In this episode of The Catalyze Podcast, I interview Elliott Cisneros of The Sum. During our conversation we discuss the importance of doing one's own inner work, allyship, how to stand in solidarity with other's, using one's privilege in allyship, and his work with The Sum.
Elliott comes from a bi-cultural, biracial background with his father's line coming from Hispano ancestry in what is now New Mexico and his mother's people coming originally, from the Mayflower. This internal crossroads of diversity and power was one of the sparks for his passion for his learning and work at an early age.
Elliott began his teaching career on the Navajo reservation in special education. He directed a school district transition program serving students with disabilities for 8 years and went on to direct the Human Rights Office for the City or Fort Collins. He taught social justice classes at Naropa University for 6 years, and worked as a school principal both at a predominantly Latino elementary school, and at a progressive experiential middle school. He founded The Sum in 2006 (www.thesum.org
After James Fields drove his car into a crowd in Charlottesville VA, killing Heather Heyer and injuring 40 others, Elliott moved to Charlottesville, in a camper. Here, he has started The Sum Study Center to support people's internal learning and empowerment across the full political spectrum (Alt-right to Antifa). He has partnered with the Heather Heyer Foundation to create a youth program called Heyer Voices (www.heyervoices.org
). Elliott founded an intentional community that represents a cross-racial, multicultural, interfaith and queer collaboration called Araminta Village (www.aramintavillage.org
). And he has established a faith community, and faith community model based on the "sacredness of welcome to all" called The Welcome Circle (www.thewelcomecircle.org
). He is currently working on two books: “The Power of our Differences” and “Sex and Social Justice.” In alignment with the Power of Difference Model which he developed in collaboration with Dr. Carla Sherrell, Elliott designed the Power of Difference Assessment (online), created the Power of Difference Video Project, and pioneered the online Power of Difference Online Certification.
You can find Elliott here: