GRATEFUL FOR OUR SEA OF LIGHTS
This year we are most grateful for family. As always we are grateful for our sweet and joyous kids and adoring spouses, for our extended families that give us such support and bring us such warmth, and for friend families who have been an enduring and special part of our lives for years.
This year however we are also grateful for a new family – our We Stories family, now numbering in the thousands. I’ve said it before…it’s hard for me to remember feeling lonely in St. Louis. But at one time I did. Today I am most certainly not.
We are grateful to the We Stories families for their kinship but most of all we are just SO inspired by them. This morning I went to share yet another news article featuring the good work of a We Stories family (electronic love letters to immigrant families in St. Louis) and I was so struck by just how fortunate we are.
At a time when folks are genuinely grappling with how to be a light in the midst of the dark storm it feels like we are in a sea of candles…representing literally hundreds of people who are taking steps big and small towards a vision of a more equitable St. Louis.
Yesterday I posted about “Small Deeds Done,” a very helpful and organized summary of ways to have your voice counted and heard post-election. The day before that I re-posted pictures from a teacher who adjusted their Thanksgiving curriculum and then asked kids to capture their changed perceptions of Native American children through drawings – they were stunning and so powerful. In the days before that I was reading and posting lots of articles about incidents in various schools districts here where many We Stories parents are involved behind the scenes, pushing for resolution, healing, and progress. In this last week we are aware of several events that We Stories families organized within their own communities to help them focus on racial equity. The week before that parents across various school districts were mobilizing to encourage their superintendents to attend a region-wide assembly on school discipline.
Over the course of the last week many of our We Stories participants have also been strategizing about how to best engage with family members who hold dramatically different views on politics or social issues over the holidays. Together we are facing what has seemed like a fixed choice – silence or heated argument – and instead trying to find a new alternative that involves more compassion, conversation, and questions. Together we are also seeking to recast our family’s understanding of thanksgiving and what we are thinking about this holiday. Together we are learning from each other about the native people who once lived here, where we now live. Together we are talking about how to support the #noDAPL protestors.
On a daily basis we get to open an email box that is full of movement and hope. “I have an idea…” “Where in our region can I donate books?” “At work I decided to…” “At home I decided to…” “This year my kids and I are…” “Have you ever considered…” “How can I help…” “Can you..” “Can we…” “Let’s…”
On a daily basis we are also witness to countless stories of We Stories families taking up conversations about race with their children, even/especially when it’s hard. Together we are witnessing our children witness a world laden with racist messages and choosing not to step back, and instead interrupt. Even when it hurts. Even when it makes us more accountable. Even when there's a misstep. This week in particular we are hearing from some of our 80 newest families about what it's felt like to talk about race with their children for the first time.
Together our community is thinking about ALL our spheres of influence and what could be possible. Together we are parents, teachers, librarians, social workers, bankers, artists, elected officials, philanthropists, professors, leaders, lawyers, creatives, doctors, writers, employees of large corporations, chaplains, principals, doulas, faith leaders, PTO volunteers, business owners, and activists in our own way. Together we are moving the needle. Together we are both a family and a force for good.
To the larger We Stories family – our 360 participant families, our 220+ donors, our unbelievable volunteers, dedicated board members, and visionary executive leadership council: We are SO very grateful for you this holiday. Thank you for giving us the honor of working with you. You are lighting our way this holiday season and encouraging us every day to be bolder and better, for the sake of us all.