Building a Community of Vulnerability and Common Struggle

January 22nd, 2018

We’re doing a three hour workshop called Get Empathy with students at New Roads, a high school in Santa Monica. It’s program is designed to create a space where people can learn how to tell their stories and listen to other’s stories as the cornerstone of the art of community organizing. There, I tell my story of the struggles I went through in my family, with the death of my father, grandmother, and my dyslexia. And Danielle tells her story, of the struggles in her family from her dad’s MS. After we teach them the basics, they break up into small groups. People share their stories with such vulnerability and honesty, and talk about their depression, abuse, and struggles in their families. They find the values of strength and resilience to heal themselves and others. In these groups, there is magic that happens where people realize they share struggles. In one group there was a woman who shared for the first time that she was undocumented, with a teacher who had graduated years before from the school and had also been undocumented, and they cried together. This magic, this sharing of values and resilience, is how we build movements for social justice, and it is what we do at the Center for the Working Poor. We do it in many of our activities, from our Centering Prayer group, to Get Empathy, to our support of the resistance movement— we create the space of struggle. But we cannot do that without you. We need the support of donors so that we can support myself and Danielle who live in voluntary simplicity to do this work, as well as support the community at large. Please consider donating this holiday season.

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