Class and the New Economy

Class and the New Economy

I just returned from my first Commonbound conference in St. Louis, hosted by the New Economy Coalition (NEC). Resource Generation has been a part of the New Economy Coalition for a few years and this was my first time attending the conference.

The NEC has 211 member organizations and it was amazing to connect with so many people from around the country representing a range of organizations from co-ops to community land trusts to climate justice organizers. I attended a media training organized by NEC and Laura Flanders, and as the nine other leaders in the training shared their stories and messages I was heartened to hear so many echoes of RG’s mission of organizing for the equitable distribution of wealth, land, and power. Spaces like Commonbound remind me that we are not alone in our vision of a transformed economy built for people and the planet, not profit.

In addition to participating in the media training, I supported a workshop led by staff members Kaitlin Gravitt and Sarah Abbott called Dismantling Class Privilege to Build Cross Class Power. The goal of the workshop was to provide concrete tools for people to recognize and counter class privilege to build cross-class … Continue reading »

Posted in: Blog, Movement Moments, Stories

On facing inadequacy: lessons from writer’s block  

When I was growing up I wanted to be a writer. I was the kid who brought back stacks of books from the library and then stayed up late, hiding out in the bathroom reading until 4 AM. Throughout high school and college I pursued creative writing, and wrote a chapbook’s worth of poetry and honed my skills enough to publish a few of them. Even when I lost my romantic notions of becoming a writer, I thought for sure my craft of poetry would be a regular part of adult life.

But once I moved to DC and started full-time work, I lost the energy, discipline, and practice of creative writing. I was spending all of my writing energy instead crafting diplomatic emails and project plans. Writing as a way to connect to something larger to myself, to uncover universal truths or transport others to another reality was replaced by organizing and my spiritual practice. By the time I became the Executive Director of RG it had been almost ten years since I had written an essay or poem. Last year as a way to introduce myself to the RG community I thought it would make sense to write … Continue reading »

Posted in: Blog, Personal Transformation, Stories

The World To Come

The World To Come

In one year of Resource Generation membership, I have increased my giving from around $100 to $10,000 a year, which is 5% of my net wealth, and started organizing my family and friends to give.

Even before I learned that my inheritance was a direct result of economic exploitation, extractive ecological practices in the tech industry, and institutional racism on Wall Street — my inherited money simply never felt like “my money.”

Three years ago, I inherited $100,000 from my grandfather after he passed. I felt a whirling mix of emotions after receiving my grandfather’s inheritance: grief for his passing, shame over the amount of wealth, and confusion about what in the world to do with this money. It was thrust into my life out of my control —  just as I was thrust into this world as a white Jew, a person with class privilege, a genderqueer person. A few years later, I was given $100,000 worth of stocks by my parents.

In the back of my mind, I remembered a friend mentioning Resource Generation (RG), a group for wealthy young people who care about social justice. I knew I needed clarity and support, so I reached out to Continue reading »

Posted in: Blog, GIving, Personal Transformation, Stories, Wealth Redistribution in Action

Meet Shonettia Monique, RG’s New Events Associate!

Meet Shonettia Monique, RG's New Events Associate!

Hello RG community! My mother creatively named me Shonettia Monique. Colonization named me Smith. I only ever share my last name when I am forced. Or at times like this, to tell a part of my story. Whenever I find myself saying it out loud, my mind and body seem to go into extreme states and I either feel a great deal of pain, sadness and rage, or I shut down and disconnect myself from the moment in which I’m being asked and from the person that’s asking. I cannot easily speak my last name without being reminded of who it truly belongs to – the person who enslaved my great, great, great paternal grandfather. This is not a unique story. It is one of the legacies of white supremacy and capitalism: an ever-seeping wound of surnames, branding via signature.

I am the child of Eva and John. As children in Mississippi, my parents split their time between school and field work: picking cotton and growing vegetables. As young adults, they moved North and married through the practical means of going to the city courthouse. Living in Chicago, they worked assembly lines in steel and plastic factories. (My father’s company, … Continue reading »

Posted in: Blog

What Future Do You Hunger For?

What Future Do You Hunger For?

Imagine a world in which thousands and thousands of young people with access to current, earned, future or family wealth have joined us as members of Resource Generation. We’re moving millions and millions to grassroots movements, organizing our families, challenging classism and wealth hoarding, being public about class, and taking collective action with poor and working class-led organizations to shift systems on a large scale.

That world is possible within the next 20 years if we want it. 

Will you join, renew, or increase your giving to RG at membership-dues that meaningfully reflect your financial situation?

Resource Generation’s 20th anniversary is this year. Through the trials of adolescence as an organization, we are settling into our identity: member-powered, visible, accountable to poor and working-class communities through campaigns for systemic change, and organizing our members to move from charity to redistribution.

