What is The Active-Ally Model?
An Active-Ally is someone who witnesses an injustice and responds to it in any situation.
The Active-Ally Model is a guide to a process. It is not prescriptive. It is not a step list or a how-to guide. It was developed through my experience of becoming. Through questioning my ways of being. Through the challenge of living in the gray, the middle, the margins, and the otherwise. The Active-Ally Model offers a way to think differently, to move and be differently. It does not offer a destination. It offers a different lens to do life through.
This model is an ask to live and show up differently. To engage with relations differently. To spend time in the awareness of our being – from the ugly to amazing.
It asks us to live in a space of curiosity and to risk vulnerability.
To step into the realm of possibility and becoming. It requires us to sit in the discomfort of change and the constant movement of the in-between. It asks us to live in the honesty that is not about locating Truth.
To, more often, exist in the space between. To be honest and vulnerable. This lens requires sitting in the unknowing, the discomfort of not understanding, the fear of being witnessed; to reject the understanding of right or wrong. It asks us to acknowledge and love ourselves in ways many of us have never experienced. To love others in ways many of us think we are not capable of. This model asks us to hold grace for ourselves and for others. It asks us to risk intimacy and embarrassment.
The Active-Ally Model is a cyclical process, in three phases which are in conversation with each other.
The three phases are:
(Image Description: A large, black circle with three words and blue arrows placed around its edge. Each word is purple, framed by a thick, black lined rectangle. At the top, where North might be, is the word AWARENESS. Where Southeast might be is the word ACTION. Where Southwest might be is the word INTEGRATION. The blue arrows between Awareness and Action, Action and Integration, and Integration and Awareness indicate a clockwise movement around the circle through each word. Another black line, on the inside of the circle, curves outward between AWARENESS and ACTION, with another blue arrow indicating clockwise movement between Awareness and Action. The same type of line and arrow, facing in the opposite direction, is between Awareness and Integration, also indicating a clockwise movement between the two. The model is meant to represent the conversation between the three phases, as well as the way Awareness is a space to come back to during Action and Integration.)
Before we can intentionally and thoughtfully unpack the model there are other elements to dive into first.
Kyle Sawyer (he/they) is an anti-oppression facilitator and educator specializing in working with individuals and organizations on how to turn privilege into change. He is a trans, queer, mixed-race, white-passing individual. With over a decade of experience Kyle founded Building Allies in 2013 and developed the term Active-Ally, someone who witnesses injustice and responds to it in any situation. Kyle has worked with teachers, nonprofit organizations, students, therapists, social workers, community members, family members, and many others on learning how to be Active-Allies through an intersectional lens.