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Equity Budgeting: Budgets for Economic Justice

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$0 – $50

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Led by Sarah Dziedzic and Jess Lamar Reece Holler

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Co-sponsored by: Columbia University's Oral History MA and the Oral History Association

Equity Budgeting: Budgets for Economic Justice will introduce participants to a transformative praxis & ethics in oral history work that challenges cultural workers to put economic justice at the center of other modes of justice work -- racial justice, environmental justice, social justice, health or housing justice -- that our projects imagine themselves to engage. Our workshop will frame equity budgeting as a “dual systems” approach -- one growing out of legacies of narrator/community rights, politics of refusal, & expectations for pay (developed in conversation with the Oral History Undercommons collective, and especially reproductive justice activist & scholar Danielle Dulken, and out of labor organizing movements for cultural workers, including in the oral history field). Along with these critical legacies, we will share as a concrete example the story of piloting the equity budgeting model at the Marion Voices Folklife + Oral History Program, a community-based oral-history-and-folklife-for-social-justice program based at the Marion County Historical Society in Marion, Ohio, and founded by facilitator Jess Lamar Reece Holler.

The workshop will be structured to provide time for participants to closely examine the underlying cultural and economic assumptions that may undergird their oral history (or allied cultural work) practices, from systematic underpayment of contract laborers to assumptions about what sort of work -- narrators’ story-sharing, community collaborators’ relationship-building, or student or intern labor, to name just a few -- routinely goes unpaid or underpaid in cultural work budgets. We’ll use guided exercises to enable participants to identify areas for improvement in their own budgeting practice, and will hold space for attendees to create a personal Equity Budgeting Statement to use in contracts & grant applications as an accompaniment to budget narratives. Participants will also take away a toolkit of resources that can be cited when developing future budgets, building power for equity budgeting as a transformative movement across the field.

The workshop’s overall takeaway should be a simple but powerful lesson in expanded solidarity: we win -- and build cultural work movements that are accessible, equitable, and sustainable -- when we pay everybody more.

Jess Lamar Reece Holler is a community-based cultural worker, non-profit consultant, public folklorist // oral historian // public historian, exhibit co-curator, & multi-media documentary artist based between Columbus & Caledonia, Ohio. She is founder and principal at the Marion County, Ohio-based cultural arts & justice capacity-building consultancy Caledonia Northern Folk Studios; and is founding Program Director of the Marion Voices Folklife + Oral History Program at the Marion County Historical Society — Marion County’s countywide folk & cultural arts program. Jess specializes in capacity-building & ethics training for small, grassroots, and community-based organizations using a hybrid arts, heritage, and social justice toolkit; and is passionate about labor organizing in the cultural work sector to help make these fields more equitable, accessible, & sustainable. Jess teaches a model called equity budgeting: a set of ethics & praxes for “dual-system” reforms that can make cultural arts & public humanities work less extractive for cultural workers and communities. With Sarah Dziedzic, Jess co-chairs the Oral History Association’s Independent Practitioners’ Task Force to build solidarity & promote more equitable payment, hiring, & ownership ethics for freelance & community-/movement-based cultural workers. Closer to home, Jess serves on the board of the Terradise Nature Center along the Whetstone River in Caledonia, and produces a (mostly) weekly ambient/environmental/mallwave show, NIGHTPLANT, on Columbus’ community radio station, WCRS-LP FM. Jess is also passionate about (the politics of) historic preservation & community-driven downtown revitalization efforts — including in her family’s hometown of Caledonia, where Jess is working to rehabilitate her grandparents’ 1950s grocery store, Reece’s Market, into a regional community cultural center & capacity builder for more just futures in North-Central Ohio. caledonianorthern.org || marionvoices.org || oldelectricity.medium.com || @reecesmarket

Sarah Dziedzic works as an oral historian, project consultant, grant advisor, researcher, and workshop facilitator in New York City. She has produced oral history projects with Storm King Art Center, New York Preservation Archive Project, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, Wave Hill Public Garden and Cultural Center, and the Columbia Center for Oral History Research, among others. She has supported archival projects at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, the Lunder Institute for Contemporary Art, the Estate of Félix González-Torres, and the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. She has also worked as a literary memoir editor with Seven Stories Press and Autonomedia, and served on the founding board of Word Up Community Bookshop, a volunteer-run, multilingual bookstore and cultural space. She has served on the Archival Best Practices Task Force of the Oral History Association, and is co-chair of the Independent Practitioner Task Force, where she works to establish fair labor standards and build solidarity among oral historians and other cultural workers. She lives in Queens with her partner and many houseplants.

These events are open to all. For more information or if we can make any of these events more accessible to you please contact Rebecca McGilveray at rlm2203@columbia.edu.

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