Breakout Sessions

Conference concurrent Breakout Sessions will take place on May 1 from 1:30–3:00 pm and May 2 from 10:30 to noon. These sessions are critical spaces of engagement that provide focused time for conference attendees to dive deeper into conversations related to systemic challenges and processes of Othering as well as concrete strategies of advancing Belonging from the global to the local. These breakout sessions will be interactive spaces where attendees will engage in conversation with each other and with panelists comprised of community leaders, scholars, youth activists, artists, and practitioners who are exploring inclusion and exclusion from a wide variety of perspectives and experiences. Sign-ups are not required.

Monday, May 1
1:30–3:00 pm

Design for All: Creative Placemaking and Inclusive Space

Grand Ballroom 1


  • Miriam Chion, Association of Bay Area Governments

  • David John Attyah, Public Artist and Professor of Studio Art, Glendale Community College

  • Roberto Bedoya, City of Oakland Cultural Affairs Manager

  • Victor Pineda, President, World Enabled and Senior Fellow, Haas Institute

Belonging is physical.  Belonging is social.  Belonging is creative.  To counteract displacement, planners have often applied the discourse of creative placemaking.  However, this discourse overvalues dominant physical forms like live-work spaces, cultural districts, or green landscapes, providing an illusion of the collective. These forms give an incomplete picture of engaged placemaking. Before places can invite engagement - we must understand the collective needs, histories and desires.  Why did the community ask for a mural or a pupuseria?  How are people with disabilities included? We must consider the ingredients of the ”vibrant street” and carefully evaluate the social processes to create dynamic places. 

This session examines ways the arts and cultural production fit into the process of creative placemaking and offers strategies for disrupting displacement and generating an ethos of belonging for all that is so pivotal to public life.

Refugees, Borders, and Placelessness

Grand Ballroom 2


  • Saskia Sassen, Columbia University

  • Nunu Kidane, Priority African Network

  • Leena Odeh, organizer

  • Abraham Ramirez, Ph.D Candidate at UC Berkeley

  • Nadia Barhoum, Moderator

The world is experiencing the greatest displacement of peoples since WWII, with 65 million people being uprooted and displaced from their homes, including 21 million refugees who have fled their homelands in search of safety and protection. How do we understand this human tragedy in the context of institutional —political and financial—crises and as outcomes of the structure of the global economy?

In this workshop, we’ll explore the hyper-regulation of people and borders, especially in contrast to how regulation and policies are structured to easily move capital across borders. How are exclusionary policies increasing state militarization and securitization, xenophobia, and shrinking governmental social programs while continuing to push impacted communities to the extreme margins of society? Additionally, this session will explore how impacted communities and social movements have begun to imagine and create alternatives and how governments (local and national) and institutions have responded to such demands in order to create spaces of belonging with full respect for human dignity and democracy.

Strategic Narrative and Practices for Belonging

Junior Ballroom

  • Ian Haney Lopez, Berkeley Law

  • Sabrina Smith, California Calls

  • Gerald Lenoir and Olivia Araiza, Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society

  • Troy Jackson

  • Ifeoma Ike, NYC Young Men’s Initiative (Office of the Mayor)

In the final years of the Obama era there was a cross movement conversation about the need for greater alignment and cohesion--our movements suffered from silo-ing and perhaps were narrowly fixated in distinct policy pathways towards change.  The conceptual underpinnings of othering and belonging helped advance these conversations towards a shared analysis. We were discussing “dog-whistle politics”—the strategic use of racism (veiled racist tropes) that sustains the dominant narrative and power structures that have propelled conservative agendas and elite’s control over government for decades.  

The need for a “meta-narrative” was proposed as a strategy, a story that at once encapsulated an overarching analysis of these forces and powers, named toxic inequality and government as critical pieces to address, and pointed to an aspirational vision for transforming our country.  The meta-narrative strategy did not stop at a coalesced communications effort but pointed to the need for alignment to address a set of implications and priorities. In California, a broad cross section of the movement landscape set out to build on this proposition. Like leaders of states and corporations around the world, movement consolidation has been accelerated with the election of Trump as the president of the United States.

What will this consolidation lead to? Just greater cohesion among resistance efforts or alignment that creates The Movement that will fundamentally transform who we become?  A strategic narrative is a necessary approach and today’s crises underscore a set of priorities that demand our full attention and speed.

