LLC has been a completely remote organization for several years, so the move to social distancing, work from home practices to slow the spread of COVID-19 hasn’t changed the mechanics of how we work, but it has most certainly changed the feel of our work. We are all concerned about the welfare of our families, friends, and communities. We contemplate the contributions our work can have in these times, and the role of leadership during a crisis like this one.
Reflecting on the impact of COVID-19 has made me re-connect with LLC’s mission, underscoring why equity-centered, networked, and collective leadership working to advance justice really matters. It has illuminated the need for connection and collaboration, care and compassion, reflected in the thoughtfulness of many in our communities who are working hard to support others. This crisis has further exposed the huge number of people in our country, and in the world, who have been marginalized, the gaps in our safety nets, and in too many cases, weaknesses in our leadership.
My coach Belma Gonzalez shared with me a statement from Maura Bairley (See Full Text Below) where she offers up the idea of embracing “social spaciousness” rather than social distancing. She reconnects “social distancing” back to altruism and community care rather than just self-preservation. Her words really rocked my world, and added a desperately needed dose of positivity. I appreciated both the words and the fact that in a time of crisis she chose to dedicate time to tending to the spirits of others. Apologies for the fangirl moment, but after observing rising infection rates and deaths, inadequate government responses, and growing misinformation campaigns, I’d started feeling really disheartened. This statement helped me to refocus my thinking on all of the caring things people are doing in response to COVID-19. I remembered to feel emboldened by grassroots and movement organizations who are using their work to further propel justice efforts.
In our staff meeting yesterday, my colleague Deborah brought up the idea of attuning to the needs of those in our ecosystem. Relationship expert, John Gottman, defines attunement as “the desire and the ability to understand and respect your partner’s inner world.” I wonder how we can endeavor to focus on what our partners are dealing with right now, and how we can focus on connecting and being attuned to each other even when we aren’t in the same space.
What seemed important a few weeks ago, even last week doesn’t seem super important right now. We are beginning to receive reports that the current conditions will last, to some extent, for many months, fundamentally altering the way we live and work. I think it behooves us to spend some time thinking about how we want to shape this new emerging world. To do so, we need expansive forms of leadership that reflect marginalized folks, POC, and others who are directly impacted in ways that make space for innovation and experimentation.
Like many of you, LLC’s response to COVID-19 is still evolving, one thing we are already committed to doing is holding space for collaboration and learning. We are eager to be in conversation with you about the role of leadership at this time, to learn about what you need and how LLC can be of service.
Liberatory Wisdom and Practices from Maura Bairley
“What if we thought about it as Social Spaciousness rather than distance?
Let’s give each other space (and grace) to breathe, space to move, space to protect our siblings, grandparents, and friends.
Space for rest, space for medicine making, space for prayer and ritual and magic. Space for breath, for feelings, for tears, for laughter, for hope.
Spaciousness and community care support strategic thinking and wise action.
Space to plan and dream and organize and orient towards liberation.”