This article is about mentoring for social justice. This kind of mentoring is not just about helping those who are younger or less fortunate get ahead. I am writing to challenge those of us who are older to take responsibility to help younger people get together. By get together I mean helping them become more effective participants in an inter-generational web of people working to rebuild our communities based on values of respect, inclusion, healing, equity, love, and social justice.

Are You Mentoring for Social Justice? PART 1

by Paul Kivel

Giving birth and nourishing,
Having without possessing,
Acting with no expectations,
Leading and not trying to control:
This is the supreme virtue.

Do your work, then step back.
The only path to serenity

I love my mentors!

I am writing to my progressive peers. (I include anyone over 40 in this group). I want to talk with you about our responsibility to be allies to the young people who are leaders in our community–activists, artists, teachers, directors of organizations, front-line workers-all those who are going to replace us (sooner rather than later) in our struggles for community building and social justice.

I’m 56 and don’t consider myself old. I hope to have at least another 20 years to contribute to our struggles for justice, peace, and human rights. But I’ve also accumulated 35 years of experience as an activist, parent, writer, teacher, trainer and community member and I have learned a few things from our successes and my mistakes.

I have had many mentors, and what each has taught me is always two-fold. I have learned about experiences of and perspectives on the world; about thinking and doing. And I have learned about approaches to living itself; about being. The former is worth a lot to me. The latter is invaluable.

Although my activism and community work continues, I am not on the front lines of working with adolescents the way I have been in the past. I used to spend large amounts of time with teens in schools, juvenile corrections, and youth programs. I no longer have the energy, credibility, or desire to do that work. I find that the young adults who are doing it today in my San Francisco Bay Area community are just as underpaid, understaffed, under resourced, and under appreciated as we were. These conditions hold true for the young adult leaders in other communities as well. Now my role in the struggle has moved to funding and fundraising, consulting, program development, writing, and mentoring (and still a fair bit of activism).

I am enormously glad that I have (albeit reluctantly) acknowledged my changing role and reached out to younger adults as a mentor. I receive great satisfaction, inspiration, fun, and insight from the relationships I have developed with them. In fact, I don’t think I would continue to be an effective activist and writer if I were not nourished and sustained by their energy, insight, and creativity.

I am slowly realizing that the absence of supportive mentoring structures for young people in this country is creating a global ripple effect. Stories critical to a young person’s sense of identify, history, context, and “place” in the world are increasingly absent. There is also a lack of shared understanding about the natural cycles/patterns/rhythms of life. Therefore there is less context for a young person to draw on when evaluating their own situation…no larger container to take the edge off of painful or pivotal experiences.

Getting Ahead or Getting Together?

Many of us have been told throughout our lives that we need to study and work hard to get ahead, that anyone who studies and works hard will get ahead. Regardless of the fiction involved in the premise that those who work hard will succeed, most of the time mentoring is seen as the relationship between those who have gotten ahead and those who haven’t yet found the road to success. The mentor’s role is to find someone who is struggling and provide them guidance and support for staying in school, going to college, finding new creative outlets, starting a business, leaving behind destructive relationships, family, or communities, and making a success of themselves. Getting ahead and then becoming a role model for those who come after us is supposed to be the American way, something we should aspire to.

This article is about mentoring for social justice. This kind of mentoring is not just about helping those who are younger or less fortunate get ahead. I am writing to challenge those of us who are older to take responsibility to help younger people get together. By get together I mean helping them become more effective participants in an inter-generational web of people working to rebuild our communities based on values of respect, inclusion, healing, equity, love, and social justice.

We can never know in what directions people’s lives will go, nor what decisions they will make with our support. However, if we are clear about our politics-the way we live your values in the practice of our lives–we will encourage life giving, justice promoting, and earth sustaining values in those we mentor through what we say and what we do. The goal of mentoring for social justice is to support younger adults to get ahead and to support their efforts to get together with us to change the world for the common good.

To all the mentors out there…What would be so very helpful to me and my generation is for you to hang in there, stay with us when we get headstrong and full of pride, do not desert us in the moments when we need your guidance. Share with us your experiences of difficulty, times you have made mistakes…It is this humility which will inspire me more than anything.

Who Me?

It wasn’t easy at first to see myself as a mentor because I am not 65 and grey-haired, nor do I consider myself a leader in the dramatic ways that leaders are usually portrayed. I think my misperceptions are typical of those many of us hold. They can keep us from acknowledging our changing role and from reaching out to younger adults.

