Gathering Together + Giving Grace
Gathering and grace have been on my mind a lot this year. Many of us are beginning to gather again after more than a year of separation from friends, family, and beloved communities. It is both exciting and exhausting which is why grace is also on my mind. I have realized that I need to ease myself back into gathering and give myself and others grace as we bumble through human interaction again. Grace comes to mind when I think about how I want to honor people and spaces as we re-emerge.
As we continue to grapple with the pandemic, as we continue our journey to dismantle white supremacy and racism, and as we continue to defend and re-imagine democracy, we have a unique opportunity to think about how we want to gather and be together moving forward. What did not serve us from before? What has to change? What and how do we want to create together? How do we embrace spaciousness and grace as our communities gather again? And most importantly, how do I need and want to show up for others?
These questions have not only been on my mind, but the BISC team’s as well because of our role in the progressive ecosystem and the convening goal of our strategic framework to create collaborative spaces to build power. We convene folx through coalitions, learning communities, training, and of course our annual conference, Road Ahead which will return to Vegas in April. After two years, we will gather. Because we care about our community, we want to hear from you so we create a safe and welcoming space for all of you.
Gathering is on my mind because for the first time since February 2020 (at Road Ahead) the full BISC team was together for an in-person staff retreat. We prioritized community, culture, and connection in addition to planning for 2022. Many of us had never met each other in person, but the way we held each other and offered grace was beautiful. We leaned into vulnerability. We created together. We laughed and danced together. We found alignment in our goals through joy, curiosity, and radical generosity and love for each other even if we were strangers. That is how I want to gather moving forward — with clarity and purpose, knowing that love and joy is central to connection.
As some of us gather this week, we can no longer perpetuate the lies we were told about why Thanksgiving exists. For Native communities it is a day of pain and mourning because the true story involves the massacre and erasure of the Wampanoag people and Native communities. Let’s tell the truth, honor the First Nations of this land by thinking about how we want to be in relationship with this occupied land and the Native communities who are still here and take action (resources from IllumiNative).
As I have thought about gathering, my executive coach recommended this episode of Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead podcast with Priya Parker, author of the Art of Gathering (it quickly moved to the top of my TBR list) which synthesizes and speaks to what has been lingering in my mind. As we re-emerge, re-connect and gather, let’s be intentional. Think about the purpose and what we all want to get out of being together again — let’s center joy and love after several years of loss and heartbreak. I cannot wait to be in physical space with all of you as we begin to gather again. And remember to give yourself and others grace. Thank you for being a part of the BISC community.
Chris Melody Fields Figueredo
BISC Inc. and BISC Foundation