Airing my dirty laundry as I try on new clothes

Ivy HestUncategorized

Hi folks!

Wow, it’s been quite some time.  And in that time, I’ve completed the Anne Braden Anti-Racist Training Program, joined the Coordinating Committee for our local chapter of  Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), and started a new job as the Lead Organizer with People Acting in Community Together (PACT), a PICO federation.  I’m pretty happy about where new paths have taken me, and after 5 months into this job, I’m hoping I can get back into posting here with some regularity.

In my role at PACT, I have the amazing opportunity and privilege to support and train the 3 other full time organizers and 2 part-time ones.  I get to do this through meeting one-on-one weekly where we talk about the work, troubleshoot issues, and have a relevant topic that we train on.  I also get two hours a week in Staff Development to train, invite, or support an organizer taking the lead in teaching all the staff about a certain skill or aspect of the work.  (Other responsibilities include overseeing all of our campaigns, overseeing a leadership development curriculum for all of our leader base, and doing some organizing myself. Seriously, if I made a list of exactly what I wanted in a job, this is it.)  It takes a level of confidence in myself that I don’t always have, but with our entire staff each having organized for a little over a year or less, I need to do things like invite staff to shadow meetings I lead that I know will be terrible so that they can learn from me. It’s been weird.

Anyway, I remembered throughout this process that I talk about some of the challenges the organizers are facing, skills they’re trying to build on, and things out of their control through this blog for a year (if you pretend like I didn’t basically ignore this blog for half of it).   Topics I’ve written about here inspire me to do trainings for staff dev, or when I’m trying to find the words to explain how I think about a skill, I remember that a post I wrote actually already does those teachings for me.  So I’ve shared a few of them (namely How to lead an effective decision-making meeting, Earl’s guide to leadership development, and the Underpants Gnomes), proud to share that I’ve been thinking about these issues for a while now.

So then I got nervous– what exactly did I write here?  Is it right?  If my main job is to help these organizers learn the job, do I want them learning this?

My opinions on organizing, strategy, politics, and what works is constantly evolving.  As I’ve suggested before, putting out an idea so that people can react to it is a great way to help people make a decision.  It just never occurred to me that if I put an idea out there, it would cause a reaction in me that would clarify how I actually feel about something.

And so, dear readers, I’m excited to announce that I will be reviewing old blog posts and making changes!  Because I’ve changed!

But I don’t want to stop there- I want to leave my mess behind, a trail of my fumbles.  I want you all to see how I’ve changed my thoughts and why.  Airing my dirty laundry as I try on new clothes.  I want to learn from my mistakes, but also if I just present the perfect everything, then the learning from it will be lost.

So the game plan is to make these obvious changes over the next few weeks as I develop some content to share with you all again.

Some of these changes will be:

  • I still trip up, but I’ve worked hard to eliminate ableist, stigmatizing language when I’m speaking, referring to things like “crazy”, “insane”, or “lame”.  Using this kind of language, while it is not my intention, perpetuates stereotypes or stigmatizes communities.  This one’s been hard to fully implement, particularly because it’s meant expanding my mental thesaurus to figure out what I actually mean when I want to say those kind of words.  Here’s a great guide to finding other words to replace these.
  • While I was brought up in the school of self-interest organizing, I’ve also met some people who really did get politicized because of punk music.  I’m in the middle of reading Rinku Sen’s “Stir it up” (in the middle because I keep re-reading chapters so I can learn it all), and she talks about how coming from the place of insisting that there’s always a self-interest is a traditionally masculine point of view and discounts the feminist view of caring for others because that’s what’s right.  I’m still working through this, but it makes sense to me.  So, do I really believe that Morality is Bullshit?  I’m not sure.

There will be some other changes, but I mostly just wanted to both make the announcement that 1.  I’m back, baby! 2.  I’m going to be making changes to past posts, and then eventually I’ll get back to posting new content. 3.  I want to make this process transparent- we all mess up, but if we only present the perfect version of ourselves, it’s hard to trust.  Now you’ll all get to see my learnings as I have grown and continue to grow through the months.

So, hopefully you’ll join me again, and I’ll have some new content for you in the new year!


Questions I've Been Not Answering