BISC 2021: Year in Review

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Mi Gente,

We began 2021 with uncertainty. 

Uncertain whether the election results would be accepted and whether our democracy would survive an attack by white supremacists at the Capitol. Uncertain when vaccines would be ready, whether our children would return to school, and whether it would be safe to gather with loved ones again. Uncertain whether there would be accountability for the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and far too many more unarmed Black folx we lost to police violence. Uncertain whether the racial reckoning would force America to finally face systemic racism and begin to chart a new path.

We still do not have answers to all the questions that linger in our minds. 

This unknowing, this haziness on the horizon, this quicksand we are making our way through is uncomfortable. But it is this discomfort that provides us all with the opportunity to rethink and reimagine which is exactly what BISC did in 2021. Despite all the pain, the sorrow, and the uncertainty, I am proud to say that BISC is the strongest we have ever been.

So when I reflect on 2021, one word comes to mind–GROWTH.

BISC has always done phenomenal work but to truly step into a true leadership role, to service the field in the way that is needed, and change the culture of the ballot measure ecosystem, we had to expand. Now we are a team of 17 amazing humans. This team had the opportunity to gather in November for the first time in nearly two years. The way this team leaned into discomfort and vulnerability. The way they were brave and prioritized connection and creativity was incredible to witness and be a part of. This gathering solidified for me what I always knew to be true–that anything beautiful in this world is built collectively and that we cannot build the world we want without first starting within our organizations, our coalitions, and our movements. Leading this team is an honor.

This team did a lot in 2021. From reimagining the Ballot Measure Hub and our training program, to building the Roadmap to 2030 and launching the Defend Direct Democracy campaign–there is so much that we are proud of this year and you will hear highlights from my incredible executive team who help me lead BISC. 

So when I reflect and ask myself how did we get here, I remember that at Road Ahead 2020, the last time many of us gathered, we unveiled our Tree of Life Strategic Framework. And to me the answer is simple. Clarity of vision, mission and goals, unwavering commitment to our staff and partners, and staying true to who we are. Sure, we make adjustments along the way, but we never walked away from this framework because it reflects who we center and our role in the progressive ecosystem. It says what we do, and it tells you how we are going to get to that equitable and just world that our people deserve. This was our solid ground that allowed us to rethink, reimagine, and approach the work with curiosity. 

The late Nipsey Hussle said : “Even as you make progress, you need the discipline to keep from backtracking and sabotaging the success as it’s happening.” He is right. It takes an incredible amount of discipline to grow and make progress. It requires you to stay steady on your vision and communicate your needs with clarity. It requires you to stay curious and keep innovating which also means you will probably fail. But you keep moving forward despite what may try to pull you back and bring you down. There is no clearer example of what this looks like than what the folx in Minneapolis did this year to reimagine public safety and a future without police–they opened the door and led a vision of what it takes to keep a community safe. The election results were not what we wanted but over 60,000 people said yes to a first of its kind ballot measure, coalitions were strengthened, conversations were started, and local organizing was strengthened – THIS IS HOW WE BUILD POWER.

We are in forward movement, we have momentum, and I know that I am not backing down. The horizon is still hazy but BISC will stay curious and continue to reimagine as we head into 2022. It is what is required of us so we can get to that world beyond the horizon where we are fully liberated beings who are thriving and treated with dignity. Let’s keep driving forward.