THE VISTA: December 2023

As we close out the year, the team at Horizons would like to extend our gratitude to all our partners and colleagues for the much-appreciated collaboration, learning, and commitment to relationship-building across lines of difference in 2023. We continue to be inspired by the new ways that the pro-democracy ecosystem is organizing across sectors and the recognition of new funding practices that this collective work requires. Many of us are trying to make sense of the trends from the year that are propelling us into 2024 and this list from Pew Research offers some “striking findings.” Or, you can really geek out with this mega list of lists of trends from the year.

Horizons’ work continues to be animated by the resurgence of the authoritarian threat both in the US and around the world, and if you’re not listening to the short video updates of scholar Ruth Ben-Ghiat, we highly recommend tuning in. As a part of our Pillars of Support Project, Horizons was pleased to co-host this month with the SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins – a small salon with diverse leaders working on the role of business in promoting and defending democracy. You can read more about the perspectives of several of those leaders in this recent article highlighting the work of Business for America.

Also in December, we celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Harvard’s Carr Center released Making a Movement: The History and Future of Human Rights which includes a range of discussions on the intersection of the UDHR and global human rights with the themes of racial justice, transitional justice, economic equality, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, security, migration, changing political systems, climate change, advancing technology, and more.

As our hearts (and some relationships) continue to break over what is happening in Israel and Gaza, several organizations are providing helpful resources, such as how to speak out against bigoted, dehumanizing rhetoric and also how to have a conversation with those who many have a different perspective from you.

During this season of light and love, we hope you find some time for rest and rejuvenation during the end-of-the-year holidays, and please enjoy some of the other resources we’ve been reading, watching, and listening to:


How to Survive 2024

by Amanda Ripley

What’s the “right” way to live through a high-conflict election year? This article includes three lessons from a wise conflict survivor and also highlights a few of the books that are helping the author make sense of the world these days…in hopes they might help you, too.

New York Gov. Hochul Signs Bill On Reparations, Joining California And These Other Cities

by Brian Bushard, Forbes

New York’s Governor signed a bill into law this month creating a commission to study the impact of slavery and centuries of racism in the state, and potentially propose reparations, becoming the second state after California to take such action. Check out to join the movement for reparations in in the state. You can also read more about the role of philanthropy in helping to create a culture of repair and learn more about narrative power and infrastructure for reparations in this great article by Trevor Smith from Liberation Ventures. And if you’d like to get more involved with repair work, check out this call for nominations for the Cultivating Repair Catalyst Initiative.

Practical Radicals: Seven Strategies to Change the New World

by Deepak Bhargava and Stephanie Luce

“At a time when so much is at stake – from our climate to our economy to the state of our democracy – the strategies offered in this book feel especially timely for activists, organizers, and advocates who are fighting to win huge battles ahead.” The book profiles seven timeless strategies that have helped some of our nation’s most successful grassroots movements win in the face of enormous opposition. Organizers often talk about power – in Practical Radicals the authors explain what power is and isn’t and describe six forms of power used throughout history by “overdogs” and “underdogs.” The authors also discuss topics like how overdogs in business, the military, and politics develop strategy and what we can learn from them, how we address conflict in movements, how organizations and social change leaders can get better at strategy (great strategists are made, not born!), and explore methods for developing long-term, multi-generational and ecosystem-wide strategies.


Power Grids Under Attack: The Threat is Domestic Terrorism – Not Drag Artists

The Laura Flanders Show

On December 3, 2022, an attack on two electricity substations in Moore County, NC plunged 45,000 households and businesses into darkness for almost a week. A year on, no arrests have been made and authorities have named no suspects other than to say that whoever did this “knew what they were doing.” The attack on the substations coincided exactly with a drag performance in the Moore County town of Southern Pines. The episode highlights the first reading of a defiant drag opera in Durham that is being created by drag artists working with Blueprint NC as a tool for education and building community safety. “This episode is a must-watch for anyone interested in domestic terror threats, public safety, LGBTQ rights and more.”