I have found that the issue of mentoring younger adults is not easy to discuss with my peers. Many of us don’t feel particularly successful, experienced, or even secure. While some of us have received various forms of acknowledgment and recognition, most of us have struggled unrecognized, sometimes in comparative isolation, and often in hardship of various kinds.

Even if we are old enough to remember the exciting days of the Civil Rights, women’s liberation, gay liberation, disability rights movements and Central American and anti-Apartheid solidarity movements, we have lived through 25 years of attacks, cut-backs, backlash, right-wing dominance and ruling class solidification of wealth and power. Many of us are discouraged, burned-out, or both.

There are other reasons it may be hard to be a mentor (check all that apply)

  • I just haven’t thought of myself as a mentor
  • I don’t think of myself as older (or, I don’t really want to think of myself as older)
  • I don’t think I have much to offer-I’m still learning myself
  • It’s taken me a long time to get to this level of experience, authority, status, recognition, or security and I’m not ready to think about sharing it or letting go of it.
  • I just have not given priority to nurturing young people’s leadership
  • They don’t have it any harder than we did and we certainly didn’t have anyone helping us along the way
  • Times have changed and the challenges young leaders face today are so different that I think I have little of relevance to offer them
  • I’ve never thought of myself as a leader or someone with valuable knowledge and experience, so I haven’t thought of passing anything on
  • No one has come to me for support/advice/resources
  • I’m not connected to younger people
  • I don’t know what I would say to someone coming to me for mentoring or how to create this kind of relationship

Each of these issues is a serious barrier to being present with younger adults and able to nurture their leadership.

With all these feelings and preconceptions it is easy to have two different but equally unproductive responses to the emerging leadership of younger people. Either we hold on to what little power and privilege we have earned and don’t create space for them to move into leadership roles, or we give up and pass on the baton, relinquishing our positions without providing the support, mentoring, and resources that young leaders need to succeed. The challenge, I think, is to figure out how to step back and provide space for younger people to move into leadership without disappearing and taking with us the information, understanding, and experience we have gained over the years.

In this article I can only indicate some things I have found useful to keep in mind as you look at what keeps you from being a more effective ally. Hopefully it will inspire further discussion and thought and that will lead to your being more available as a mentor. There are additional resources listed at the end of the article.

[My mentor] has been a reliable friend and resource to me as I continue working to confront my own privileges and the connected oppression in the world. He is always willing to take time to talk honestly about the questions I have and offer his own complex experience as a sounding board. If we are to overcome the many divisions that prevent a broad-based movement for social justice a good place to start is building collaborative and loving relationships between activists of different generations.

Building an intergenerational community for social justice

For me, mentoring is an affirmation of the fact that we are part of an intergenerational community working to create a better world. It is a practice which builds and strengthens that community and nurtures new leadership while passing on needed skills and experience. Looking back I see that I was mentored by different people over the years. Their greatest gifts to me were their presence, their affirmation of me, and their understanding of the long-term nature of the struggle for social justice. When I am mentoring I am simply passing on to the next generation some of those same gifts.

Unfortunately, [she] did not take on a mentorship role for my friend and I. We have often talked about how we think we would have so much to learn from her, if she would only take the time. Sadly she hasn’t. We have decided that we never want to be so busy that we cannot take the time to mentor the leaders of tomorrow, especially given the tremendous influence, inspiration and guidance we have received from those who have invested time in us and our future.

Who mentored you?

Some of us were fortunate to have good role models and mentors in our lives. When I ask people what did their mentors provide them when they needed support, they commonly respond with a range of things from just being there to money, time, a sense of history, inspiration, information, affirmation, an ear to listen, and confidence in them.

Some of us were less fortunate and never received good mentoring. We had to learn as we went along. I think that I have made mistakes I didn’t need to because sometimes, at crucial moments, I lacked a good mentor to consult with.

Whether we were mentored well, poorly, or not at all will influence how we mentor others. Take a moment and think about the mentoring that you did or did not receive.

Questions to ask yourself

  • Who has been a mentor to you in your life?
  • What did they provide? How did you connect with them?
  • When did you need a mentor but did not have one?
  • What would you like to pass on from your experiences?

