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Inclusion News is proud to present this guest editorial by Shafik Assante (formerly Shafik Abu Tahir) and his associates at Thinking New Thoughts Plus of Philadelphia, Pa. This invitation to join the Quilted Circle is the essence of our work. Often, the best arises from situations that appear on the surface to be the poorest, the most oppressed, the most exploited. These conditions give rise to resistance - to the best of people, poetry, art, music and the unshakable commitment and ability to fight back against seemingly insurmountable odds. We thank the Quilted Circle Founders for allowing us share their important work with the readers of Inclusion News. (the editors: Marsha Forest and Jack Pearpoint)

Joining the "Quilted Circle"

by Shafik Asante and Associates

"Quilters" are those of us who believe that building an inclusive society i.e. alliance builders, community builders is what our major responsibility must be in today's society.

If you already agree that "quilting" is what you are about, you are already in the "Quilted Circle!" If you are willing to work with others to build a new "inclusive" society, we need you! Our challenge is to figure out how we can do so together with other "quilters" all over the globe.

Those of us in the "quilted circle" believe that "we are one though not the same." What this means in the real world is that "quilters" will oppose all forms of "exclusion" every opportunity we get. This means opposing all the negative "isms" we come across daily i.e. racism, sexism, able-ism, ageism, etc. These "isms" play a key role in keeping people from recognizing their oneness. If we can play some role in helping people to recognize that community building is a solution to our turning on one another, we believe we are then truly quilt building and building the new villages for the next century.

A "Quilt Weaver" is an alliance builder. This may be done at your school, in your workplace, your church, your neighborhood. The point is to start weaving wherever you are now. In other words do what you can do within your own networks and circles to get people together to start thinking and discussing important issues of the day.

It is important to recognize that there are millions of "quilters" out there already. As we all say TOGETHER WE ARE BETTER. Two wonderful African proverbs sum up our philosophy of work and life "It takes a whole village to raise a child." (Akan proverb) and "When spider webs unite we can tie up the lion."

We use the word QUILT to represent our valued diversity and the work CIRCLE to represent our interconnectedness and our interdependence. In traditional African and Indian villages, sitting in a circle represents, among other things, unity of mission and equality of leadership. Collective leadership and ownership of the QUILTED CIRCLE is our vision. We are building it. You are welcome to come.

" We want to be clear about what we are asking. We desire that our unity of purpose be based on four assumptions"

Our desire to end fragmentation.

Our real recognition that "together we are better."

Our commitment to build a better society for ALL.

Our recognition and appreciation of our differences.

All the QUILT WEAVERS today are aware that either we make major changes in how our society is moving or we will continue to suffer major consequences. QUILT WEAVERS understand that the varying gifts we bring to the QUILT is the only thing that makes it whole. We hope that those who receive this writing will be with us in this effort. Help us weave better relationships with one another. Help us be that human broom that is willing to sweep away the dirt that gives birth to "isms" which prevent us from uniting around our common interests. Let's meet in the circle. Weave with us! Opposing the "isms" is what the "Quilted Circle" supporters are all about. Will you be with us?

Call or fax and let us know.
Bahiya Assante, Nkosi Assante, Sabina Virgo
403 N. 54th St.
Philadelphia, Pa. 19139.
tel: 215-472-4024
fax : 215-472-9323

It Takes a Whole Village to Raise a Child

Akan Proverb

Note: The name "Asante" means thank you. In a recent ceremony of friendship and to recognize
the interconnectedness in their work and lives three of the authors chose to take the same last name.

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