Moving from loss to radical relatedness

Today I’m remembering my sister, Ana. After a five-year battle with cancer, she passed away in January of 2013 after having just turned 30. For me, December is always a hard month because it’s a time when I grieve despite the joy of the holiday season. There are moments of cheer that bring me to tears because Ana loved the holidays. She was a very spirited Sagittarius in that way—always ready for the party!

As I reflect on our family’s loss during this time, it makes me think about how loss is showing up in our own work at SM+I.

As we dig deeper and deeper into the feedback from the pop-up listening tour and campus convenings, I’m beginning to see the contours of the center’s strategic framework. And in developing the contours further with Sujatha, we both know that we are going to have to let go of pieces of CoreAlign. Sujatha explores this notion of letting go in her transition letter, and I allude to it, too, in my last blog post about change. We have been wrestling with this tension publicly and privately. And in the process of letting go, we will undoubtedly experience loss.

Here are a few of the things that you shared with us that you are fearful of losing:

CoreAlign’s position in the movement

It is clear to me that CoreAlign’s position in the reproductive health, access, justice, and rights movement was a critical one. It provided crucial financial support and a sense of belonging for movement organizers and leaders to practice innovation as a means to push the pro-choice agenda forward for the next 30 years. So it’s no surprise when I see a comment like, “I need to know who to call in our movement.” This individual expresses the loss of CoreAlign’s position as a movement leader. Movement leadership and support are still needed, but what should it look like now in this political moment? As such, I think we need to think carefully about what it means to expand our support to other movements from a place of abundance rather than scarcity.

Geographic connection

Traveling across the country during our pop-up tour gave me a chance to see how folks in their respective cities are doing their work. I’ve also poured over CoreAlign’s archival files that document the work we were doing to uplift organizers in the Southern and Central parts of the U.S. Therefore comments like, “getting forgotten on the west coast” and “respect for flyover states” point to a particular kind of loss around CoreAlign’s previous geographic location in the Bay Area and attention to the Red and Purple States. Our move to New York City signals a loss to our community, and it is something we pay continued attention to, as we want to serve communities and localities that are most in need of our support.

Momentum

In the past few months, we have witnessed a fierce battle for fair elections in Georgia and the appointment of a U.S. Supreme Court judge handpicked by a sitting president who seems to be hell-bent on overturning Roe v. Wade. This political climate is undoubtedly exhausting, and one person shared a fear of “burnout and apathy.” The struggle to stay in the fight for justice is real. And I was reminded today about how the work for justice is not only out there, but also within us. How can we hold on to momentum by turning toward ourselves and the ways we are creating more liberatory spaces in our immediate surroundings?

We are presented with an interesting paradox: Our work as CoreAlign has to come to a close as the new body of work at Social Movements + Innovation begins to emerge. And much like human existence, our projects and work have life cycles, too: periods of gestation, birth, maturity, and death.


While we are in a period of gestation while simultaneously grieving the loss of what CoreAlign was, I am inspired by Sujatha and Dorothy Roberts’ call for “movement intersectionality” as a strategy forward for our work. Instead of losing our positionality, geographic connections, and momentum, I’m excited to think with you about what the possibilities for “radical relatedness” are in our movement work. How might you shift your view of our transition from one of loss to one of power in what connects our shared vision for social justice? I want to hear your thoughts about my blog post this month and also about Sujatha and Dorothy’s powerful movement analysis. Drop me a line here!