Collective Power Podcast

Rita S Fierro. Ph.D.

Welcome to Collective Power: we are out to transform trauma system-wide by presenting a mirror of the system to itself. Each week, we focus on one system. Each show, we hear from a person who has an experience of one aspect of that system. On the last show each month, we bring folks back together to look at the big picture and what is possible for our city, our country and our world. From these conversations, repeated patterns at different levels across society: the key to societal transformation.
Data Series: How does the use of data in Higher Education reinforce white supremacy? 
In this episode, we discuss how higher education reinforces white supremacy by design. We highlight the data that exposes these contradictions. In particular, we talk about three ways higher education enforces white supremacy: 1) Quality of life for millennials will not higher than parents' generations; 2) There is a gap between white students and students of color and no meaningful attempts really close that gap; and 3) Data are often collected as a diversion. Our guest, Libby Smith (she/they) is an organizational healing facilitator, as an experienced and holistic evaluator and educator who has worked for several years in higher education. She excels at the human component of evaluation and organizational change. Never one to shy away from crucial conversations, Libby deftly balances accountability and compassion. Their work focuses on building equity and  accessibility through personal growth & embodiment practices. Libby has an MS in Applied Psychology and serves as Program Director for the MS Applied Psychology program at her alma mater where she provides guidance and professional development to emerging evaluators. She supports individuals and organizations in navigating hard conversations that will lead them towards transformative change. She has been practicing breathwork since 2018, and politicized somatics since 2020; using both in service of clients realizing their purpose, finding their worth, and building human connection.Resources mentioned on the show:You can contact libby through her website. You can check out her podcast Radical (Re)Imagining here.Apologies for the audio gaps and delays. Show recorded inside of fallacies of a spotty internet connection. Recorded on January 11, 2022; aired on  January 14, 2022.Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/posts/35274155)
3d ago
1 hr 3 mins
It's All One System: Moving Beyond Shame with Jeanette Vega
Feb 26 2021
38 mins
It's all one System: Changing the Formula of our Purple Country
In this episode, we use  the mathematical definition of a "system" as a set of rules that preserve a certain result, to look at the ways that the System as a whole preserves itself.  Our guest, Attorney Karla Cruel, walks us through her approach to re-write the constitution--laid out in a new article she co-wrote with Rita Fierro on Medium (link below). Rewriting the constitution is a strategy designed to bring out the purple majority and  overcome the dialectic of blue against red that we've become accustomed  that keeps our country oppressing many to the benefit of the 1%. Karla L. Cruel, Esq., is an  educator, now social entrepreneur who launched Legal Empowerment Group to educate and support lower-to-middle income individuals. She worked as staff attorney for Tenant Union Representative Network (TURN), assisting with Philadelphia’s Eviction Prevention Project.  Throughout her schooling, she has been promoting social equality and racial and religious reconciliation.  Ms. Cruel attended and graduated from Drexel University’s Thomas Kline School of Law. She has practiced law in various areas including criminal law, family law, landlord-tenant law, business law, charter school law and other civil transactional and litigation. Karla L. Cruel is admitted to practice in Pennsylvania. Ms. Cruel also holds a master’s degree from Saint Joseph’s University in criminal justice is a mentor, speaker, educator and community advocate. Resources mentioned on the show:It's time to re-write the Constitution article Charles Hamilton Houston history Brown vs. board of Education 1954 case historyMost Americans live in Purple America Washington Post ArticleGeorge Orwell's 1984 bookAttorney Karla's instagram pageAttorney Karla's Twitter pageOriginally recorded  on February 11, 2021.Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/posts/35274155)
Feb 14 2021
58 mins
white Supremacy in the Body: Make Pearls, Not War with Lisa Jo Epstein, Bernadette Pleasant, and Roz Thomaswhite Supremacy in the Body: Facing the Ring of Fire--Unlearning Racism with Bernadette Pleasantwhite Supremacy in the Body: Democracy is Freedom from Inner Tyranny with LisaJo Epstein
In this episode we break down several aspects of internalized white supremacy: perfectionism, conflict as danger, defensiveness, not-good-enough story, and obsession with product over process and doing the right thing. We also highlight how the discomfort and dissonance between our perception of ourselves and the realties we are confronted with are key to healing internal white supremacy and freeing ourselves from the inner tyranny that keeps us separate and isolated. Healing the inner tyranny is possible when allow ourselves to take our proper place as one piece in a bigger puzzle: one piece with both it's importance and its limitations."How can we have a multi racial democracy if the water we’re drinking is still white supremacy? “--Lisa Jo Epstein Ph.D.Our guest, Lisa Jo Epstein Ph.D., is the Executive & Artistic Director of Just Act, and an accomplished theatre director, educator, Theatre of the Oppressed trainer and facilitator. Dr. Lisa Jo works at the intersection of theatre, social justice, anti-oppression facilitation and community-based engagement, and integrates her unique background and facilitation skills into creative social justice diversity training, education, capacity building, community-based planning, development, expression and activism. In the 1990s, she trained for 3 years with Augusto Boal, creator of Theatre of the Oppressed, and interned with Ariane Mnouchkine of the renowned Théâtre du Soleil in Paris France.  