The month of June is a busy one with the celebration of Juneteenth (check out this great reading list.) Also, the kick off of Civic Season – with hundreds of activities between Juneteenth and the Fourth of July – that is a new tradition started by Made by Us, together with museums, historic sites, libraries and archives around the country to help transform the way history is learned and “to remind us of the struggles and hard-won victories in our ongoing journey to form a ‘more perfect union.’” Our friends at Veterans for Political Innovation are also using the Fourth of July as an opportunity to recruit more veterans into their movement. We agree that veterans have an important role to play in upholding our democracy.
And of course, June is Pride month, with beautiful celebrations and visibility for the LGBTQI+ community. This year, Pride has also served as a poignant call for increased solidarity with a community that is increasingly under attack, intimately tied to the attacks on democracy playing out at the state level. You can find out more in this recent TikTok video by the Human Rights Campaign who have declared a state of emergency for the LGBTQI+ community in the United States.
Unfortunately, these trends of increasingly extreme anti-LGBTQI+ laws are global, so our solidarity must also extend across borders. This month, Uganda passed one of the most extreme laws in the world that drastically restricts the rights of LGBTQI+ Ugandans to engage in public life or advocacy. As we know, autocrats around the world are learning from each other, and therefore the pro-democracy response must also be actively sharing and learning across borders.
Hot off the press, Horizons’ Chief Organizer Maria J. Stephan published this article with Just Security focused on the specific ways that far-right authoritarian leaders in the US and globally are sharing lessons and collaborating – and how pro-democracy movement(s) can strategically out-maneuver them. She flags the 22nd Century Initiative’s conference, Forging a People-Powered Democracy where we hope to see many of you from July 6th to the 9th in Minneapolis, MN. Registration is open until the 5th!
At Horizons, we are committed to sharing experiences and lessons from other countries with our US colleagues, helping to connect the dots amongst shared threats and to find inspiration in how we are rising to the shared challenges we face. There are several important innovations captured by the Journal of Democracy from the recent opposition efforts to unseat Erdoğan in Turkey that we highly recommend, even though the campaign was ultimately unsuccessful. And, as Horizons focuses on a pillars approach to combatting authoritarianism, we also want to highlight the role that different sectors have to play in pro-democracy movements. For example, there are some lessons for the private sector in how Israeli businesses joined in the recent fight for an independent judiciary is Israel. And to help make this case, Rachel Kleinfeld recently released a helpful report on the negative impact of populism on the business sector around the world.
At this time of rest and reflection during our summer vacation mode in the United States, we hope you enjoy some of the additional resources we are reading, watching, and listening to:
by Life Itself
At Horizons we spend a lot of time reflecting on ecosystem-level organizing for social change. If you’re into systems thinking and systems change, you will appreciate this super project overview by Life Itself. “We sense that a new ecosystem, or ecosystem of ecosystems, is emerging. A growing number of people, organizations, and initiatives are taking alternative approaches to social change, which diverge from and go beyond the more established spaces in civil society and the social economy.” They explain the process used for identifying and visualizing the various approaches different organizations and networks are taking to affect large systems-level shifts. They also relate this work to other established and emerging movements.
by Andre M. Perry and Jonathan Rothwell, Brookings
A new study was released by Brookings that analyzes data from Gallup to show that measures of well-being offer a valuable way to chart collective progress towards a diverse thriving society, arguing it’s a more holistic indicator than the traditional measures of education and income attainment. Acknowledging that “the road to a more perfect union is paved in race relations,” the report highlights the country still has a long way to go and points out that high well-being scores correlate with greater individual and community stability, high racial and ethnic diversity, and lower rates of so-called “deaths of despair.”
by Dave Algoso, Florencia Guerzovich, and Soledad Gattoni, Nonprofit Quarterly
“The world changes too much for anyone who is invested in social change work to imagine that this work is linear and predictable. Opportunities come and go, whether caused by a pandemic or political shifts. This much most social movement leaders and activists intuitively understand. But what can be done with this realization? How might movement groups better prepare for moments of opportunity?” In this super article, the authors reflect on how we can create the changes we want to see by responding to the changes that are outside our control.
