Have we forgotten everything that just happened in the last year and a half? We experienced a massive halt of life as we knew it. Facing the realities of the pandemic, we stopped the hustle out in the world, but somehow continued to fill our schedules. We struggled to balance work from home with raising families. Being/knowing or living with high risk individuals and fearing for our safety, we tried to stay safe but sometimes didn’t have the luxury of taking a break.
On top of that, we can’t forget one of the largest and most powerful movements to highlight white supremacy in our country and how that led to a sense of urgency that change is needed NOW.
With the country “opening back up” there is a push to “return to normal” but are we completely neglecting all that has happened in the last year? Are we so caught up in our desire to keep hustling, to move on, that we have lost the space to process?
Sitting in this moment, it can be hard to feel good about the progress between last year and now. Continued police brutality, 500,000 lives lost, educators stretched thin. Not only do we know these moments will have long-lasting effects, we are seeing it manifest in the world. Retail and service staff are being trained on how to de-escalate fights, sports events have had several incidents of fighting and fans throwing things at players, and airlines have reported over 2,500 unruly incidents just this year!
It’s no surprise that people are angry. We are being told to forget the events of the last year. We’ve been struggling and now we’ve been put back out into the world with little to no acknowledgement of that struggle (in fact, some states are removing social safety nets as a way to force the hand of those they think need to get back out there). There is grief that continues to go unaddressed.
It’s easy to focus on the negative: what’s not working, what we don’t like, and what we don’t agree with. That’s not our fault. Our cities have not grown with our interests in mind, we have been kept to our homes, where places like social media reinforce a divide and don’t encourage healthy discourse. We have lost loved ones, many have had to move forward without support systems, and as a whole we are still seeing that our country is falling short.
But let’s think about what’s possible. This moment is also an opportunity to pivot. As usual, the good that has happened in this time fades to the background as the most violent offenders take up the largest real estate in our mind.
“We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims.” – Buckminster Fuller
Knowing this quote, knowing the movement building of the last year, and knowing that the most powerful work has been happening far longer, and will continue to build, well, we need to lift that up.
Instead of a return to “normal,” we need to ask, are we directing resources to people centered programs? Are we including artists in the improvement of our cities and infrastructure? Can we keep the small businesses going that gave us the best food and bright spots during the collective weight of the last year? For some reason many of us remain stuck in our narrow world views. Instead of getting angry at the overworked, underpaid essential worker, are we holding corporations accountable? Instead of tolerating conditions, can we co-create spaces of growth?
I am forever motivated and inspired by our human potential. We can have the most gorgeous cities and plans for our future, but without humanity it means nothing.
To pretend like last year did not happen is doing us a disservice. But to know what is possible is encouraging.
As an example of what this means for our work at Prospera Partners, I typed out this list:
Prospera Partners between March 2020 to June 2021 :
- Hired me (Rae) as a consultant/facilitator and to build out and support programming
- Continued to prioritize our individual and collective education in social impact, including participation in a year-long Racial Affinity Circle led by Mindful of Race author and Buddhist teacher, Ruth King
- Piloted BIG Social Impact programming for those seeking clarity on their relationship to impact
- Supported Environmental Education of New Mexico in pushing forward Every Kid, Every Day, Every Way, promoting the implementation of outdoor classrooms, increasing statewide partnerships, increasing staff, and launching a second fellowship round with an upcoming retreat in July
- Started and continued to lead AEEA through a strategic planning process which included a series of community convenings
- Hosted Dismantling Systemic Racism in the Nonprofit Sector, an 8-part series with over 90 participants with our 5-person facilitation team
- Launched our 7th Emerging Leaders #1 series
- Shifted our support of a USDA funded Native farmer and food security project to address the COVID-19 impacts in Tribal communities, delivering hundreds of thousands of pounds of fresh produce and other food supplies
- Continued our support and strategic consulting with two Native owned businesses – Spirit Mountain Roasting Company and Itality Plant Based Wellness to help them pivot their businesses in response to the pandemic and for greater community impact
Whew! Just writing that out has been a powerful reminder to us as well. Rooted in transformational leadership and an understanding of the emergent process, our growth has been thoughtful, intentional, relationship based, and grounded in our ultimate goal of systems change.
Not only did we push forward powerful work, we also rested, we took lots of hikes, we checked in on each other. We dealt with our own series of hardships with our circle of support which includes our team – something I can’t say I’ve had in many work environments. So much of that speaks to the why: why we do this work, why this examination is important, and how powerful it is when we stop getting stuck in what is and lean into what is possible.
So instead of a rush back to normal, let’s take a moment to pause. Let’s take a collective breath. Let’s sit with ourselves so we can move forward together, knowing the power of human potential and get to work in a way that makes sense for us, and understand that it is emergent and ongoing.