by Aria Overli, ACTIONN Community Organizer
“i am whole-Adrienne Maree Brown
I read this quote recently in a book that was recommended to me by a local member of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Emergent Strategy by Adrienne Maree Brown. Emergent Strategy is about how micro-level interactions can ultimately change the world.
The quote was from a larger poem, but as soon as I read it, I stopped, and I put the book down because it was something that I had to grapple with.
This year I am turning 30, and I am so excited to learn that lesson that my 30’s will teach me. My 20’s were largely guided by this idea that I needed to constantly work towards self-improvement, to constantly work towards being a better person, to be less toxic, to be less immature, to hurt less people.
And while I still stand by that ideology, I also recognize the ways that this ideology led me to focus solely on my inadequacies, and over the course of a decade, it broke down my ability to see the worth and value that I had to offer despite the personal improvements that I made in myself.
To be able to reframe that thinking so that I can be both whole and becoming simultaneously is truly revolutionary, and it is clear that it is something that we also need to be doing in our community organizing.
This year, we want to imagine a new way of creating a community. One that values the lives and existence of every single member of this community as whole people.
The system that we exist within separate us from each other. It prevents us from creating truly multi-racial and multi-cultural communities. It prevents us from truly and deeply experiencing our emotions and our values. It prevents us from acknowledging the ways that the system hurts, damages, and kills our neighbors. It prevents us from deeply engaging with the people who are meant to represent us.
We are whole people nonetheless. We cannot be cut up. We cannot be divided. And we also have a lot of work to do to become who we need to be.
Part of our becoming, both as people and as communities, is to engage deeply with the white supremacy and unbridled capitalism that hurt our neighbors and diminish our capacities to become what we are called to become.
Our elected officials our whole people. Most of them have genuine desires to create positive change in the communities, but the forces of white supremacy and unbridled capitalism diminish their ability to do so.
Part of becoming a whole community is challenging those structures. Not by doing the opposite of what they do. Not through demanding dominance. Not by endorsing parts of the foundations that uphold these structures. Not by continuing to practice these division in our faith communities. But, by creating something new. By demanding love. By centering the voices of those who have been most hurt by this system.
Our job is to invite our elected officials into deep belonging in our communities. Into a deep sense of belonging with whole people who have been marginalized and excluded by these systems. Our job is to help them become the leaders that they need to be in order to make our community a place that values and honors the lives of every single whole person in this community.
I am excited to do this work with you. I am looking forward to the next step. And I am looking forward to becoming together as a community with each and every person in this room.