Here’s some things you can do to support your own and others’ resiliency and transformative leadership in social justice movements:
1. Put it in your to-do list to apply to Windcall or one of the programs on the Windcall resource list.
Tell a friend or co-worker about your plan and ask them to hold you accountable to it. Social justice organizers are notorious for putting themselves last. Treat making a renewal plan the same as you would any other important task.
2. Survey your organization’s thinking and practices
Most large organizations, and even small ones, could do a better job of promoting work practices to decrease the cycle of burnout and turnover. There are many better practices to create more reflection time on the job and improve working conditions. In our experience, while resources are a real problem, the deeper problem is a culture within social justice movements (and the larger culture) that puts everything else ahead of sustaining the people doing the work. Please consider what the real dynamics are in your organization.
Remember…Firefighters put water in a thermos so they can fight the fire before turning the rest of their water on it. On a plane, the emergency instructions are to put the oxygen mask on yourself before trying to save someone else.
3. Have a vision for how long you would like people to stay with your organization and develop a plan to support it through:
- Encouraging people to apply for leadership programs focused on transformative leadership and make individual plans, including offering financial support
- Offering a significant sabbatical to anyone who has worked for 7-10 years
- Asking allies for access to a place in a natural setting that staff and leaders could use to renew themselves
- Increasing vacation and comp time and requiring people to take time off
- Creating a pool of time to offer staff that are facing a significant illness or family crisis. This prevents vacation time from being eaten up by the crisis, instead of being a restorative time
- Educating funders about the real costs of supporting your leadership sustainability plan
4. Even without going away, there are many things individuals can do to create more balance in their lives, the benefits of which come back to their organization, community and families.
Here’s a link to an article on avoiding organizer burnout from idealist.org:
by Lindsey Mullen