I have sat at many tables in my life, and each has shaped my view of the world.
My kitchen table at home instilled in me at an early age the value of shared conversation, family bonds, and wholesome food. I carried these values with me to my role as “head chef” among my roommates in my college apartment, sharing recipes, new foods and moments of friendship that overflow from our tiny table and onto the stove...
Imagine a future when chickens roamed Philadelphians' backyards side by side with dogs.
Join Grounded's Amy Laura Cahn and our partners at 596 Acres for a conversation among community land access facilitators on Tuesday, April 22nd and Wednesday, April 23rd in New York City. This two-day conference will engage advocates, policy makers and other stakeholders in best practices for community access to land, focusing on New York City (April 22) and then expanding the conversation to cities around the world (April 23).
Over the years, in my community organizing work, I have found that building successful relationships is essentially important to mobilizing and creating change. It sets a tone for creative collaboration that is thoughtful, honest and authentic. These traits are elementary in creating lasting and effective change in society. My ideas around sustainability and social change revolve around relationship building. How we move into the future and sustain a particular way of life, that is harmonious for all, will need to involve a knowing that is only accomplished through genuine relationships.
Each of us steps into the realm of social justice for different reasons; usually something that impacted us personally. This first step at times leads us into a maelstrom of activity affecting community changes that somehow takes us further away from ourselves. Sitting in meetings, communicating through electronic devises, research and rallying all combine to create a vortex of activity. We can get lost in the clutter of “issues” that congest our daily lives, trying consistently to make a difference.
Before I became so heavily involved in social justice work, I dedicated years of my life to personal improvement: learning who I was, what was important to me, what motivated me and how to sustain my peace of mind. Still, a large part of my life is dedicated to my personal growth and happiness. Understanding the relationship we humans have to each other as well as other living things on this planet is significant to my personal growth. So when my life became infused with community activity and organizing, I was very aware of the people in my life and their importance to what I do. When I got swept away in the maelstrom, I held onto those relationships as an anchor keeping me grounded in why I do this work. I can’t see sustaining anything without the understanding of what we mean to each other as living beings.
When given the opportunity to reflect on my community work, what I discovered was that the relationships that came along with my efforts were highly important in keeping me motivated towards change. At some point what initially sparked my interest in social justice began to include the interests of those around me and the challenges they faced and the desire to want something better and lasting for all of us. At times when we consider relationship building, as agents of social change we think about organizations we need to engage, community leaders we need to meet and collaborations that must be in place, but not genuine relationships between people. I propose that although these networks and alliances are important, authentic friendship works to feed more than just causes but also our souls. So please engage me as an ally, though seek to be my friend, as this is what I aspire towards in my community work here in Philadelphia.