Moving from Despair to Action and Hope

I joined the Catalyst collective in September, following two years as a volunteer on the Braden Leadership Team. In that time, I’ve watched the world around me enter into the scariest times I’ve lived through in my 67 years. I have also found myself building the tools I need to move from inaction and despair to action and hope–a feeling that is crystalized for me in Catalyst’s work supporting grassroots movement building. Can you help Catalyst offer transformative political education for our movements in the new year by making an end-of-year gift?

Our 2019 Anne Braden Program cohorts

When I visit with some of my loved ones, we can talk, talk, talk about the state of the country and the world and how awful it is: how scary climate change is, the injustice of homelessness in our community, the horrifying rise of white nationalism—all critical problems we must face. Many of these dear people so far haven’t been able to transform that sentiment into action by seeing their place in changing this reality, and I know they’re not alone in that struggle.

I first experienced that sense of transformation during my time working on the Anne Braden Program. Learning alongside organizers engaged in incredible work all over the US and Canada brought home for me that grassroots organizing is what it is all about; that is what gives me hope, even with so many reasons for despair. Organizing helps you see change being made on a daily basis. Organizing helps you appreciate how change is hard work, but that it does happen.

Despair can be demobilizing, and demobilization serves the interests of the people in power. But, like Catalyst, I know that we can move through it together, and that we all have a place in the work of building a people- and planet-centered world.

I have felt that transformation in relation to climate change. I have been able to move from fretting about the 12 years we have left to make an impact to understanding that what we do now can change that equation, building climate justice now as we reshape the future. That’s why Catalyst is partnering with major climate organizations like, Sunrise Movement, Extinction Rebellion and Break Free From Plastics US to center racial justice as they organize to build real climate solutions.

I also have appreciated Catalyst’s agility and strength at adapting strategy to meet the needs of the political moment. Through deep relationship-building, we’ve stepped in during moments of mass movement, such as post-Katrina New Orleans and Standing Rock, to meet white people when they’re most open to personal and political transformation.In 2020, we foresee the coming elections will pose similar opportunity. With that in mind we have launched a sister organization, Catalyst Action Fund, to engage organizers working on elections in the coming year.

Perhaps what I appreciate most about Catalyst’s work is its focus on relationships and building for the long haul. This work is rooted in understanding the long arc of the struggle and building committed, accountable, and bold leadership. I know that this is what we need to face the challenges ahead. I invite you to join me in giving to Catalyst as one way to support this vital work. Together, we can build grassroots leadership rooted in our movement history and an intersectional vision for collective liberation.

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In solidarity,
Ellen Brotsky
on behalf of Catalyst Project