Hello everyone, this is Elika Dadsetan-Foley. I hope this newsletter finds everyone healthy and remaining inspired and hopeful. I want to first acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which I work and live, and recognize their continuing connection to land, water and community. I would also like to acknowledge that I am recording this on the traditional lands of the Wampanoag. I pay respects to the elders past, present, and emerging.
Fall is here, and in the spirit of starting a new season, I am taking this opportunity to deliver my "From Elika's Desk" at Elika's desk - in a new format. First, I want to acknowledge the continued difficulties we are all facing. The severity of various pandemics in our contry continues to increase, all while leading up to a contentious election.
Polls are showing White support for BLM is slipping, and I implore all of you to continue acting on, and recognizing, the need to do the work to affect lasting change. The work is not near being complete, and as we know, it's a long distance run, and it truly is a journey. We must continue to have difficult conversations, show up, stand up, vote.
And in the spirit of doing the work, I'd be remiss not to call attention to the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and navigating complicated emotions about this and about what comes next.
Of course, despite all of RBG's accomplishments, she was still on her journey of growing and understanding. And aside from all she did accomplish in her professional life to try and promote equality, we can honor RBG and carry out VISIONS' mission of creating and maintaining spaces where differences are recognized, appreciated, and understood, by continuing to do the work.
A Brenee Brown podcast from earlier this summer with Austen Channing Brown had a line where Brenee Brown said, her mantra is, "I'm here to get it right, not be right." To listen, and learn. And Austen Channing Brown responded that she sees the work as becoming a better human to other humans. We have a capacity to do better. And its difficult. This is a journey. It's life-long learning. And I aim to keep getting closer to getting it right in the last moment.
As for VISIONS and some updates from us that you're not reading in the newsletter: at VISIONS, we've been busier than ever. We're seeing more clients; we've heard from 410 clients since June 1st, which is over 300% increase from the same period of time last year.
We're forming more partnerships, such as our new and exciting partnership with Mediators Beyond Borders International, and we're finding ways to engage with the community, despite being virtual - or in light of being virtual.
Our Programs Advisory Council, consisting of staff, board members, and of course, our consultants, is making some exciting updates to our curriculum. Our strategic plan is also finally complete after a lot of effort by our VISIONS community for the past year. We’ve identified a few areas as program priorities, including furthering our work with youth, law enforcement/justice system, and finally, creating a Learning Institute. The already-busy team is additionally busy with brainstorming where we can make the most impact in this regard.
Our webinar series is kicking off this month, too. We’ll be addressing topics including law enforcement, the elections, and youth activism. You can see above in newsletter for dates and how to register.
We are also excited to announce that our November webinar will be a space to celebrate our 35th anniversary and will also serve as a fundraiser - we look forward to your support around this event!
This is an important month - with Hispanic Heritage Month closing out in the middle of this month, Indigenous People’s Day approaching next week, and November is Native American Heritage Month: I invite you to definitely read Ana Perez’s article in the newsletter. It's beautifully written.
And while Thanksgiving is a very complicated holiday that we need to look at with greater sensitivity, I’d like to use this moment in time to express my gratitude for the accomplishments we’ve made as an organization these past months and for all the hard work our staff, consultants, and board members put into this important work - and all of you for your continuous support.
So, to conclude: when talking about RBG earlier, I mentioned the concerns about what comes next. While there’s so much uncertainty, I feel hopeful. If there’s one thing we know, it’s that a more diverse world is a more innovative world, and with innovation, comes growth and change. I believe in the power of achieving more together - we have the power to do so, and I hope to see this as we exercise our power in November.
So, on that note - stay safe, stay healthy, engage in self-care, and please, please VOTE. Thank you.