A Letter from Alyssa – Round Sky’s New Instructor
My name is Alyssa (they/them), and I am excited to join the Round Sky co-op as the new assistant instructor and in my “residency” to become a worker owner! I wanted to take some time to introduce myself to you all.
I’m eager to be stretched in this role as I continue to think and innovate how to bring collaborative methods to various groups of people. I’m hoping that what I learn and reflect on at Round Sky may be useful in my current and future work to build communal land-based strategies particularly with black queer, trans, and disabled people at the forefront. As we enter into the next iteration of the world, I’m thinking about how we are embedded in the now. Cooperation, our primal necessity for each otherness, and sharing the burden of survival (coined by Dayna Lynn Knuckolls at the People’s Oracle) is the present and the beyond. I believe it’s the thing that has the power to activate our mutual capacities to root ourselves in this season, as well as organically extend ourselves toward the future, until it’s time for us to regenerate.
I’m originally from Kansas, particularly the suburbs of Kansas City. I’m the youngest child of four, and I have familial and ancestral roots in Virginia, the Deep South, and the Caribbean. I grew up in a predominantly white, upper middle class community that was largely individualist-oriented. However, my grandmother first introduced me to how people and land-based cooperativism, self-defense, and subsistence farming were potent tools for maintaining self-determination on her family farm in Alabama. My family were rootworkers and I am actively attempting to maintain that tradition and relationship to the earth. Even in the face of apocalyptic, world-ending levels of white violence and sharecropping, there was still a small, frayed, arduous exit– a path forward. In many ways, I have sought to migrate back to these same autonomous formations and livelihoods.
While in University, I studied the African Diaspora and its political, artistic, and land-based movements. I’m an art and culture nerd, and studying it across the diaspora was one of the most fulfilling things I’ve done, and continue to do. While at college, I found myself in student organizing, eager to actualize so many ideologies I’d been consuming about black feminism, queer and trans politics, and anti-imperialism. I also became an organizer with Food, Clothing, and Resistance Collective in Northeast DC. I helped sustain regular mutual aid programs, facilitated political education workshops and helped manage and curate our physical space, ‘Maroon House,’. Maroon House was my initiation into the Black radical tradition by various elders, mentors, maroons, and veteran activists surrounding me from the Black Panther Party, Republic of New Afrika, and Occupy Wall Street. I am grateful for the numerous people and mentors who’ve taught me how to gather the bearings of my own ideological compass.
With my cooperative development and food sovereignty background, I helped guide the cooperative development process to build a grocery Co-op in Northeast Kansas City, KS, a predominantly Black and Hispanic, low-income community. I was aiming to support the community’s larger vision of a BIPOC, community-controlled food supply chain. But, I felt that I was missing some tools for how to govern, organize, and practice cooperatively, many of which I later found in Round Sky’s Level 1 course. Collab (Round Sky’s organizational methodology) has had immense utility in my personal and professional life by offering practices to continue to think about the spectrums of power dynamics. I am in a curious relationship with Collab as a reflexive, adaptable, and evolving framework. I’m looking forward to building relationships with students dedicated to cooperativism, and guiding them in learning and implementing Collab with patience and curiosity.
I am also an artist and the Creative Director of The Fugitive Griot, which is an artistic storytelling + worldbuilding platform I recently began. The Fugitive Griot is both a fantastical story and world into itself and also a hub for my writings, filmwork, storytelling and narrating, and other artistic musings. I also enjoy other artistic mediums like DJing, dancing, singing, and sketching.
Thanks for reading my introduction and keeping up with our work. Hopefully we’ll see one another soon in session!