The Whole Point

The Whole Point

Today was one of my favorite days in Move to End Violence history. And considering that I have the privilege of working on such an audacious, exciting and transformative initiative, that is really saying something.

Over the past few years I have had the opportunity to work with an extraordinary faculty and staff to design and run this program—including some of the foremost thinkers on strategy, social change, movement building, transformative leadership and organizational development in the U.S. Both our pilot cohort and our current cohort have been chock full of visionary and inspiring leaders who have surprised me, challenged me, inspired me and filled me with a profound sense of hope for our collective ability to end violence against girls and women. At our Building Movement and allied conferences I have been humbled by the passion and commitment of other leaders in the field.

I’ve witnessed Movement Makers’ incredible transformation through Rockwood’s Art of Leadership, strategized with my brilliant colleagues at the NoVo Foundation around how to engage more funders in this effort, and traveled to India to exchange theory and strategies with fellow activists in this global movement.

You’ll believe me then, when I say there have been a lot of great days.

So what was it about today that made it so special?  A glimpse of what this world will look like when violence doesn’t rob girls and women of their power and potential — as embodied by a gaggle of pre-teen girls.

Allow me to explain.

I was out in California with our faculty team working on the Move to End Violence program design and planning for our upcoming convening at the Airlie Conference center outside of Washington D.C.  (We’ll tell you all about that in a future blog).

Because we try to practice what we preach at Move to End Violence, we found ourselves outside this morning in a grassy area across from our meeting site in downtown Oakland.  Un-phased by the curious looks from multiple passers by, our diverse group from all over the country easily settled into the fluid rhythm of our Tai Ji practice.

Tai Ji, as taught to us by the incomparable Norma Wong, is a signature element of Move to End Violence. Faculty members and cohort alike learn a simple series of 10 steps and practice it together whenever we convene, and on our own when we go back home.

This video shows the pilot Movement Makers along with some faculty and staff doing Tai Ji.

We engage in this physical practice because it reconnects us to our bodies. It helps us to listen to our gut. And it literally helps us to find our core strength and our power.  Knowing what that feels like on an experiential level — building that muscle memory — impacts how we move. And act. And think.

This is true on an individual level and it’s true for us as a group. One of the most amazing things about this shared practice is how we can live and work thousands of miles apart and see each other only every few months – but when we get back together we move together fluidly as one.  We are aligned, in synch and truly a powerful force to be reckoned with.

It was this sight of 12 women moving powerfully, gracefully as one this morning that drew the attention of dozens of pre-teen girls who appeared to be on a field trip. They spotted us from across the park and a few of them began to emulate us. Then a few more. They edged closer and closer until finally a group of particularly brave little sisters ran right up to join in the flow of our group — at times following behind and, as we rotated, at times in the lead.

They were earnest and free. They did not judge themselves or hold back. They were not doing the work of reconnecting with a body that had long since been distanced from due to violence. They were joyfully, courageously showing up with all their might.

Several met my gaze to gauge whether their bold act of daring was welcome. And my heart swelled in my chest as I smiled reassuringly. For they were not only welcome, they are the whole point.

Jackie Payne
Jackie Payne

Jackie Payne served as the Director of Move to End Violence from its inception until February 2018. A lawyer and policy advocate with 20 years of experience working to affect social change, Jackie brings an intersectional and cross-movement lens to her gender justice work. Learn More

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