THE VISTA: February 2024

February is the month of St. Valentine and so it’s a perfect time to reflect on the courageous power of love to sustain our relational organizing and care for each other. As we grapple with uncertainty, incorporate hope into our daily practice, and wield the power of imagination for seeking justice, many are also working on a new shared narrative of a future of belonging for all in the United States. At the same time, we take stock and learn from autocratic shocks in other countries, such as the lessons from Alexei Navalny’s murder in a Russian prison this month; and, we are inspired by the renewed focus on people power to demand freedom and justice around the world. It is especially important for the funding community to continue to support the “hidden wiring” behind our needed connections for broad-based movement-building across many lines of difference.

We also celebrated Black History (and Black Futures) this month, with many inspiring compilations and content to educate and help celebrate. Both looking back and looking forward as a nation requires that we engage in a conversation about racial justice and racial repair. Luckily, there are many resources to draw upon for communicating about the emerging topic of reparations. In addition, an important discussion has been unfolding about the current state of sustainable infrastructure of Black-led organizing, centering the foresight of Black leaders and their advocacy for sustained funding and on-going investment in capacity development.

Finally, this month Horizons would like to share that our colleague Jarvis Williams is taking on a new role as Director for Race and Democracy, reflecting both the gaps and opportunities we see to synergize lines of work and actors within the ecosystem of social change. We’ve compiled an initial list of resources that bring together the many elements of racial justice and democracy work, that we hope will help spur conversations and new insights.

Please enjoy some additional resources we’ve been reading, watching, and listening to this month:


Healing Systems
By Laura Calderon de la BarcaKatherine Milligan & John Kania

This Stanford Social Innovation Review article is a powerful read: “Seeing individual, intergenerational, collective, and historical trauma for what they are—powerful forces to reckon with in our present-day systems—and moving discussions about trauma from the margins to the mainstream can help the social sector discern new and effective approaches to systems change.”

Will You Join the Supermajority for Constitutional Democracy?
by Danielle Allen in The Washington Post

“…A supermajority for constitutional democracy. More than two-thirds of us committed to the basic norms and guardrails. That should be our goal. Any supermajority at that scale is [going] to be cross-ideological. But the real test of health for a democracy is not whether a large majority of us can agree on this or that policy, or this or that candidate, but whether it is possible to forge a cross-ideological supermajority in support of the core norms of constitutional democracy…What does that mean? It means to affirm a set of basic norms: a commitment to constitutionalism, rule of law, full inclusion, nonviolence and respect for elections.” 

Free For All: So What is Your Caste?
The Ink

Anand Giridharadas interviews Isabel Wilkerson the author of Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents a comparative inquiry, connecting the experience of structural racism in the US, Nazi Germany, and India. Ava DuVernay has turned the book (and the story of its writing) into a film, Origin. Word is the movie will make you think, and Giridharadas re-released this conversation with Wilkerson about what the book has to say to Americans about how to understand their historical experience of race and what it means as we move forward into the future.

Lead the Leaders: Lessons on Movement Building
by Joel Searby

As New Way Politics Leadership Network prepares for their Spring Summit, this article describes the ways that investment in leadership is critical. “In order to grow a movement and not just convene people, assume that everyone, from the biggest name to the newest organizer, needs to grow and will benefit from being led and fed. Pour into them.” Joel also stresses the importance of building diverse rooms. “In order to stay grounded, equitable, diverse and authentic, include people who are truly leaders but may not have ‘platforms’ or ‘influence.’”


The State of Black America
Harvard Kennedy School, Institute of Politics

Don’t miss this recorded discussion with leading scholars on multiple issues facing Black communities across the country. Setti Warren moderates with panelists Cornell William Brooks, Khalil Gibran Muhammad, and Sandra Susan Smith who have a wide-ranging discussion, including the many facets and historic context of our current democratic decline, specific policy solutions and the inspiring mutual aid networks and political education initiatives being led in Black communities around the country.

The Rise of the Far Right – And What We Can Do About It
Hosted by the Conduit, Ece Temelkuran, Paul Hilder, Jiore Craig, and Jon Alexander

“It’s time to face facts. Far right leaders have a firm grip on power in Turkey, Hungary, Italy and more; Trump’s polling lead in America is growing; the leading candidate to be the next Chancellor of Austria is openly using Hitlerian rhetoric in his campaign; and here in the UK the plates are shifting too. The work to fight back needs to accelerate hard, and it needs to involve all of us – and that begins with a clear-eyed understanding of what’s really going on: where exactly we are, how we got here, and what’s coming down the track. Then we can turn to the work of response, looking at what has already worked and what else might. Join Ece Temelkuran, Paul Hilder, Jiore Craig, and Jon Alexander for a critical discussion on the rise of far-right politics in Europe and the US hosted by The Conduit.

