Reflections on the Nursing Activism Think Tank

Participants in the Think Tank on July 30-31 share brief snippets describing the experience! We were over 50 strong over the 2 days; the photo below includes about half the group – those who lingered late at the end of the 2 days to organize a group photo!  Over the coming weeks watch for more “inspirations” posts that will share more of our stories, visions and actions!

Nicky Lambert – My experience connecting with colleagues at the Think Tank was  exciting, energising and productive. It was an opportunity to be submerged in ideas and inspiration, it was such a pleasure to have time to think about who we are and what we do. I was refreshed and reinvigorated by being with other nurses – I get why it’s called a ‘Think Tank’ now!

Alison – Supportive

Rachel Walker – Nurses promote healing for people and communities harmed by broken & unjust systems. Nurse activists struggle to heal the brokenness & injustice of the systems that harm people.

Donnean – Empowered

Ginny – Inspiring leadership action based on the core of nursing to transform our organizations. Whoo hoo!

Joyce – Fierce compassion

Beth – I felt like I was with a supportive family that validated my concerns and direction.

Maureen – thought-provoking and inspirational

Megan – I am so deeply grateful to have been part of this powerful community experience and I feel replenished. But if I can offer only few words to the reflection blog I will borrow these for now: “Behold, I do not give lectures or a little charity, When I give I give myself.” – Walt Whitman

Vanessa – Transformative.

Robin Cogan – Watch for my post appearing soon on The Relentless School Nurse: Be Brave Enough to Start a Conversation That Matters.

Mary – Nurse activism to improve conditions for working nurses improves patient outcomes also- two sides of the same coin.

Peggy – Deep friendship, community. Unforgettable affirmation of “trusting the process.”

leading with heart, mind naturally follows
watering seeds of life
the flowers and the nectar
sweetly nourish

Seja – Energizing, motivating, and exciting

Lisa – I felt amazing inspiration and made lifelong connections that will allow me to move in a positive direction with loving people right where they are (my Nursing activism).

Rorry – Inspiring support. I wanted more!!

Sandy – My word is “validated.”

Cory Ellen – My one phrase reflection on my experience is “casting on,” which I think is an apt metaphor for this initial making of linkages among people, experiences, and goals. I look forward to building on it in the future.

Jessica – Nursing IS a radical act.

Brenda – 

Activism & Advocacy: Our Shared Humanity
Souls singing, spirits renewed,
Authenticity and vulnerability embraced,
Truth to power, voice to vision,
Bearing witness to our collective story,
Ever cognizant to the call of the community,
So very grateful for new connections,
Kindred spirits on this path of activism and advocacy.

Michelle – awakening
Cathy – connected communities
Gerri – Not so much a ‘think tank. More of a reflecting well, around which we gathered and drank. And now, the challenge.
Margaret – Soul food

Nursing Activism Think Tank Happenings!

Whether you are planning to participate or not, read on — the spirit of this event is reaching far beyond the event itself!  We know that there are many nurses who are not able to be there, who wish they could, and who mightily support nursing activism!  So this “Think Tank” is not limited to the gathering!  The “Inspirations for Activism” series of blog posts has already prompted reflection – and even action –  on what is possible!  This series will continue through the end of July; at that point the series will shift to feature the activism of nurses who participate in the gathering. And the link to all of these posts will remain a permanent feature on NurseManifest.  If you are not already following this blog, you can do so now to receive an email notification of each of these posts — enter your email at the top of the right sidebar on any page!

For those interested in the event itself: YES!  The event is happening on July 30-31, 2018 at the College of Nursing, University of Massachusetts Amherst!  Over 70 nurses have indicated an interest in participating!  We have asked that everyone confirm your intent to participate by May 1, so if you have not yet done so, please complete the “Interest Form” by this coming Tuesday, May 1st! If May 1st slips by and you are eager to join us, the form will still be available and we want to hear from you — we will confirm space available – right up until the day we gather!

You can also use the principles and ideas we are creating for the gathering for any purpose you wish – any time and any where!  Here is a summary of the principles and guidelines we are using:

Our guiding intentions:
  • Getting to know and appreciate the Self as a nurse activist
  • Getting to know and appreciate one another in the context of nursing activism
  • Getting to know and appreciate our communities and the social and political forces that shape them.
What to expect:
  • There will be no speakers or planned presentations – this IS a think tank!
  • What happens over the course of the two days will be fluid and flexible, created by all of us as participants.
  • The process for our group interactions will be based on Peace and Power, enacting as fully as possible the powers of process, appreciation, the whole, sharing, nurturing, consciousness and creativity.
  • All forms of activism, all points of view, will be fully respected while at the same time providing for one another the kinds of constructive questions and challenges that lead to growth and change.
  • Day 1: the focus will be on developing and sharing our stories of activism — a process led by Nurstory team members.
  • Day 2: deep discussion and reflection in large and smaller groups, envisioning possibilities for the future and building networks of support.
How to prepare – consistent with the idea of a “think tank,” your best preparation is guided by your own inner insight and wisdom, your own intentions, hopes and dreams for activism. The following resources are available – use them as you see fit!
  • Continue to follow, and revisit the NurseManifest blog series “Inspirations for Activism.” These posts will continue to appear every Tuesday and Friday through July.  After our gathering, these posts will feature participants in the Think Tank – according to your wishes and consent!
  • The Peace & Power concepts and the Commitment involved in putting these concepts into Action are available on the Peace and Power website.
So if you cannot join us in person, join us in spirit!  Of course after the gathering we will be sharing heaps of ideas and information — every step we take is vitally important!

