During the month of April, we are reminded of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda who said, “they can cut all the flowers, but they can’t stop the spring…” Horizons continues to be inspired by the persistence of so many pro-democracy organizers and the breadth of resources to draw upon. You won’t want to miss the recent Atlantic Council report on Fostering a Fourth Democratic Wave: A Playbook for Countering the Authoritarian Threat.
Diversity of perspectives and approaches is our strength in building pluralistic movement(s) for democracy. Check out the many organizations that participated in this year’s National Week of Conversation in the US. We would especially recommend the conversations that delved into the tensions between dialogic and social justice-oriented approaches. For example, you can re-watch this great webinar that highlighted important research findings from the report: “Building Bridges in the Context of Inequality.” Horizons also co-hosted an event that week with the renowned director of the Othering & Belonging Institute, john a. powell, where we grappled with the challenges of Bridging Towards a Just, Inclusive, Pluralistic Democracy that you can rewatch here.
Philanthropy has an important role to play in supporting healthy pluralism in our democracy movement(s) and this rich article details some frameworks for systems change coalitions that create “paths for everyone” to participate. However, there are pitfalls when calls for pluralism appear devoid of needed power analyses, as expressed in this recent critique by Vu Le at NonProfitAF: Philanthropy’s Equivalent of “All Lives Matter.”
Collaborating across difference isn’t easy. We have to be able to have hard conversations that may cause discomfort. (ICYMI, you can re-watch Horizons’ recent public event with researchers and activists exploring narrative practices that support collaboration across difference.) Horizons appreciates so much the many insights and hard truths shared by our partners and many others.
Here’s some of what we’ve been reading, watching, and listening to:
Sendolo Diaminah, Scot Nakagawa, Sean Thomas-Breitfeld, Rinku Sen, and Lori Villarosa, The Forge
This is an important reflection on the concept of “white supremacy” as applied to organizational practices like using metrics, setting deadlines, or employing the written word.
The Forge brought together five longtime racial justice leaders to discuss why Tema Okun’s article on “White Supremacy Culture” still resonates, the problems with relying on it to criticize organizational practices, and the path forward for racial justice work.
by Baratunde Thurston, Puck
This is a richly nuanced read that weaves in historic memory with the present political dynamics taking place in the Tennessee legislature; building on neuroscience and best practices of bridging across difference. “My hope is that we can find and celebrate other ways of being together. That we know what an insurrection is and isn’t. That we are brave enough to be clear about our failings and our history. And that we can create momentum around a new story of what living together, with all our differences, can look and feel like. Elected officials shouldn’t have to hold protests inside a legislative body for the will of the people to be heard, and elected officials shouldn’t believe that disparaging someone for doing so will earn them anything beyond scorn. But for that to be true, we have to keep trying to create spaces to hear each other and be heard.”
by Ruth Braunstein, Religious News Services
This article describes the many organizations and networks working to resist the rise in Christian nationalism, (i.e., “the idea that being Christian is core to the American identity”) that is so intricately tied to white supremacy and authoritarianism in the US. For example, the Poor People’s Campaign challenges a Christian nationalist idea of “scarcity set against a mythologized past of plenty, but only for those who “belong.” Activists… draw up a narrative in which patriotic citizens work together toward a more perfect, inclusive and abundant future that lives up to the country’s founding ideals.”
Lauren W. Reliford, Mormon Women for Ethical Governance (MWEG) 2023 Conference
You can watch all of the MWEG 2023 Conference sessions on-line with many inspiring talks, with a diversity of women’s perspectives on strengthening democracy. We highly recommend this session with the political director at Sojourners on the impact of our calcified political identities.
Shanelle Matthews, Trina Stout, Annie Neimand, Michael Huang, Frank2023 Conference
Frank is a community for movement builders and change makers who use communications to drive positive social, institutional, and behavioral change hosted by the Center for Public Interest Communications. They recently released the recordings from their 10th annual gathering. All the sessions offer great insights, but we’d recommend this one session on the Broke Project that gives an overview of in-depth social science research and narrative tools to better understand poverty and effective storytelling for economic justice.
Emilie Leyes on Tik Tok
If you’re still on TikTok, Horizons enjoys creators like Emilie who share useful tools for overall mental health and responding to feelings of overwhelm (that are so common to those working for social change.) ICYMI, our friends at Think Peace also released the reflections of a recently-convened community of practice – those working at the nexus of social change (including peacebuilding/social justice/transitional justice/reconciliation) and wellbeing (including mental health, bio-psychosocial support, neuroscience and behavioral sciences as well as somatics, embodiment, and holistic approaches to healing).
Wisdom Practice with Krista Tippett, The OnBeing Project
This is a short, but insightful reflection on an important topic for Horizons: “how to activate connective tissue, and communal momentum, and shared learning, and cross-pollination, and accompaniment, which we obviously need if all of [us are] to meet what is before us in this century….How can those of us committed to orienting in this way start to function like the ecosystem the world needs us to be?”
As we grapple with how societies can heal from past harm and trauma in order to move forward together, this podcast delves into the role of public apologies. “Our society is saturated in apologies. They’re scripted, they’re public, and they often feel less than sincere… It’s not even always clear who they’re for. So, what purpose do these apologies serve? Because real apologies are not just PR stunts. Not just a way to move on. At their best, they’re about acknowledgement and accountability, healing and repair.”
Lion’s Roar has compiled a great selection of bell hooks’ writings and recorded conversations as a voice for love and justice – particularly for “students in Florida and elsewhere for whom her truth is apparently dangerous. Because we must all celebrate a great voice like bell’s when it is silenced — and needed more than ever. [One] of the Black thinkers targeted in attacks on the straw man of “critical race theory.” Yet far from a threat, the writings of bell hooks are exactly what America needs — honest analysis of injustices past and present, and love and compassion as their answer.”
World Book Day is an annual celebration of the written word hosted by UNESCO each April 23, with this year’s theme focusing on indigenous languages, recognizing a less rigid concept of “book” to also acknowledge various forms of literature, including oral traditions. You may enjoy this fun list published by Atlas Obscura of their favorite stories about stories. They share tales of bookmakers, booksellers, book collectors, book thieves, and more. Also, as a part of the celebration, you can download one book from around the world for free from Amazon Kindle before April 30.