Last year we raised $1.2M in membership dues. Because we organize our members to give at least 9-times their membership dues to movements, together they moved at least $10.8M to movements last year alone. Our members give on average sixteen-times more money to social justice than they did before joining RG. A lot of our members increase their giving by … Continue reading »

Posted in: Blog, Movement Moments, Personal Transformation, Stories, Wealth Redistribution in Action

Both/And: Getting Your People with Love and Rigor

Both/And: Getting Your People with Love and Rigor

Since the Trump election there has been a sharp increase in the activation and mobilization of hundreds of thousands of people into movements — many for the first time. There has also been a rise in conversations about “getting your people,” as in, organize in the communities of privilege where you come from and where it’s much harder for people from marginalized identities to access.

I most often hear this language applied to white people, and for a long time as a queer woman of color I did not think much about where I could be organizing around my privilege, nor did I really think it was the most strategic role I could play. But this was all during a time when I was organizing in predominantly queer people of color spaces while hiding my class privilege and wealth. This went on for most of my twenties until the fateful day my partner handed me a copy of Classified: How to Stop Hiding Your Privilege and Use it for Social Change and I found out about Resource Generation.

It turns out that I had been avoiding getting my people — young people with wealth, and especially young people of color Continue reading »

Posted in: Blog, Personal Transformation, Stories

Giving Big is Trusting Big — Supporting Sex Workers Now and Always

Giving Big is Trusting Big -- Supporting Sex Workers Now and Always

What is a “meaningful gift,” what is an antidote to shame, and why support sex worker organizing in this time?

To answer these questions (and spark others), I want to write about sex work, about sex workers getting a seat at the table, and about funding sex worker organizing. Here are three stories on each topic:

I reached my arm up high standing on tippy toes, desperate to see what was in the mysterious teal canvas bag my mom took to work at night. At full extension, I was just tall enough to reach the corner of the bag and with strain, pull it towards me. It toppled and a cascade of lingerie fell down on my head; I understood immediately that she was working as a stripper. I inferred that it was a secret because it was shameful and that I should pretend not to know. I kept her secret for many years and when, at 19, I first started doing sex work, I realized how shamingly people responded if I told them, so it became my secret too.

In 2010, I had the chance to go to the U.S. Social Forum in Detroit. It was a gathering of … Continue reading »

Posted in: Blog, Stories, Wealth Redistribution in Action

1% for Redistribution

1% for Redistribution

It has been two years since our last national retreat for young people involved in their family’s philanthropy, and this year’s Transforming Philanthropy retreat from March 22-25 in Pomona, CA included many changes and innovations. First of all, we have changed the name of the retreat from Transforming Family Philanthropy to Transforming Philanthropy because we are now including high net wealth individuals — those in the top 1% who have access to $1M or more in liquid assets — in the retreat.

Second, we piloted our giving pledge at our action booth. Resource Generation has always encouraged members to increase their giving and provided the skills, education, and training to our members to do so. However we have not had had a standard approach or guidelines for moving our members to give more and more of their net assets away, and we experimented with a beta version of our giving guidelines at the retreat.

The giving guidelines go from starting the journey by giving a percentage of capital gains and dividends (returns from the stock market), to pausing wealth accumulation by giving at least 7% of net assets (7% is the average stock market return) to moving into spending down … Continue reading »

Posted in: Blog, Stories

On Abolishing Inheritance and the Untapped Potential of Poor People

On Abolishing Inheritance and the Untapped Potential of Poor People

Some kids have to grow into their ears; I had to grow into my fingers. They were long enough to catch the eye and spark commentary. People would say I had piano fingers and as a young person I took pride in that. Any indication of potential specialness was of great interest. I never so much as saw a piano as a kid though, and as I got older, there was some sense of missed opportunity… that I could have been something special but it was passing me by.

In high school, I went to the piano and voice recitals, art shows, and musicals of my friends. I thought I’m so lucky to know so many talented people. I wish I was talented like them. I thought that they were just inherently better, luck of the draw. It wasn’t in my young mind to factor in how many dollars went into their private lessons. I didn’t know to think about how flexible their parents’ schedules had to be or how much it cost for a childcare provider to drive them to those lessons. I didn’t factor in the extra time they had after school because they didn’t have to work … Continue reading »

Posted in: Blog, Movement Moments, Navigating Family, Stories

Brief Reflections on Janus vs AFSCME and the Importance of Public Sector Unions

Brief Reflections on Janus vs AFSCME and the Importance of Public Sector Unions

Looking for Iimay’s blog post about Transforming Philanthropy? Go here.

On Monday the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Janus vs AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees), which challenges the legality of “fair share fees” that all public workers who are represented by a union automatically pay to the union to cover the cost of the union’s collective bargaining on their behalf. The fair share fees are a primary source of revenue for public sector unions, since public sector unions are required to represent both members and non-members,

I grew up in an anti-union, “right-to-work” state — an intentionally misleading term for laws designed to defund unions by making it illegal to collect fair share fees. These laws make it harder for working people to form unions and collectively bargain for better wages, benefits, and working conditions. In North Carolina, this looks like having the second to lowest union membership rate in the country and ranking 35th in the nation for teacher pay.

The supporters of Janus vs AFSCME want to expand the devastating impact of anti-union ‘right-to-work’ laws to all public sector unions in the country. Public sector unions represent the last stronghold of organized labor … Continue reading »

Posted in: Movement Moments, Stories