We are each other's harvest

We are midway through our six-city pop-up listening and learning tour! We have talked with you in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., New York, and Chicago. And we are hearing similar questions, comments, and input that echo what came out of the virtual pop-up session in July.

For example, many have questions about CoreAlign’s transition into a university context. Will it get too academic? Others have questions about impact and sustainability. Will it last? Will it really impact the communities it hopes to? Others question the ability to work with other movements. Can we really work across silos—and how?

I want to answer yes to all of these questions, and I also know that reality is, I don’t have the answers. Nevertheless, two things came to me while in Chicago that reminded me of the core purposes of Social Movements + Innovation’s work.

The Robin Hood Effect

While in Chicago, I heard Naomi Paik, assistant professor of Asian American Studies at University of Illinois, speak. She discussed her political work as an interdisciplinary scholar who researches and teaches about the relationship between law and cultural politics, centering racism, state violence, and the limits of citizenship to secure rights and social equity.

I was most struck when she talked about being a Robin Hood of academia. Because of her privilege as a professor, she discussed how she makes deliberate acts to remove, reallocate, and repurpose university resources for her community as a means to strategically redistribute resources.

At that moment, I thought about Social Movements + Innovation’s role at The New School, a university in New York City. How might we think about our work as a Robin Hood of academia? As an intermediary organization for movement leaders and grassroots organizers, Social Movements + Innovation can leverage resources from the university and its funders to enable the bold, creative, and disruptive ideas that you have for your movements. In fact, we will launch a lab program in 2019 to provide the practice space you have been asking for. Stay tuned about how you can participate in this pilot program for your movement!

We are Each Other’s Harvest

Being in Chicago, especially on the South Side, always reminds me of the poetic genius of Gwendolyn Brooks. I love her poetry because it reflects the everyday lives of Black people—the joys and pains and everything in between. In her poem entitled “Paul Robeson,” Brooks concludes with the following stanza,

“we are each other's


we are each other's


we are each other's

magnitude and bond.”

The Windy City brought me another sign about our work—not only the work of SM + I, but the collective work for social justice. This final stanza especially resonates with me because it invites us—progressive movement leaders, shakers, and disruptors—to consider who we must be to each other in this political moment.

How are we working together? How are caring for each other? How are we lifting each other up? CoreAlign’s work has always been about harvesting the innovation in you, your ideas, and your leadership. It’s your turn now, and we need you. We need each other. “We are each other's harvest: we are each other's business: we are each other's magnitude and bond.” Join us for our final two pop-up listening sessions in Atlanta and Oakland next month!