Today I attended a meeting in Olympia around partnerships.
I’m not sure what I expected walking in, but what I found was a welcoming and fertile foundation for me to learn in.
Originally a few others were to be in attendance from Kitsap County with me, yet somehow I found myself entering a sea of faces I didn’t quite know. I feel confident when I say that I held my own. As a friend pointed out, I was trained to be an advocate, ambassador, and leader. Although I wasn’t a director of a Community Action Agency, my presence was equally as important.
More importantly, I felt welcome.
What I want to share will not be about the policies we spoke about, the advocacy we need, the approach we can use, the facts or stories we heard, the list of names of people I met, the list of organizations involved. Essentially that was not what mattered.
I learned today that people can have a meaningful discussion on poverty, racial inequality, and change regardless of a person’s sex, ethnicity, gender, income class, lineage, criminal history, or disability status. I learned that even without the right words, we can still find the meaning in our conversations and deliver change. I learned that examples and personal stories are the most important influence when it comes to systematic change (which by the way, in case you’ve been living under a rock, the United States needs in order to avoid another financial crisis). The biggest factor that can change a tide of generational discomfort with a conversation, is simply having the conversation.
I look forward to every opportunity where I can learn anything, if only so I can pass on the information to my own family.
I look forward to every opportunity where I can learn something so I can turn around and start another related conversation about the topic.
I heard today, “Become comfortable with being uncomfortable.”
This is not just a lesson in having difficult discussions but important lesson about life. Uncomfortable situations happen in peoples lives. I had the honor 2 years ago of listening to Richard Lemieux speak about his “fall” into homelessness and his unexpected jump back into “a normal life”. Uncomfortable things happen. These are lessons we need to teach our children. More importantly, we need to teach our children that throughout the uncomfortable things we are all human and we are all the same.
I’ve learned so much more today about legislative processes, civil change, history, future, education, health care, fiscal responsibility, etc. One day I will go into that, today I am reveling in the magic of finding words.