[My mentor] would always ask me really hard questions that blew my mind, questions I’d have to think about for weeks, and that I didn’t think I was in any position to answer. I’d be afraid I didn’t have the ‘right’ answer, as if there was only one, but he always encouraged me to say whatever I was thinking, valuing what I said. Through this process I developed the confidence to speak from my own experiences even when I felt vulnerable, understand how my own cultural reality relates to other peoples’ realities, and realize my part in dismantling privilege and oppression while working to create a more just world.

Admitting that we are older isn’t always easy

In mainstream U.S. society there is significant segregation by age (among other factors) and the experience of older people is not highly valued. Youth and youth culture are glamorized. As we become older we are encouraged to deny the aging process until, at an often traumatic point, we are encouraged to think about (or forced into) retiring. We don’t have any in-between roles or role-models for transitioning into a different relationship with the younger adults around us. So we go until we retire (if we can afford to) and then we stop (or drop). Until then we are in the category of “middle-aged”, taking care of elders in our family and children, if we have them, but not noticing that we are older. Few of us think of ourselves as old until we are 60 or 65 and by that time we may be too far from the experiences and needs of young folks, or just too disconnected from them to be able to offer them very much support. (Those of us in our 60s and 70s may still have valuable insight to offer). We do not need to wait until becoming that old to take on responsibility for mentoring those younger than we are.

Being older than people in their 20s and 30s does not mean that you are old. It does mean that you may be in a relationship to people who are younger that you have not previously acknowledged. If you haven’t had good mentoring yourself, or are still looking for it, it may be hard to imagine yourself in that role.

Questions to ask yourself

  • Do you easily admit that you are middle-aged (or older)?
  • Do you not only support younger adults politically (in your mind) but want to nourish their development in practical ways?
  • Do you recognize that you have something to offer them?
  • What are some of those things?
    • Time
    • Money
    • Feedback
    • Coaching
    • Resources
    • Connections
    • Information
    • Listening
    • Long-term perspective
    • Organizational skills and experience
    • Political analysis
    • Editing skills
    • Personal skills
    • Healing skills
    • Other

Hopefully we are each still growing and learning. Mentoring is not about having it all figured out or having the right answers. The essence of being a good mentor is having the right questions and valuing the time to reflect on them.

At the same time, some of us have struggled to achieve positions of power, authority, status, or organizational leadership which we may not want to relinquish. Some of us may be holding onto positions that we should be letting go of. It may be time to create space for those younger than us. It may be time to assess whether we are in the way of new leadership. Or it may just be time to assess whether we are providing enough good support for the younger adults around us.

As an activist, it has been exceedingly inspirational to find mentors who have fought so many battles before me. I will never forget meeting Katherine Switzer and learning the obstacles she faced as the first woman to run the Boston Marathon I listened in disbelief realizing how I had taken my women’s running shoes, women’s running clothes, and Runner’s World with a woman gracing the cover for granted. It thrilled me to think that someday my generation’s daughters and sons may take for granted the battles we are fighting today.

Nurturing new leadership

Collectively, we are involved in long-term struggles for social justice–struggles which may take decades if not longer to be successful. Often there are significant periods of quiescence in these struggles as a pioneering generation dies off and there is a lack of younger leadership to replace them. In contrast, the right wing in the U.S. is very systematic about training and supporting young leadership. Succession is planned for. When older white men step down there are trained younger white men to take over in their think tanks, foundations, policy formation groups, political parties and in the corporate world.

Of course in our movements we are not talking about a white male transference of power, but the issue is the same. It is perhaps even more important for us to pay attention to the transference of leadership because in this society, by default, either we will have no experienced next generation of leadership, or (predominately) white men will step up because they are the ones often being groomed to take over, even in progressive circles. In any case, mentoring a diverse cadre of young leaders should be a very high priority for all of us committed to the long-term struggle for social justice.

While we don’t have the tremendous resources to put behind training and mentoring young leadership that our conservative counterparts do, we do have great role models in people like Fannie Lou Hamer, Ella Baker, Myles Horton, and Betita Martinez. They are examples of people who have nurtured individuals and organizations and who have made themselves available to numbers of young folks with advice, encouragement, experience, and attention alongside their considerable activism. They each realized the important role that mentors can play in preparing a new generation of leadership to continue the struggle.

We cannot protect younger people from the ups and downs of that struggle or from making mistakes. But we can give them a heads-up, a hand-up, and some perspective about the challenges they face. We can encourage them to develop a long-term vision and we can give them practical support. It doesn’t help them or the struggle for social justice if they make every mistake in the book or get burned-out in the process. With our support they may be able to avoid some mistakes and build on a foundation of learning that is our collective legacy of struggle.