Invitation: Nursing Activism Think Tank!

Interest Form

Event: A NurseManifest Think Tank organized by Peggy Chinn,  Adeline Falk-Rafael, and Sue Hagedorn. Dates: July 30-31, 2018

We are very excited to invite you to participate in a Nursing Activism Think Tank – a gathering of nurses who have a passion for action that brings nursing values to the center, creates change to realize social justice in nursing, healthcare, and the populations we serve, and builds networks of support for activism in nursing at every level.  Our specific goal is very broad – to brainstorm what might be possible, and follow those possibilities wherever they might lead.  

We are concerned that although we have a strong legacy in nursing of significant activism, in today’s environment there is very little support for nurses who feel an urgency to address grassroots problems.  A few examples –

  • Lack of networks of support for those who take risks in the public arena, who might run for public office, who recognize situations where urgent change is needed, and eventually become discouraged and abandon nursing altogether.
  • Lack of educational opportunities that nurture nursing activism, and even devalue activism (such as negative attitudes toward unions, lack of learning activities focused on serving disenfranchised populations)
  • Lack of education and certification avenues to prepare for nursing roles to promote social justice in nursing and healthcare.
  • Still-present oppressive environments in many workplaces where nursing priorities, voices and actions are not valued.

We want to be part of changing these circumstances, and so we are reaching out to other nurses to support one another in making change. We envision a small group, but we do not want to limit participation. We simply ask that all who come are eager, passionate and ready to join others in a cooperative spirit of solidarity to engage with activism in nursing.  If you know someone who shares your ideas and vision who might also want to come along, they are welcome to also participate (each person needs to complete an Interest Form – details below).

We envision a two-day gathering with a very flexible structure – building on each person’s stories that reflect passion, commitment and visions for social activism. We are asking each participant to bring a photograph or object around which to explore your personal story, from which we will build visions for future possibilities. The first day of our gathering will focus on developing our stories – a process that will be facilitated by staff from the Nurstory Project. The stories can be used eventually to develop a digital story, which will be introduced as part of the process. The next whole day will focus on developing our visions as a group. Throughout, we anticipate some time looking back at the work of nurses who have created the legacy of nursing activism – a legacy that can inspire what we envision today.

Here are the details:

Dates: all day, July 30-31, 2018. If you are traveling from a distant location, you will need to arrive late in the afternoon July 29th. The Think Tank gathering will begin at 9 am on Monday morning. Departure can be as early as late afternoon on July 31st, but staying the evening will extend the time for networking and developing ongoing relationships!

Location: University of Massachusetts Amherst College of Nursing The nearby Campus Center has several options for food, meeting rooms and parking; and the hotel is also contained within the Center.  

Lodging:  You can stay at the Hotel UMass, located in the Amherst Campus Center, 1 Campus Center Way, Amherst, MA 01003.  Phone: 866-238-4218. For reservations, call or go online:  The rate is $149 per night, plus tax and recovery fees, prepaid.  You can cancel up to 24 hours in advance of your booking for a full refund; after the 24 hour advance time, you are charged for 1 night plus tax and fees. There are other hotels and motels in and around Amherst, as well as campgrounds, and B&B locations!  

Cost: There is no registration cost involved. We are exploring possibilities for funding to help support travel and lodging expenses, but you may need to cover all of your own expenses for travel, lodging and meals.  If you can only participate if there is funding, please let us know (the interest form has a place for this!)

Travel and transportation:  If you fly, the closest airport is Hartford/Springfield Bradley (1 hour drive to Campus Center). Boston Logan is also an option (2 hour drive to Campus Center). For those who fly, we will help work out shared transportation to the campus as needed.  If you drive, parking at the campus center is convenient and easy to locate.

What to bring:  Bring a photograph (2 or 3 if you wish) or an object from which to develop your story that conveys your passions and concerns related to activism in nursing. Don’t worry if the story itself is not clear in your mind – that will happen as part of the experience!

It will be summer in Western Massachusetts – but the Campus Center is air conditioned – so plan on layers for inside and casual outdoor summer clothing! There will be no “dress up” occasions!

Need more information?  Just ask!  Use our contact form for the Nursing Activism Think Tank

Seriously Interested?  Fill out our online Interest FormWe will confirm your registration within a few days, and will make sure you receive announcements and further information along the way!