I decided to start 2018 off very differently – not working and not on social media, with no active news consumption. So happened while I was away? Here’s some highlights I pulled together.
Adrienne Maree Brown shared her tips for avoiding burnout and keeping the resistance going in 2018, which begins first with the important admission that you may be what my friend calls soul tired, and which I was at the end of 2017. Jamila Brown considered whether resistance was even the goal, and Courtney E. Martin validated that I just might have saved my nonprofit career by taking January off.
A piece I wrote before my break shared four ways that nonprofits can avoid poverty porn in the Guardian UK. Marc Gunther wrote about another set of communications practices that reveals a lack of integrity in our sector – NGO guerilla marketing.
Speaking of…did your organization make a public statement chastising the U.S. president for his reference to “sh&%hole countries”? My current and former organizations did. Not surprising in the least, I noticed some (all?) of the biggest USAID beneficiaries (word choice intentional) did not.
Tobias Denskus has identified what he’s calling “a development blogging crisis,” while Duncan Green got schooled after posting an “almost-all-white-male celebration of mainstream [development] ‘thinkers.’” My take? Pay attention to “think and do-ers” – people who are accountable to a base of others, not an institution. (They will naturally be outside the so-called mainstream.) In the meantime, check out two great new blogs that came on the scene in 2017, the India Development Review and The Good Jungle, and why Alaina Leary says social media has its pitfalls but you can use it for positive change.
My former colleagues spoke bravely to ProPublica about sexual assault and harassment at the American Red Cross after a former U.N. employee described that institution’s “culture of impunity” in early January. Every story shared publicly strengthens our solidarity as women, allows for healing, and establishes true zero tolerance in our sector. This is not a conversation that will be going away. Our challenge to keep expanding the conversation to include an ever-widening spectrum of survivors around the globe. #AidToo
Davos schmavos. Keep your eyes on what matters:
- When the climate changed and kids became malnourished, one Guatemalan indigenous community made big changes. And they seem to be working.
- The African Centre for Biodiversity’s explains why they hold “strongly to the idea that the arts play an important role in activism, as a way of sharing vital messages through the heart and body, and not only the head.”
- Learn about what happened when a Mexican women’s rights funder began to give grantmaking decision-making power to local activists.
Wealthy women who give to female-centered causes are drawn to support international programs, care about systems change, and are less risk averse, according to a new report by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute. (I do believe many of my Smart Risks co-contributors would agree.)
Science fiction writer Ursula Le Guin transitioned to the other side. One of her quotes sums up the do-gooder experience for me: “When you light a candle, you also cast a shadow.” Tune-Yards released a pop album on white guilt. Singer Merrill Garbus describes the song Colonizer,
I don’t know a lot about racial justice activism, about organizing or the ‘correct’ word to use politically. That doesn’t mean that I get to be absolved from the responsibility to speak my experience…I heard my voice speaking to a friend about this experience that I had in Kenya. A lot of people think that I’m making fun of another white woman in ‘Colonizer.’ No. This is me.
Vu Lee’s piece on how our childhoods affect our self-care was a game changer for me during this month of reflection. Mary Ann Clements closed out January by leading a Jijaze webinar on “how we can build resilient, humane cultures in International Development Sector and beyond” for NGO workers, which I was sad to miss, as well as this webinar on radical self care as a necessary movement building strategy hosted by the Schott Foundation. You can see insights from Jijaze’s year of research and development talking with women in the sector in this summary report.
Forward February! What else did I miss?