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The Real Work is a 6-episode audio miniseries exploring transformative justice as a tool for preventing, addressing, and healing harm in Bay Area theater and beyond. Over the course of one year, nearly thirty local theater makers gathered monthly to learn together about transformative justice, under the facilitation of Mia Mingus, co-founder of the Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective. This podcast series documents our learnings with an aim to share out and grow our collective capacity to practice transformative justice, especially in our arts and activist spaces.

True to its name, The Real Work reveals the seemingly mundane relational practices we can engage with one another to build cultures of safety and thriving within our communities. From communication skills, giving and receiving feedback, and learning how to make good apologies, to understanding roots of harm, TJ illuminates patterns of violence and abuse and offers dynamic ways of taking accountability to fundamentally shift them.

This project is supported by an Investing in Artists Grant from the Center for Cultural Innovation

& the City of Oakland’s Cultural Funding Program, and was incubated with initial support from CalShakes.

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How did The Real Work come to be? What were the conditions that set the stage (pun intended) for theater workers to come together to study & practice transformative justice? Let's find out...

On episode one, we got up to speed about the conditions that brought theater makers in the Bay Area to organize around TJ. This episode is dedicated to unpacking, at its core, what is TJ?

Our facilitator, Mia Mingus, used the metaphor of a fist to explain how, unlike our current severely punitive carceral system, TJ creates conditions that support folks to step up and take accountability when they’ve caused harm. In this episode, we explore how these systems have shaped us, and ask, how else can we respond to violence, harm, & abuse?

As the cohort continued, we learned that building the capacity to practice transformative justice takes immense and consistent personal work. We’re talking the basics of being human, like self reflection, and how to communicate.

These personal inquiries into how we live our values, and how we respond to our inevitable mistakes, were like portals into the heart of TJ. Into what it would take to support ourselves and others in living accountably every day for everything we do, and fail to do.


Last episode, we focused on the accountability part of community accountability. We explored how changing our behavior to live accountably is lifelong work, is violence prevention, takes building skills until they become muscle memory. Fortunately for us, Mia gave us many opportunities to practice.

In this episode, we learn from this practice – and – we focus on the community part of community accountability. Mia emphasized that transformative justice is not about intervening in or saving someone else’s community – TJ is responding to harm, violence, and abuse in our OWN communities. So as we built up fundamental TJ skills, she guided us to envision the changes we’d like to see in Bay Area theater.

This is it, right here, this is the final episode.

And if you’re here right now, and you’ve been choosing to return to this work again and again, I want to say, thank you. Cuz If we want alternative means to responding to harm other than the systems on offer from the state, we are the ones who have to invest time, energy, labor into learning, healing, imagining, practicing, remembering, and organizing to get there. As Black feminist revolutionary writer June Jordan said, “we are the ones we have been waiting for.” Now is the time to generously bring forth our gifts and throw down for our collective liberation. So again, thank you for choosing to be here.

Let’s dream forward.

We are producing ASL interpretation videos of each episode of our series to ensure accessibility for all.

Make a donation now to help us reach our goal. Donate via PayPal or become a sustainer on our Patreon.

Leave a review for The Real Work on Apple Podcasts.

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Transformative Justice: A Brief Description – entry from Mia Mingus's blog Leaving Evidence

Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective Resource Page — readings & media for further learning on transformative justice, accountability, & abolition

Interrupting Criminalization Help Desk — free consultation & thought partnering around intervention and ending violence without using the police

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