Leaping into a World We Want to Live in

A person leaps from one boulder to another over water, with the setting sun in the background.

Principles: ,

One thing we can likely agree on about the last few years is they haven’t been predictable. Many people experienced job loss, burnout, or a transition to work-from-home that blurred the lines between work and home. A global pandemic overwhelmed our medical system, heightened feelings of fear and isolation, and changed our ways of being. The national protests calling out an America built on racial injustice forced colleagues and friends alike to have hard conversations we continue today.

In reflecting on all this change, I keep circling back to the same questions: Have things ever been predictable? Have we ever had control? We try to keep things steady, but the only constant in life is change.

And yet, we look at our systems and institutions as if they are immovable. We feel overwhelmed at the prospect of shifting systems that feel so large and often oppressive. But as we have seen, these systems can change. They adapt as humans adapt because they continue to be co-created by humans. Once we recognize this, we can embrace change and, if we’re intentional, guide the way it unfolds.

If I’ve learned anything from adrienne maree brown, organizer, activist, and author of books like Emergent Strategy and Pleasure Activism, it is that if we want to change the large, oppressive systems around us, we have to start with the oppression that exists within ourselves. As she says in an essay Relinquishing the Patriarchy:

“I don’t believe total revolution or liberation happens in one generation, but I know from my own life and many lives I have witnessed and accompanied, that it is absolutely possible in your lifetime, in a generation, to personally relinquish an unjust ideology, to begin to practice a more evolved way of being. When enough of us relinquish injustices that only pretend to benefit us, we tip society towards justice.”

adrienne maree brown

Most of us live in a white, patriarchal society that pushes us to live by the tenets of white supremacy. Any steps we take to push against these tenets helps us build a better world. So, my challenge to you at the beginning of the year is this: leap. We can all take steps, in big and small ways, that can help us move us toward a future we want to live in.

I’m calling these steps “leaps” because when we leap, we leave the ground behind us. Moving away from “the way things are done” is scary. We feel more comfortable doing what we know. But, embracing change and leaping—even if it is difficult and takes effort—is essential for bringing about the world we want to live in.

Leaping comes in many forms and scales, and we all have leaps to make based on the positions we hold and the change we wish to see in the world. We can leap by distributing power and then supporting those who take it up. We can take the leap and allot part of our income to a mutual aid project or ask for help in situations we never have before. We can leap into rest and wellness by taking all our vacation days and building in time for relaxation when everything in our society is telling us to work harder and longer.

To inspire you in your big and small leaps this year I’ll share a couple of leaps I’ve recently been privy to.

First, Minerva Strategies took a financial leap and invested in an accessible website. For a small business, it was a significant investment that moves us into fuller alignment with our principles, particularly “communicate with kindness and inclusion.” We are thrilled with the result and our partnership with Equalize Digital that made the new site happen.

Second, our client Climate Justice Resilience Fund (CJRF) recently took a huge leap toward changing philanthropy for the better. They are shifting power from a funder-led governing board to a board made up of practitioners and activists, many of whom represent the communities on the front lines of the climate crisis. This was a major step for the Fund to not only support climate justice projects, but also to embody climate justice principles more fully in how they operate. We look forward to sharing more about how this board shapes the grantmaking and strategy of CJRF moving forward on the Goddess Speaks, so stay tuned.  

Photos of each members of CJRF's Governing Board are displayed in three by three rows.

As you can see, these examples represent leaps of a different scale, but they both leave behind outdated ways of operating in the world in favor of more justice-centered, anti-oppressive action. I look forward to hearing how you leap this year, and to living in the world that all our collective leaps bring about.

About The Author

Sara Veltkamp

Sara Veltkamp

Vice President

Sara lives in New Orleans, Louisiana and is Minerva's vice president. She takes a lead role in all aspects of Minerva Strategies’ smart communication strategies and implementation. She loves a challenge and is obsessed with learning new things, from how to use new platforms and tools for storytelling to languages like Amharic, French, or Farsi to mastering a difficult yoga pose. She applies this energy and curiosity to all clients’ communication challenges. Learn more about Sara.