The times have changed and the challenges young leaders face today are different than those we faced previously. We cannot tell them what they should do. But we can be involved in intergenerational efforts to build the communities we want to live in and to organize for social justice.

Thank you for remembering that I’m constantly growing and changing so my opinions shift. Still you always take me seriously and value my ideas.

Getting Started

Once you decide to be more available as a mentor, younger adults will not just show up at your door. No matter how humble you are, and regardless of your own sense of self-worth, because of your age and other factors such as your gender, race, class, authority, status, and organizational position, you may be intimidating to them. They need an invitation. They need to know that you are available and interested in being in conversation with them.

Let people know that you are available with a note, a phone-call, or an email. Get clear about your intention to be a mentor and look for opportunities to do it. Talk about mentoring as one of the things you do.

I had a very satisfying meeting a year ago with a young activist who was doing racial justice work for a youth serving organization. (I had called her up originally because I heard about the good work she was doing in my community.) She started using some resources I provided in her work and I know she was appreciative of my availability. I hadn’t heard from her for a while so I called her office only to find that she had left the job. In turns out that the person who replaced her is also a young adult in a challenging position in that organization and was glad that I called because I could give her some background on the organization and some new resources. We’ll be getting together sometime next month.

Don’t make it formal. It isn’t for your resume. A phone call or email check-in, a cup of coffee together or a walk is all it takes to build a supportive relationship. Just reach out and make yourself available. It will actually provide you more of the relaxed and reflective time that you may need in your life.

After you finish a conversation offer yourself as a resource and see what response you receive. Use simple statements like

  • Do you want to meet again?
  • Would you find it useful to get together regularly and check in?
  • Use me as a resource
  • What do you need (from me)?
  • Let me know how I can support you

Let the other person know you are available and then allow them to follow through. An email or phone call a month or two or twelve down the road is usually appropriate –you don’t want to be pushy. Sometimes you’ll meet with someone just once. It may be a bad match or it may be that one meeting gave them something that they really needed and that was sufficient.

For example, I met with the young Latina lesbian director of a local youth program that my adolescent children were involved with. She and I had a good talk about the challenges she was facing and some possible resources. But I realized that what she lacked most was a coach, someone like her but older who could provide support and guidance. I connected her with an older Latina lesbian activist and consultant. They made such a good connection that they meet together regularly. My role was concrete and specific, helpful and satisfying. Sometimes all it takes is connecting someone to someone or something they need.4

You may not be connected much to younger adults but you could be. There may be young adults in your network with whom you have yet to connect. Remind yourself that it takes time to build the connections and for people to know you are approachable. The political and personal needs for this kind of mentoring and support are too great for it not to happen if you give it time and attention.

The most special thing about a mentor to me is that they are someone who no family ties or official obligation to support me, but has chosen to take special interest in me anyway. Mentors have supported me through failures and successes. Mentors have been my advisors, confidants, and cheerleaders. Mentors have challenged me to grow and realize my potential in new ways. I am so grateful for all the people who have showed up for me. I can’t imagine my life without them.

So what do I say?

First of all I want to make it clear that more important than what you say is simply your presence. Your respect and attention tells the other person that they are important, that you are taking them seriously, that they have a significant contribution to make, and that you are listening and paying attention to them. Your presence is perhaps the most important gift you can give to anyone. There are better and worse ways to be present for other people but being there in the first place counts for a lot.

Let them know that you are there for them because they are important, valued, and because they deserve support.

Ask them how it’s going? What is working well? What challenges do they have in their life right now? What are they thinking about? Keep it wide open because it is their conversation, their time, their life. You can pursue things that they bring up but give them space to decide how much they want to say, especially in new relationships.

The importance of having movement veterans as mentors to help place ourselves within a history of struggle is fundamental. How else can we learn the lessons of our movement’s past, not re-create the wheel and progress forward? We need the inspiration and guidance that history provides, only our movement elders can provide us this.

Help them see the larger picture

Just like the rest of us, younger people want immediate answers, information, or resources to solve problems they face at work, in relationships, or in community. First of all, reassure them that they don’t need to have all the answers, nor should they expect themselves to. We all want to move quickly to problem solving and to find solutions to the difficulties we face–younger adults are no exception. In addition, many younger adults face strong internalized messages that now that they are no longer adolescents they should have it together, know the answers, be able to handle whatever comes up, even though they are rarely given the skills and support that would help them through new situations.