Revealing and Resisting Global Demagoguery

Junior Ballroom 2

  • Larry Rosenthal, Berkeley Center for Right-Wing Studies

  • Sarah Kendzior, journalist and commentator on US politics

  • Stephen Menendian, Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society

Across the globe, a rising crop of political leaders appealing to ethnic, religious and nationalistic identities has emerging, and achieved a stunning series of political victories.  Although Donald Trump’s Electoral College victory and the Brexit vote are merely two auspicious instances, demagogues are winning across the world. Turkish leader Recep Erdogan carefully organized against Kurdish separatists after a parliamentary defeat last year to rebuild his political base, which he has since consolidated after a recent coup attempt. In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi rose to power as an economic reformer, but has stoked Hindu nationalism to reinforce his support and expand his political power.

These leaders are not simply nationalistic, misogynistic, and xenophobic, appealing to the fear of the other, they are also tend to be autocratic, breaking norms of conduct if not rule of law. We envision a workshop focused on revealing and resisting rising demagogic forces in the United States and beyond.  The goal for the panel is to bring together scholars, advocates, and policymakers who can provide complementary perspectives on the global issue of autocratic demagogues, and what we can do about it.

Creating Another World That is Possible: Youth Advance Belonging

Room 208

  • Clarence Ford, Safe Return, Underground Scholars

  • Hatem Mohtaseb, Arab Youth Collective, San Diego

  • Ruben Elias Canedo, UC Berkeley

  • Kristian Kim, Undergraduate Workers Union

  • Tania Pulido, Community Health Coordinator

“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.” Arundhati Roy

This panel brings together youth leaders from different movements working to challenge structures, systems, and institutions that historically and systematically exclude marginalized communities. The panel will explore how youth have been able to identify the failures of these inherited structures, systems and institutions in ways that have been generative and created space to build practices and spaces of belonging.  How are they moving towards the world they want to see? What are the strengths and challenges of engaging in collective work intergenerationally in pursuit of that world?

Strategic Questioning

West Hall

  • Shakti Butler, World Trust Educational Services

Strategic questioning is a technique designed to create knowledge that awakens possibilities of change. It is a process that empowers new questions, releases blocks to new ideas, facilitates people’s own responses to change, and creates answers that may not be immediately know but may emerge.  Using case studies of clashes and conflicts within the current society and our places of work and organization, we apply a systemic and structural lens to encourage a process for addressing “issues” in ways that may be considered from multiple perspectives and analyses. A strategic question opens both of us to another point of view. It invites our ideas to shift and take into account of new information and new possibilities. And it invokes that special creativity that can forge fresh strategies for resolving challenges.

Transforming Public Health: Building Belonging

Skyline Room

  • Aletha Maybank, MD, MPH, Deputy Commissioner and Director, Center for Health Equity, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

  • Rachel Morello-Frosch, UC Berkeley

  • Sandra Witt, The California Endowment

  • Lili Farhang, Human Impact Partners

The field of public health is going through an awakening. After years of struggling unsuccessfully to close “health disparities,” a new movement is taking root: Public health leaders from around the country are more squarely focused on racism and othering as forms of oppression at the root of poor health. What this means in practice is that public health—who has historically been complicit in creating and reinforcing the inequitable power dynamics and public policy that harm health—is willing to take on the hard issues it has shied away from in the past, such as sharing decision-making and power with communities, working on issues such as gentrification and displacement, incarceration, immigration, and using our bully pulpit to hold other government agencies accountable to their actions.

More and more, there is a vanguard of public health agencies that are building their own capacity and changing internal practices to advance equity and strategic risk-taking, and also building strategic alliances and relationships with community organizers and social justice movements to help magnify their power to advance health, equity, and justice. The country’s more than 2,500 health departments have significant work to do advance health equity, but many of us are using our expertise and power to walk a new road together.

Tuesday, May 2
10:30 am – 12:00 pm

Disablement & Decarceration: Defining Disability Justice in an Age of Mass Incarceration

Grand Ballroom 1


  • Talila Lewis, attorney, founder and director of Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of Deaf communities (HEARD), visiting professor at Rochester Institute of Technology/National Technical Institute for the Deaf

  • Eduardo Vega, CEO of Dignity Recovery Action! International

  • Claudia Center,senior staff attorney with the ACLU Foundation's Disability Rights Program.

