The year 2016 shed light on the depth of political polarization in this country. Above the surface or under it, our families, neighbors and residents have been profoundly polarized on issues of immigration, race, LGBTQ rights and liberation for some time; and on questions of what the future of the country should be and how we get there. The election cycle gave voice to these divisions.
We are now in a new political terrain, but one that exists within centuries of old struggles and organized resistance around the questions of who has the right to exist, the right to lead, and the right to remain.
In 2016, Standing on the Side of Love (SSL) had a fortifying presence (directly or indirectly) in every major grassroots turning point ‘movement moment’ of the year. The primary movement moment where we have been present: support to Black Lives Matter chapters at ‘flash moments’ (Charlotte, Baton Rouge), Standing Rock, and Latinx organizing in Arizona. Organizing is happening constantly. Annually, only a few campaigns or moments capture national attention and imagination. The campaigns and moments that do are usually characterized by a layered configuration of multiple leaders and organizations present, with groups represented coming from inside and outside ‘organized’ non-profits.
In 2016, Standing on the Side of Love:
- Created tools that serve those organizing in UU communities and other faith-rooted communities who want to deepen their intersectional organizing practice - including our Fortification podcast in collaboration with Abhimanyu Janamanchi who interned with us through the UU College for Social Justice
- Created tools and programming that offer sustenance and spiritual support to movement leaders and organizers at large as a way to show what faith institutions can offer to contemporary social movements
- Cocreated new curriculum on covenanted community organizing and white accomplice work as part of GROW Racial Justice Training
- Shared interpretation, political analysis and assessments with SSL’s constituency
- Built new relationships (and maintained older relationships) with key movement building organizations, networks and leaders through shared work and answered calls
- Provided on the ground, grassroots spiritual sustenance and support in the form of reflection, music and one-on ones to grassroots activists in more than ten sites in the US through the Revive Love Tour, Arizona mobilization, and Standing Rock mobilizations
- Expanded SSL staffing capacity by hiring collaborative organizer Lena K. Gardner in partnership with Black Lives of UU (BLUU), Black Lives Matter Minneapolis & Church of the Larger Fellowship
- Developed deep working partnership with Black Lives of UU (BLUU)
- Mobilized UUs nationally and supported UUA leadership participation at Standing Rock and in Arizona
- Incorporated art into work SSL offers through collaboration with Rev. Sekou & the Holy Ghost
In 2017, we believe we are entering a time where we need every ounce of spiritual muscle that we can muster (or find) to do the work ahead of us. We led Standing on the Side of Love in 2016 in a way that centered deep partnerships, developing leaders so they flourish, trust building, widening the circle, incorporating creative arts and cultural workers and sharing the wisdom we find in community organizing with the world. In 2017, we will have to take all we have done and expand much further.
We have to play our part in leading a return to organizing that understands our work begins with people's humanity and bringing more of us deeper into the fold.
This time is not just about organizers or 'social justice leaders'--this is about all of us.
We will lead our work in a way that understands that we need more of us on our side, and we will need to have much more courage in finding those who are looking for us. We will partner in ways that show targeted communities that we will not abandon them on the ground because we are afraid. We will develop new leaders like our very lives depend on it--reaching across class, race, age, and sexuality to nurture (and challenge) new leaders to come forth. We will work with people locally in their communities: practicing what we preach, showing that the courage to fight can be as close as next door or down the street if we are willing to do the face-to-face work. We will lead in a way that seeks to collaborate and longs to see other aligned organizations and leaders succeed. And finally, we will be unceasing in keeping our word: that our organizing will be relentless because love is not a feeling but an action, and love will propel us towards organizing when we deeply wish to quit.
We hope you will join us.
With love & solidarity,
Caitlin Breedlove, Campaign Director & Nora Rasman, Campaign Coordinator