Movement is the fabric of our lives. Our cultures and art forms trace the human journey across the world and through time. Our manifold creations document the interaction between people, confrontations with our shadows, and projections of our individual, but of course, collective, futures. The most peculiar thing about art is its requisite for the present moment. The present moment is where the silver string of our past and future meet, where the process of creation begins, and the instance where magic happens. Movement is the fabric of our lives, but the moment in the movement is where our humanity manifests and the masterpieces are made.
The moment in the movement is where we breathe. Where we make the greatest leap or slightest shift. A well-placed pause can agitate or swell to dynamic explosion. The moment instantaneous yet ever so expansive is where we wonder, fail, learn, share, connect, and rebuild. The present is art in action.
“We are all one. And if we don’t know it, we will learn it the hard way.” —Bayard Rustin
As members of the third sector, our purpose is to empower, enfranchise, and capacitate the people of this nation, regardless of origin or other socially constructed dimensions. No matter the federal priorities or administration in power. Serious work must always be done. Now is not the time to be humble about the power of our work, nor the time to equivocate impact. Now is moment we live our missions!
In this political climate, burnout culture will undermine the vitality of our sector. This is the moment to make life-work balance a part of our institutional practice and culture. While money isn’t the reason we do the work, it could negatively influence the movement of emerging talent towards our field. Now is the time to reflect and organizationally consent on how we can adapt to better support the livelihood of our personnel. Some of us may not yet be able to financially compensate personnel, but we can find creative ways to support their growth. Providing immersion days—time off unrelated to vacation—dedicated to their artistic practice or professional development and leadership, or budgeting to cover application or registration fees, is a gesture that signals commitment to personnel and the organization’s mission, both externally and internally.
We must also acknowledge the impact racism, sexism, classism, and xenophobia contribute to the inequities of our society and our field. The social sector will be the space that many in our nation seek to weather the coming storms. Our spaces and our hearts must be prepared, compassionate, and engaged to address the expressions and explorations of our shared humanity. Our institutions will witness the birthing of New America, our artists and teachers will midwife, our staff will nurture.
As individuals, we cannot tackle this historic challenge to our sector or this cultural shift alone. The work of nonprofit organizations is by nature social and cannot be done in isolation. This sector’s independence relies on our nonpartisanship; therefore, we must work locally, nationally, and vocally to be informed and engaged in public awareness around policy creation and implementation. Policy builds our lived realities as charitable organizations: first impacting people, our constituent communities; second, determining how we interact with the public to fund our operations and services. The general public is ready to engage; we, the third sector, cannot wait or watch from the wings for what we hope to be accomplished. We as individuals and a collective must be organized, know what we want, and make it so!
Activating Personal Mission and Vision in this Very Moment.
This particular moment in time is an instance of wonder; Nothing, Everything and Anything are possible. Every moment is its own unique instance of wonder. Now that you know this, you can’t un-know it.
Activating my personal mission and vision has been an ongoing internal and ideological process, recalibrated as I learn and wrestle with my beliefs. My decision to join the nonprofit sector aligned with my personal beliefs regarding service and social well-being. Here, I’ve been able to utilize my natural talents and cultivate new ones; this is where I want to be, this is where I can do my best, and while I may not get a full eight hours, this work helps me sleep at night.
Nothing is permanent; everything changes. It is only in the present moment that you can orient and build personal mission and vision. Challenges and failure build your practice in mission. These are the moments that activate your better self.
To my peers in philanthropy, this is that moment for us. It is our responsibility to see the third sector through. It is time for us to descend from our canopies and spend time at the grassroots. My understanding of grantmaking and philosophies of funding practices gained additional context during the year I spent in the field as a board member for the small but mighty arts organization Spiral Q. As funders, our practices provoke behavior from our grantees that can be inorganic and counter-productive to their mission. As the government’s priorities shift with this new administration, we cannot stand in the way of the serious work. These extraordinary times call for us to become extraordinary in our response. We must listen and we must be willing to trust that these organizations know best how to allocate and utilize funds. I can tell you first hand they are here for the work.
Each and every one of us in every level of our sector and society is needed in this moment of our greatest movement yet.