Dr Lisa Jo founded Just Act in 2015, serving as a catalyst for change and activism to build a just world. Resources mentioned on the show: Augusto Boal also hereTheatre of the OppressedLisa Jo Epstein bioJust ActOriginally recorded on  1/14/2021Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/posts/35274155)
Jan 27 2021
49 mins
white Supremacy in the Body: Body Memory, Honesty, and Health with Roslyn Thomas
Jan 9 2021
59 mins
Economic System: An Economy that Serves Humanity and the Earth with Wayne Armitstead, Matt Birkhold, David Caplan, Erick Murillo Ramos, Gagan Oberoi
In this provocative episode, we move beyond the definitions of capitalism, socialism, and communism, through the assumptions of inequality as the backbone of our system, to a vision for a new economy. Our guests have knowledge of and insights from different corners of the economic world. Wayne Armitstead having authored Capitalism  Perverted,  as a prior stockbroker, sees a system that is too unstable to serve even the richer among us.  Matt Birkhold has studied the history of capitalism and is an organizer and movement-builder who sees the power of collectives to create alternatives to the mainstream. David Caplan is an accountant with vast experience in State Government who sees the limitations to how our electoral process influence the economy. Erick Murillo Ramos served in national and international economic institutions: the Central bank of Mexico, the IMF, and the World Bank. Gagan Oberoi is a marketing specialist who trained staff in large international corporations around the increase of consumption. Together, they envision an economy that serves humanity, the earth, and profits, and begin to consider what supports are needed to fulfill that vision.Resources mentioned on the show: Wayne's book Capitalism PervertedTo Contact our Guests: Wayne Armitstead Facebook, Book Facebook, LinkedInMatt Birkhold, BizTwitter, BizFacebook, Personal TwitterDavid Caplan, FacebookErick Murillo Ramos, LinkedinGagan Oberoir, Linkedin Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/posts/35274155)
Dec 17 2020
1 hr 1 min
Economic System Basics: Economy is not Accounting with Gagandeep OberoiEconomic System: Bubbles Don't Have to Burst with Wayne ArmitsteadEconomic System: Love, Racism, and the Economy with Matt Birkhold
In this episode, an old colleague of mine and I meander on the importance of Love in overcoming the restraints of racism and the economy in the USA. We discuss how knowledge won't set us free, how healing is essential, and how we can build our economic power in the face of capitalism--a very knew system in the history of humanity, despite we think of it as rigid and unchangeable. Our guest, Matt Birkhold, takes seriously his and others' ability and responsibility to create and foster the emergence of a world in which human beings can become more fully human and sustain themselves without damage to the planet and each other. To pursue this practice, Matt has founded Visionary Organizing Lab, and educational laboratory supporting people to become more fully human by creating sustainable and dignity affirming economies, institutions, and cultural practices. He has a PhD in historical sociology and resides in Washington DC.Resources mentioned on the show: Grace Boggs School https://www.boggsschool.orgRedefine Safety Detroit https://www.redefinesafety.orgSouladarity https://www.soulardarity.comFeedom Freedom http://www.findglocal.com/US/Detroit/342164122363/Feedom-FreedomTo connect with Matt: http://www.visionaryorganizinglab.orgVisionary Organizing Lab's Twitter https://twitter.com/visionary_labVisionary Organizing Lab's Facebook https://web.facebook.com/visionaryorganizinglabMatt's Twitter :https://twitter.com/@birklyn1Originally Recorded on November 25, 2020.Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/posts/35274155)
Dec 3 2020
47 mins
Economic System: GDP Growth Is NOT Wealth with Erick Murillo RamosEconomic System: A Country is Not a Business with David Caplan
In this episode, we explore some misperceptions of the economic system: trickle down economics, trade deficits, and managing countries like businesses. We also look at how our states are different and how the Federal and Commonwealth structures were established to maintain differences, too. Our guest, David A. Caplan, has been a sole practitioner since purchasing an accounting practice in 1992.  His client base and services offered are diverse, encompassing everything from tax returns to financial statements, investment advice and management consulting.  Caplan is a strong advocate for tax reform, and in 2012, he was presented with the Champion Award from the Greater Philadelphia chapter of PICPA for his continuing effort to simplify local taxes in Pennsylvania.  He was also named Best Accountant by Philadelphia Magazine in its 2012 “Best of Philly” issue and was a finalist for the Centers of Influence award from SmartCEO Magazine in 2016.  He is a former Chairman of the Montgomery County Tax Collection Committee, which is responsible for choosing a tax collector for earned income tax (EIT) for the county, and was instrumental in the passage and implementation of Act 32, as well as Act 18 of 2018, the most recent EIT legislation.  From 2005 to 2012, Caplan was the Treasurer for his state representative’s re-election campaign.  He is also a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. David's article about Trump's taxes in the Inquirer: 4 questions about Trump’s tax returns from a CPADavid's Facebook pageDavid's email: dactyl@caplancpa.comOriginally aired on  11/12/2020Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/posts/35274155)