IMPACT: Creating Hope Together Keynote
John Paul Lederach

IMPACT is a global organization that advocates for arts and culture to transform conflict and build more creative, inclusive societies. Earlier this year, IMPACT convened a global community of activists and creatives to provide an online space for connection and to find creative inspiration together. You won’t want to miss the inspirational keynote address offered by renowned peacebuilder, John Paul Lederach. One nugget he offered is “how you’re choosing to respond to the particular challenges that any crisis offers us… is so key because being crisis responsive and long-term strategic means we have to have clarity of self and clarity of relationships and openness to work with and alongside people who may see the world very differently than us and who may be engaged in things that are not our areas of understanding or specialty but that ultimately we will need if we are to make change last.”

Join or Die
Documentary Trailer

Join or Die was released in 2023 and is now launching a year-long national community impact campaign. The film introduces Robert Putnam’s research on the importance of community to democracy and the decline in American community engagement over the past decades — especially to young Americans who were not alive to experience the Bowling Alone message go viral decades ago. “…we hope that the film can serve as a tool to catalyze urgent conversations in every city, campus, congregation, civic organization, and public institution across the country about how each can begin to answer the question: How can we help, in our own community, to build social capital and rejuvenate civic life?” If you’re interested in organizing a free film screening for your organization or community, you can find out more information at Host.JoinOrDie.Film.

Race Civic Identity and Self-Expression
Keseb Global

Keseb recently hosted a timely discussion on the intersection of race, civic identity, and self-expression. Joining this dialogue were two Keseb Fellows: PushBlack CEO Julian Walker interviewed Tessa Dooms, the Director of Programmes at Rivonia Circle and co-author of the recent book, “Coloured: How Classification Became Culture.” In recent months, South African singer Tyla has not only gained significant prominence in the international music scene but has also ignited a noteworthy discourse in the United States. As a South African, Tyla identifies as “coloured,” a term deeply embedded in South African culture. However, in the United States, this term carries a negative connotation, serving as a painful reminder of the oppressive Jim Crow era. This conversation was part of Keseb’s 2024 Mega Election Year event series.


On the Courage to Blow the Whistle
On Leading Podcast

“If I learned one thing, it’s that it really is never too late to do the right thing.” Miles Taylor was the senior official who anonymously sounded a five-alarm warning in the NYT Times op-ed I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration. During this podcast interview, he candidly shares why he chose to unmask himself and “go public” with the stand he took for the future of the United States. He describes how important it is to come forward publicly to lower the price of dissent for others. He explains that many people are scared to speak out or remain anonymous for fear of being cast out of their own political tribe, but he explains how there is life on the other side of a right decision.

Advancing Social Impact Chuckle by Chuckle with Negin Farsad
Say More with Tulaine Montgomery Podcast                   

“Policymaking isn’t enough to create real change. Impact begins with a shift in culture. Negin Farsad, a comedian and filmmaker, talks to me about the importance of comedy in creating a foundation for social change. She also explains how comedy has helped her build bridges across identities.”

Faith in Elections
BJC (Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty) Podcast

How does religious freedom overlap with ensuring fair and free elections? And “what is the role of churches and other houses of worship in protecting democracy? This topic usually comes up because of bad actors that overstep into partisanship, but [this podcast discussion] looks at how faith communities can help our elections run smoothly. Holly Hollman speaks with Chris Crawford about how people of faith can love their neighbors and take active roles in protecting our system of government.” Protect Democracy and Interfaith America partnered to help faith communities serve their communities during the 2024 election; check out their Faith in Elections Playbook.

How is Political Violence Different in 2024? Featuring Alex Theodoridis
Keeping Pace with Kristen Podcast

Kristen Cambell from Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE) interviews Alexander Theodoridis on how political violence today differs from that which we saw in the past such as scenes from Vietnam protests, or politics amidst the Civil War. “This short podcast will help you develop greater awareness of how political violence is birthed, how it draws on human nature, and how it can be addressed.”


Why We Should Cook Big
Weave the Social Fabric Project, Aspen Institute

“For many weavers, food is the path to opening hearts and creating connections that can then turn into after-school programs, friendships across race or class, support for immigrants or neighbors returning from prison, and any number of other weaving projects. And while it might feel like magic, there’s proof that shared food helps build trust. Two researchers at the University of Chicago ran a series of experiments to see the effects of eating the same food during negotiations. In one experiment, they asked participants to play the role of a manager and a union representative during salary negotiations. During their discussion, they were served snacks. When the pairs ate the same food, they got to agreement much quicker than when they ate different foods. Sharing food, the researchers found, promotes trust and cooperation.”