December 12, 2019
Also in attendance were staff from community domestic and sexual violence organizations, sister domestic and sexual violence coalitions and national domestic and sexual violence organizations from Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Maryland, Montana, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, New Mexico, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Washington, DC.
This year, we added a preconference in partnership with Spiritual Alchemy focused on Reclaiming Our Spiritual, Healing and Ancestral Wisdom in Social Justice Movements, which was filled three weeks after registration opened.
Collective Thriving opened with water ceremony led by Cristine Davidson of the White Earth Anishinaabe tribal nation, Tai Simpson of the Nimiipuu (Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho), and Sarah Curtiss of the Anishinaabe nation.
On day one, the opening plenary speaker, Ijeoma Oluo, shared her thoughts on moving beyond edification and committing to anti-racist work that heals. The afternoon plenary focused on Cultural Strategy, where Favianna Rodriguez shared her thoughts on the power of art as a movement in and of itself and Aparna Shah shared key learnings about cultural strategy from the Until We Are All Free initiative, and intergenerational grassroots collaboration.
On day two, Monica Ramirez, a national leader for women who are migrant farmworkers and the TIMES UP movement, shared her thoughts on building an inclusive society from the margins. The afternoon plenaries were deeply moving and heart-felt conversations on Indigenous futurism with Tai Simpson, Nimiipuu (Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho), Cristine Davidson, White Earth Anishinaabe, and Sarah Curtiss, Anishinaabe, followed Farah Tanis & ML Daniel guiding us through co-creating a community affirmation by collectively answering the questions “I call forth a world where Collective Thriving means…” and “What role will YOU play in birthing this culture of Collective Thriving in our work, organization, and social justice movements?”
The conference also featured music in the morning and over 30 workshops addressing violence, healing practices, a Soul Playground for a healing and spiritual place, and more.
For those advocates who were not able to attend, you can view live Facebook streams of the plenary sessions here, and we will be posting individual videos of the plenary speakers in the next few weeks. We hope that you will take the time to listen and expand your learning.
Towards Collective Thriving,
Kelly & Yara
Things to reach out to me for:
For many people, the holiday season can bring joy and opportunity for family to gather around, partake in festivities, share traditions and embrace the love from everyone who has gathered. In my culture, the holidays are magical. My family, tightly but comfortably, surrounds themselves around my grandmother’s small kitchen table that beams with many different homemade dishes like tamales, posole and sopes. And once the dining table chairs are filled shoulder-to-shoulder with people, a small banquet table is pulled from the basement and placed in the living room to seat the remaining hungry guests. The house roars with loud laughter, booming voices and the constant knocking of the front door as more guests arrive. It truly is a lovely scene to behold.
This time of year, my mind floods with memories of the 5-hour drive with my mother, sister and brother to get to my grandmother’s house in Washington. The drives consisted of talking, singing and the occasional restroom break. When we would finally arrive, we would be greeted with fresh hand-made tortillas and cheese, no matter how late our arrival would be. These memories are harbored safely in my heart to revisit and rekindle the spirit of unity when I feel sorrow.
The holidays are a glimpse of my past and hold my future in them just as much as what I carry in present day. Having experienced the loss of my own mother four years ago, times of family gatherings and holidays prove to be trying times that tug at my heartstrings with a mixture of bittersweet emotions. Oftentimes, festive days can be too saddening, too much, not enough, angering, lonely, nostalgic and yet hopeful. Hopeful: a word with so much to say, yet not enough to describe my deepest thoughts as I navigate through a lifetime of grief.
In these times I have discovered, through a journey of ongoing learning, that I can cope, live, and survive through the absence of my mother’s physical presence. Although her presence will never be replaced, I must say that I have found her manifested in other ways. She is the line in a kindred song. She is the sparkle in my son’s eyes. She is the strength that flows through me.
I’d like to warmly share some simple, but powerful, ways in which I have honored my mother’s life and spirit that may also help others experiencing loss or grievance during the holidays:
There are many ways healing from the loss of a loved one can take place, and some of the few I mentioned have worked for me. To do things that once brought joy to a loved one who is no longer physically present is just one of many ways to honor them.
