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Are We Here to Heal? Listening Deeply to Community Calls for Support and Resilience

  • Middle Collegiate Church 50 E 7th Street New York, NY 10003 (map)

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The leading social movements of the 21st century have birthed some of the most powerful and innovative organizing in recent history. They have also brought calls for healing and community-oriented care that can support people in their pursuit of collective dignity and liberation. One response has been the rapid growth of an emergent field - often described as "healing justice" or "transformational activism" - that is joining a long tradition of faith-rooted and faith-inspired organizing and activism rooted in practices of community resilience.

How do these old and new forms intersect? And how do we sustain and support the integrity of these overlapping fields in a time when "spirituality" is a multi-million dollar industry? The Nathan Cummings Foundation and Faith Matters Network have partnered to interview and map practitioners, old and emerging, to learn how funders and social movement leaders can be both resource and connect to practitioners and programs leading the way.

Join us to learn what we're learning, connect with other leading thinkers and practitioners in the field, and dream together about how we might grow this burgeoning movement and help generate the social transformation needed right now.


Why Now?

In this leader-ful movement time, organizers, activists and caring folks of all kinds and at all levels of experience struggle with models of sustainable leadership, compassion fatigue, and identifying or treating burnout. Many of those engaged in the struggle are marginalized people themselves dealing with the collective and individual trauma of intersecting oppressions. This trauma manifests itself tangibly in physical health disparities, mental health challenges and toxic relationships. The challenges faced at the individual level become compounded in movement spaces under the weight of social media overload, economic pressure, constant crisis, and the ever present threat of what education scholar Paul C. Gorski has termed “activist martyrdom syndrome”. The result is that leaders are increasingly susceptible to stress-related health problems and emergencies, career changing burnout and tragically, as in the story of Ohio Black Lives Matter activist, Marshawn McCarrel, suicide.

At the same time, the past decade has seen the proliferation of practitioners, programs, and organizations working within the realms of healing justice, engaged activism, resilient leadership, and faith-rooted organizing. Examples include the Healing Justice Track at the annual Allied Media Conference, Generative Somatics, the Liberatory Leadership Project, Mystic Soul Project, and Queer and Transgender Therapist of Color Network among many others. While there are many intersections within this emergent “as yet to be named” field, it’s leaders and participants are often unaware of each other, or even, at times, in direct competition for funds and people.  And even as many of these projects attempt to solve the crisis of isolation and fatigue in our movements, there is often an emphasis on modalities of self-care over collective solutions resulting in an further inequity based on financial access while putting the burden on the individual to “fix themselves”.

There is a growing call for reinforcement and a fair distribution of resources to bolster the leaders and communities driving this emerging discipline forward. At Faith Matters Network, we see this as an important time to join together with funders and partners to listen deeply and consider how we can collectively support this vibrant and uneven landscape towards freedom and dignity for all people.