When Leading During Times of Crisis, What Does Wholeness Look Like?
In December, Move to End Violence celebrated a number of firsts. It was the first convening of our last ever cohort. We welcomed 19 leaders to the Movement Maker community of close to 100 who have been part of this ten year initiative. It was also our first time hosting a convening virtually. With the COVID pandemic it became clear that we would need to find new ways to welcome our growing beloved community.
Our fifth and final cohort is an incredible group of leaders working across the U.S. leading in unique ways, all making moves to end gender-based violence. All Black, Indigenous and People of Color, they come from communities and organizations that are investing in powerful work to keep their communities safe and free from violence. Folks like Aneiry Zapata, a trans Garifuna woman from Honduras with the Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant project, Indira Henard, the dynamic leader of the country’s oldest rape crisis center in Washington, DC and Tai Simpson, a powerful storyteller in her Nimiipuu nation (Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho). We will share more about these dynamic and brilliant leaders in the coming weeks.
While there were many important threads that came out of this first gathering, a central theme was how we rest, regenerate and maintain wholeness during such trying times. Because violence is so deeply embedded in our society, every MEV cohort has had the shared experience of convening during a critical crisis facing our communities in the U.S. Grief, exhaustion, stress, the pressures of parenting in isolation during a pandemic, the impact of the uprisings against white supremacy and anti-Blackness were just some of the dynamics in that zoom room with all of us. And while many of these elements were not new to any of us, there was a deeper sense of shared grief and overwhelm due to the multiple pandemics.
We worked with this reality by offering many ways for the Movement Makers to create spaciousness and nurture wholeness during the convening. Folks were invited to stay in retreat spaces within driving distance of their homes in order to create space from everyday life. We integrated healing justice offerings throughout the week, from card readings to trauma-informed movement to herbal consultations. Folks were given access to food and dependent care stipends to address basic needs during the time together. Because each person made their own choice about where to participate from, folks were able to be on ancestral lands, or with family, or in other meaningful locations.
We hosted a conversation with three MEV alumni from past cohorts: Isa Noyola, ML Daniel and Nicole Matthews. Moderated by co-director Monica Dennis, this conversation centered on Power, Regeneration and Wholeness and was born from the struggles facing everyone to balance the urgency of the needs in the community with the very real impacts this work has on our bodies, spirits and lives. Is it selfish to rest when there are urgent community needs? How do power and privilege influence this? You can watch that conversation here and see a visual representation by Claudia Lopez, and follow our resource guide for ways to bring these learnings back to your organization or community.
In our second virtual convening, which wrapped up in March, we continued to practice with these principles in how we held space together. We will be sharing more learnings from our convenings, including a series about how language justice practices have transformed our work, in the coming months.