Nov 25 2020
50 mins
Election Results: Systemic Bridge-Building is Next with Raphael Freeman
This episode was recorded when the results of the election were clear, but not yet declared. We engage in a conversation beyond the angst of the results by discussion what the elections say about where our country is and what's next. What would it be like if we built systems that all across the country would connect people instead of separating us? Our Guest Raphael Freeman  is a political scientist by training and the lenses of politics and political history shape his view of the world. He combines the tools of political game theory with latest insights from positive psychology and neuropsychology to help people make their greatest contribution and live a life of purpose. Everything he does revolves around a core belief: that everyone has something to offer; everyone has a unique gift to offer the world that no one else can. Raphael's mission is to help remove the barriers to human thriving and human connection and empower people so that everyone may contribute their unique talents and gifts to the greater human community. As a personal growth coach, he works with people who want to get the most out of this ONE life—whether they feel they’ve made some missteps or have made what was seemingly all of the right moves. "Some people have an unshakable desire to become something greater, to offer something more to the world, or to shed the feeling of being in a rut or “stuck”. Whatever the impetus, I help people to engage more fully and move the needle to where it needs to be."Resources Mentioned on the show: Heterodox Americana Podcast websiteEmail: post@HeterodoxAmericana.comInstagram: Heterodox AmericanaRecorded on November, 5, 2020.Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/posts/35274155)
Nov 10 2020
54 mins
Sharing Visceral Fears of Extinction with DoveJuvenile Justice Systems: What Humanizing Looks Like with Michael O'Bryan and SousanJuvenile Justice System: Stop Incriminating Young People Like Adults with Joanna Visser and John Pace
In this episode, we talk with two advocates for juveniles who have been working intensely to end youth sentenced to life without parole. They also support other youth to get out of the juvenile justice system, once and for all.  John Pace is the Juvenile Life Without Parole (“JLWOP”) Reentry Coordinator with the Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project. In this role he coordinates efforts to garner the necessary resources to support former juvenile lifers returning home. As a former juvenile lifer himself–John spent 31 years in prison, beginning at age 17–he was actively involved in numerous initiatives while incarcerated to help support his personal transition back to the community and that of other juvenile lifers. John is a certified paralegal and a former member of the Para Professional Law Clinic (PPLC) at Graterford prison. In 2014, he became a certified instructor in the Inside-Out Pedagogy, which teaches the art of facilitating dialogue. While incarcerated, John earned his Associates Degree and Bachelor’s Degree from Villanova University, with minors in sociology and criminal justice.  John Pace was named the first-ever recipient of the Raymond Pace Alexander Reentry Star of the Year Award in June 2018 in recognition of his tremendous accomplishments since returning home from prison.Contact:  jpace@ysrp.org; 267-703-8053Joanna Visser Adjoian, Esq. is co-founder and Co-Director of the Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project. At YSRP, she leads the reentry team for youth and Juvenile Lifers, does policy advocacy work, and works with her Co-Director and Director of Operations on fundraising, communications and other aspects of the organization’s operations.Prior to co-founding YSRP, Joanna served as Associate Director and Staff Attorney of the Toll Public Interest Center at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where she oversaw the Center’s 26 student pro bono projects, offered guidance to more than 100 student leaders, and directly supervised students in new and existing pro bono initiatives. Before joining the Toll Center, Joanna she advanced efforts to end the practice of sentencing children to life in prison without parole, including co-authoring an Amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark case of Miller v. Alabama. Joanna is a 2014 Echoing Green Fellow, a 2016 Claneil Emerging Leader Fellow, a 2016 recipient of the Penn Law Young Alumni Award, and a 2017 recipient of the Penn Law Alan Lerner Rising Star Award. She was honored to receive the 2018 Shepherd of Peace Award from Good Shepherd Mediation Program, the 2019 Haddon, McClellan, and Richardson Award from the Temple University Black Law Students Association, and the 2019 F. Sean Peretta Service Award from the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Young Lawyer Division. Along with Lauren Fine, she is the 2018 recipient of the American Constitution Society David Carliner Public Interest Award.  Joanna is a published author, including articles in The ChampSupport the show (https://www.patreon.com/posts/35274155)