The Art of Scaling Deep

Webinar hosted by The Tamarack Institute with Tatiana Fraser, Rachel Sinha, and Lisa Attygalle

As many working for social change think about how to “scale” our work, Horizons appreciated the insights of Tatiana Fraser of The Systems Sanctuary in her recent publication The Art of Scaling Deep. You can re-watch the launch webinar to learn more. Scaling deep includes prioritizing the gradual and meaningful cultivation of relationships, acknowledging the importance of context, fostering connections that unite diverse communities, and emphasizing the essential role of self-reflection and healing.

How to Build a Global Pro-Democracy Movement

Yordanos Eyoel, TED Democracy

“’Democracy is the most compelling vision we have for self-governance,’ says freedom advocate Yordanos Eyoel. Taking a stand against predatory and opportunist authoritarian forces, she shares how to reimagine, accelerate, and protect the pro-democracy movement — to build societies that are both functional and inclusive.” You can also watch some other great videos from the recent TED Democracy conference, like this one by Michigan activist Katie Fahey who sparked a successful campaign to end the practice of gerrymandering.


Why We Need Hope

Speaking of Psychology Podcast

“When the news is filled with war and climate change and other disasters, remaining hopeful about the future can feel impossible. But psychologists’ research has found that hope is not an unrealistic luxury, but a necessity. Jacqueline Mattis, PhD, of Rutgers University, and Chan Hellman, PhD, of the University of Oklahoma, discuss the difference between hope and optimism, why cultivating hope can help people facing adversity and trauma, and what all of us can do to find hope in trying and uncertain times.” And if this topic interests you – make sure to also sign up for Thomas Coombes newsletter on all things hope-related. It’s super.

The New Wave of Neuroscience

Think Peace Podcast

“As the social change landscape experiences rapid and holistic transformations, the integration of diverse disciplines and knowledge fields is shaping new paradigms of “peace” and “justice.” In this episode of the Think Peace Podcast, Dr. Colette Rausch has an insightful conversation with Dr. Sará King on the intersection of neuroscience, mental health, and wellbeing. Sará King, M.A., Ph.D., is the founder of the MindHealth Collective, an organization dedicated to addressing the consequences of intergenerational trauma and she provides valuable insights into the integration of wellbeing practices within the realm of social justice.

Constraints, Complexity & Context (Oh My!) w/ Alicia Juarrero

The Deep Dive Podcast

“[Host,] Philip McKenzie spends time with educator/writer/philosopher Alicia Juarrero discussing her latest book Context Changes Everything: How Constraints Create Coherence. In their conversation, they cover how complexity has become a widely used but largely misunderstood term, the significance of context and different ways of knowing.”

Solidarity Narratives in Crises, A Practice Guide

Solidarity Is This Podcast

Deepa Iyer and Shanelle Matthews discuss how organizations can shape solidarity narratives in a time of crisis. “Often during movement moments or societal crises, organizations may contemplate drafting and releasing Solidarity Statements to convey their support of the demands and perspectives of partner groups and affected community members.” You can check out the excellent solidarity resources of the Building Movement Project here.


A Viral Dance and Happiness Campaign Frustrates Iran’s Clerics

by Farnaz Fassihi and Leily Nikounazar, The New York Times

We need more joy in our movements!! “A new form of protest against the government is rocking Iran: a viral dance craze set to an upbeat folk song where crowds clap and chant the rhythmic chorus, “Oh, oh, oh, oh.” In cities across Iran men and women of all ages are gyrating their hips, swirling their arms in the air, and chanting the song’s catchy lines, according to videos posted on social media, television news channels like BBC Persian, and Iranians interviewed. People are dancing on the streets, in shops, at sport stadiums, in classrooms, malls, restaurants, gyms, parties, and everywhere else they congregate. In Tehran traffic was stopped in a major highway tunnel for an impromptu dance party to the song. Young women, hair uncovered and flowing, dance in parks, and young men performed a choreographed hip-hop dance.”