I am filled with gratitude for all the contributions so many talented and compassionate people have invested in our initiative. With recent events surrounding the US election, I am even more convinced and confident that our project has an important role to play. Understanding our inner selves and having concrete tools to move forward our collective change work with compassion, sustainability and a respect for diversity, inclusion and equity for all has never been more important.
I am full of joy when I think of all the connections so many people have made through our programs and I am both amazed and proud with all that we have accomplished together since we started in 2006. We have built a strong, diverse and energized community of change makers who have creatively taken their learning into the world. Many have reported back on how the tools they have learned helped them engage more authentically in difficult conversations. Others now interrupt themselves when they see old unproductive behaviours arise or when their heightened awareness of their social identity offers new avenues of engaging others.
While some people were skeptical when the Inner Activist offered the first Building Personal Mastery program in June 2010, many more were part of an emerging movement who understood the importance of curiosity, compassion and relational skills in social and environmental change work. They understood that personal, values-driven leadership could help people constructively engage in divisive issues that can so often hit a wall where polarized views can block any chance of finding common ground.
Recent comments by Van Jones about the US election underscore the continued relevance of our programs when he said, “We need to start talking TO each other, not just ABOUT each other.”
Strong connections made at our programs between participants have led to creative collaborations such as Amy Crook, Executive Director of Fair Mining Collaborative, working with local activists engaged in outreach to their communities in the Yukon. Patricia Dawn, Co-creator of Red Willow Womyn Society, found personal support and recognition during the launch of a documentary community film project “Stolen Hearts of Cowichan” that presents the voices of womyn of Red Willow who have lived experience of having their children being removed.
Inner Activist community connections like these were best summarized by an email I received from an alumnus who attended our November Holiday Party and gathering of our community:
“It was deeply nourishing to be in the room with so many open-hearted beings committed to change-making (both inside and out). It is so clear how many people (myself among them) have benefit from this work, and this benefit has in turn yielded benefits far beyond what we can even imagine...” -- Deblekha Guin, Executive Director, Access to Media Education Society (AMES)
There is always lots to do in social & environmental change work, and in the times where that work feels turbulent, we often forget that there is also a lot to celebrate. Celebration feeds our soul and affirms the hard work we do to create meaningful change. So I ask you to take a moment as you read this final quote, to celebrate how far we have come together and to imagine how far we can yet stretch ourselves when we work together for a compassionate and loving world.
“Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart, for helping me to see who I am and where I am allowed to be in this world.” -- Carolyn Unsworth, Business Representative, HEU
On December 31, I will step down as Inner Activist Program Director filled with love and gratitude for our amazing staff, faculty and volunteers. Our journey together of the last ten years has deepened my understanding and commitment to supporting all change makers who so generously gift their time and skill for the betterment of our communities. I thank each of you who contributed to my learning and the energizing of my spirit.
I’m so proud of all we’ve accomplished and very confident about the Inner Activist’s future. We now have the strongest leadership team we’ve ever had led by our new Project Director, Jorge Salazar (we will be formally announcing this soon). With the full support of our volunteers, past participants and you, the Inner Activist will continue to augment the skills of many creative and passionate change makers who selflessly give their time and energy to make our world a better place for all people and species.
Inner activism has always been a part of me, and while I am changing roles, I will still play a role in the organization as this important initiative continues to expand its breadth and depth. In these challenging times, I encourage you to consider donating to our initiative on Giving Tuesday, November 29, 2016. Each gift, no matter the size, is a concrete way of saying you value and support the important inner work needed to understand ourselves and build bridges across difference.
I hope to see you March 4 - 8 for our 2017 Building Personal Mastery program (I am still a part of the faculty team) or any of our other 2017 programs. Until then, thank you for the work you do in the world and may you continue to be healthy and successful in the pursuit of your dreams and your vision for the planet!