January’s women’s marches all over the U.S. saw women (and the men who love them) standing together in solidarity across issues ranging from Racial Justice to Clean Water, and from Health Care and Reproductive Rights to Economic Inequality, and from Immigration Rights to Freedom of Religion and Climate Justice.
Not only were the millions who turned out connecting the dots among previously segregated issues, but people of all ages, backgrounds, ethnicities, abilities and orientations were aligned in standing powerfully on behalf of health, sustainability, peace and equity.
For the four diverse women who organized those marches together, organically and over a mere ten weeks, this was not a surprising outcome, but exactly what they’d intended. Many women are natural networkers and connectors.
Perhaps because nature evolved women to be mothers, often we have a heightened empathic awareness of others’ needs, realities and suffering. That relational intelligence is exactly what’s needed for movement-building now. Having taken a lot of flack for being relationally-oriented over the years, (for example, “chick flicks”), now is the time for us to celebrate and focus on strengthening those capacities.
Just as those marches — likely the largest this nation has ever seen — modeled the interdependence of the challenges we face and the power of people connecting across differences, women are working daily and with perseverance to strengthen the social connective tissue among an array of issues and communities that have previously often been silo-ized.
Last month in Boulder, CO the Boulder Bookstore celebrated the publication of Ecological and Social Healing: Multicultural Women’s Voices. Edited by Jeanine Canty, Chair of Environmental Studies & Leadership at Naropa University, the anthology explores the interconnectedness of healing our human and environmental systems, while featuring a wide spectrum of women’s perspectives. For a sense of the book’s content, listen to this panel of several contributors recorded during last year’s annual Bioneers Conference.
The anthology is now on bookstore’s bestseller list. I am honored to be a part of it and loved speaking about the unique value diverse women’s leadership can bring to the complex challenges of healing we face.
The book release was an event connected to the 10th annual Front Range Bioneers event at CU Boulder, where about two hundred change-makers gathered: a mix of students, activists, concerned citizens, artists and educators came together from across the region. At Front Range Bioneers, the energy was high, people were super engaged, and speakers addressed a wide array of solutions-oriented projects and approaches. The relief in the room, from being together, was palpable, after so many weeks of political upheaval and shock.
In nature, researchers find that the greater the diversity of species in an area, the greater the system’s capacity to rebound after trauma, to be resilient. Both youth and elder activists were prominently featured, among hip-hop and dancing and lots of networking. The array of people and issue areas affirmed the vitality of this living system that has been so lovingly tended over time.
I grinned in respectful appreciation of the tireless contributions of many women behind the scenes who have tenaciously continued co-creating this vital gathering throughout the various challenges that producing any event encounters.
As we navigate this new political era, and celebrate women globally, the focus on relationship and building coalitions that women often bring in leadership has never been more needed. As a people, and an emergent experiment in democracy, our strength and resilience relies upon our interdependence, our solidarity and our perseverance. It rests upon having each others’ backs, and standing for and with each others’ rights. As we identify deeply shared values with people who are different, we can build power, together. Not power over, but power with, and power through.
May women of all ages, colors, orientations and abilities (and the many men and boys who stand with us) call upon the best in ourselves, shedding habits of competition, aggression, ranking and scarcity, so that together we may help mid-wife a future of collaborative renewal, regeneration and healing, toward equity, vitality and thriving life. And may we never ever forget to dance.