Monday, February 18, 2008

Conversation Recap for February 17, 2008

First we checked –in in the style of ALF (American Leadership Forum)

New jobs, artistic endeavors (music recording, screenplay readings), family health challenges, etc.

Noah’s Story

Themes that came out were about love of nature, colonialism (beginning with colonization of nature and then people) and teaching about both.

Maxine Mimms and members of her staff, Darlene Hilyard and Vanessa Brown, from the Maxine Mimms Academy were present.

Dexter asked Maxine to tell some of her story. She told many humorous and poignant anecdotes about her childhood, her formal and informal education and how she came to found Evergreen-Tacoma. These notes could never do justice to all that she shared with us.

Growing up in the segregated South she never heard anything about white people, never learned that white people were superior because her parents made sure that the stories of white supremacy insignificant.

She told of how Evergreen-Tacoma started. How she had to de-program herself to get rid of the “standard” in order to see and develop the genius in her urban adult students.

Her advice—live a life of applause, celebrate the indigenous genius in every person. Know yourself and stay exotic to self. Something about you is great; bring that greatness into the classroom. She tells her students, stop being absent. With your presence you challenge the paradigm of schooling that thrives without your presence.

Teachers are trained to be hostile, to see education as a commodity so as early as third grade, we begin to rank, sort and eliminate.

A participant asked, how do we carve out a place and a space to create something like what was created in Evergreen-Tacoma at the K-12 level?

The key in the K12 system is we have to talk with the unions as well as parents and teachers about how to applaud differences, and not just those defined by skin color, but differences in thinking and behavior. Love that which is unpredictable.

We should ask those whom we’ve failed what we could do differently, but we always only deal with those who’ve succeeded.

A comment was made that while our society is so based on “instant everything”, everyone, we should remember that this school was started in a kitchen. Maxine said that even though some have asked her not to say she started the school in a kitchen anymore because that brings to mind the image of Aunt Jemima, she says it had to start in the kitchen, that’s where the love is; that’s where the pots get stirred; where the experimentation with ingredients and spices occurs.

The question was asked about Maxine’s relationship with the churches throughout her work. She talked about the support and dialogue that’s been there because people have known each other a long time. One of the things that is problematic in the church today is the disconnect between church and intellect. Think about it: there are 12 grades, 12 months, 12 disciples, 12 gates of heaven. Our pastors need to be here in this Conversation. They need a place where they can think and share and heal.

Dexter mentioned that we’ve been in discussion with public radio (KXOT). He asked Maxine about developing a program of some set conversations on the radio and Maxine being the first person to be in conversation with him on the air.

Maxine said she would be happy to but also cautioned that she remembers what happened with Columbia when the architecture and MBA students began studying the “problems” of Harlem. Now UWT is here and it’s a 4-year school and it’s studying the Hilltop. Now the Hilltop is changing.

Tom asked for a bite-sized commitment of something we each could commit to helping the MMA kids.

Come visit after 1pm, or for lunch between 12-1pm, give compliments, emails & letters. Email address is They also need bus passes.


March 8th Maxine Mimms birthday party at Evergreen-Tacoma

UFPPC Speaker Series (see link on right)

Courage & Renewal – upcoming education/training opportunities (see link on right)

We went around and each gave a final word. They were: