In the few weeks leading up to the first meeting of this year’s Next Generation Giving Project, it became clear to me that I have felt something missing since last year’s project ended.
I realized I have no space in my life quite like a giving project. Each person shows up with curiosity and with commitment. Each person shows up with the purpose of sustaining transformational change in our world. Combine that with giving ourselves ample time to truly connect with one another, and we create something that — to me at the very least — is all but perfect.
Tuesday, as our first meeting approached, I was nervous and excited. I showed up, chatted with the few people I knew, observed many new faces, and waited for things to begin. Kylie and Mijo, our talented leaders and facilitators, took us through the process and the goals of the project. Of course. the monetary goal — to collectively raise $100,000 — stands out. The need is so great.
At a very tangible level those dollars will mean that grantee organizations’ staff have jobs, that phone bills get paid. They will mean that the work can go on. At a deeper level, those dollars will mean that more people have hope of making change, will get to feel like we can shape this world together. Maybe some policies will change; maybe new leaders will be engaged, envisioning and creating big shifts we can’t yet imagine. However the specifics look at the end of our process, these dollars add up to our region’s movement towards justice being all the stronger. However, I do stop to wonder whether we should consider the dollar goal our most significant? What if the value of the cross-class community we create is beyond what is measured by dollars moved? (See also this blog post from another person exploring the same idea.)
What an honor to be given the opportunity to open myself up to the possibility of positive change. What an honor to be given the opportunity to give some of myself to participate in its creation.
Big possibilities. Returning to the concrete, Tuesday night was fun. I love to hear the unique stories and histories that bring people to the room. I have to laugh as we all struggle to cram our stories into a one minute snippet. A quote from the night that is perhaps the best summary of all that is left out when trying tell a meaningful 1 minute story of what brings you to activism: “and then crazy things happened.”
It became clear that we share many things. Many of us have an innate feeling of being pissed off about injustice. Many of us are ready to go beyond trying to “re-wallpaper the institution.” Many of us are there because we want to lead good lives, and believe part of a good life is working for equality. That which we share allow us to come together, but our differences – varied perspectives, experiences, skills – will give us our strength and vitality as we go forward.
What a delight to begin this journey again.
Thank you to each of you who showed up and I am so looking forward to getting to know you, work with you, and learn from you over the next few months.
What is the Next Generation Giving Project?
We are group of cross class people under the age of 40 who are passionate about social change. We are working together to provide significant financial resources to organizations that work towards long-term progressive social change throughout SJF’s region: Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. Our focus is to support organizations that are community based, and that use community organizing to achieve their goals.