How do we name the problem and what does the leadership of the movement look like? Why hasn’t pornography been more widely included in the dialogue? How do we clearly identify and articulate our purpose and vision in the move to end violence? I came away from Westerbeke Ranch in beautiful Sonoma County with more questions than answers, but better equipped to begin answering these and other questions.

It remains clear to me that we must form a strong statement about what the problem is that we seek to address, and that this statement must avoid the temptation to break down violence and oppression into categories. Naming one form of abuse and leaving another out, or indicating that one form of violence/oppression trumps another is a trap that leads us into the politics of the comparative oppression dialogue, and reinforces the “competition for resources” dynamic that has helped fractionalize the movement. Naming the problem will require us to be courageous and talk about the economic power structure that continues to prop up the crime of violence that is pornography – that has found a socially acceptable niche because of who benefits. It becomes clearer that the leadership of the movement looks very much like we do – diverse in age, ethnic and cultural background, gender identity and orientation, social/economic background, geography, etc., but sharing a vision for creating and sustaining a Beloved Community.  However, it is also apparent that we are but an example of the movement leadership – that there are many unrecognized individuals, families, and organizations providing this very leadership right now. Identifying how we encourage, nurture, recognize, and resource those leaders will be part of our work in the coming 15 months.

What is most clear to me now is the incredible power of our collective energy.

The deep experience and wisdom in the cohort is perhaps the strongest teaching I carry home. Each of us – with our own lens, our own journey – sharing the now and the future.  When we practice Tai Ji together, breathe together, share honest conversation and walk in peace together, we gather personal and collective power to do our work more effectively. I come away from the convening focused on transformative leadership development with some new insights into my own leadership style and my role in the movement. I am inspired by both the opportunity and the challenge of what we are undertaking.

Suzanne Koepplinger
Suzanne Koepplinger
Catalyst Initiative Director
The Minneapolis Foundation

Suzanne Koepplinger, M.A., is the Catalyst Initiative Director at The Minneapolis Foundation. Before joining this foundation, Suzanne served as Executive Director of the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center. Learn More

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