Begin by acknowledging that, because of their age or inexperience, there are skills they lack, information they don’t have, and training they need. Help them see what they do know and what they need help with. You can also acknowledge that it can be frustrating, scary, painful, or anxiety-provoking to be put in situations or to take on responsibilities without adequate training and support.

Instead of providing them with solutions, assume they can figure out what they want to do when they see their options clearly. Affirm their abilities, help them see their strengths, as well as the gaps in their experience, and encourage them to acknowledge the feelings they have about the challenges they face. All of these actions will improve their ability to make good decisions.

Once you have helped them relieve their anxiety you can offer practical suggestions. But offer advice tentatively, with lots of room for them to process and possibly reject what you suggest. Explore the possibilities with them. You cannot know what they should do or what will work best. You can create space for them to explore their opportunities and think about the consequences of making different choices. Phrasing statements as questions or as possibilities makes it easier for them to consider alternative ways of approaching an issue.

  • Have you thought about ….?
  • You might think about ….?
  • Who could you talk with ….?
  • There might be information or resources available at ….?
  • I’ve found _________to be a useful way to approach a situation like that. This is how I think about it….

If you think it useful, and if they want to know or are asking directly, you can share your own experiences. You can also sometimes share what you have learned if it is relevant to the situation they face. But do so not by stating “This is what I think you should do,” but with open phrasing which invites them to accept or reject what you say.

“When I was in that situation this is what I did/learned/noticed.”

You can certainly help them sort through various immediate challenges they face in their work. But as a society we are prone to ask “How?” before we are clear about “Why?” One special value of your time with them is that you can help them step back from the everyday problems and look at the longer-term picture. Ask questions such as

  • What are you trying to do?
  • What would you like to accomplish?
  • What are you working on?
  • What are you working towards?
  • What do you see as your role in the community?
  • Where have you been successful?
  • How do you want to build on that?
  • What are some of the things you are struggling with these days?

Mentoring is not just about resources and problem-solving. It is first of all about genuine connection with someone else and responding to their interests, concerns, and needs. As younger adults in high stress work/community/relationships, they may not be paying attention to some concerns like long-range thinking and planning, getting good support, and self-care. These are all areas that you can help them with.

The best thing you can do is provide perspective on activism. I think young leaders, myself included, sometimes focus a lot of energy on the little things (tasks, meetings, campaigns) without the understanding and perspective of years of activist experience. The attitude, “As long as we’re moving forward, we’re ok.” And also sharing stories from other campaigns, activists, goals, and victories.

Long-term thinking and planning

Few of us have a good sense of the history of struggles for social change because of the misinformation, lies, and omissions in our textbooks and other media. Younger adults are often involved in very tense, immediate struggles without information and time to reflect on long-range vision and strategy. But it took 250 years to abolish slavery in this country and 150 years for women to get the right to vote. Most of the major social struggles in our time will continue long after we are gone. I think that a sense of history is crucial to understanding the long-term nature of the struggles we face.

There is an organization based in San Francisco called Generation Five. Their goal is to eliminate child sexual assault in five generations. Their strategy is to figure out what is our work-those of us living in the first generation–so that the work of the second generation can build on that. That is the kind of historical perspective we need to have. We can provide that framework for younger adults from our own longer term involvement with movements for social justice and help them think about their work in that context.

What [my mentor] has given me is the space to breathe, to think about my life in a bigger context. To think about my organizing and my work to build movement in a way that includes family, healthy relationships with myself and others, and time to reflect upon and appreciate life.

Help them get good support

Since this is long-term, life-time work, younger adults need to think about how to get support and how to take care of themselves in ways which will sustain them over time.

You can explore with them how they are currently getting support and help them figure out how they might get more. Your asking about it emphasizes that it is not self-indulgent but essential that they get good support. They deserve it.

  • What kind of support are you getting?
  • Who provides it?
  • Who do you talk with regularly?
  • In what areas do you need more support?
  • What gets in the way of asking for or taking advantage of support that is out there?
  • Who mentors you or gives you feedback?
  • Do you have any role models who look like you in terms of gender, race/culture/position/sexual orientation/ability, etc.?
  • Do you have people in comparable situations or levels of responsibility who you talk with?

