constant state of change, development, and evolution. Organisms change and develop, people change and develop, communities change and develop — and so do our organizations. ”

Click here to read the full article.


The Beth Zemsky Podcast: Episode 14

195 Years of Activism Celebration and LGBTQ Task Force Fundraiser

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With immense gratitude to my podcast partner and producer, Ryan Garza, I am thrilled to be able to share this podcast with you. For this episode, Ryan interviewed some of the guests at our 195 Years of Collective Activism Birthday Bash that was held at the beginning of the summer. The voices you will hear in this podcast are some of my beloved friends, comrades in movement building, and are among the most brilliant activists I know. As we head into Fall and an even more heated political environment, I hope these voices of vision, experience, and resiliency provide you strategy and inspiration.

The Beth Zemsky Podcast: Episode 13

Activism and Legacy with Barbara Satin and Rev. Dr. Rebecca Voelkel

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Buckle up for an all-star edition of the podcast as I am joined by community icon Barbara Satin and welcome back Rev. Dr. Rebecca Voelkel. Together, we reflect on our collective 195 years of service and activism as we approach our triple birthday bash and fundraiser for the National LGBTQ Task Force on May 30th, 2019.

During the episode, we talk about what brought each of us to activism so many years ago, some of our earliest activist experiences, how those early experiences shaped who we are now, and our thoughts on the future of the Progressive movement. We also discuss the importance of recognizing the shoulders upon which each of us stand, carrying the mantle and memory of those we met along the way, and the process of realizing and learning to accept our eventual status as “role models” to the next generations of activists. We also dig into our tendency to sometimes “silo” ourselves into issues, ideologies, and generations, and about the power and importance in breaking through these barriers. We wrap up with thoughts on the legacies that we each wish to leave, along with an assurance that none of us are anywhere near finished yet.