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July 10, 2013

Movement Makers Putting Their Work on the Map

I just returned from an incredible 3 days at the Asian Pacific Islander Institute’s 2013 National Summit, Putting Our Work on the Map! The Summit gathered 300 advocates working to end gender-based violence in Asian and Pacific Islander (API) communities to share strategies, successes, and challenges; form deep connections, and return home inspired and energized to move forward in their work. I was truly inspired to hear about the transformative work these advocates are doing in their communities and the incredible innovations they are generating, often with very few resources or broad institutional support.

While at the Summit, I had the chance to attend a workshop lead by five Movement Makers from Move to End Violence’s pilot cohort: Beckie Masaki, Aimee Thompson Arevalo, Patti Totozintle, Corrine Sanchez, and Nan Stoops. Beckie opened the workshop as an exciting opportunity to share some of the learnings of Move to End Violence with a particular network of allies that she and the API Institute works with.

Movement Makers framed the work of Move to End Violence and how it impacted their own work. Nan shared how being part of this initiative has ignited her work, fired her up to lead and help others find their way in this movement. Aimee asked us to think about what it is like to take off our “professional armor”- how much stronger would this movement be if we showed up as our full selves? Patti talked about building community and finding new approaches, and Corrine offered reflections on how it’s possible for advocates to come from diverse approaches, yet still find a shared practice and vision.

We then moved into tai ji and physical practice as a critical component of the Move to End Violence program taught by MEV faculty member Norma Wong. These Movement Makers had not seen each other for 6 months, and yet; they were effortlessly able to “sync up” and move together as one. As new participants joined in, we each had our own individual way of doing each tai ji form; yet as a collective, we were still able to move in unison.

Reactions to the physical practice included: flow, connectedness, harmony, and even: “it’s better than aspirin!” We reflected on how that the act of physically moving reminds us that we can often get caught in thinking and strategizing; but build movements require us to move. It requires that we move our thinking forward into practice.

The next day, Movement Makers led all Summit attendees in the same practice. The feeling of 300 people moving together was powerful; it truly felt like a force. One move incorporated the importance of looking back to the past, so we can move forward. One participant reflected on what this particular form meant for her work: How do we understand our communities’ particular histories and build from this, while also allowing ourselves to reshape ideas? How can we move forward with something new that also honors where we have come from?

The Summit ended with a movement building session that asked us all to take 10 minutes to each reflect on ourselves as an agent of change. We were asked to think about questions like: What has been/is your role in ending gender-based violence? What are the assets/contributions that you bring to this movement work? On a scale of 1-10, where would you rate your ability to contribute to the movement to end gender-based violence and why? What do you need to be able to fully contribute at a 10?Beckie asked us all to raise our hands and recognize that “we are all 10’s”- believing that we all have the capacity to contribute to this movement. The questions to continually consider—both with ourselves and in discussion with others are: What do we need to make our full contributions to the movement to end gender-based violence? Who can we link up with, partner, ally, connect and cluster with to move this work forward?

Sitting in the room with incredible advocates working with API communities, I was inspired to consider how I could contribute to moving our movement forward— both from my vantage point as someone working in the foundation world and as a young activist who is learning about my own role in this movement.

Art by lizar_tistry