THE VISTA: April 2024

During the month of April, the Horizons team has been inspired by all the analysis and resources being put out to support effective movement building. Check out this research by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on the importance of pro-democracy movements crossing ideological divides to challenge illiberal leaders who continue to degrade democracy around the world. You can read guidance like this one from Forward Together on making movements irresistible through (healthy) partnerships with artists; the particular role that women are playing within pro-democracy movement building in the United States; recommendations for intermediary funds that come from movements to help philanthropy reduce barriers to funding movements directly; and, don’t miss this important report about the relationship between movement building and philanthropic spaces, dealing with uncertainty and the value of having uncomfortable conversations. Also, the Feminist Peace Summit is kicking off in May and registration is open!

At Horizons, we continue to reflect on the relationship between Race and Democracy, and appreciated this recent piece on the fact that a multiracial democracy in the United States requires racial repair. Check out our second Sensemaking with Horizons Video interview with Jeanine Abrams McLean, the President of Fair Count probing the distinctions between “pro-democracy” work and/or “racial justice” work. And you can re-watch Chief Organizer, Maria Stephan’s presentation on the critical struggle for multi-racial democracy in the US and globally at a recent Forum at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church.

Please enjoy some of the other resources we’ve been reading, watching, and listening to in April:


Calling People Forward Instead of Out: Ten Essential Steps
by Justin Michael Williams and Shelly Tygielski

“Calling forward is a model of communication that [the authors] coined several years ago that flips the idea of “calling out” and “calling in” on its head, turning it into something more effective for bringing people together and ending racism. While “calling out” or “calling in” is fighting against what someone did wrong, calling forward is an invitation to be something greater. While calling out/in is fighting against what we hate, calling forward is building upon what we love. Calling forward is inviting people into a greater state of integration and evolution. Calling forward opens the door to real transformation, and we’ve found that the outcome—although not always immediate—is often surprising… Use the “Ten Essential Steps to Calling Forward” the next time you need to have a difficult conversation—specifically, when you want to address someone having contributed to the perpetuation of prejudice, discrimination, racism, or othering. Stand in the center of what you believe: that racism can and will end, and that you yourself have the power to end it. Calling forward is a skill we all have the capacity to learn. It starts with you.”

Communication is Sacred by Nora Bateson: Why change happens in the spaces between us
by Alexander Beiner and Nora Bateson

“How do you think about change if not in linear strategies? You tend to the relationships…The trap of trying to confront fascism is that it grows stronger with polarity, and the problem with not confronting fascism is that it grows stronger when it is not met with resistance. So, what can be done? Rallying against a group that believes themselves to be superior further ignites a sense of righteousness to their polarity. But without counteraction the momentum of the hateful cause grows deeper and wider into communities, demanding more loyalty, and more exclusion. Most attempts to stop fascism seem only to generate it…when any aspect of a living system is torn from its contextual relationships, it can then be exploited. How a description is made of a person, a family, a community, a culture, or an ecosystem –matters. Does the description hold the complexity, or does the description sever the relational connections? The more relational, contextual understanding there is, the less likely polarities are to take over.” 

Ministry of Imagination
by Rob Hopkins (Harvested from guests from the From What If to What’s Next podcast.)

“The rise of the far-right around the world is profoundly troubling, underpinned as it is by dystopian visions of the future and the need for ‘strong’ leaders to protect us from those futures. But what would a Manifesto look like that was based on a positive vision of the future, one that is appropriately ambitious to the scale of the challenges the world is facing while at the same time bold, imaginative and audacious? …. the failure of [movements] to set out bold visions of the future has left the space for the far right to fill, and that getting better at bringing positive futures alive in people’s imaginations is vital.” You can download the Manifesto here.