And of course the obvious one

  • What kind of support do you need/would you like from me?

Before I met [my mentor], my idea of a future was to smoke weed, have children out of high school with my abusive boyfriend and live in the projects. He listened to me and he helped me to believe in myself. He validated my experience and accepted me….He told me and showed me I had the intelligence and the creativity to achieve….I see myself as a powerful individual who will be the change I want to see in the world and I credit a lot of that to the work that my mentor and I did together.

Help them take care of themselves better

Not only can you help younger adults think about how to get good support, you can also help them get better at taking care of themselves.

Many activists feel very insecure about their self-worth because no matter how much we do, given the large-scale and immediate devastation and exploitation in the world, it does not seem like enough to make a difference. There is often a sense of urgency, a sense of powerlessness, and a sense of inadequacy which plagues our work. These feelings can be coupled with guilt for having relative security and white/heterosexual/male or other forms of privilege. There is also lots of competition carried over from mainstream society about who works hard enough, who sacrifices most, who is most dedicated, who is most radical, etc. All of these factors can make it difficult for younger adults to make themselves vulnerable, to talk about where they need help, and particularly, to take the time to take care of themselves. Since others are suffering, and others are working so hard, how can I take time off or otherwise take care of myself? We are often caught in a culture of self-sacrifice and martyrdom feeling self-indulgent about having fun, relaxing, partying, or pursuing the activities that most renew us. Help younger adults maintain balance in their lives and healthy habits of self-care.

Some of the questions to ask are:

  • How are you taking care of yourself?
  • What do you do to relax? to recenter? To renew yourself?
  • Do you take breaks or vacations?
  • Are you having enough down time for rest and rejuvenation?
  • What would you like to do that you aren’t currently?
  • How do work and family obligations get in the way of self-care?

You may be able to help them figure out ways to finance or otherwise resource health care, alternative health options, recreational activities or ways to get out of town that will allow them to get well or stay healthy.

Sometimes, in order to take care of themselves, a younger adult will need to do less work or take a break from work that you feel is important or that is critical to an organization or to the movement. This may create in you a sense of conflict of interest between the needs of that individual and the needs of the organization. Some of us have the expectation that younger adults will sacrifice themselves for the work, the “movement”, or for the organization. We may fear that if they take a break or time off that the work will not continue, the organization will fall apart, or they will be permanently lost to the struggle. Some organizations actually remain viable by employing a series of young adults in impossible jobs which exploit them for 2-3 years and then burn them out, only to be replaced by another passionate young adult.

I’m convinced that we cannot create social change on the backs of young adults, using them up and throwing them away to further our political agendas or organizational goals. As a mentor you are there for the individual and their needs. Let them know explicitly that you are there to support them because they deserve good support. At a later time you may need to put on your organizational hat and figure out how to compensate for the greater expense or lack of availability of younger staff people who need some time or resources to take care of themselves.

If you have been an activist in this mode who was not (or is not currently) taking care of yourself, burning yourself up, neglecting relationships, parenting obligations, personal passions, or your health, you may need to step back and think about your own patterns of self-neglect before you can help younger adults take care of themselves. There can be periods in social struggles when great personal sacrifice is called for. But this is not a permanent condition and living as if it is does not sustain life-time activism. All of us need to think about what we role-model, as well as what we say to younger adults. You might want to ask yourself the following questions.

Questions to ask yourself

  • Do you take care of yourself physically? Nutritionally? Culturally? Emotionally? Spiritually? In relationships?
  • Are you working and living at a sustainable pace?
  • Are there important areas of your life that you have been neglecting?
  • Do you take time to walk outdoors, listen to music, spend time with children, or to do other activities that sustain you?

In your discussion with younger adults about self-care it is important to finish your conversation by thinking with them about next steps. What else could they do to take care of themselves? What is one thing they’ll try to do in the next few weeks or months? What is their next step? There is so much pressure to neglect ourselves and serve the cause and so little support for younger adults in leadership that they often need to have concrete, do-able next steps in mind to be able to follow-though on what they want.

Being connected to elders in the movement has given me a real sense that this struggle that I am a part of is one piece of a much longer lineage of struggle, and we are really just picking it up from those who came before us. Learning from movement elders helps people of my generation learn from the mistakes of those who came before us and also helps us think about what we are giving to the generation that comes after us. It is a beautiful thing to know that you are part of a vision for change that stretches for generations before and after yourself.

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