hosted by the Social Change Initiative
“Collective leadership, strategic thinking, and self-care are key tactics to leading change in difficult circumstances and divided societies.” Don’t miss the recording of this inspiring online discussion hosted by the Social Change Initiative featuring Ambika Satkunanathan a human rights lawyer from Sri Lanka; Eric Ward, Executive Vice President with Race Forward in the US; Bernadette McAliskey, a human rights and social justice campaigner from Ireland; and Phumeza Mlungwana, an activist from South Africa. Addressing the big challenges facing those who seek to lead change, Bernadette gave some sage advice: “All I can say is, does the road wind uphill all the way? Yes. Will you meet the best human beings in the world on your way? Yes, you will. And if we stand together for the values of human dignity and equality, if we stand for the principles of democracy and equality, will we get there? Yes, we will.”
by Nat Kendall-Taylor, Nobel Prize Summit
At the recent 2023 Nobel Prize Summit, FrameWorks Institute CEO Nat Kendall-Taylor gave a short talk on two cultural mindsets that undermine trust in science and two that can be activated to build trust in science. The public’s trust in science has been on the decline, and Nat explains that to understand this lack of trust and what we can do about it, we need to look not only at what people think, but how people think about science. Also, in case you missed it FrameWorks’ recently released an updated report on their findings on Culture Change in the US incorporating shifts from the reversal of Roe v. Wade and the contentious 2020 midterm elections on Americans’ perspective on the world.
with Manu Meel and Jeremi Suri
Manu Meel, CEO of BridgeUSA has started a new video podcast, The Hopeful Majority, and in this third episode to celebrate Juneteenth, Manu interviewed distinguished historian Jeremi Suri to reflect on the complexity of American history while seeking to advance a new narrative of patriotism. Manu says, “to me, loving America means admiring and critiquing- both are necessary for America to be the greatest democracy possible.”
Let’s Find Common Ground podcast
In this Memorial Day episode, retired US naval officer and Washington Post columnist Theodore Johnson explores the paradox of patriotism and ponders, “how can we take pride in a nation with a history of injustice and inequality?” He shares a powerful personal story of standing at attention in the stands while his son took a knee during the national anthem at his high school football game. And, he shares his thoughts on how he believes America can have more productive discussions about race.
Justice Ain’t Cheap: A Queer Philanthropy podcast
In this premier episode of the new Justice Ain’t Cheap podcast, host Saida Agostini-Bostic talks with Funders for LGBTQ Issues’ board members Ana Conner (Third Wave Fund) and Paulina Helm-Hernández (Foundation for a Just Society) about the heightened attacks on transgender and gender nonconforming communities and the role philanthropy plays in resourcing social justice movement. Paulina says, “I feel like there’s a conversation that has been created by philanthropy in relationship to movements that’s like, ‘Is this a $50,000 problem? Is this a $100,000 problem?’ And I’m like, ‘This is a billion-dollar problem. This is a huge problem.’”
For The Wild podcast
This is a thought-provoking conversation on A New Theory of Self that delves into how lifeforms are entangled together on the earth, exploring the modern crisis of a singular self that creates space for violence and waste. Báyò is the inaugural Global Senior Fellow at the Othering & Belonging Institute and Indy is the Founding Director of Dark Matter Labs, and their conversation is both inspiring and challenging as they call attention to the aliveness of the world and how we may collectively “move beyond constraining ideas of order, power and control to be able to recognize and take part in relational ecological emergence.”
The American Music Landmarks Project (AMLP) connects music fans, music landmark operators and other advocates through unique opportunities to discover, experience and support the places that shaped US popular music history. During this year’s Civic Season, they are focusing on supporting Gen Z to add their voices as present and future stewards of our music history’s architectural legacy through connecting them with virtual and on-site tours, special events and volunteer experiences to meaningfully participate in the ongoing preservation, maintenance and interpretation of music landmarks. “AMLP understands that the presence of youth in transforming our music landmarks from built history to built heritage is essential to further democratizing and diversifying public awareness, appreciation and support for the places that shaped our collective musical past.”