Our Piece of the Puzzle

Published on December 7, 2021.

Like most of you, I have found the last two years challenging, first dealing with ruinous and divisive party politics, then the contested presidential election and terrible insurrection of January 6th, and meanwhile the pandemic looming over everything. So I am grateful to have found inspiration in my work at Spirit in Action, and the many people who have inspired me during this time.

As I wrote in my last blog, beginning each day with expressions of gratitude – rather than focusing on what we don’t like or feeling despair – gets us to a much better place.

Taking my own advice to start with our own personal stories to express gratitude, I am so grateful to the groups we have interacted with on Zoom and in-person since March of last year. Most of the groups we worked with in our TAKE 10 civic engagement trainings are small. Many are new to building power. They are understaffed and underfunded, yet they are determined, courageous, and filled with an abundance of love for their communities and region and the work they are doing. They are resilient and creative, and have a strong sense of taking care of each other.

They give me hope!

With Spirit in Action board member and trainer, Bethsaida Ruiz, I had the pleasure of meeting them all in person when Blueprint NC asked us to do an assessment. Together, we helped plan a strategy for next elections to build Black, low-income and people of color power in rural, eastern North Carolina. Our report, “How Rural Organizing Can Build Power,” takes a deep dive into the history and current reality of the Black Belt. Once a prosperous, fertile and politically powerful area, it has become the largest, poorest, most rural region in the country, and cuts a wide swath through North Carolina. Our recommendations, on building infrastructure, funding, dealing with white supremacist threats, and detailing how rural organizing is so different from urban organizing, will be a playbook, I hope, for groups like Blueprint NC. It is also a model for organizing in other rural parts of the country.

Putting the Pieces Together: New projects

As I write this email to you, we are in the final phases of production for our TAKE 10 Workbook. In this book, we share strategies for strengthening organizing work around issues that affect communities. From goals to messaging to avoiding burn-out, we discuss the challenges people face, and how we can support them to win on the issues they care about most. The exercises are designed to help readers and TAKE 10 participants think more deeply about their organizing and how to build leadership with an engaged and committed group of volunteers.

I am pleased that this workbook and a TAKE 10 Curriculum Guide that we will be producing next year will be an important and lasting legacy for Spirit in Action.

We have much work still ahead of us, and this is where your support means so much.

We will be continuing the TAKE 10 trainings through 2022 with the expectation of a positive impact for shoring up leadership in rural areas and building power for the next elections. We will print an on-demand curriculum guide for TAKE 10 so that other groups may use our methodology across the world. I will continue to write about what is happening in our country and how we can be a positive force for change.

My final thanks goes to you, who have supported us along the way. You inspire me too.

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