  • Tamisha Walker, PICO Live Free Organizer and Spokesperson for the Safe Return Project

  • Stephen Rosenbaum, Berkeley Law

In this workshop we will explore various sites of confinement and institutionalization housing those who are disabled and non-disabled. It is useful to consider the types of confinement and the effects on those who live there and on those who are outside prisons, psychiatric hospitals, and nursing homes. People with disabilities are the largest minority population in our jails and prisons. Yet, advocates rarely view the crisis of mass incarceration through a disability justice lens or approach decarceration advocacy with an intersectional framework. There is also a growing realization that freedom from being warehoused in asylums and public mental hospitals has become, for too many, “freedom” to be warehoused in prisons and jails. In the face of the “madness” of public policies that produce limited access to treatment in the community, regular homelessness, and the criminalization of poverty, can we preserve human dignity while making difficult choices about confinement and forced treatment? This breakout session will feature a discussion on these topics and include disabled and deaf people’s experiences with police brutality; the school to prison pipeline; wrongful arrests and convictions; disproportionately harsh punishment for alleged crimes or violations of.

Racial Anxiety, Increasing Diversity, and Politics of Fear of the Other

Grand Ballroom 2

  • Dowell Myers, Professor at University of Southern California

  • Olivia Araiza, Network Coordinator for the Haas Network for Transformative Change

  • Sean McElwee, Policy Analyst at Demos

  • john a. powell, Director of Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society

  • Shakil Choudhury, award-winning educator and consultant

Demographic shifts across race, age, and place are changing more than just the makeup of our country. Increasing diversity has been met with rising racial anxiety, expressions can be found in our narratives, attitudes, and politics. As more parts of the country become more diverse, we can expect to see this trend grow over the coming years. Cynically, the politics of fear of the other thrives in this environment and so, it has evolved in our electoral cycles and news media, playing a more sophisticated role in narratives that ultimately shape our future possibilities. This workshop will explore how anxiety about the “Other” is used to divide people. Science, both social science and mind science, can help us understand how it’s happening

and what needs to be focused on. What are the implications for our political strategies? By understanding the expressions and underpinnings of anxiety of the other we can develop strategies that tackle the underlying force behind the politics of fear. How we embrace the reality of our diversity and multi-layered identities may give rise to a Politics of Belonging.

Connecting the Dots: Money in Politics, Civic Engagement & Police Accountability

Junior Ballroom 1

  • DeAngelo Bester, Workers Center For Racial Justice

  • Desmond Meade, President, Florida Rights Restoration Coalition and Chairman, Floridians for a Fair Democracy

  • Adam Lioz, Demos

How has the increasing role of money in politics driven the rise of a political agenda predicated on limiting participation, access and inclusion in democratic processes? How are community organizers working with online organizers to unseat prosecutors who hold the police above the law and above the concerns of communities? Are there effective strategies for working with police departments to help them counter the toll of discrimination and bias and what can we need to do to make this happen?

Since the end of the Jim Crow era, political and economic power interests have advanced racialized “tough on crime” narratives to mobilize popular support for an economic agenda predicated on exclusion. As the role of outside money and the influence of the economic elite has grown in politics, the gap between the needs and concerns of constituents and priorities of elected officials has widened. One way in which we witness this is through the growing use of state power to cause harm, rather than to prevent harm, and the passing of policies that exclude rather than expand the inclusion of communities into the circle of human concern.  

Given these circumstances, it is no surprise that voter disenfranchisement and civic disengagement are widespread. But as unjust policing comes under increased scrutiny, organized members of targeted communities have begun to identify openings to build power and transform these systems using inside and outside strategies. Through online organizing campaigns, on the ground organizing and working with police departments directly, our discussants are leading efforts to reclaim our communities and expand active participation in democracy.

Campaigns to replace prosecutors who have failed to protect their communities have become opportunities for movement organizers to engage communities in democratic processes to build power, and hold elected officials and police departments accountable to the communities they serve. Crisis and changes in leadership create opportunities for the adoption of best practices to mitigate negative impacts of discrimination and bias in policing. Successes consolidate continued civic engagement and move us closer to the goal of ending mass incarceration and transforming the criminal justice system altogether.

Mobilize. Politicize. Organize.