Aug 11 2020
39 mins
Juvenile Justice System: Restoring Robbed Childhood with Michael O'Bryan
In this episode, we talk with a youth worker who provides sobering insights on the importance of caring for our youth and having compassion for the ones who go astray.Michael O’Bryan is an expert practitioner and budding researcher in the fields of community development, organizational culture, and human wellbeing. Mike has spent more than a decade working directly with resilient yet underserved populations —including veterans, adults in recovery, returning citizens, and families experiencing homelessness. He is currently an Innovation Fellow at Drexel University’s Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation and was recently a Corzo Fellow at The Corzo Center for The Creative Economy at The University of the Arts. He is the founder of Humanature, a consultancy working with nonprofits, businesses, local government agencies and their employees to transform how they understand and support human development, interaction, and performance. Clients include NeighborWorks America, ArtistYear, New Jersey Community Capital, and The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. O’Bryan has spoken nationally about his work, including convenings at Cornell University, The Vera List Center for Arts and Politics at The New School, SPECTRUM/SOCAP, and the famed Apollo Theatre in New York.O’Bryan holds a Bachelor’s degree in music from the University of the Arts and a graduate certificate in Childhood Trauma Studies from Jefferson University. He is a faculty member of the Career Studies Department at The Curtis Institute of Music and serves on The American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Commission on The Arts. He currently serves on the boards of two philanthropic institutions, The Samuel S. Fels Fund and The Philadelphia Cultural Fund, and is every day inspired by exploring the science of our humanity.Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/posts/35274155)
Aug 8 2020
44 mins
Juvenile Justice System: Data Don't Say what You Think with Adam Serlin
In this episode, we discover the limitations of juvenile justice reform due to the data that is reported and the data that isn't. Our guest, is Adam Serlin who currently serves as a Stoneleigh Fellow with The Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University. In this role, he is helping Philadelphia’s juvenile justice stakeholders use data to drive more efficient, responsive, and cost-effective services for justice-involved youth. Prior to his fellowship, Adam spent twelve years at NorthEast Treatment Centers (NET) where he helped to design, implement, and manage various community-based juvenile justice and anti-violence programs. Adam is also the founder and principal member of Independent Variable LLC, a consulting service designed to help organizations better achieve social innovation & impact.  Beyond his work as a practitioner, Adam has been a speaker and presenter across various forums and platforms and participated on numerous local and state committees focused on juvenile justice, violence prevention, and education issues.Adam holds a BA from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and an MPA and Certificate in Economic Development from the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels Institute of Government. He also received an Executive Certificate in Innovation and Design Thinking from the Carey Business School at Johns Hopkins University.  Adam can be contacted by email or web at:aserlin@bethevariable.com orhttps://www.linkedin.com/in/adam-serlin-88b17ab/Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/posts/35274155)
Aug 8 2020
44 mins
Juvenile Justice System: Breaking the Cycle of Violence to Peace-Making with Iran Nazario
Trigger warning: this episode has vivid references to physical violence.In this episode, we talk with a prior youth in the juvenile justice system about how the cycle of violence started in his own life and what it took him to break it and become a peacemaker for himself, his family, and his community. Our guest, Iran was a foster child in the custody of DCF in his childhood who then immersed himself in to the violent street culture of gang membership and prison though his twenties. In the1990’s he began to repurpose himself to helping youth avoid his childhood path and in the early 2000’s he began leading organizations working to reduce violence across the State of Connecticut.  He has worked in the program management, gang prevention, youth outreach, youth engagement and support field for 30 years. He is an expert in Gang Prevention and Mediation and provides training to many groups serving youth who are deemed in risk. Working in partnership with the Hartford Connecticut Police Department in June of 2015 Iran was “Badged” by the department to serve as a community/law enforcement partner. In this role Iran is to serve as an intermediary in city wide crisis situations under President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative.In 2016 he Founded the Peace Center of Connecticut where he serves as President/CEO. He is the recipient of numerous recognitions including the 2014 “Meet the Peacemaker Award and in 2017 was appointed as the International Peace Ambassador for the NYC Peace Museum.Resources mentioned on the show: Peace Center of Connecticut websiteOriginally aired on July 10, 2020.Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/posts/35274155)
Jul 17 2020
50 mins