I have also changed the way I speak of my mother’s own passing. I am much more mindful of language that can be triggering to me. I no longer say she has passed away, rather that she has passed on. When people tell me that they believe my mother would want me to move on, I prefer to think that she’d want me to move forward. These simple changes have made a drastic change in the way I approach my grievance, and the way I connect it to my path of healing.
This holiday season, I have decorated my mother’s altar with pictures of her on vacation to help me remember her adventurous soul. I have placed hummingbird figurines around her pictures as symbols of love and joy. I think of her often and remember to speak of her even more. I have a lifelong journey ahead of me to continue tending my wounds from the loss I endured, but I have found resiliency in forms that I did not know could be so empowering.
Things to reach out to me for:
The Idaho Hope Card Program is a victim assistance program through the Idaho Office of the Attorney General that allows anyone with a valid-long term protection order to request a wallet-sized laminated card which includes essential information about the order in a durable and easy-to-read format. These cards provide survivors with a simplified way to verify they have a valid order of protection and provide law enforcement critical information that can then be verified through local dispatch in the case of a violation.
Since the program’s inception, “long term” protection orders were defined as those issued for 12 months or longer. However, earlier this year, we were contacted by Priest River Ministries regarding the program and how it was inaccessible for many survivors because judges in that area were not issuing protection orders that lasted for that length of time. We confirmed this same barrier existed around the state.
After passing this information along to the Office of the Attorney General, they have agreed to change their internal definition of long-term order to those lasting 6 months or longer. While the promotional materials and website for the Hope Card still state 12 months as the minimum order length required for Hope Card issuance, the Office of the Attorney General assured us that survivors with orders lasing 6 months or more can now receive a Hope Card. This is great news for survivors around the state and we are so happy the Office of the Attorney General was willing to make this change.
For more information about the Hope Card Program, including how to apply for a card, please visit here.
If you are working with a survivor who you believe qualifies for a Hope Card under these updated requirements but is having trouble accessing one, please contact Annie Hightower at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (208) 384-0419 x 303.
WEBINAR | Providing a Fair Chance at Housing: Strategies for Addressing Housing Insecurity Among People with Criminal Record
Monday, December 16, 2019
11:00 – 12:00 a.m. PT | 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. MT
People with criminal records face extraordinarily high barriers to obtaining housing. Landlords often refuse to rent to them. Many public housing authorities have adopted admission policies that prevent certain individuals with criminal histories from accessing public housing and Section 8 vouchers. An increasing number of local jurisdictions are passing crime-free housing ordinances that require the eviction of tenants who come into contact with the criminal justice system. And people with criminal records often find it difficult to secure good jobs that allow them to earn enough to afford rent.
WEBINAR | Removing Barriers for Survivors with Disabilities Seeking Protection Orders
Tuesday, December 17, 2019
11:00-12:30 PT | 12-1:30 pm MT
This webinar will review each stage of the protection order process and their associated access concerns as well as ways to overcome the barriers that may emerge for survivors with disabilities seeking protection orders.
WEBINAR | Storytelling for Systemic Change
Wednesday, December 18,2019
11:00-12:00 PT | 12:00-1:00 MT
Join The Opportunity Agenda for a storytelling webinar on that focuses on promoting narratives for long-term change. We all use stories in our communications and they’re one of the most compelling tools we have in reaching audiences. Yet we also know that there are inherent dangers in relying too much on individual personal stories that only invite the judgement or celebration of the people featured and limit audiences’ abilities to appreciate the systemic solutions possible.
In this webinar, [they] will provide some examples of how to use personal stories to highlight systemic change while still honoring people’s authentic experiences, protecting those we’re featuring, and ensuring that audiences walk away understanding the solutions we recommend. Julie Fisher-Rowe, Director of Narrative and Engagement for The Opportunity Agenda, will lead the conversation with guest speakers Elayne Gregg of Indivisible Tohono and Krystal Ortiz, a consultant with the ACLU of Texas.