In the wake of the election, no matter who you voted for or if you were watching from the North, the results have shown the true polarities of opinions, emotions, classes, and struggles that American’s face. There was a large sum of individual voices mainstream media did not even pick up on in the polls. Whatever you believe or hoped, I am recognizing the need to acknowledge these unheard voices.
So as I think about all of this, I reflect on the work each and every one of you do that tries to elevate unheard voices – providing support for families and children, helping to preserve our natural world, inspiring beauty and creativity with the arts, giving all individuals the variety of health and holistic services they need, creating community, legislating for change and more. Whether it’s the people we work with or the people we serve, there are people constantly in our midst that need to be heard, who may hold opinions we cannot understand or who have just the answer we need to move forward.
We would not be in centers together if we did not believe in the heart of our work: collaboration. So I encourage us all to press forward, to keep doing the work we do while taking a very honest look at ourselves and our organizations:
- Make sure we are doing that work effectively, sustainably (in both our human, earthly, and fiscal resources), and with the constant voice of those we serve leading the way.
- Let those voices be heard within your organization, your community, in your state. Don’t just speak for others, let them speak – to your staff, to your boards, at events, or at the government level if appropriate.
- Be a sanctuary: a safe space for people to come and grow, and yet, elevate the dialogue beyond ideas and beliefs to concrete steps
- As cliché as it is, agree to disagree. Just make sure you fully listened to each other, uninterrupted, without your own spin on it. Know when to bite your tongue, pick your battles, and work with the person or group where they are at.
- Ask for help. Admit your own shortcomings and be humble in recognizing a certain task might not be your thing. Pass it on, or learn from someone else. Often times, nonprofits can take on more than they can handle, and the ripple effects of that can be costly. Utilize your resources, your volunteers, but recognize when something is a drain. Have the courage to admit defeat and redirect when something is not working.
This is not an easy task – it never was, and it will not always be. But we can take comfort and move forward in doing it together and not in silos.