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January 18, 2014

The Power of Relationships

I was honored and excited to be going to India with the passionate, diverse and powerful group of US activists that make up the Move to End Violence cohort two and the dedicated faculty and staff. This would be my first international learning exchange and I felt particularly open and trusting of the hosts and the organizers. I was curious, open and ready to learn. I was inspired by the powerful activist in India whose work is infused with grassroots organizing, activism, protest, arts and a strong political analysis. All of which I feel we have moved farther away from in our US movement.

But most of all being in India, meeting powerful activist who worked on anti-caste, anti-violence, workers rights, and community organizing made me think about…

The Power of Relationships

There is something so powerful about relationships

There is a power in sharing wisdom, stories, strategies for change

The is a power in learning from one another

I believe in these relationships with all my heart

I believe in the powerful potential this holds for social change

I believe we do our most powerful work when our relationships are strong

I worry we don’t take our relationships serious enough

We need these relationships to end the violence

We don’t take the time

We forget to create the spaciousness

We forget to invest in them

We get busy

We focus on outcomes and products

We focus on numbers

We stop learning

We stop reaching out

We don’t value our differences

We don’t work through the challenges

We rush to the next task, project, meeting

We don’t get funding to build strong relationships

I know the power of relationships

I feel the power of a single conversation

I see change happen as we reach out and connect

I crave the synergy that happens in a room of powerful thinkers

I believe in our collective power

Our relationships are a strategy for change

We need these relationships to end the violence

In India the conversations I had on the bus rides, the trains, over breakfast, lunch and dinner, the conversations during our unstructured time are the ones that have stayed with me and feel most meaningful. Those are the conversations that I will build strong relationships from which to do my social change work. And so this reminds me to value not just the formal professional ways we meet one another but the informal way we invite one another into our lives and then what each of us does to care for those relationships to make them stronger. It reminds me to be mindful about how I show up, how I listen to others and how I commit to speak my own truths and not someone else’s. To pay attention to the way we make space for one another to be our best selves and how I challenge myself to understand those I might disagree with. It is how we listen, expanding our understanding and learning from others. Together we hold the key to change our communities.

Art by lizar_tistry