A relational truth of transformative change

I’ve just started reading adrienne maree brown’s “Emergent Strategy”, a powerful guide to reimagining, creating, and living through transformative change. The book was given to me when I first started this work over three years ago, and despite receiving multiple effusive endorsements along the way, I’ve only just gotten around to cracking its spine. (BTW – You MUST read ‘Emergent Strategy’! and yes, adrienne’s name is lowercase) And as someone who believes in Kairos, which refers to time as an opportune moment or right timing, as a more useful way to engage with the concept of time (versus Chronos which references sequential or chronological time), I see the introduction of brown’s concepts of emergence and emergent strategies as serendipitous, to say the least.

For almost two years now, I’ve had the immense pleasure and privilege of knowing and advocating alongside community members from the tiny town of Mogollon, New Mexico, a blink-of-an-eye stop off one of the more rugged roads in the state that leads deep into the heart of the Greater Gila, wrapping around the northern edge of the Gila Wilderness. While Mogollon may be small, its residents, all 15 of them, are mighty. A force to be reckoned with, for sure. A long-time local contacted Guardians in May of 2021 seeking help in opposing an exploratory mining operation that was drilling within half a mile of the town center. Since that time, we’ve contacted state and federal agencies in an attempt to ensure that rules and regulations are followed and enforced, particularly around surveying for and protecting vulnerable populations of Mexican spotted owls. But one of our more exciting and fruitful strategies of opposition was making a film about the issue, which hit theaters in early December of 2022, and just screened here in my home town of Santa Fe on March 1st.

What makes the timing of “Emergent Strategy” so fortuitous, is the way I’ve been trying to define and/or articulate what makes working with this community so remarkable. Every film screening we’ve hosted has been followed by a panel discussion with the “stars” of the film and their allies. As we’ve done three of these now, I keep waiting for the conversation to start to feel predictable or redundant, but every time I come away teary-eyed and astounded that there is still so much heart and love and commitment in the community’s vision. This is the emergent power of this group, what Brown calls,”…being in right relationship to our home and each other… how we intentionally change  in ways that grow our capacity to embody the just and liberated worlds we long for.” It’s the relationships and trust that we build as much as it’s the love of place and desire to protect the Greater Gila, that obtain such potency as to make me cry. And we could not do it alone.

I believe this exceptional group of humans have only just begun to explore their emergent forces, and those forces will only grow stronger and more robust as more folks join us. So please, sign our petition here, join us for the virtual screening of No Fools Gold in early May, or come in person to Monticello, NM on May 13. And may the emergent force be with you!


Claire Haughey and Bob Moore in Mogollon, New Mexico filming No Fools Gold. Photo by Leia Barnett, WildEarth Guardians.


About the Author

Leia Barnett | Greater Gila New Mexico Advocate, WildEarth Guardians

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