Junior Ballroom 2

  • Rev. Kelvin Sauls, Black Alliance for Just Immigration

  • Jonathan Smucker, Beyond the Choir

  • Alva Martinez, youth leader and organizer, 67 Sueños

  • Sean Burns, UC Berkeley

Coming on the heels of the first 100 days of the Trump Administration, the new political reality has awakened latent organizing energy. Simultaneously new strategies, tools, and formations are cropping up to meet the urgent demand.  This workshop features organizers who are organizing around electoral and political strategies to address the threat of authoritarianism and neo-fascism.

The panel will address these and other pressing questions: What is the value and necessity of resistance? What are its limits? How do we transform resistance into a demand for transformative, long term change? What is at risk, if we fail to do so? How can we use this moment to work towards healing long standing divides between communities and to break down the silo between issue areas?

Building a Transformational Women's Movement: Feminism at a Crossroads

Room 208

  • Vanessa Daniel, Groundswell Fund

  • Malika Redmond, Women Engaged

  • Kim Tran, EverydayFeminism, UC Berkeley

  • Kathleen Cruz Gutierrez, UC Berkeley

  • Darren Arquero, UC Berkeley

The exacerbation of misogyny in the Trump Era compels women and their allies to action. But rifts that have long divided different segments of women’s movements challenge our collective capacity to mobilize a swift and sustained response, evident in voting patterns from the 2016 presidential election. 94% of black women voted for Hillary Clinton; 68% of Latinx women did so; but 53% of white women voted for Trump.

Racial divisions are not the only barriers in building solidarity to address violence against women, as disagreements over the category of “woman” itself have led to fraught alliances with women in queer communities. Homophobia and transphobia are rooted in misogyny – what will it take to recognize these concepts as intricately and violently related? And how is racism deployed to reinforce misogyny and systems of Othering?

For countless women across the US on college campuses, the everyday effects of misogyny are intimately felt. How does misogyny manifest on campuses and in higher education, and what are organizers and feminists doing to combat it?

Despite these circumstances, the salience of the Women’s March cannot be understated: this show of solidarity points to the aspirational possibilities of coalition-building across axes of difference that constitute the experiences of women writ large. How are different strains of women’s movements stepping up to meet our current challenges while building momentum for new expectations around who belongs? How are we transforming our thinking to transform our action?

Tech & Belonging: Opportunities, Responsibilities, Possibilities

Skyline Room

  • Eva Paterson, Equal Justice Society

  • George Polisner,

  • Stephanie Lacambra, Electronic Frontier Foundation

What are the unique possibilities and responsibilities of the tech industry in securing an open, democractic society? What inside/outside strategies are happening, both from inside tech companies and from advocates, working to actively resist the rise of global authoritarianism and increasing polarization in our society? How can the power of technology and the technology industry itself create more possibilities for inclusion and belonging? 

Advancing a Progressive Agenda—Cities & States as Sites of Resistance and Power

West Hall

  • Gayle McLaughlin, Councilmember, City of Richmond

  • Dr. Muntu Davis, Public Health Department Director and County Health Officer in Alameda County, California

  • Cassie Toner, Assistant Commissioner, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Center for Health Equity

  • Julie Nelson, Government Alliance for Race & Equity

  • Glenn Harris, President, Center for Social Inclusion

Government of the people, by the people and for the people—at the local and state level, we are seeing a public sector that is about the collective good. We are seeing a new wave of organizers, within communities and governments working to transform government policies and practices.

A regressive and reactionary agenda is playing out at the federal level: already the federal government has revoked guidance under Title IX advising schools to permit students to use bathroom facilities associated with their gender identity, issued unconstitutional travel bans that discriminate against Muslims, proposed drastic cuts to the budget that will mean life or death for many, and ramped up deportations of undocumented immigrants, breaking up families and communities.

But local government is fighting back, not only resisting proposals that will cause significant harm in communities, but also maintaining a strong commitment to an effective democracy that advances social and racial equity. Those working at local and regional levels know that an onslaught of executive initiatives presents a clear danger not only to the health and vitality of our communities, but are also a direct assault on already marginalized populations.

An inclusive policy agenda must both resist the excesses of a radically regressive agenda as well as organize and build power to advance an inclusive and progressive agenda at the state and local level.

This workshop will explore city and state efforts in building power as sites of resistance and advancing and sustaining inclusive and progressive policy agendas at the city, state, and regional level.

States and localities are spaces for developing and piloting creative and inclusive policy initiatives and building community power. Strategies that build skills and capacity within local government means that public sector employees will be firmly situated and further empowered to advance the collective good.