Holding Ourselves, Together
For most of my life, my conception of the body was about the individual body—more specifically, my body. I’ve been fortunate to love mine, most of the time. It has offered me great pleasure and never suffered trauma at the hands of another. I experience deep joy when my body is able to dance, run, and play. Even at 52, I sneak in a cartwheel whenever I can. I love that my body radiates in harmony with other bodies I love (humans, animals, plants) and that it connects me to my ancestors—I have my father’s unwieldy eyebrows and my mother’s walk.
Yet as the years go by, I find myself exploring the idea of the collective body. What does it mean to be part of a larger body beyond my own? A couple, a family, a close community, or an organization? Where are the boundaries between “me” and “us,” and the mutual responsibilities? When is it OK—or even necessary—for these bodies to break apart, and when should we fight to hold them together?
As conditions change, all bodies must adapt or die. As executive director of YES!, I feel a deep responsibility to ensure that the body of YES! not just adapts, but thrives to support our mission. Yet like many organizations, the past few years have brought drastic changes. It feels imperative that we hold the body of this 26-year-old organization together, so we can continue to grow and evolve for decades to come. But doing so requires understanding what is at the core of YES! and how we contribute to the larger body of people working to build a better world.
What defines an organization beyond its mission? The people who work there? People come, and people go. The place? Now we work from lots of places, mostly remotely. The culture? Most organizational cultures need to change to be inclusive and equitable, and YES! is no exception. I believe we are ultimately defined by our values, and by the impact we make in the collective bodies of which we are a part.
Because you are part of this collective body, I am curious about what defines YES! to you, dear reader. What are the foundational elements we must maintain, even as we adapt to new conditions, welcome new audiences, and evolve to meet future needs and possibilities? I would love to hear from you as we explore these questions about ourselves, each other, and all of us. Please email me your thoughts at [email protected].