Writer Adrienne Maree Brown continues her positive obsessions to shed light on complex public issues

American social justice writer and broadcaster brown mare adrienne does not devote much attention to planning the course of his life. Instead, she prefers to follow her passions when they arise.

“I never know what the next positive obsession will be,” Brown tells the Law on Zoom. “But I’m really careful when an idea doesn’t take off.”

This term, positive obsessioncomes from one of its main influences, the prescient science fiction writer Octavia E. Butler, who died in Washington state in 2006.

In the early 1980s, Butler wrote a short story called “Speech Sounds,” in which a pandemic caused most humans to lose their ability to read, speak, or write. Many of the afflicted felt immense jealousy and rage.

Additionally, Brown points out that Butler created a character decades ago who ran for President of the United States as a demogogue on the slogan “Make America Great Again.”

“She was able to make those predictions – those prophetic predictions of what was going to happen – feel like mostly because she paid attention to them,” Brown points out. “And when you pay attention to what’s going on around you, you can start drawing conclusions.”

On March 2, Brown received SFU’s Jack P. Blaney Award for Dialogue, which is given biennially to an individual who demonstrates “excellence in using dialogue to increase mutual understanding and advance complex public issues”. SFU noted that as writer-in-residence at Detroit’s Emergent Strategy Ideation Institute and author of several books, Brown was selected because her work “talks about the ‘how’ of designing social justice movements.” .

One of these books is Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds.

“So everything in this book is [about] how do we enter into the relationships of interdependence that we must maintain through the changes? And how do we bring our attention to the very small ways that change can happen in our lives and understand that everything big – and especially every big change – is made up of a lot of small parts and small decisions? Brown said.

Conversations are important, she says, but she also enjoys communicating ideas through her poetry and frequent blogging.

She expands on the idea of ​​emergent strategy by quoting organization expert Nick Obolinsky, who described emergence as “the way in which complex systems and patterns emerge from relatively simple interactions.”

“Huge cities, entire nations, were born out of small decisions to travel, to escape, to run away to try and create something new,” Brown says.

She recalls that the pandemic was also born of relatively simple interactions.

“It’s inevitable that an interconnected species, which tries to act as if it’s not interconnected, will eventually have to face circumstances together,” Brown says.

Science fiction writer Octavia E. Butler has had a huge influence on how Adrienne Maree Brown sees the world.
Nikolas Coukouma

Quoting Butler, Brown says that “the basic flaw in human beings is that our intelligence is coupled with a commitment to hierarchy.” It’s another example of Butler’s ability to notice things, something Brown likes to bring to her writing and hosting practice as well.

One of Brown’s positive obsessions these days is to consider how humanity copes with and deals with grief. She delves into this topic in her 2021 book, The mournerswhich takes place in Detroit when the residents are so overwhelmed with grief that they struggle to function in the midst of an epidemic.

“When it’s time to grieve, people are expected to disappear and take care of it, then come back two days later, well and functioning,” says Brown. “And that’s not what’s really going on in us.

“What we mourn is what we love,” she continues. “And what we love deserves our care and attention.”

Grief can arise from many things, whether it’s about the massacres taking place in Ukraine or the degraded state of the planet, which is another of Brown’s obsessions.

So what would society be like if bereavement was properly honored?

“So we would be much more careful about anything that created death,” she replies.