This overview dives into Hamster Wheel Activism versus the Wayfinders' approach to social change, a form of Kindred Activism.
These individual oral histories were edited and compiled into the full 90 minute conference presentation. Watch the full interviews.
Learn About Leaving Traditional Hamster Wheel Activism and Embracing Kindred Activism: A Sustainable Strategy for Social Change & Normalizing Wellbeing
Discover Breastfeeding As One of Nine Components of Our Evolved Nest, Our Evolutionary Pathway to Wellness and Wholebeing
Breaking Barriers siloed-science of academia and research which doesn’t (can’t) support a whole child wellness model
Breaking formula companies “captured” biomedical field and colonization of populations worldwide
Breaking barriers in hospital and medical professional culture’s systemic racism
Breaking barriers to Indigenous peoples’ colonization created anti-breastfeeding bias, creating Indigenous-centric breastfeeding narratives and resources
Breaking barriers in Workplace and gender equity laws
Breaking barriers in mainstream media cultural bias, social media influencer, attachment parenting champion
Breaking barriers to create inclusion of fathers in breastfeeding and birth advocacy, creating breastfeeding narratives for Black communities
Meet the Wayfinders is an oral history collection of video interviews with nine professionals, parents, and scientists who found ways around breastfeeding advocacy barriers, or just broke them! The series was created at the invitation of La Leche League International in celebration of their 65th Anniversary Conference held October 15-18, 2021. This website presents the series to the public for the first time in celebration of:
World Breastfeeding Week, August 1-7
National Breastfeeding Month, August 1 - 31
Indigenous Milk Medicine Week, August 8 - 14
Black Breastfeeding Week, August 25 - 31
The Meet the Wayfinders Oral History Series includes an overview video, where participants learn the five hallmarks of wayfinder advocacy, aka Kindred Activism, and highlights of the nine interviews. The complete interviews are also available on this website. The Meet the Wayfinders Resource Guide in PDF form lists the many references discussed in the collection by presenter and can be found here.
In Meet the Wayfinders, viewers will discover reasons why cultural change is difficult and how the breastfeeding advocates featured in this oral history collection were successful in breaking, transforming, and maneuvering around barriers in:
In this series, the viewer will discover the hallmarks of successful barrier-breaking shared by the wayfinders who answer three questions:
Through their personal histories, the wayfinders reveal to us a holistic form of breastfeeding advocacy, a strategy that does not wait for external, cultural forces to change and support individual and collective wellness. This new form of activism, that centers childhood and worldview as a sustainable strategy for cultural transformation, is being explored at the Kindred Fellowship Program as Kindred Activism (see more below).
All of our presenters address the opportunities awaiting us in our post-pandemic world and how, with an understanding of the hallmarks of successful barrier-breaking, we too, can answer the call to become a wayfinder, to introduce and integrate a new way forward right where we stand as individuals, and to joyfully gather to build a breastfeeding-friendly culture.
The many resources shared in these oral histories are all captured in the conference PDF here.
How Can Social Changemaking Become Hamster Wheel Activism?
In a moment, we will meet our Wayfinders, but first, let’s take a look at a few reasons cultural change can be difficult, and why it is easy to stay in a hamster wheel as advocates. We’ll then see how the wayfinders do things differently.
What keeps us in a hamster wheel of advocacy, feeling like we’re running, moving and shaking, but then not getting anywhere?
First, our modern Dominator Culture’s prominent feature, as Darcia Narvaez shows us, is a Cycle of Competitive Detachment. Our current culture does not value listening, relational skills, or inner awareness which are necessary to support and appreciate diversity, inclusion, sustainable living, or a whole child wellness model.
Second, our current culture values Convergent Thinking, only working with known quantities that keep us moving inside of known power structures continuing unsustainable ways of living and patterns of systemic oppression.
Third, our responses to these external forces through traditional activism are reactionary, meaning, we wait until a problem IS overwhelming our senses, time, and energies to acknowledge it, and then we protest, march, and express our outrage in social media campaigns. This sort of traditional activism has its place, but it is now how real change is made, according to our wayfinders’ stories.
Fourth, Existing institutional structures are usually too compromised, conflicted, and insular to fully embody new values and visions. Parallel structures are needed for this purpose.
And fifth, because our current culture expects for conformity, in-the-box thinking, and traditional reactionary after the fact activism, there is nothing new to integrate into the old way of being, thinking, and existing culturally.
This way of being, of waiting for the external forces to change and support individual and collective wellness, is no longer necessary. How did our wayfinders create change?
Where do most of our wayfinders begin? They begin by listening to inner guidance that questions and reenvisions the environment of their day to day lives. Cecilia Tomori questions her doctor’s advice on infant sleep and her questioning leads her, as she shares in her story, from zero understanding of breastfeeding to becoming a breastfeeding expert.
When we follow a call to investigate and create a different reality for ourselves and others, this process is called Following, or Answering the Call, and is recognized as the beginning of a Hero’s Journey, a point of departure to a personal transformation in perception and awareness
The second hallmark is Divergent Thinking. Divergent thinking calls upon our capacity to think outside the box, to use our imaginations, and to see the big picture. Its counter point, Convergent Thinking, stays within known quantities, and is in alignment with most our Western values of conformity to avoid shaming, judgement, and devaluation.
The third hallmark is Kindred Activism. This theory of activism involves centering the needs of children in social change work, while valuing the inner skills of mindfulness and outer skills of relational activism. Kindred Activism is being developed and explored through Kindred World's Kindred Fellowship Program and has been feature in the past year in posts at Rutgers University’s Childism Institute and Riane Eisler’s Center for Partnership Studies.
The fourth hallmark of successful barrier breaking is the creation of a Parallel Structure, or an organizational structure that supports the embodiment of the values and vision of wayfinders who are following the call to create a new reality alongside the old reality and its structures. Examples of these parallel structures are La Leche League International, Attachment Parenting International, Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere, ROSE, Reaching Our Brothers Everywhere, ROBE, the new Indigenous Milk Medicine Week celebrations, and Kindred World's many initiatives supporting the vision of a Wisdom-based, Wellness-informed Society.
And finally, listen for how the new insight, communities, and vision are strategically Integrated into openings in the old reality, ideas, and structures. Sometimes in creative ways, like Darcia Narvaez’s new short film, Breaking the Cycle, which features forty years of integrated, siloed fields of science into a six-minute video. Or Cathleen O’Malley’s play, MilkDrunk, which addresses both her internal and external struggles with breastfeeding barriers.
All of our presenters address the opportunities awaiting us in our post-pandemic world, and how, with an understanding of the hallmarks of successful barrier breaking, we can be ready to introduce and integrate a new way forward.
Thank you, La Leche League International for the invitation to produce this oral history collection in celebration of your 65th Anniversary Conference!
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