I hope you enjoyed the long weekend. We needed it, after last week’s political news. Restrictive voting laws and limits to reproductive freedom in Texas are an absolute outrage, and it seems that each day brings a new climate crisis. There is so much work to do on our issues.
In the spirit of determination and persistence, here are some things that have helped me find my footing:
First, I mentioned last week that we held a mindfulness training at Avalon. The session concluded with a guided centering exercise, led by the Reverend angel Kyodo williams at Netroots Nation 2016. (Perhaps you saw her there!) She makes a powerful connection between personal and collective action: “Without inner change, there can be no outer change. Without collective change, no change matters.” I find this message to be both grounding and a call to action.
What’s been really meaningful for me has just been to work with such a talented, dedicated staff, a community of persons at all levels of the organization who are motivated, committed, and compassionate…It’s so much more than employment. It’s the commitment to the mission of the organization and to the people that we serve.
Also inspiring, marketing VP Barb Perell shared an article on Fred Rogers’s response to 9/11, when he came out of retirement to help children (and adults) make sense of the news. Many are familiar with his “look for the helpers” wisdom, but this goes further to explain his motivations and hope for a kinder world. I particularly loved this sentiment from his 2002 commencement speech at Dartmouth College:
When I say it’s you I like, I’m talking about that part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see or hear or touch. That deep part of you that allows you to stand for those things without which humankind cannot survive. Love that conquers hate, peace that rises triumphant over war, and justice that proves more powerful than greed.
It is hard to believe that this Saturday will mark the 20th anniversary of that world-changing day. For those of us who lived it, the memory is very fresh. However, an entire generation is learning about 9/11 through the lens of “long-gone history”, as Stanford professor Amy Hegart wrote in The Atlantic last week. She makes a point that policy is made by real humans, under stress, with motivations that range from idealistic to cruel—and that the way we teach it should incorporate this.
I believe very strongly that museums have a social justice role to play, that museums have an opportunity to not become community centers, but to be at the center of their community, to help the community grapple with the challenges they face, to use history, to use science, to use education, to give the public tools to grapple with this. Museums always take a point of view by what they choose to exhibit and what they decide not to exhibit.
Speaking of youth, Avalon back-to-school photos are one of my favorite fall traditions. This year’s activities carry some COVID stress, but I can still feel that familiar undercurrent of excitement and potential. It’s such a fun season. Happy September from the extended Avalon family!