For me, the only pursuit truly worth spending time on is social transformation: to catalyze our current, predominant socio-economic structure, which depends on human exploitation, the normalization of violence, and environmental destruction, to one that centers freedom, equality, and the celebration of diverse human expression.
There exist many, many ways to work toward this end; Shelter to Shelter is one of these, and it is a project I feel honored to participate in.
Our collective silence around systemic violences enables their persistence. Within the action of traveling to engage creatively and intellectually with survivors seeking support services, we break that silence, and we state that we care. This statement directly opposes the pervading social attitudes of blame, devaluation, and rejection that inflict continued suffering on survivors of gender- and race-based violence.
Previously, I experienced Shelter to Shelter as the creation of a space where connection took root between colleagues, between peers, between strangers, and within individuals. Based on creativity and love, this connection could feel so deeply healing, joyful, and safe, that we witnessed ourselves as powerful–excellent in our capacity to survive, forgive, and love. To experience oneself this way, empowered despite a world of forces invested in one’s disempowerment, is transformative.
One our first trip, I learned (more than I could have prepared for) about diverse manifestations of resistance to heterosexism and racism happening in shelters across this country.
I hope to learn more: of the resilience of people whose lives began in other places and cultures, who now redefine themselves within the customs of a different society, resettled as refugees; of the histories of organizations like Seattle’s Refugee Women’s Alliance, Portland’s Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization, and Berkeley’s Narika, which were founded by South and Southeast Asian refugees and immigrants; of the needs, hopes, fears, and goals of the people receiving and providing survivor support services in their communities.
I give thanks for this opportunity to direct my privilege toward speaking out against injustice; to share love and connection; to honor the healing power of the creative process; and to learn and spend time with a dear friend.