The Politics of Disavowal: What Syria Can Tell Us about American Authoritarianism
The Crown Center for Middle East Studies, Brandeis University

“Can the survival of Bashar al-Asad’s regime in Syria offer insights into emerging forms of authoritarianism in the West? And what might the Syrian example suggest about how authoritarian leaders exploit digital media to create uncertainty, political impasses, and fractures among their citizens? In this Crown Seminar, Lisa Wedeen, in conversation with Daniel Neep, draws on the findings of her book, “Authoritarian Apprehensions: Ideology, Judgment, and Mourning in Syria,” to reflect on lessons from the Syrian experience for the current attractions of authoritarianism in the United States.

Mapping the Future. The Role of Art in Social Change
The Skoll World Forum

“Art is a powerful tool for social change. It can challenge norms, foster empathy, and even spark movements. [During this session at the recent Skoll World Forum, the panel] explored how art can also serve as a wayfinding tool to unveil challenges, reflect progress, and chart a course toward a collective future we may not have envisioned yet. Whether you’re an artist or simply looking to expand your tool kit toward social change, check out this visually rich session to immerse yourself in the role art plays in mapping the future, navigating complex challenges, and driving social change.” You can watch all of the great sessions from the 2024 Skoll World Forum that are now available on their YouTube channel.

Disarming disinformation: how leading international editors are responding to information pollution
International Journalism Festival

You can re-watch this panel discussion that presents important insights from the new global research project Disarming Disinformation, the result of researchers embedded in multiple international newsrooms to study their responses to information pollution in the context of looming elections. “2024 is recognised as [a] pivotal year for democracy in dozens of countries and the function of independent journalism in securing and popularising facts, and scrutinsing elections, is pivotal…The Disarming Disinformation project is studying editorial responses to disinformation anchored in five countries: the US, the Philippines, Brazil, South Africa and Georgia. Lead researcher Julie Posetti is joined by four editors participating in the project to discuss their insights and experiences, among them is Nobel Laureate Maria Ressa, who has warned that “In 2024, democracy could fall off a cliff.” Organized in association with the International Center for Journalists.


Our Story of Nature, From Rupture to Reconnection
Outrage + Optimism podcast

As we celebrated Earth Day this month, enjoy this unedited conversation with award-winning Krista Tippett, host of On Being. “Take a moment to relax and immerse yourself in this expansive and inspiring dialogue. Krista opens up about her personal thoughts, feelings, and experiences with nature, offering a fresh perspective that’s sure to leave a lasting impact. Get ready to see the natural world in a whole new light after tuning in.”

Polarisation, Political Violence and the U.S. Elections
Ripple Effect podcast by the International Crisis Group

“In this episode [Rachel Kleinfeld], senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, talks about the state of U.S. democracy and the risk of political violence as the U.S. heads toward the November elections. During the conversation, they break down how we should understand polarization in U.S. society. [They] assess the potential risk factors that could contribute to political violence in the run-up and aftermath of the November elections and how they compare to the 2020 elections…They also talk about what politicians on both sides of the aisle can do to mitigate the risk of political violence in the near term.” You can also read a new article from Rachel on Democratization and De-escalation here.

Can “The Commons” Bring Philanthropy Together?
Keeping PACE with Kristen podcast

Kristen Cambell interviews Drew Lindsay of The Chronicle of Philanthropy about the launch of The Commons, a digital space to explore how America’s nonprofits and foundations are working to heal the nation’s divides and build community. They are “looking at how the country is splintered along political lines but also by income, race, geography, culture, and more — division that can threaten progress and even the nation’s stability. The new project is named The Commons to reflect their goal to create a home where people come together to learn, share ideas, and gain new perspective.”


Civil War is Coming to America
by Kristen Grimm

Have you seen the new movie Civil War by writer/director Alex Garland? Check out this article by Kristen at Spitfire Strategies. “…see it for yourself so that when you are talking about it, you know what you are talking about. Mind you, many of the people you may talk about this with may or may not have done the same, relying on social media posts to fuel their opinions.” Kristen offers some very helpful advice about how to engage with this movie and shape the conversation it spurs. Most importantly she recommends offering concrete actions to avoid this future reality with some links to organizations and resources.