Our Collective Context

This week, Independent Sector staff had the honor of hosting one of our board members, Sarah Kastelic, to walk staff through a Native-inspired framework of building intentional resilience. It could not have come at a better time for me, personally, and our staff. Sarah described the Native relational worldview of finding balance in one’s life based on the body, mind, spirit, and context. And while I’ve heard Sarah give this talk before, I feel that I always gain something new each time I hear it.

I’d like to focus on the context part of that equation right now. Our nation’s current context is violent. The recent mass shootings – nearly 150 mass incidents since the year began – weighs heavy on my heart. We’ve seen a series of police shootings that have rocked communities and destroyed families. While I write from Washington, DC, we are also seeing buildings being boarded up once again in the event there are protests that turn violent, depending on the outcome of the Derek Chauvin trial for the killing of George Floyd.

There is a collective sense of anxiety, even as Springtime blossoms in DC and there is increased hope around the number of people vaccinated against COVID-19. In her talk with staff, Sarah explained that health and wellness is found in the balance of body, mind, spirit, and context. So, I offer you, leaders and advocates in our sector, the following: When the context feels so very unhealthy, please don’t lose sight of the body, mind, and spirit. We can have all the thoughtful convictions, all the right words in a press statement, but our people – you, your staff, volunteers, community members – need to know that their flourishing is necessary in order for us to do the ambitious work of ensuring all people in the U.S. thrive.

This reminds me of a wise notion brought into our first Upswell Exchange just last week. A new innovation in the Upswell community, we’ve started to hold deep dive and intimate sessions after each Upswell Pop-Up where we get to know one another and share our knowledge and expertise – both credentialed and lived experience – to enrich our lives and work. T. Jamal Lee, executive director of Afrikan Unity Initiative, Inc., said that the way to walk through the world is to be boldly for something, rather than defined by what you’re against. I’m calling on each of us to live up to that worldview and to see the immense potential in every human life as we work toward health and justice for all.

As we enter the next week or weeks, there isn’t much we can do to predict how peaceful or violent that our country will be, but my sincere hope is that we all take accountability in our own organizations and communities to ask: “Are you ok? What do you need to feel balance?” Only when we truly care about the health and wellness of each of us as part of our collective whole will we see powerful movements toward the world we wish to see.

And know, as always, this community is with you.

Types: Blog
Global Topics: Civil Society, Infrastructure, Public Policy, Race, Equity, and Inclusion, Trust, Volunteerism